Julia Wickes didn’t plan to be an artist when she grew up. She really didn’t know any professional artists in her hometown of Bedford, Indiana. She thought she would be a psychiatrist, a social worker or a teacher. Always an avid reader, Wickes loved the idea of storytelling, too.


At age 21, Wickes lived with family friends for the summer in Switzerland. By rail and car, they traveled throughout Western Europe and Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe, where she witnessed the sights of history, famous literature and the political situations of Europe in 1970. Through everyday routines, she was exposed to new and different foods (yogurt!), heard many different languages spoken and observed other cultural differences. There grew a realization that she was part of a bigger world and that in spite of cultural differences, there was much commonality. 


Wickes and her husband, Jack, moved to Washington, DC, in 1975. Their Washington life included historical museums, art museums, and a front row seat at the political epicenter. Wickes also enrolled in her first painting class.


In 1982, Wickes started her first company, Grand Designs, in Indianapolis, Indiana. She assisted small businesses and non-profit companies in telling their business stories through illustration and design services. In 1998, seeking classical art training, Wickes enrolled in classes at John Herron School of Art, IUPUI in Indianapolis, and at age 52, she completed her BFA with a major in Painting and a minor in Art History. (This was the school which had awarded her grandmother a scholarship in 1917) She now devotes her time to fine art painting and occasional design and illustration projects.


Wickes employs color and mark-making to achieve her narrative figurative and abstract work. She envisions stories and the inner lives of people she’s been looking at all of her life; people in books that she has read; in movies she has seen; and memories. A gesture or a glance can have universal meaning, and Wickes seeks to capture that in her paintings. 


She  often turns to her major art influences to see the next step -- to Henri Matisse for his composition, fluid drawing style and rich use of color; to Richard Diebenkorn’s early abstract work and his use of space; and to Wassily Kandinski’s use of music, shape and color . She also studies with contemporary painters, Melinda Cootsona, a Bay Area Figurative painter, and abstract/figurative painter, Pauline Agnew of Ireland.


Though exposed to various genres of music throughout her life, her attention to jazz has risen in tandem with her interest in painting abstractly. She moves fluidly between her figurative work and her abstract work, focusing on the inner meanings. Shape, design and color are the binding properties. 


Wickes has been influenced by the jazz heritage in Indiana and the significant role Indianapolis musicians played in the early formative days of jazz. Many of her paintings reflect that influence.


"I am a communicator,

an interpreter of observed lives.  

I try to create the universal when I paint the individual." 




Recent One-Person Exhibitions

2022 "The Space Between the Notes" Gallery 6202, Indianapolis, IN


2021 "Rhythms & Blues-an artistic confluence of abstraction and musical subjects" The District Theatre, Indianapolis, IN


2018  "Stories We Tell" Petrov Frame Atelier, Indianapolis, IN


2017   Corporate Exhibit--Frost Brown Todd LLC, Indianapolis, IN


2016  "A Connection to Place" Harrison Center for the Arts, Indianapolis, IN


2014.  "Stories" Arts Place, Portland, IN


Recent Two-Person & Group Exhibitions

2023 "Indiana Artists Club" Annual Members Juried Show, Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Indianapolis, IN


2022  "Indiana Artists Club" Annual Members Show,"  Indiana Landmarks Center, Indianapolis, IN 


2022  "Figures of Speech" (Juried) Anderson Museum of Art, Anderson, Indiana


2022  "Indiana Artists Club Annual Juried Show" Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Indianapolis, IN. 


2022  "The Mind's I" (by invitation) A traveling show of self-portraits asking participants to reflect on - What is the relationship between self-reflectionn, self-expression and self-representation; between internal feeling and external appearance?  What is the difference between vanity and self-connsciousness?  How does drawing connect to and enhance perception? Herron School of Art, IUPUI; Indianapolis, IN


2022  "Stutz Artists" (by invitation) Barnes & Thornburg, Indianapolis, IN  


2021   "Live Laugh Love" "Spotlight on the First Place Winners" Anderson Museum of Art (First Prize - Love) Anderson, IN


2021   "Live Laugh Love" Anderson Museum of Art (First Prize - Love) Anderson, IN


2020  "Brrrrgundy" Harrison Center for the Arts (Juried) Indianapolis, IN


2020  "Figures of Speech" Anderson Museum of Art" (Best of Show), Anderson, IN


2019  "Porch Party" Harrison Center for the Arts (Juried), Indianapolis, IN


2019  "Palette: An Appetite for Art". Garfield Park Art Center (Juried), Indianapolis, IN


2018   Bowery Gallery Annual Juried Exhibit (Juried), New York, NY


2018   Saks Gallery Third Thursday, (by invitation) Saks Fifth Avenue, Indianapolis, IN    


2017  As We See It-A Painter and a Photographer were Walking Down the Street---Julia Zollman  Wickes and Jack Wickes" Jewish Community Center, Indianapolis, IN


2016  "A Celebration of Herron Alumni" (one of 40 artists selected to represent Herron from the1930's to  today) Herron School of Art    and Design, IUPUI, Indianapolis, IN


2016  "January Blues-Creating Moods and Emotions" Curator and Exhibitor Stutz Art Gallery,  Stutz Business and Art Center, Indianapolis, IN


2015  "For the Love of Art-Jack and Julia Wickes: Photographer and Painter" Tarkington Tower Gallery,  Indianapolis, IN


2015  "Indianapolis Downtown Artists and Dealers Association (IDADA) Annual Exhibit (Juried) Indianapolis, IN


Media Presentations


2021  JCCIndy Arts featuring Jack and Julia Wickes discussing the art they made during Covid-19's Shut Down Period.


2020  PBS American Portrait Project participant (by invitation)


2020  WTHR TV (Local CBS affiliate) By invitation - Art requested for display:  "Covid 19 Stay-At-Home Order: Art Studios and Galleries Remain Closed, So TV Newscasters Help Out"


Exhibition Judging


2021  "Annual Membership Show" Art Association of Madison County, Inc., Anderson Museum of Art; Anderson, IN




2022  Award of Merit, Indiana Artists Club Annual Juried Show, Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Indianapolis, IN


2021 "Live Laugh Love" - Spotlight on the First Place Winners, Anderrson Museum of Art, Anderson, IN


2020 Best of Show, "Figures of Speech,"  Anderson Museum of Art, Anderson, IN 


2010  First Place, IDADA Annual Juried Show, 914 Gallery, Indianapolis, IN


Workshops Conducted

2009-present  Workshop-"Exploring With Your Sketchbook: A Traveler's Guide to Making Great Art,” a 3-day interactive workshop 


Scholarship Donation


“Julia Zollman Wickes Travel Award” 


--a cash award granted annually to two full-time Herron School of Art students attending overseas art residency programs




2014-present  Workshops with Melinda Cootsona, Menlo Park, CA &  Pauline Agnew, Cork, Ireland


2002 BFA, The Herron School of Art, Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis,  Indianapolis, IN Major-Painting, Minor- Art History


1998  Pont Aven School of Art, Pont Aven, France


1971  B.S., Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, Major-Elementary Education


Recent Employment Experience


1990-1998 Grand Designs, Inc. (a graphic design and illustration studio specializing in working with small businesses to strengthen their brand and publications to illustrate their professionally written articles) 


2002-present  JZ Wickes (fine art studio), Indianapolis, IN (specializing in fine art paintings and drawings, commissions and classes)


Current Professional Affiliations

2020-present Indiana Artists Club, Indiana (juried membership)


2020-present Hoosier Salon, Indiana


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