Former Wilmington gallery owner Merrimon
Kennedy now makes her home and paints in
Santa Fe, New Mexico.
by Mackenzie Tewksbury
WHEN art gallery owner Merrimon Kennedy
decided to leave Wilmington, she was long-ing
for a change — something radically dif-ferent
from her life here.
She was used to the hustle and bustle,
curating art shows at her gallery and not having a lot of time of
time to paint.
She had heard over
and again: “Oh, if you
love art, you’ll love
So, with a
desire to expe-rience
part of the
country and a
focus on creat-ing
more art, she
and her husband
began a road trip
out west, culminating
in Santa Fe. By the time they
were on a plane headed back to Wilmington, they both were well
on their way to a decision.
“It just seemed like a really good place. It really resonated with both of us,” she said.
Kennedy owned New Elements Gallery in Wilmington for nearly 30 years. She always assumed she’d become a painter, so owning
a gallery was an unexpected but rewarding experience, Kennedy explained. “It was a really creative endeavor. I was selecting artists
to represent and being involved in the advancement of their career, curating shows and assisting clients in building their collections,”
she said. “Those things became the building blocks to where I am today.” Kennedy says she believes the opportunity at New Elements
gave her the experience, knowledge and confidence to pursue her full-time painting career. “I kind of did it backwards. I ran a gallery
first and then became a painter,” she said. “I had decided that I wanted the opportunity in some point in my life to focus full time on my
Though she wouldn’t trade her time in Wilmington and the creative lessons learned at New Elements Gallery for anything, she found
unexpected solace in a piece of land sandwiched between the Pojoaque Pueblo and the San Ildefonso Pueblo community and the peaceful
art of plein air — painting outdoors.
“I really never thought about painting landscapes until I got here and I just felt like I had to get this out of my system,” she said.
Again, it was quite the opposite of what she was used to; in Wilmington, she often spent her time painting more abstract works. She
actually once thought plein air painters were crazy, “Why would you want to lug all your equipment outdoors and put up with the ele-art
COURTESY OF MERRIMON KENNEDY
WBM may 2019