The Cape Region arts community is in mourning following the unexpected death of painter Julie Molyneux Hoenen June 13.
“We've really lost a very fine artist from the community,” said long-time friend and painter Steve Rogers. “She was a major talent. It's a sad day.”
“It's bewildering,” said Hoenen's best friend, Leslie Ballinger, from home Monday, June 16. “I'm just getting back to normal today.”
Hoenen died in her Lewes home at the age of 59.
Ballinger said she had visited the artist three weeks ago and only heard about her death June 14. Seventy hours later, she said, she was just getting to a point where she could talk about her friend.
Ballinger was an aspiring artist when she met Molyneux in college more than 30 years ago.
“I was trying to draw, but I stopped when I saw real talent,” said Ballinger, 64, laughing.
Despite that dose of reality, the two women grew to be best friends, and Ballinger became one of Hoenen's biggest supporters as she ventured into the world of professional artists.
“I have a house full of her artwork,” she said, estimating at least 15 pieces line her walls. “She was a wonderful artist in all mediums.”
Ballinger was her friend's matron of honor and visited her when she was in the hospital for 82 straight days in 2012.
“She was extremely bright, which was refreshing” said Ballinger.
Asked to recall a favorite memory, Ballinger took a deep breath, laughed again and said they weren't suitable for the paper.
“She had a love of the arts, but she also liked to party,” she said. “She was a lot of fun.”
Hoenen had been painting professionally since 2000. Her work depicted the shoreline, woods, marshlands and farm land.
A winner of many awards, Hoenen has taken part in regional and national shows in eight different states. In 2001, she received a Professional Artist Fellowship from Delaware Division of the Arts, and in 2002, she was placed in the top 100 of the National Arts for the Parks competition. More recently, her work depicted scenes from Coastal Delaware.
Rogers described the scenes of Hoenen's paintings as the water, the ocean and the land where the two met. She had a very clear picture of what she wanted to paint, said Rogers, and she was a master at it.
Local artist Aina Nergaard-Nammack said she met Hoenen 17 years ago when Nammack first moved to the Lewes area.
“Everybody who knew her liked her very much,” she said.
Nammack said Hoenen had a unique style.
“If you saw one of Julie's works, you knew it right away,” she said.
Nammack said she had spoken with the artist last week about participating in the annual Lewes Artists' Studio Tour in September. Hoenen was one of the first ones in organizing the event, she said.
“She sounded fine,” said Nammack in a tone of disbelief.
A memorial gathering will be held at Parsell Funeral Home in Lewes, from 6 to 7 p.m., Thursday, June 19. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Lewes Fire Department.