Kenny Bowers : Chef, Artist, Philanthropist
All creative expressions allow a sense of sharing and a feeling of freedom. Creativity is the pure, unadulterated vision of the creator of whatever that expression is. I’ve always been known in my adult life as someone who has created great food and comfortable restaurants. I’ve earned awards for those creations, and I have been blessed to be very successful in those creative ventures. But all self-expression invites risk. In the restaurant business, I have always put my vision to my guests in the form of menus, how my restaurants are designed, how I want to share my sense of hospitality through our team service, and in our own way to provide a few hours of entertainment and nourishment to our guests. My teams and I have been true to that vision and the risk we have taken has been mostly rewarded.
But as with all creative people I know and have been inspired by, there comes a time when new challenges and risks are needed, new avenues of expression are attempted. In the past few years, the challenge I have taken on is painting. For as long as I can remember, I have dabbled with paint and ‘escaped’ to my studio to experiment with what I might be able to create with my interest. I’ve always been drawn to abstract impressionism and the vibrant colors and expressions of paintings with texture. At first it was a whimsical pursuit and an outlet for me to express another side of my creative self. It became much more as I learned, took a few classes, sought further instruction, and started to share my works with trusted friends. They all loved what I was doing! Not surprisingly, the majority of those whom I shared my works with saw immediately my nature of positivity coming through my artwork. Through their encouragement and my own love of this new form of creative expression, I got much deeper into my artwork. It literally unlocked a way for me to express hopeful, positive feelings with bright colors, textures and my consistent message of hope and positive outlook on life. Something I have had to learn, as I’m sure most of you reading this have had to do, over the course of my adult life.
The next challenge was what do I do with this inspiration I was experiencing. Based on my own upbringing and many of the struggles and challenges I had to endure in my own childhood, my natural focus became children. How could I benefit children with what was becoming my burgeoning and somewhat prolific output of artwork. My team and I had a wall at my Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill that we decided could display up to four or five of my paintings. We had special lighting installed and I started to frame some of my pieces for hanging in my restaurant. And I decided that I wanted St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to be the benefactor of any sales that I might have. St. Jude’s is a shining and heartwarming example of an organization 100% dedicated to the care of children and an obsessive policy of paying for all expenses related to children’s care. I didn’t hesitate and I set up an arrangement with St. Jude’s to receive 100% of the proceeds of any sale of my displayed artwork.
I set prices for my work that made them affordable to friends, customers and even my staff at the restaurants. What started as a genuine but small expression of myself has turned into a wonderful and exciting part of my life. From the start of this interest, we have sold over 50 of my paintings and have donated over $25,000 (as of summer ’22) to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. My heart fills with joy as I write this! Beyond my wildest dreams and hopes!
Where this all leads and what this all can become is not my focus right now but I was enthusiastically encouraged by my dear friends to put together this website as another means of offering my artwork up for this wonderful charity hospital. I remain entirely committed to providing my artwork for sale for St. Jude’s benefit and this website is just another step in that direction.
Artists and friends reinforce my energy and support my drive. I continue to draw inspirations from some of the well-known artists whose work I study, and I will end with a quote from one of my favorite artists who says it best:
“I found that I could say things with colors and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way, things I had no words for”. – Georgia O’Keefe
I am blessed to be able to share these inspirations with you and I am honored that you have taken the time to read my story.
With gratitude and deep appreciation,