born: Jan 19 1905  died: June 12 1993
Love is an illusion that makes
Your dreams come true.















poem by Byron Hunt


Byron Alton Hunt, mail-artist, water-color painter, poet and "hipstorian" of the local art scene since the late 1920's, passed away on June 12th of complications after a long sickness in Clear Lake, California.  He was 88 years old. Also known as Lord Byron, he was the creator of the notorious BH circular logo that went all his mail arts.  A man of fame and scurity, considered by some to a grandfather of he poets, he once wrote: "An artist should be sincere enough to tell the truth even if has to invent it."

He was a worker at City Lights Bookstore and in the mailroom at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. A beatnik before there were beatniks, a merry prankster before there were merry pranksters, a digger, and an abolitionist for free imagination, he woud write little graffitis all over North Beach.  Poetry, Art, Rabbit."  "Dada".  "I Love You From The Heart Of My Bottom."   "Once A Week Is Not Enough."   "Did You Know The Heart Gives It's Life Blood And Then Waits. "

Many people throughout San Francisco and beyond were lucky recipiants of his often giant, two-sided, cardboard mail arts, to which he would affix stamps and send directly through the mail with no wrapping.  These works were profound lessons in composition and poetry for many young artists, some of whom became leaders in future movements in the sixties, seventies, eighties and beyond.

The mail arts were cut-ups from magazines he collected out of old bookstores and from trash-bins. He would often paint his own colors and shapes over these works, and add obscure lines of poetry, parts of jokes from the New Yorker Magazine and even pieces of string or other items he might find during his extended walks throught the city.

In earlier years Mr. Hunt had worked with the WPA as a weaver, and later he did sketches for Diego Rivera at the Treasure Island World Exposition in 1939.  He was a perceptive and radical teacher of Modern Art, often holding forth to small groups in his room at The Goodman Building  (and earlier, at The Hotel Wentley.)  It was Byron who said: "Kandinsky was the father of free form.  Not Picasso."   As a witness to Twentieth Century Bohemia he always held a special perspective about the art, the poetry, the music -- about everything.  He lived among all the artists on "The Monkey Block when Montgomery Street was the center of San Francisco alternative cultural actiivity.  He said of Billie Holiday after hearing her above a restaurant on Fillmore Street more than 45 years ago, " she had a way of doing things,  Very limited but very good.  There was a tear and a laughter in every note."  

Byron defined anarchy as complete freedom.  He once said:  "Dear, anarchy is freedom.  It's complete freedom.  You can do anything.  But then you have to be responsible for your actions.  But as long as somebody can tell you not to do anything, you are not free."

There will be a memorial gathering at The Bannam Place Theatre in North Beach, 50 B Bannam Place, from 4pm to 7pm July 18, for friends, relatives, acquaintances and anybody who has been inspired by the life of Byron Hunt.   Bannam Place is a short street between Union and Green, Grant and Stockton.)
written by Tony Vaughan, June 14, 1993

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