Recently, I sat down with Eureka Springs artist-in-residence Julie Kahn Valentine for an interview for my book. Julie did the artwork for the program cover for Main Stage Community Theater’s recent sold-out Vaudeville show, which was great fun.
I mainly wanted to talk with Julie about her friend Bettina Whitman, who had a private gallery in Eureka Springs decades ago. Bettina’s life could be a movie. Heck, it should be a movie. But she was a very private person during her years in Eureka Springs, so I knew more about her life before she moved here – especially her time with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and her aristocratic Italian background.
Julie became good friends with Bettina, and helped her when she became sick.
Of course, Julie has plenty of interesting stories of her own. Her days painting portraits and Mardi Gras posters in New Orleans’ Jackson Square. The art festival she helped start in California’s Laguna Beach that is still going strong today. That time she was an art tutor for John Jr. and Caroline Kennedy in Hawaii. And of course she was named Eureka Springs’ Artist-in-Residence by the town’s hippie biker mayor Schoe in the 1980s.
I also talked with Julie about how the town has changed over the decades.
“I still, at 79, after being here since 1970, don’t understand this town,” she told me. “It changes every day.”
You can see some of Julie’s artwork on Facebook.