Neighbors of Tarrytown (monthly publication)
Meet the Neighbors
by Tony Kuninger
TSOS member John Barkley is well known by many residents of West Austin as the friendly, hard working manager of the local eatery Food Food. For over ten years, John has become a fixture at the popular deli but few of his loyal clientele are aware that he is also a gifted ·professional artist. Neighbors of Tarrytown had a chance to sit down and talk a bit with John about his background, work and his passion for his craft.
So, John, can you tell me a little about your personal story?
Sure. I was born in Austin and lived here most of any life, outside of a few years living in Ann Arbor, Michigan when my folk were separated. I went to high school here at Mcallum High… Go Knightsl (laughs) Absolutely. And after that I went to UT and graduated after a few years, using my English degree to pursue my restaurant career (laughs).
What is Your position here at Food Food?
I’m the front-end manager, which basically means I don’t do any of the cooking. My main responsibility is to serve the food and make sure the customers are satisfied when they walk out the door.
So switching gears now, what a lot of people don’t know about you is that you ‘re an accomplished artist, can You talk about your art?
Sure, I started working with clay when I was very young- just for fun. I started with modeling clays and polymer clays, which are basically self hardening, plastic clays, and stuck with it throughout the years. And then sometime in the mid-nineties I got introduced to ceramic clays and started working on ceramic sculpture and pottery and that’s mainly what I’ve been doing for the past twenty years or so.
ls there anything in particular that inspires Your work?
I would say that, visually, my pieces are inspired by things from my childhood: animation, children’s literature, comic books – things like that. And then, the thematic aspects of my art come from my perspective as an adult. [MY pieces) are often inspired by actual literature, as well as music and poetry. In the end, the physical representation ends up looking like something fantastical or something out of a fairy tail.