By Theresa Goffredo Herald Writer
Jack Gunter isn’t exactly a Jack of all trades, but he certainly is a master of some.
A highly prolific and successful artist. A chemist. A published author. A businessman.
Gunter’s also a longtime collector and dealer of antiques, some worth tens of thousands of dollars, and one piece is a Frank Lloyd Wright bed.
At his new shop, Gunter managed to stuff all these facets of his past and current lives inside one storefront. Once a gas station, it’s now called Jack Gunter Art &Design on Stanwood’s main drag.
As one would imagine, the shop is a packed-to-the seams, 2,000-square-foot eclectic mix of Gunter’s aesthetic.
“I’m buying these because they have great design,” said Gunter, sitting among his antiques. “Everything here was designed by someone with some genius, so in a way, good taste in art goes with good taste in design.”
There’s guy stuff, like industrial-sized light fixtures. There’s a Stickley rocker. There are also lots of Gunter’s original works: a 3-D painting and another with his signature flying pigs.
Gunter’s shop mirrors the life of this mercurial man, whose quicksilver ways keep a listener enraptured.
Just ask a question and off he goes, unraveling a life that is as full of adventure as his books.
Yes, you can buy Gunter’s new adventure trilogy here at the shop also. The trilogy is based on — you guessed it — antiques.
Written and edited over eight years, the three novels were published in February and follow the adventures of antiques picker and Mission furniture fanatic Wally Winchester, whose fortunes rise and fall as he tries to avoid getting killed by nefarious characters.
These are Gunter’s first adventure novels.
He published his first books when he was 23 and teaching junior high science in Massachusetts. (Gunter has most of a Ph.D in organic chemistry.) He began writing his own material to make the science more relevant.
“The science books were stupid,” Gunter said. “The kids were laughing at this stuff.”
Unleashed, Gunter wrote and drew science lessons using his own brand of art and humor, such as this multiple-choice question: How long ago was the Big Bang? The answer choices: Last Friday. A billion years ago. The beginning of second-period lunch.
Gunter also self-published “A Pictorial History of the Pacific Northwest Including the Future,” outlining his offbeat take on history as told through the eyes of a black and white pig.
Now, there’s the trilogy, which Gunter said is not autobiographical, though he admits Wally shares his faults.
The books have Wally chasing antiques through British Columbia, Patagonia and Russia. They are titled “Original Finish,” “The Egg Rocker” and “Mother of God.” The book covers are all Gunter’s original artwork.
“Original Finish” is an entertaining page-turner. For “The Egg Rocker,” Gunter traveled alone to South America, rented a car, and drove 3,000 miles with no grasp of Spanish and just an ATM card.
“I got in trouble,” said Gunter, who described his age as 62 going on 40. “There were border guards with machine guns. And I found great antiques.”
“Mother of God” takes place in Russia, where Gunter had once spent about two months. In this book, Wally is pursued by all sorts of religious fanatics as he tries to get a priceless icon to auction.
So far, Gunter has sold 800 copies of the trilogy. Not enough to pay the bills, such as the rent on his new shop.
But like a literary twist in one of his novels, Gunter is saved once again.
He recently landed a $22,000 Washington Arts Commission contract to paint a mural for the Sno-Isle Tech Skills Center being rebuilt in south Everett after a fire destroyed the building in May 2008.
Gunter is painting a folk art style mural he’s calling “Futureville,” using robots, a mechanic and other characters to represent the various skills taught at the center.
So off he goes, putting on his art hat and “painting his ass off” to keep the wolves at bay. And true to his nature, Gunter does it with tongue in cheek.
“I’ve got one month to make a 20-foot painting,” Gunter said. “And I’m going to do that at my cabin on the porch, naked.”
Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buy the books
“The Wally Winchester Adventure” trilogy by Jack Gunter can be bought at Snow Goose Bookstore, 8616 271st St. NW, Stanwood, and at Jack Gunter Art &Design, 10219 269th Place NW, Stanwood. For more information about Gunter, his books and artwork go to www.jackgunterart.com.