Artist Scott O. Kennedy lives in Baja and captures its very essence.
by Tom Gatch
Artist Scott O. Kennedy’s ongoing love affair with the Baja California peninsula spans the decades. Today, his home on Baja Norte’s Pacific coast overlooks the turquoise waters of La Bufadora cove at the tip of the picturesque Punta Banda peninsula just south of Ensenada. From there, he can observe the pristine natural beauty that surrounds him, and sit upon his deck with either brush or pen in hand to carefully transfer his interpretation of what he feels and what he sees to canvas or paper.
After moving to central Mexico in 1972 for schooling at the renowned Bellas Artes de Mexico in San Miguel de Allende, he studied with master artists from Mexico and Europe. Not long afterward, Kennedy flew to Denmark with the intention of finding a classic wooden sailing vessel that he could bring back to the west coast of North America and eventually take up residence once again in Mexico.
He spent much of his youth meandering around the waterfront in his hometown of Newport Beach, California. During that time, he amassed an unparalleled collection of memories of one of the most prominent and exclusive anchorages on the west coast; Newport Harbor, and has preserved them forever with the aid of paintbrush and pen.
Kennedy ascribes a great deal of his success to the tireless and ongoing moral support of his mother, Dorothy, who’s unfailing belief in his remarkable artistic ability helped to keep him focused on his aesthetic pursuits, which eventually turned into a successful and rewarding career.
He held his first art exhibit when he was only 13 years of age, and handily managed to sell every work that he had on display. Shortly thereafter, he attended another show in the town of Avalon on Catalina Island, where Arthur Beaumont, a commissioned artist for the U.S. Navy during World War II, happened to be one of the judges. Beaumont was so impressed with Scott’s talent that he later became a mentor. By the time he was barely 16, he had been selected by California Governor, and future President, Ronald Regan, to create a pen and ink rendition of the Sacramento Governor’s mansion for he and his wife, Nancy.
Kennedy has also been hailed by many as a true ‘mariner’s artist’ because of his ingenious and sensitive portrayal of both modern and classic sailing vessels. Amongst his many accolades, Kennedy has earned the distinction of being the official artist for the annual Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race, the largest international nautical event of its kind.
The legendary J. Russell Jinishian, who has long been recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on contemporary marine art, once expressed the opinion, “Nobody can sit down quite the way Scott Kennedy does, with a simple pen and piece of paper, and make sense out of all that they are looking at in such a beautiful and elegant way.”
Jinishian was neither the first nor the last to acknowledge the remarkable talents possessed by Kennedy. He is an artist with the uncanny gift of being able to capture and bring to life the spirit of ancient ships from over a century past, and makes them appear as if they were still sailing the seas today. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why his work was selected by Fox Studios to be used in their popular motion picture, Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World, starring the award winning actor, Russell Crowe.
Over the past decade, he has traversed both remote and populated regions of Baja California peninsula with the mission of rendering aesthetically sensitive portrayals of the rich culture and rugged natural beauty of what some have referred to as Mexico’s forgotten peninsula.
Scott O. Kennedy is presently in the process of completing several upcoming projects, one of them is a book of paintings and sketches that retrace the steps of legendary writer, John Steinbeck, and his friend, Dr. Ed Rickett’s. The work will depict their epic journey around the coast of the Baja California peninsula over half a century ago, which is documented in Steinbeck’s book, The Log of the Sea of Cortez.
One thing is certain, however; with Kennedy standing at the helm with pen and brush in hand; his upcoming endeavors are bound to sail as straight and keen a course as all the others he has artfully skippered to the delight of his many appreciative fans around the world.
‘Hooked on Baja’ author & columnist, Tom Gatch, is one of Baja’s foremost writers with a focus upon outdoor and recreational topics in Baja and Southern California.
Art galleries, including that of Scott O. Kennedy (Galeria La Bufadora — also on Facebook — on the Carreterra La Bufadora, which is the road to the Bufadora in Punta Banda, at Celia’s Plaza, locale 4) are one of the regional delights! Find out where to stay when you visit Ensenada!
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