During the summer had a fun little creative session with Victoria Kennedy who happened to open her first Art Gallery (next to Kean Coffee in Newport Beach in March 2020 and never looked back. Follow our Q + A session below to learn a bit more about this determined and inspiring Gallerist:
Where were you born and raised—and where do you live now?
I was born in San Marino and raised in Corona del Mar/Newport Beach. It was always my goal to leave the OC bubble (which I did for a period of time!), but I am so glad to be back as an adult. My husband and I live in Westside Costa Mesa and we love the creative community out here.
Did you dabble or immerse yourself in art growing up?
Definitely! One of my first art experiences outside of high school was taking a summer drawing course at LCAD. It was an incredibly challenging (and humbling) experience that gave me a lot of respect for artists. Similarly, I took an oil painting course at Stanford University and realized that my skill was not in creating art (ha!). But having experience in working with different artistic mediums gave me an understanding for how the materials work and how difficult it is to create unique and coherent art.
What led you to Stanford University?
I had always had my heart set on Stanford as my parents met there when they were undergraduates and I had many fond memories of the campus and community. Luckily, I was recruited to play water polo at Stanford, so it was a natural fit!
What did you “learn to embrace” about Northern California?
Living in Northern California was really my first time immersed in the beautiful diversity of thought, culture, religion and ethnicity. I really embraced the openness and willingness to learn from others different from myself.
We understand you lived abroad for a spell, how does your experience inform your present day approach to life?
After four years at Stanford, I spent a fifth year studying at Oxford University and using that time to travel and get my fill of academic life. Afterwards, I worked for Backroads, a luxury active travel company, and moved to France to lead tours in Normandy and Brittany.
Life abroad taught me two things: don’t be afraid to ask for help and be open to new experiences. There were times when I couldn’t figure out the best cell phone plan, how to pay road tolls, French dining etiquette, etc. Just asking for advice or assistance shows that you’re willing to put in the effort to integrate with the locals and connect! And ultimately, life is all about human connection.
What is your greatest culinary pleasure?
I LOVE throwing dinner parties, which was why I love the concept of Lark! My go-to dinner is a roast chicken – most of it is done ahead of time, which gives you ample time to socialize with your guests and relax. And the leftovers can often last the whole week!
What is one of your favorite culinary experiences?
When I lived in London, my roommate and I put on an American Thanksgiving for all of our British and international friends. Our oven broke that morning (and luckily got replaced the day-of!), but we managed to make a whole turkey, apple + pecan pie, stuffing, and a salad. We had a blast sharing the traditions of the meal with our friends over many bottles of wine!
What was your first introduction to art?
In high school, I took AP Art History with John Gunnin. I loved learning about history through the lens of art and thoroughly enjoyed the course. It made me want to pursue a minor in Art History at Stanford.
What epiphany about art carries you to where you are today?
All art is contemporary. Meaning every piece is created of its own time and in relation to that day, month, or year when it was conceived. Understanding this helps to put art in context, and context is everything! It’s why we praise Jackson Pollock even though paint splatters seem so trivial and amateurish.
You can look at a piece of art and think “I love this,” which is the most important step to collecting art. You have to love it. The second step is understanding why it was created and why its creation is significant.
One of your favorite things is helping people find the right pieces of art for their home—any inspiring stories (or advice) to share?
When we first opened, we had a client stop by the gallery briefly while at Susie Cakes. Immediately, they grabbed their partner and pulled them into the gallery to see an artwork. They bought it on the spot!
The best part of my job is developing long term relationships with my artists and clients. Although I have been in the contemporary art world for years, it’s been really encouraging to cultivate relationships with new clients as a gallerist representing my own artists. There’s a beauty to investing long term in our artists’ careers and sharing their stories with our clients.
You started a community called The Bohemians Women’s Club what was the catalyst for that?
Yes! I started the Bohemian Women’s Club in partnership with Ali Faulkner from AEF Interiors. We had both recently moved to the area, started businesses, and wanted to expand our professional networks of like-minded women. Since April, we’ve grown our network to about forty local women and host monthly events to connect with and support each other. It’s been awesome to buy from/partner with local women-owned businesses like the Grazing Kitchen, Cabane, Argaux, the Regina Oswald Collection, and (of course) Lark…!
What is the greatest myth about the Art world?
That you need to have a masters or PhD in Art History to understand and buy art… you don’t! Many of our clients buy art because they love it and want something beautiful and meaningful to enrich their lives. You can certainly educate yourself by going to galleries, fairs, auctions, and maybe taking a course in art history, but ultimately it’s about what you love and want to live with.
We know you also love furniture…how did that come about?
If I could outfit my entire home with Sean Woolsey‘s furniture… I would! But for now, I’m happy to showcase some of his pieces in our gallery. Sean was super kind to lend us some of his pieces to create a comfortable gallery environment. One of our artists, Heather Zusman, actually used to work for Sean which initially spurred her interest in woodworking!
If you could be anything other than an Art Curator / Gallerist, what would it be?
I am very happy being a gallerist and probably wouldn’t want to do anything else full time. I’m a true believer that you make the time for things that are important to you. For me, I’ve continued working out, writing and recording songs, going on long walks/hikes with friends, and traveling all while building and running the gallery. Maybe in the future, that will shift and I will renew my scuba diving certification or take a sommelier course (which are on my list of things to do!).
Kennedy Contemporary | @kennedycontemporary
Modern. Organic. Inspirational. Social Dining. Come on a lark with us!