Arts & Culture
In Memoriam: Rick Hunter 1960-2013
Published: November 13, 2013
“Boom.” That’s the answer given by more than one of photographer Rick Hunter’s many shocked friends to the question of how to sum up the local lightning rod who died last Friday.
Hunter used the word frequently, even as he was ailing in his hospital room at Baptist Medical Center downtown during the weeks-long struggle with pneumonia that eventually overtook him. He used it to announce himself, and to end the conversation, and to emphasize a point in one of his bar stories. Like Hunter, “boom” signifies something that can’t be ignored.
Hunter garnered attention as the quarterback at his high school in Brownsville, TX, where he grew up. He later joined the U.S. Army, where he first picked up a camera. After a military career that included duties in Germany and West Point, N.Y., Hunter began to seriously pursue photography.
He quickly attracted the eye of Pulitzer prize-winning photographer Eddie Adams, best known for his photograph of General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a suspected Viet Cong member during the Vietnam War. Hunter admired Adams’ style and took several workshops from him; the renowned photographer became something of a mentor to a still-young Hunter. Then, like many others, Adams became Hunter’s friend.
Hunter burst onto San Antonio’s scene 23 years ago, as a photographer for the Express-News where he further honed an aesthetic that former Current arts editor Sarah Fisch called “precise, accomplished and deeply humane.” According to the Express-News, Hunter’s work during his 10 years there earned honors from The Dallas Press Club and the National Press Photographers Association.
After the Express-News, Hunter freelanced full-time, venturing as far away as Cambodia and as close to home as his beloved Southtown neighborhood haunts, La Tuna, Madhatters and Tito’s. His photographs can now be seen all over town, at Baptist Medical Center, Taco Cabana, La Gloria Ice House and on Gemini Ink’s latest publicity materials, among many other locations.
“We hosted a retrospective show for him in 2008,” said Andy Benavides, who framed all of Hunter’s work for clients and who also operated a gallery space on South Flores Street. “It was amazing then and his work only continued to mature.” Of that exhibit Fisch wrote: “In frame after frame, Hunter lets [his] workmanlike approach achieve miracles; this show is about the intangible, alchemical moments of visual poetry.” Fellow photographer and longtime friend Michael Attwood said “I have total respect for his eye.”
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