Written by: 
Lisa Sciortino
Photography by: 
Pete Comparoni

Going viral is on Kendall Myers' ('14) to-do list.

The portrait artist and photographer co-owns The Oak Street Studio on the Denton Square, which serves as the set of Painting with People, a YouTube series she launched earlier this year. Each 30-minute episode features Myers and a guest seated behind a pair of easels and engaged in a lively conversation while painting portraits of one another.

Unlike Myers, however, most of the guests are not artists -- rather, they're people from throughout the Denton community who are pursuing their personal and professional passions.

"I wanted to be able to sit down with people, hear their stories, learn more about them and what drives them, because if they can inspire me, maybe they can inspire someone else," Myers explains of her idea for the series, which she began developing two years ago.

The completed canvases resulting from the recently wrapped first season of Painting with People will be displayed June 7-29 at the UNT CoLab -- the downtown Denton art gallery, boutique and event venue that's run through the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism.

The exhibit will be Myers' first-ever gallery show. An opening reception scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. June 7 will feature a live version of Painting with People, as she interviews Kristen Kendrick Bigley, director of the CoLab, while the two paint each other's likenesses.

"We're always looking to showcase the work of alumni and this project epitomizes that," Kendrick Bigley says. "Kendall's talent is so obvious. What she does is just innate. Plus, with the series and dual portraits, there's a fun factor in this that will engage audiences and be different than a traditional art exhibition."

Denton-Inspired
Kendall Myers
Kendall Myers ('14)

Raised in Allen, Myers says she "always loved the idea of being an artist" but grew up believing it would be difficult to make a living at it. Nevertheless, she took her first art class in high school and, after earning an associate degree at Collin College, spent a semester at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Connecticut before returning to North Texas.

In 2010, Myers transferred to UNT and took art classes while earning a customizable bachelor's degree in integrative studies with focuses on business management, international studies and public affairs.

Although most of her courses were online, Myers was active on campus with the UNT Korean Culture Exchange. "It opened up my world to another culture," she says.

After graduating, Myers met the owner of a photography business through her church and began assisting them on photo shoots. Before long, she began photographing friends and family members as a side hustle before establishing her own business. Myers spent eight years working as a wedding photographer alongside her husband, David Myers, who captured the nuptials on video.

In 2021, the couple purchased The Oak Street Studio, which she describes as "a natural-light creative space" that serves as their office space and is used to rent to others for photo and video shoots, podcast recordings and small events.

Chasing Dreams

Around the same time, Myers decided to put down her camera and return to her first love -- portrait painting. "I was really trying to be intentional about bringing the practice back and I was sad how much skill I had lost," she says.

That's also when she first devised the concept for Painting with People, which she fleshed out with the help of her husband, who attended UNT from 2009 to 2011. "I thought, 'I would love to paint portraits of people who inspire me while they tell their story,'" she recalls. "He said, 'What if y'all had these conversations while they were also painting you?' That's how it started."

She went to work in April 2023 recording the series. Guests have included a few of Myers' personal friends including Aaron Snipes ('20 M. M.E.), the band director at Denton ISD's Braswell High School, who fell in love with music at age 4. Meanwhile, fashion designer Jennifer Stanley ('24 M.F.A.) appeared on the second episode and explained how her work supports survivors of domestic abuse. 

"The people I've interviewed, they have inspired my life. They have inspired me to pursue painting and drawing or filming the show because it has been a dream and an idea for so long. To watch people live out their dreams was so inspiring it motivated me to launch mine," Myers says.