Dee Shapiro

Dee  Shapiro


Early patterning:


When I was four, my mother taught me to knit. I was intrigued with the counting and the patterns that developed. In retrospect it was a great influence on my choice of subject in my work. As I got older, I was attracted to numbers, math and puzzles. Again, I had no idea that my future would include anything related to those interests.



Early expectations and more patterns:


I grew up in a working-class family and was the first one among all the relatives to go to college. It was expected that I would become a teacher. That seemed to be an elevated, respected position in my family.


I had younger siblings and was the caretaker for them as my mother was often ill. In my spare time, I drew and seemed to be good at it. In elementary school, I won the art award. That was a confirmation for me that I could take it more seriously and so I studied art at Queens College. A semester in Mexico, studying art, further shaped my interest in pattern. [Shapiro has also done a residency at St. Mary’s College in Indiana and will be a returning Fellow next spring at Yaddo.]






One major influence that I can remember was seeing the Protractor Series by Frank Stella in the late ‘60’s. By then I had two children and had been teaching since graduation. It was the geometric and decorative qualities that really knocked me out. My work up to then was mark making, somewhat minimal, yet patterns seemed to develop in some mysterious way.



Island girl:


I live on Long Island. Grew up in Brooklyn. I had little contact with artists as a youth, but managed to seek out artists on Long Island and helped create a cooperative gallery with a number of Long Island Artists. When my work was picked up in New York City my association with artists expanded. Many are friends and share discussion of each other’s work.



Feminist work:


I didn’t associate with any particular movement and was attracted to Minimalism, Conceptualism and to those artists who used numbers, repetition or simple lines in their work, someone like Agnes Martin, Sol LeWitt. But then the Women’s Movement took hold of me and I was able to incorporate the Decorative with my interest in numbers and geometry. Color is also a major component of my work.


I am a feminist and much of my work is identified with feminism in that the work is often associated with female sources or influences. [Shapiro is a member of Women Writing Women’s Lives and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.]I don’t notice a shift in my practice but there has been a societal change among feminists since the beginning of the Women’s Movement.



Going off the grid:


In my early work I color-coded the Fibonacci series of numbers. The Fibonacci series relates to the Golden Ratio and geometry and is found in nature, biology, architecture, and design. I explored all of that in subsequent work. It is a progression that is infinite and varied and resulted in patterns that interested me. I also worked on a grid for years, squeezing paint out of a tube to appear to be weaving or beading or back to knitting. Moving off the grid gave me more freedom to explore.



Mahler beats Bach:


The language of music and art also attracted me. Scale, tone, color, harmony, and so on are words used in both arts. Bach comes to mind as the formal construction that can hold my interest, but Mahler has a greater appeal for his surprise and experimentation.



Systemic patterning:


Systemic painting means simply that one uses a system to make the work. It can be numbers or symbols or anything that is repetitive and organized. The best of it demands figuring it out as well as providing a visual delight.


Pattern can be systematic or not, but often is repetitive. My experience as a textile designer taught me about the repeats of an initial image, thus creating a pattern.





Pattern and decoration relates to the once pejorative of ‘decoration’ associated with craft or low art. The Pattern and Decoration movement elevated ‘decorative’ to high art. All art is decorative, is it not?



Ab, Op, Hard, and Non:


Abstract art can conjure personal associations and imagination, a kind of freedom that representational art restricts.


Op Art is abstract but creates optical movements and illusions.


Hard Edge painting is also abstract and the edges of color or shapes are clean and precise without blending into each other.


Non-objective Painting is also abstract and is work without recognized objects or images.



What a colorful web she weaves:


The Albers Color Course was instrumental in my involvement with colors. And the work in the show is often mistaken for weaving and people like the surprise to find it is paint.



As in a dream of alternative realities, absurd connections, or on a trip passing familiar landscapes in unfamiliar settings, new conscious and unconscious associations are brought to a 2-dimensional surface in my work. In the recent pieces, geometry (seen even in the structure of organic forms) directs composition: arbitrary drops of color undermine control and create shapes that succumb to the overwork of drawings, rendering obsessive intricacies and paint application building the forms.  Collage material adds extraneous influences in a subtle blend.

In the beginning was pattern. First the Fibonacci progression color coded on graph paper, a piece which landed in the Guggenheim Museum in NYC. Next, inclusion in the P & D exhibition at P.S. 1 followed by a series 9of work that included architectural elements off the grid. With all the work, always color, a nod to the Albers studies. A redirection to small horizontal paintings of the geometry in cities and landscapes ensued for a number of years.

Missing the early fascination and engagement with pattern led to more recent work exploring evocative biological and organic forms, the evolution of which is the more recent work as well as borrowing from sources that include other artist's work in a collaborative effort.

In this new body of work, I am unflinchingly forging ahead to newly wrought terrain. 
From Raymond Pettibon
"Ultimately what I have to say about my own work doesn’t have any more access to the truth about my work than anyone else’s reading of it. Of course, I can try to say what I was thinking or doing when I was working on a specific drawing, but when I am working I am not thinking about where I stand.   I am not looking over my shoulder as I work."  


Education: BA, MS, Queens College, New York,  University of Mexico, Mexico City, Brooklyn Museum
2016                             ART 101, Brooklyn, NY
2015                             Andre Zarre Gallery, NYC
2015                             Five Points Gallery, Torrington, CT
2012, 2010, 2009         Andre Zarre Gallery, NYC
2010                             Norfolk Library, Norfolk, CT
2009                             George Billis Gallery, NYC
2006                             Harrison Street Gallery, Frenchtown, NJ
2004                             The Mercy Gallery, Loomis Chafee, Windsor, CT
2004,2002                    Andre Zarre Gallery, NYC, National Arts Club, NYC
2000                             Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA
1998                             Nassau County Museum of Fine Art, Roslyn, NY
1997,94,91,88,85         Andre Zarre Gallery, NYC
1984                             Ana Sklar Gallery, Miami, Fl
1983                             Everson Museum, Syracuse, NY
1981                             Dubins Gallery, Los Angeles, FL, Zenith Gallery,    Pittsburgh,  PA
1979                             Gallery 700, Milwaukee, WI
1978                             St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN
1975-1973                   Central Hall Gallery, Port Washington, NY
1973                            Nassau County Museum of FIne Art, Roslyn, NY
2018     Materiality, Geoffrey Young Gallery (The Knolls), Great Barrington, MA
2018     The Yaddo Six, The National Arts Club, NYC, Matereality, Geoffrey Young Gallery,
             Great  Barrington, MA
2017     The American Dream, Kunsthalle Emden, Emden, Germany
2017    Taconic North, LABspace, Hillsdale, NY,: Mighty Minis, West Cornwall, CT
2017     Women's History Month, Van Deb Editions, LIC, NY
2017     Exhibiting Artist Members, The National Arts Club, NYC.
2017     Thru the Rabbit Hole, Sideshow Nation V, Brooklyn, NY
2016     Casheesh Twenty-Sixteen, Great Barrington, MA
2016     Home Sweet Home, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY
2016     Through the Looking Glass, Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2015     Casheesh Fifteen,  Geoffrey Young Gallery, Great Barrington, MA,:
2015     Panorama, No. 6 Depot, West Stockbridge, MA,: Water’s Edge, Mahasset, LI,:
             Exquisite,  LabSpace, Hillsdale, NY
2014,15 Paperazzi 3,Janet Kurnatowski Gallery, Bklyn,NY: Sideshow Gallery, Bklyn,NY:    
              Long Island Biennial, Huntington, LI
2014      Small Matters of Great Importance, The Edward Hopper House, Nyack, NY
2013     Tryst and Shout, Geoffrey Young Gallery, Great Barrington, MA,: 
             Summer Show, Janet Kurnatowski Gallery, Brooklyn, NY,:
             Op + Pop - Experiments of American artists since 1960, Staatsgalerie,
             Stuttgart, Germany,:
             Sideshow Nation, Bklyn, NY,: Paper, Town, Mirror, Brian Morris Gallery, NY,
2012     XCentric, Geoffrey Young Gallery, Great Barrington, MA
             Casheesh 2, Geoffrey Young Gallery, Great Barrington, MA
             Papperazzi, Janet Kurnatowski Gallery, Bklyn, NY,: Brian Morris Gallery, NY
             Strategic Abstraction, Geoffrey Young Gallery, Great Barrington, MA
2010     Habitat for Artists, NYC
2009     A Book About Death, Queens Museum, NY, MOMA, Wales,:
            Diverse Interludes, Andre Zarre Gallery, NYC
             Summer in the City, George Billis Gallery, NYC
2008     The Last Book, Buenos Aires, Argentina
2007     Goodnight Sun, George Billis Gallery, NYC
2006     Street Scenes, Gallery North, Setauket, LI
2003     The National Art Club, NYC
2001     Jay Etkin Gallery, Memphis, TN,: Uta Stebich Gallery, Lenox, MA
2000     25th Anniversary Show, Andre Zarre Gallery
1996     A Woman's Place, The Museums at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, LI
1993     Artists Books, Islip Museum, Islip, NY
1991     Small Works, Andre Zarre Gallery, NYC
1986     Let's Play House, Bernice Steinbarum Gallery, NYC
1983     Criss-Cross en la Ciudad de Mexico, Galeria Pecanins, Mexico
1982     Criss-Cross, Boulder Art Center, Boulder, CO
1981     Recent Acquisitions, Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY,: Criss-Cross Pattern
             Show, Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO, Women and Art, Suzanne Brown Gallery, Scottsdale   
             AZ, 101 New Acquisitions, Everson Museum, Syracuse, NY,: Criss-Cross, 
             Yellowstone Art Center, Billings, MT, Homework, Women's Hall of Fame, Seneca Falls, NY:
             Abstract Art in the 80's Randolph-Macon College, Lynchburg VA
 1980     Pattern Painters of New York, Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo, NY,:         
              Criss-Cross Pattern Show, NYC,: New Talents, Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield  
              CT,: New York Pattern Painters, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL
 1979     Patterns Plus, Dayton Institute of Art, Dayton, OH,: Patterns on Paper at
             Pace, Pace University, NYC   
 1977     Pattern Painting, PS 1, Long Island City, NY: Pattern, Grid and System Art, Lehight University,
              Bethlehem, PA
 1976     Contemporay Reflections, Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, CT
 1975     Works on Paper, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY: Four Artist Invitational, AIR Gallery, NYC
 1974     18 CUNY Graduate Center, NYC
AG Rosen Collections
Albright College Collection, Reading, PA
Albright-Knox Museum, Buffalo, NY
Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL
Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VA
Citibank Collection, NYC
Corporate Collection, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Dartmouth Museum of Art, Hanover, NH
Dayton Institute, Dayton, OH
William Louis-Dreyfus Collection, Mount Kisco, NY
Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NYC
Heckscher Museum, Huntington, NY
Hoffman-LaRoche Collection, Zurich, Switzerland
Lehigh University Collection, Bethlehem, PA
Museum of Friends, Walsenburg, CO
Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC
Neuberger Museum, Purchase, NY
Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
New York University Collection, NYC
Oklahoma Art Center, Oklahoma City, OK
Owens-Corning Corp., Corning, NY
Pepsico Corporation, NY
Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, KS
St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN
Texaco Corporation, NY
United States Department of State, Washington, DC
University of Arkansas, Litle Rock, AK
William Louis-Dreyfus Family Collection

James Panero, Supreme Fiction, March, 2010, Piri Halaz, From the Mayor’s Doorstep, April 2010
Steve Starger, Art New England, Dee Shapiro: “On The Horizontal,” Feb/Mar 2005
Maureen Mullarkey, The New York Sun,”The Last Time I Saw Cuba,”  April 15, 2004
James Kalm, NY ARTS, International Edition, April 2000,
Helen Harrison, The New York Times, April 12,1998, April 11, 1981
Barbara Colin, "Pattern of a Painter" New York Arts Journal , Oct-Nov 1981
Harald Szeeman, "Pattern Paintings" D U Die Kunstzeitschrift, Zurich, June 1979
Ellen Lubell, "Lush Complexities and Visual Indulgence" Soho Weekly News, Feb.13, 1979
Judith Tannenbaum,  Arts Magazine, April 1978
Peter Frank, "Pattern Painting", ARTnews, 1978
April Kingsley, "Oppulent Optimism", The Village Voice, Nov. 28. 1977
John Canaday, "Talent Blooms", The New York Times, May 9. 1976
Curatorial Work
Food in Art, Stage Set Designs, Artist's Books, Late Career Artists
Gallery Director, North Shore Community Art Center 1977-1980
Tailored: Stitched, Patched, Threaded, Pinned, Knox Gallery, Monterey, MA, 2015
Something Else, Ten Artist at the Painting Center, NYC, 2016.
Gallery Exhibitions as Committee Chair:
Winter Warmth, National Arts Club 2016-2017
Hot Off the Presses, Prints of 2016, National Arts Club, January 2017
Outside the Lines, Drawing Show, National Arts Club, January 2017
Alternate Lives, National Arts Club, May 2017

St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indiana, 1978
Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY, May 2017

Women Writing Women's Lives
The National Arts Club, Board Member, Exhibition Committee Chair, Co Chair Literary Committee
College Art Association
Archive at National Museum of Women in the Arts

America The Beautiful Fund, "The North Shore in the 1920's" 1978
NEA Videotext Project, 1980