On View: December 9, 2017 – January 13, 2018
Opening Reception: SAT DEC 9 | 6 – 8PM
Gallery Talk: SAT JAN 6 | 7PM | FREE
When artist James Hennessey moved to Baltimore in 1965 to teach painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), he never anticipated the influence he would have on thousands of young painters who took his classes until 2002. Beyond his impressive career as a teacher, Hennessey’s success as a painter has seen his signature soft palate aesthetic and subtle depictions of mythological fables exhibited across the globe. Enduring Concerns focuses on Hennessey’s large paintings and celebrates more than 50 years of his work in Baltimore.
James Hennessey is a painter’s painter: his daily studio practice finds him methodically working his large canvases, adding and subtracting inflections of color and light, scraping and sanding away excess, and repeating as necessary to achieve his thoughtful surfaces. While his subject matter varies slightly between series, he concentrates on landscapes, interior spaces, figures, light, and atmosphere in his carefully constructed compositions. Hennessey paces himself when creating work, sometimes taking months to complete a single painting, and generally working on only one painting at a time.
The exhibition’s title, Enduring Concerns, references his steadfast consistency, and intense focus on a small number of subjects. According to Hennessey, “my work is episodic – there are clusters of paintings that fall into categories, such as ‘Windows’, ‘Irish Paintings’, ‘Italian Paintings’, and ‘Furniture’, among others.” All episodes of the artist’s illustrious time in Baltimore will be represented in this rare survey.
James J. Hennessey earned his undergraduate degree at Illinois Wesleyan University and a graduate degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he studied with Richard Diebenkorn, Wendell Black, and Roland Reiss. Hennessey’s first teaching position was at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, where he was hired in 1960.
In 1962, one of Hennessey’s paintings was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition, “Recent Painting U.S.A., The Figure”. The show was a juried exhibit that subsequently toured the country after the New York opening. In the same year, the American Academy in Rome, Italy awarded Hennessey “The Rome Prize”. As a result, he was in residence for two years in Rome and exhibited in several galleries both in Rome and Milan.
In 1965 Hennessey joined the faculty of MICA, where he taught until he retired in 2002. During this time he accrued an extensive exhibition record with works shown in New York at the Marilyn Pearl Gallery, the Boris Mirski and Alpha Galleries in Boston, and at the Pensler Galleries in Washington, DC, to name a few. He directed programs for students, faculty, and professional artists in Italy and France, including the MICA Italian Program in Sorrento, Italy, and the Alfred and Trafford Klots Residency Program in Rochefort-en-Terre, France. His paintings continue to be fueled by his extensive European experiences.
James Hennessey maintains an active studio in downtown Baltimore, Maryland.