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Since she first picked up a paintbrush, Nicole White Kennedy has captured mostly still scenes on her canvas.
For the past year or so, she has tackled a new challenge, spending much of it with the Carolina Ballet. Kennedy hasn’t become a dancer; she has been trying to represent the beauty and grace of ballet through her art.
“That is the big obstacle in this – how do you take performing arts in motion and freeze it?” she said.
More First Friday
Designbox, 307 W. Martin St., “HAPPY,” large-scale paintings by comics artist Paul Friedrich
Gallery C, 540 N. Blount St., oil paintings from the 1930s and 1940s by Harry Demaine
Litmus Gallery and Studios, 312 W. Cabarrus St., “Exposed: Nudes in Art 2012,” featuring 29 artists’ take on the human form
Visual Art Exchange, 309 W. Martin St., 24th Annual Young Artists Exhibit featuring local elementary, middle and high school students
Flanders Gallery, 302 S. West St., “New Angles,” featuring oil paintings by geometric abstraction artist Ashlynn Browning
Blake Street Studios, 300 Blake St., first annual group show featuring work from Patina Collaborative, Scentuosity, Victoria Powers Studio Ten, African Beauty, The Gaille Collection, Julia Freifeld Fine Art, Locally Gourmade and Lisa Stewart Designs
LGBT Center of Raleigh, 411 Hillsborough St., oil and acrylic paintings by Clara K. Johnson
N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences store’s Nature Art Gallery, 11 W. Jones St., “Light of the Wild,” nature photography by Scott Hotaling
Tipping Paint Gallery, 428 S. McDowell St., “7 Solutions to Holiday Giving”
Want to go?
First Friday, from 6 to 9 p.m., is a monthly art event in downtown Raleigh. Galleries stay open late and many restaurants offer special deals. To learn more, go online to FirstFridayRaleigh.com.
Kennedy will unveil the results Friday, opening her exhibit “The Carolina Ballet On Canvas” at her North Person Street space, Nicole’s Studio and Art Gallery. She’s putting the finishing touches this week on 20 paintings depicting scenes from the rehearsal process.
“The movement ones are absolutely the most complex,” she said. “I’ve approached that from some different techniques. Some of it has to do with brushwork, blurry edges – more impressionism helps convey the movement of the figures. In some I actually freeze the movement.”
The idea for the series grew out of Kennedy’s friendship with Carolina Ballet artistic director Robert Weiss. She approached him about the project, and he opened up the group’s studio.
“In the course of a year, I intermittently went to the studio or the stage to photograph with my own camera and experience the process of the ballet being choreographed, which created a far more interesting connection for me as a painter to be a witness,” she said.
Kennedy said the ballet’s creative process made a big impression. “There were times when I was almost speechless, and I didn’t want to take pictures so I could watch the beauty of them dancing without costume,” she said. “You’re just in awe at how these bodies can do this. It’s almost mind-boggling.”
She wound up with 1,000 photos of the dancers and based the paintings off her favorites. And while she has taken an abstract approach to many of the works, some Carolina Ballet fans have told her they can still recognize specific dancers.
To give back to the dancers, Kennedy plans to donate 7 percent of sales to the organization. “It’s really my honoring the ballet,” she said.
Kennedy had been drawing for much of her life, including a stint at an ad agency, when she got into painting shortly after moving to Raleigh. Her husband was opening Caffé Luna downtown, and he asked her to help decorate the space by painting. She opened her gallery in 2000 and now represents 25 artists.
With the ballet project behind her, Kennedy plans to return to her popular series of beach scenes. She said she might even tackle the N.C. Symphony too.