James Hennessey has lived in Baltimore, Maryland since 1965. He grew up in Oak Park, the Chicago suburb that was home to Ernest Hemingway and Frank Lloyd Wright. Hennessey earned his undergraduate degree at Illinois Wesleyan University and a graduate degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he studied with Richard Diebenkorn, Wendell Black and Roland Reiss. While at Boulder, he was selected to represent Colorado at the Yale Summer School at Norfolk, Connecticut. At that time, Hennessey’s work was influenced by the San Francisco Figurative painters.
James Hennessey’s first teaching position was at the University of Illinois, at Champaign-Urbana, where he was hired in 1960.
In 1962, one of Hennessey’s paintings was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition, “Recent Painting U.S.A., The Figure.” The show was a juried exhibit that toured the country after the New York opening. In the same year the American Academy in Rome awarded Hennessey “The Rome Prize.” He was in residence for two years in Rome and exhibited in several commercial galleries in the City and also had a one-man exhibition in Milan.
In 1965 Hennessey joined the faculty of the Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore. While in Baltimore he accrued an extensive exhibition record, with works shown in New York at the Marilyn Pearl Gallery, in Boston at the Boris Mirski and the Alpha Galleries, in Washington DC at the Pensler Galleries, to name a few.
Hennessey’s most recent solo exhibitions, “Enduring Concerns” and “Enduring Concerns: 50 years of Painting in Baltimore”, debuted at the Creative Alliance in 2017 and the Lazaraus Center at Maryland Institute College of Art in 2018.