Chatham Arts Council’s Meet This Artist


Julia Kennedy has known for some time that she has a passion for vintage muscle cars (she drives a 1967 Chevy Impala SS 3964), Korean pickled crab, dark mystery novels by the likes of Ross MacDonald and Raymond Chandler, and her ever-changing family of rescued animals (currently four dogs).

But it wasn’t until a friend who was moving gave her a box of hand-me-down painting supplies that Julia discovered she is an abstract painter. “I am a late bloomer,” she said.

Julia considers her art Abstract Expressionism. “I am fascinated with building richness and depth using many color glazes, layer upon layer upon layer. Many, many layers.” She was inspired by the works of late artists Hans Hofmann, Mark Rothko, and Edward Hopper.

She is currently creating paintings for her second annual art calendar for 2016, again designed by Lesley Landis of Pittsboro. “Last year’s was great fun, and people really enjoyed seeing a different painting for each month,” she said. A launch party will be held at McIntyre’s Books this fall.

Julia is also preparing for a number of upcoming exhibitions:

Carolina Brewery: August and September, with local artist Shannon Bueker. Opening reception on Sunday, September 6, 4-6 p.m.
Chatham Marketplace: September
Crook’s Corner: October
Angelina’s Kitchen: this fall (dates to be determined)
Chatham County Studio Tour: December 5-6, 12-13.
Julia offers this perspective when viewing contemporary art: “Abstraction is different things to different viewers. We may not see the same thing or feel the same thing when we look at a specific piece, and this is the point. We bring our own realities and a viewpoint to an abstraction; it is a completely individual experience.”

From the artist

Name: Julia Kennedy

I live in: Pittsboro, NC

My life in a nutshell: I am originally from Fayetteville and have a sister, Charlotte, who lives here, and a niece, Anna, who lives in Raleigh. I somehow ended up with four sweet dogs, two of whom I would love to find a permanent home for. I work part-time at Fearrington Village as part of the in-house floral team. We make gorgeous arrangements for the Fearrington Restaurant, weddings, receptions, birthdays–any occasion in the Village needing flowers.

Strong memory from my childhood: When I was young I remember my step-grandfather taking me to the bait shop he patronized. It was like a magical grotto inside, cool and dark with tanks of green bubbling water and small silver fish darting throughout the tanks. It’s been gone many, many years, but still I remember.

Jobs I’ve had: Receptionist, bartender, cocktail waitress, Mary Kay saleswoman, book seller, artist, floral designer. Plus a few hits and misses here and there. I briefly worked for Maaco as the worst body taper in history. And I just opened my first Etsy shop to sell vintage items, BeautyBelleVintage.

I am inspired by: seeing other people’s art. Shows, galleries, online–I think it’s important to see what amazing work others are doing. Even if I don’t like it.

When I’m not making art you’ll find me: reading, watching TV, and painting, usually all at the same time.

I am currently reading: The Octopus On My Head by Jim Nesbit. He is a quirky San Francisco noir writer. I am looking up words as I read, something I RARELY have to do.

Most people don’t know: I love horror and action movies. I am entranced by well-choreographed fight scenes. I just saw the new Mad Max in 3-D, and I was SO HAPPY!

Julia on stoop 2Three things I wouldn’t want to live without: books, art, and animals.

My favorite places to eat/hang out in Chatham County: seem to revolve around food. Small Cafe, Angelina’s Kitchen, and Virlie’s for real Southern fried chicken–greasy, crunchy, and salty just the way it’s supposed to be. I love Pittsboro’s First Sunday Artisan Fair and try to make the rounds. Also art receptions at The Joyful Jewel and Liquidambar, coffee at Cafe Diem and Blue Dot Coffee. Beggars and Choosers for vintage.

Chatham County artists who inspire me: Shannon Bueker whose beautiful, gestural strokes magically transform into beguiling dogs, horses, possums. And Emma Skurnick whose renderings of salamanders, rabbits, toads, and birds are intricate and stunningly detailed. They often work with similar subjects but bring their own interpretations to each, and the results are magical.

As an artist I feel a need to say: I wish more local governments would recognize the value the arts bring to their communities. A thriving art community attracts tourists, future residents, and new businesses.

Ten years from now you’ll find me: still painting, reading, and traveling. Part of me very, very much wants to buy a vintage camper and just take off. I may yet.


Chatham Artists Guild bio:
Etsy shop: