Vicksburg artist Kennith Humphrey mourned by many whose lives he impacted

Published 1:43 pm Friday, March 10, 2023

Beloved Vicksburg-based artist Kennith Humphrey passed away on March 2. He was known for his vibrant, impressionistic paintings that captured life’s intimate, sometimes surreal aspects in the Deep South.

Lesley Silver, owner of the Attic Gallery on Washington Street, had worked with Humphrey for 25 years. She recalled when she first met him in 1998.

“A man walked in with a bunch of art rolled up under his arm. He had recently returned to Vicksburg and gotten a new job, but wanted to see if we would be interested. When he unrolled the bundle, we were blown away,” Silver said. “Before the sun set that day, people were falling under his spell. My life was changed, and our friendship was born. Kennith was magical with his palette, his subject matter, his choices, and energy. His mind and fingers were always moving, not at rest, because he had so much to say and bring to all of us.”

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Silver said she will never forget Humphrey’s impact on those who knew him and his work.

“He filled our lives with enthusiasm, and we were the beneficiaries of his talent, conversation, and genius. For more than 20 years his work came to define the Attic Gallery, and people came from all over to meet him here,” Silver said. “He was our most popular artist. There is a hole in our lives because of the huge loss of him and all the paintings we will never see. To us, he will always be a painting genius.”

In a prior interview, Humphrey spoke about his process and what his work meant to him.

“I don’t call them paintings. I call them ‘sketches’ because they capture a fleeting moment. My art is not realism but infinite, not exact. It is an escape from realism, an interpretation of a moment. I don’t call it a certain style. It’s free-flowing, being myself. It’s my quick interpretation, like the click of the camera with brush and paint. I want to paint how people are at that moment.”

Local artist H.C. Porter, too, had a deep connection with Humphrey. After learning of Humphrey’s death, she said that it was time for Humphrey to rest because he had worked so hard.

“I can imagine that he is resting peacefully, knowing he really pursued his dreams and his vision,” Porter said. “And he impacted so many people all over the country, and I’m sure all over the world, who live with his work and enjoy his energy and his vibrancy and his kinetic storytelling that come through in what he did.”

Funeral services for Humphrey are to be held on Sunday, March 12, at 11 a.m. in the Chapel of W.H. Jefferson Funeral Home. Visitation will be held on Sunday from 10 to 11 a.m.