Arts / Museums

Rabbits Gone Wild

Easter’s Departed, But Fluffy Bunnies Are Just Beginning Their Strange Houston Invasion

BY // 03.28.16

The Easter bunny just left town, but rabbits run wild as a harbinger of spring and the fecundity of the season. Here’s an illuminating piece from the History Channel, with a cameo by a hare who is the forerunner of today’s popular egg-toting lapin:

Rabbits abound in the art historical realm, too, from a timeless watercolor painted a half a millennium ago to huge bunnies that will soon take over downtown Houston this May, not to be confused with the Easter holiday, but emitting an environmental statement.

Here are eight of our favorite hares.

Albrecht Dürers small-scale Young Hare, 1502, is a Northern European Renaissance masterpiece now in the collection of the Albertina museum, Vienna. Measuring a mere 9.88 by 8.9 inches, its verisimilitude may have resulted from the artist keeping a live hare in his studio and painting it from life.

As we gear up for Houston Art Car Parade, which rolls on Saturday, April 9, we salute our favorite artful ride ever. One encounter with Rex the Rabbit, and we were smitten. Created by one of Art Cars’ most talented creatives, Larry Fuente’s fierce lapin is a veteran of many parades, as well as holding the honor of being exhibited at the monument to the spirit of the movement — aka Garage Mahal, the Art Car Museum in Houston.

Other artists who have seized upon the bunny as a worthy subject include Dutch-born, Danish-based Tom Claassen, whose Two Rabbits, 2006, captivated audiences at the Frieze Art Fair, Regent’s Park, London, when it made its appearance a decade ago, melting the hearts of even the most jaded art collector.

Then there’s Hunt Slonem, currently soloing at Gremillion & Co. Fine Art, Houston (through April 30). The prodigious nationally known painter, dandy and personality is almost as obsessed about rabbits as he is about his signature avians; recently, it seems like the bunnies are muscling out the birds for top choice as Slonem subject matter.

Meanwhile, in Austin, the gardens surrounding Laguna Gloria museum boasted a fountain by American sculptor Tom Sachs that echoes Dutch graphic designer Dick Bruna’s cartoon character Miffy. The fountain came to town last spring, concurrently with the artist’s “Boombox” retrospective at The Contemporary Austin.

Stay tuned, because in the merry month of May Australian artist Amanda Parer headlines when Arts Brookfield, curated by Brookfield artistic director Debra Simon, inflates and illuminates a colony of sewn sculpted bunnies. Be clear: These rabbit signal an environmental message, ambiguously balancing the cute quotient with the concept of rabbits as invasive pest. (This animal has destroyed the ecology of the artist’s native land since being introduced in the late 18th century.) Exhibition dates for Parer’s aptly titled “Intrude”: May 9 through May 14, installed on the lawn at Brookfield’s 1600 Smith Street property, downtown Houston, part of a four-city national tour presented by Arts Brookfield.

Closer to home, how do we personally feel about rabbits? One PaperCity staffer’s pet bunny, Wrigley, is an Instagram regular, while this scribe assisted in rescuing and finding a new home for the striking bunny now monikered Fluffy.

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