New Orleans artist John Bukaty never knows what he is about to paint when he gets in front of a group. At the recent Incentive Research Foundation live auction event at the Trump National Resort Doral in Miami, he created a sensual moment between a couple as they danced, their bodies vibrant splashes of purple, blue and lime green. The piece was auctioned off to raise money for future incentive research. “I just loved the sense of movement in his painting,” said Lari Kircher, owner of Frangipani Beach Resort in Anguilla, who then purchased the piece at the auction and is speaking with him about creating others for the property.
Though it feels like the charismatic Bukaty could be the highlight of an event, a lone painter beneath a bright spotlight in the center of the action, he is often found on the sidelines, deep in concentration, as attendees wander up and ask questions or sometimes even get to add a stroke or two of their own to the piece. At the IRF event, he also gave a keynote talk about his background and how he left the business world, spent 100 days in India creating 100 different paintings, and found himself on a journey of self-exploration, through which his new mission as an artist emerged.
Bukaty has worked with companies including Chipotle, Comcast and Western Union to create art at their corporate events. The process starts with a meeting to understand their goals in bringing him on. “While I seem relaxed when I’m actually creating the art, I take the planning and preparation very seriously,” he said. For incentive groups, corporate clients have sometimes then created a series of giclees, or numbered prints, for the winners—a remembrance of the event as well as a piece of original art that will grow in value over time.
Bukaty, a former college football star, has painted portraits of celebrities including Bruce Springsteen and Willie Nelson, and his work is in the collections of Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz, among others. He has also created the nonprofit Kartma (the name a combination of karma and art), with the goal of combining art, philanthropy and community. For booking information, contact Doug Chorpenning at Wet Paint Group.