March 17, 1934 - June 30, 2002
Bunn Gray was born in Fayetteville Tn and was the only child to the late James Franklin and his Francis Ruth Bunn Gray. He began to paint at the age of 4. He won a national poster contest for Buckwheat Cereal at age 6 and then reeled off six more consecutive wins in that competition. As a young artist, Gray designed the first Rebel insignia at Franklin High School where he would graduate in 1952.
Bunn attended the University of the South at Sewanee where he ran cross country, then graduated from Florida State University. While at FSU he studied art with Teacher Carl Zirby where he learned, at that time, the new industry standard of acrylics.
Bunn's artwork was exhibited in the Miami Metropolitan Museum of Art which led to numerous commissions of commercial graphic art as well as political posters and industrial workplace logos.
Bunn moved from Miami to New York in the early 1960's. "When I moved there from Miami in the 1960's, I had artist friends who'd been there for 20 years and never shown in a gallery. I had a gallery within six weeks. These Harvard students were buying my paintings." It's been said that Bunn sold over 35 paintings in one night for over $75k.
Bunn's work hangs in private galleries ranging from those of Elizabeth Taylor, playwright Neil Simon and actress Marsha Mason to country entertainers Stella Pardon and former Franklin resident Jeanie C. Riley. Additionally, Bunn's work has hung in the corporate offices of Kiss. Reportedly Bunn was offered a contract for an albumn cover but refused because he was freaked out by their makeup.
In 1964 Bunn paid $13,000 for Clouston Hall after convincing the current owner not to sell to Sinclair Oil Company which planned to level the historic residence to make way for a gas station. "I bought the house for my mother not long before John F. Kennedy was assassinated," said Grey. "I was working in New York at the time. My mother and my aunt lived here but they are both now deceased. I usually rent out the upstairs to roomers."
"Clauston Hall" is the greeting you would hear if you telephoned the home of painter Walter Bunn Gray. If you didn't know better you might surmise you had reached the dorm at some stuffy boy's school but it's only Bunn's way of greeting the caller.
After all, Clauston Hall is historically significant, a residence that dates back to 1820 in historically significant Franklin, Tennessee. During the Civil War in The Battle of Franklin it served as a hospital. A visit inside it's hallowed halls gives one little assurance that those who departed there have really departed. Bunn would testifie that he had seen several ghostly ladies who seem to be forever there.
Bunn lived and worked in Clouston Hall for 38 years untill his death in 2002. During that time Bunn opened his doors and embraced all that would enter his home. He provided rooms, instruction and friendship to many young aspiring artist. A few of his students included Jody Mehaffie, Gregory Blann and Gary Bozeman. "I still teach but only one student at a time. I like to give my whole time to one student. I feel I can do a much better job than trying to teach a group or even two at a time." Says Gray. "Watermelon is a favorite painting subject of mine. I have also enjoyed painting horses. I consider my style classical contemporary." Gary Bozeman, a former student and friend of Bunn's said "I learned more in three months from him than the entire time I was in college."