Julie McNair

Julie McNair

The girl can’t help it. Sculptor and long-time Telluride local Julie McNair was born to make art.


Her mother had studied fine art and music in college. Her grandmother was an antique dealer with a large collection of dolls from Europe and China. Both women were always up to something creative. McNair’s entire family encouraged her in her personal goal to become a professional artist.


Julie gathered credentials. She studied sculpture at North Texas State University and then earned a master of fine art in sculpture at the University of Wyoming.


After graduating, Julie worked as an Artist-in-Residence for Northwest Community College in Powell, Wyoming, where she taught bronze casting and set up a foundry and was then hired as an Assistant Professor at Mississippi State University to teach ceramics, sculpture design and art appreciation. She was director of the Art League of Houston, which involved running all aspects of a non-profit school and gallery.


Julie moved to Telluride in 1985 in search of less stressful work and a more laid back lifestyle. She owned and operated McNair Gallery for more than 17 years, where she represented herself and other emerging artists. She also taught at Telluride’s Ah Haa School.


She is now represented by the Slate Gray Gallery.


Julie McNair makes doll-like figures – but don’t be thinking of Barbie. Barbie has curves. McNair’s whimsical creations throw you a few.


Over the years Julie mined that rich history of doll-making (which dates back 25,000 years) to make fantastical clay images that, like their cultural antecedents, make an invisible life visible: namely hers. Julie’s doll-like forms are at once ironical and allegorical, personal and universal, but always, they are magically expressive and tinged with pathos and/or humor. (The artist is blessed with a rapier wit.)

If Julie McNair’s work of the past several years reflects the human condition, the artist is tight-lipped about her conclusions. In general, she leaves it up to us to say what condition our condition is in.