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."  



BA, MS, Queens College, New York,  University of Mexico, Mexico City, Brooklyn Museum



2019    Snatched and Rework, David Richard Gallery, New York, NY

2016    ART 101, Brooklyn, NY

2015    Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY

2015    Five Points Gallery, Torrington, CT

2012    Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY

2010    Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY

            Norfolk Library, Norfolk, CT

2009    George Billis Gallery, New York, NY

            Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY

2006    Harrison Street Gallery, Frenchtown, NJ

2004    The Mercy Gallery, Loomis Chafee, Windsor, CT

            Andre Zarre Gallery, NYC, National Arts Club, New York, NY

2002    Andre Zarre Gallery, NYC, National Arts Club, New York, NY                  

2000    Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA

1998    Nassau County Museum of Fine Art, Roslyn, NY

1997    Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY

1994    Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY

1991    Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY

1988    Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY

1985    Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY

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    Central Hall Gallery, Port Washington, NY

1974    Central Hall Gallery, Port Washington, NY

1973    Central Hall Gallery, Port Washington, NY

1973    Nassau County Museum of FIne Art, Roslyn, NY



2019    With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration In American Art 1972-1985, LAMOCA,

                 Hessel Museum of Art,  Bard College

2018    Materiality, Geoffrey Young Gallery (The Knolls), Great Barrington, MA

2018    The Yaddo Six, The National Arts Club, New York, NY

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, Long Island City, NY

2017    Exhibiting Artist Members, The National Arts Club, New York, NY

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, Long Island, NY

            Exquisite,  LabSpace, Hillsdale, NY

2015    Paperazzi 3,Janet Kurnatowski Gallery, Bklyn,NY: Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn, NY   

             Long Island Biennial, Huntington, Long Island, NY

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, Brooklyn, 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, New York, NY

2009    A Book About Death, Queens Museum, NY, MOMA, Wales

            Diverse Interludes, Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY

            Summer in the City, George Billis Gallery, New York, NY

2008    The Last Book, Buenos Aires, Argentina

2007    Goodnight Sun, George Billis Gallery, New York, NY

2006    Street Scenes, Gallery North, Setauket, Long Island, NY

2003    The National Art Club, New York, NY

2001    Jay Etkin Gallery, Memphis, TN,: Uta Stebich Gallery, Lenox, MA

2000    25th Anniversary Show, Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY

1996    A Woman’s Place, The Museums at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, Long Island, NY

1993    Artists Books, Islip Museum, Islip, Long Island, NY

1991    Small Works, Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY

1986    Let’s Play House, Bernice Steinbarum Gallery, New York, NY

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, New York, NY

            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, New York, NY

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, New York, NY

1974    18, CUNY Graduate Center, New York, NY



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, New York, NY

Corporate Collection, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Dartmouth Museum of Art, Hanover, NH

Dayton Institute, Dayton, OH

William Louis-Dreyfus Collection Family Collection, Mount Kisco, NY

Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY

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



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



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