Ten Minutes With John Funt
A designer and painter
John Funt, son of Allen Funt, creator of the hit television show “Candid Camera,” has always been a painter. He left a successful career in design to devote full time to his passion. In his recent show at Five Points Gallery in Torrington, Funt presented his vertical landscapes that have given his work an entirely new dimension. He and husband Rick Childs, an emergency-room physician, reside in Norfolk, where Funt is continually inspired by his surroundings. We sat down with him recently.
What was it like growing up with Allen Funt as a father? It was pretty amazing. “Candid Camera” was the number-one Nielsen-rated show for so many years. The great thrill for me was going to the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York to see the tapings. It was fascinating to watch a parent step into another role.
Your first job was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. How did you land that? Right out of college, I headed for the museum because it was a friendly place for entry-level positions. I started out in the operations office and eventually worked on orchestrating special events.
How did you break into the design world? I got a job working for the design director at Tiffany. They put me in charge of table settings and handling special events that the company took on the road. I eventually wound up designing desk
accessories for them.
When did you start concentrating on your own art? After ten years at Tiffany, I moved to Norfolk after answering an ad for a wonderful old stone house that I wound up buying. Then I discovered that Norfolk was such a great haven for artists and the perfect place for me to paint.
You’ve described what you are painting now as vertical landscape. Could you explain the term? Five Points Gallery is a huge space with very high ceilings. The space enabled me to change perspective and explore the possibilities of the vertical landscape. The hanging tapestry, a door to the outside, and the bas relief all share the mysteries of screens and walls. I began painting outside on huge panels in natural light with bigger brushes and brush strokes.
What inspires you to begin a new painting? What gets me going is this ideal palette that I have in my head. Even if I don’t have a particular subject in mind I get a feeling of the mood that I want to convey.
Besides painting, what do you most enjoy about being in Norfolk? I am a major gardener and spend as much time outside as I can. Where we live reminds me of the place where I grew up in Westchester County. I love discovering country roads, and yet we are close enough to New York City so I have the best of both worlds.
How did you and Rick meet? I knew his sister and she decided that we should know each other. We met in his family’s home. The house in which we now live in joined to the original Childs property.