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Contemporary landscape artist Julie Fritz creates abstract landscapes to benefit Massey

Nov 03, 2021

image_of_julie_fritz Julie Fritz

Contemporary artist Julie Fritz is inspired by the world around her. The landscapes she paints — including scenic places like creeks, rivers, bays, lakes and oceans — are layered in oil, wax and other substances that abstract the realism of the scenes depicted to evoke a reaction and tell a story. 

As a long-time VCU Massey Cancer Center donor and volunteer, Fritz is also passionate about changing the realities of cancer and supporting Massey’s vision for a future without cancer, or at least one where the hard realities of cancer are diminished.
During the months of October and November, Fritz is showing an exhibition of recent abstract landscape paintings at ShoreDog Cafe in Richmond’s near West End, with 20% of all sales will be donated to Massey.

The show, entitled “Finding the Shore,” features fifteen abstract paintings, all oil abstract landscapes on cradled birch board, which requires no frame, and are available for purchase. They range in size from 12” x 12” to larger sizes (36” x 48”; 30” x 60”; and 24” x 36”), with titles like “The James Remember,” “Tye River Coming Down” and “Tidewater Twilight,” and are priced from $350 to $2,500.

Fritz is hoping to not only raise money to support cancer research at Massey, but to raise its profile, as well.  She is presenting the exhibition, in part, to raise awareness and funds for 2021-22 Women and Wellness, a campaign that, for 27 years has engaged and empowered women in the fight against cancer.

Fritz was a founding member of Women and Wellness nearly three decades ago.  And, she still believes in the strength and fortitude of women. The motto for this year’s Women and Wellness campaign is “Together, WE can.”

Women and Wellness is highlighted by its annual signature luncheon at The Jefferson Hotel on February 8, 2022. Tickets go on sale to the public on December 1, 2021, and this year’s keynote speaker is Emmy award-winning journalist and cancer survivor Suleika Jaouad.

A future without cancer may seem like an ambitious goal, but to Fritz there is no more worthy cause.  She has seen first-hand the innovative research at Massey for over three decades. About 30 years ago, she began hearing about the remarkable breast cancer research that was being done at Massey, she says. It was around that time that Fritz was diagnosed with breast cancer and treated at Massey.

“At Massey, I immediately found myself surrounded by a team of physician-scientists who were engaged in critical research and clinical trials that directly benefited me,” she said.

Today, Fritz is a proud cancer survivor and is dedicated to giving back and to spreading the word about Massey, which she believes is the place to go when facing a cancer diagnosis. 

“Every time I hear another story about the cancer care that friends are receiving at Massey, I am reminded how vital it is to support Massey’s mission,” she says. “I never want to hear Massey described as a well-kept secret.  I am committed to building awareness, so all people across central Virginia facing cancer will know where to seek treatment and information.”

“All of my landscapes are grounded in a real place and time,” says Fritz of her art and process. “But, I add to them a multitude of available ingredients, including top-grade oils, cold wax, sand, gold leaf, marble dust, graphite and dry pigments.”
Fritz’s art can have between 20 and 30 layers of color and texture that she applies to a large birch board.

“On this sturdy board, much drama takes place as layer upon layer of oil color and cold wax is applied and manipulated, stressed and then scraped back to reveal the rocks and rivers and soil as they are willing to express themselves. The end result is a complex transparency which brings the painting to life,” Fritz said. “I always hope my paintings are just abstract enough to take the viewer deeper without losing the essence of place. I love how abstract art engages viewers and encourages them to spend time looking at the work.”

Outside of painting and volunteering for Massey, Fritz is a published author who has written two books. “Keepers of the Sangres” is about living in one of the last ranching valleys in Colorado, and “Remembering a Hill: Growing up in the Fifties” is a memoir of her childhood in east Tennessee during the Eisenhower era.

She is a collector of quotes, which she fills journals with. But her favorite is one that her mother often said, “Treat everyone as if his heart were breaking.” This is advice she tries to follow and to pass down to her own children and grandchildren.

When asked her proudest achievement to date, either professionally or personally, Fritz says, “I like to think I haven’t done it yet. That is what drives me!”

Massey extends its deepest gratitude to Fritz and to Shore Dog Cafe for standing with Massey to raise funds and awareness about the cancer fight.


Written by: Katherine Layton

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