100 YEAR OLD WWII VET
To Exhibit Impressive Landscape Collection at Byrne Gallery
Written by Shayda Windle
When World War II veteran Gerald (“Gerry”) Hennesy reached his 100- year milestone birthday, his family treated him to one more flight in an open-cockpit biplane — the same type of plane he flew while training to be a naval aviator during World War II. Hennesy served in some of the most dangerous missions during the Pacific Theater, flying Corsair bomber-fighters off the USS Yorktown CV-10. He flew over 100 missions under the command of Admiral William “Bull” Halsey, who was made a fleet admiral — the highest rank for naval officers — in December 1945. Afterward World War II, Hennesy returned to active duty and served in the Korean conflict.
Despite Hennesy’s unparalleled level of patriotism and service in the Navy, he always had a natural talent for the arts, so much so that he attended the prestigious Corcoran Art School in Washington, D.C. on scholarship after the war. Upon graduation, he began his art career as a Washington newspaper artist. Hennesy then decided to pursue a career in art full-time as a landscape artist and has spent most of his life focusing on fine art impressionistic painting, in oil and watercolor, working both Pleinair and in his studio. He has maintained a studio in Virginia since 1972 and spent many years traveling along the East Coast and to Europe with a paintbrush in hand.
It’s these experiences traveling the world that have inspired much of his oil-on-canvas and Pleinair landscape paintings exhibited throughout his lifetime. His most recent show “To the Beach” just wrapped up at Byrne Gallery, featuring impressionistic paintings of the coastal waters of the eastern seaboard created by himself, in addition to works by his son, Shawn Hennesy.
“I’ve enjoyed painting since I was a young boy, and have painted all my life,” Hennesy says. “There must be something in my genes, as I have many relatives who are or were artists.” Hennesy’s son, Shawn, learned to paint under the guidance of his father as well as his brother, Paul Hennesy.
“One of the beauties of art is that a goal of complete perfection is never attainable,” Hennesy says. “There is always a new artistic problem to solve with each painting and this is what continues to keep my life interesting.” Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he and his family spent summers up and down the east coast, exploring the beauty of the Atlantic for inspiration. They traveled to places like Maine and the Outer Banks, where they experienced the joy and exhilaration of the ocean air and seaside. The constant change in colors, surf, and temperature is something that Hennesy so brilliantly captures throughout his original landscape and seascape paintings.
Hennesy focuses on depicting the effect of light on his landscape and maritime subjects while retaining his freshness of color and expressive brushwork. He has been showcased at Byrne Gallery for many years, in addition to being exhibited widely in commercial and museum galleries, including the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Georgia Museum of Art, The Corcoran Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian Museum. His paintings are in numerous private, corporate, and public collections, including the U. S. House of Representatives, the State Department, the Maryland State Mansion, the DAR Headquarters, and the American Legion Headquarters.
Hennesy’s next show at Byrne Gallery in Oc- tober will feature local landscapes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah Valley, and Goose Creek. In addition to his work at Byrne Gallery, Primis Bank in Middleburg is currently displaying about thirty of Hennesy’s original paintings including a gorgeous fall scene with wonderful orange and yellow colors of autumn.
“I have been very fortunate to be able to do something I love for so many years,” Hennesy says. “I am 100 years old and I am enjoying each day of my life by painting landscapes and seascapes. As you look at them and contemplate them, I hope they will bring joy into each day of your life.” ML
For more information about Hennesy’s work, please contact the Byrne Gallery at 540-687-6986. The gallery hours are 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, and Sunday noon – 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday are by appointment only. The artist’s reception will be held on the second Saturday in October.
This article first appeared in the September 2021 Issue.