Jen Hemenway is a mixed-media abstract cartoonist who has been drawing and painting since high school. She began her own freelance cartoon business, named 55407 komix after her own publication, 55407, in the early ’90s in Minneapolis. The self-published comic book did well locally. It was sold in some local comic book stores and came to the notice of a Minneapolis magazine called fact sheet five, which reviewed “zines” and other independent publications. 55407 was also distributed via U.S. mail to customers out-of-state. As Ms. Hemenway further developed her cartooning style, she published her work in The Lesbian Review of Books, an international quarterly based in California that was widely read during the ’90s.
A native of Boston, Ms. Hemenway traveled extensively during her early career, expanding and refining her craft. Upon her return to Boston in 2001, she began to paint more and do many art shows in underground venues, most notably at Roslindale Open Studios in Boston. She began to do much artwork on commission, and in 2004 started a custom skateboard company, Upside Skate Decks, which she ran out of her basement in Roslindale.
Jen has been interviewed numerous times on BNN Channel 9 in Boston. She has also been a regular interview subject on the Fitchburg cable access channel. She has had shows in the Fitchburg/Leominster area, at both the Leominster Art Center & Gallery and the Artistree in Fitchburg. Jen has also “painted live” on the streets of Leominster for the Leominster Summer Stroll, painting skateboards and on wood panel. Ms. Hemenway regularly paints on metal, recycled wood, canvas and (of course) skateboards. The mayor of Leominster bought a longboard that Jen painted live on the street, then raffled it off to the appreciative crowd. She has sold lots of work to a local orthodontist who has her work in his offices in Gardner and Leominster. She has also exhibited in galleries in Melrose and Provincetown.
Over the past couple of years, she has started showing work in Philadelphia, and belongs to an artist collaborative called The Mount Airy Art Garage in Philadelphia, which puts her in touch with shows in that area. She has participated in a few exhibits with The Mount Airy Art Garage as well, including a poetry slam event in Philadelphia. She has also shown work at Herman Studios in Philadelphia. Recently she was in an exhibit called the “VOTE”, which was at the Philadelphia city hall during the Democratic National Convention. She is also currently putting together paintings for an exhibit called “Having Our Say” which is in collaboration with The Mount Airy Art Garage as well as the Philadelphia Theater Company.