Shane Tolbert



Shane Tolbert was born in Corsicana, TX in 1985 and currently lives and works in Abiquiu, NM. He received a BFA in Painting from University of Houston in 2008 and his MFA in Painting from University of California, Santa Barbara in 2010. Shane Tolbert has exhibited nationally and internationally and has participated in the Edward Albee Foundation Residency in Montauk, NY. In addition, he has been featured in Art in America Magazine.



Beauty, Erosion, Inversion, Invention

I live in a landscape that bares it’s deep history fully exposed on a fault line that opens to the Colorado Plateau. When I hike along the ancient Red Rocks, formed 230 million years ago and remnants of the super continent Pangea, I question life without vast oceans dividing culture. I then find myself in front of an Entrada formation, striated in ochre, grey and cinnabar, slightly younger at 165 millions years old, on it’s side and in places inverted due to a tectonic shift below the Cañones fault. I walk along for 300 feet, consider the giant pillar that would tower over me if upright and enjoy the soft beauty of a velvet surface slowly disintegrating with wind and water. In the studio beauty, erosion, inversion and prehistory inform my image making as I engage questions of painterly language and formal invention. My work builds on the premise of color field painting, infusing it with a sense of frozen time and gravity fed entropy. Thinned down acrylic paint pools and flows on top of plastic sheeting until dry leaving pigment traces and miniature river formations. I apply the stains to canvas with more wet paint as a binder, allow it to dry, remove the plastic sheeting and the painted gesture remains on the canvas, intact, with textural language of ripples and folds from the plastic that vibrate in the glow of raking light. In the studio I am asked, what warmth is collected on the desert floor from 10,000 full moons? Color captures mood, temperature and time. To mirror geological formations that existed long before language emerged to describe it, line is subjugated to support color, not define it. Line forms the design of inversion. Like the formations that tumble into themselves, color as atmosphere and space become contained into blocks and orbs that stack and pulse along the surface of each painting. Deconstructed ideas of a natural landscape are reformed to be measured and considered.


I believe in routine and repetition. Continuity leads to agency. I rise with the sun, sip on my favorite coffee, and scroll through the same bookmarked websites. Observations of my environment are increasingly important. Throughout the week, I accumulate an entire workday's worth of time, commuting and listening to talk radio. Banter is banter, and I love banter. Same agenda, different content. In the studio, everything is considered; I prefer the act of painting to be flexible, but the end result to be reflexive. I think about what can or might happen. Paint is treated as alchemy. For me, repetition is a sign of focus, and I routinely push repetition until I lose my focus. Stubbornness spawns surprises, and forces me to take a detour. The detour becomes my new direction. Same agenda, different content. 



University of California, Santa Barbara, CA.  MFA, 2010

University of Houston, Houston, TX. BFA, 2008  


Residencies & Scholarship   

2012         Edward Albee Foundation Summer Fellow, Montauk, NY

2010-11    Visiting Lecturer, University of Houston, Houston, TX

2009-10    Levitan Fellowship, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA   

2008-09    Small Department Regents Fellowship, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA   

2007         Flaxman Endowed Art Scholarship, University of Houston, Houston, TX 


Solo Exhibitions:

2015     FINE CHINA, 110 & 112 Milam, Blaffer Art Museum, Houston, TX

2012     Montauk Paintings, Optical Project, Houston, TX

2011     Paintings, Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery, Houston, TX

2010     Paintings, Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara, CA


Two Person Exhibitions:

2012    Future Regions: Shane Tolbert + Raymond Uhlir, curated by Katie Geha, Visual Arts Center, Austin, TX

           No Shitsky: Cody Ledvina + Shane Tolbert, Domy Bookstore, Austin, TX


Group Exhibitions:

2015     Texas Design Now, EVENS + Shane Tolbert, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX

2014    Summertime Blues, McClain Gallery, Houston, TX

            Outside the Lines, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX

            5 GUYS, WARE:WOLF:HAUS, Dallas, TX

2013     Texas Biennial, curated by Virginia Rutledge & Michael Duncan, Austin, TX

            Failing Flat: Sculptural Tendencies in Abstraction, curated by Nathan Green, Central Trak, Dallas, TX

            Just then, and Again, curated by Patrick Reynolds, University of New Orleans, LA

            Artists Picks, organized by Howard Sherman, Houston Arts Alliance, Houston, TX

2012    Fruit Salad, Good Press Gallery, Glasgow, Scotland

          Prologue, SKYDIVE Art Space, Houston, Texas

2011   Texas Biennial, curated by Virginia Rutledge, 816 Congress, Austin, Texas

         SUBURBIA, Platform, IHC, Santa Barbara, California

         Modernist Thread, curated by Sally Sprout, Williams Tower, Houston, Texas

         Houston to Hyderabad, Muse Gallery, Hyderabad, India.

2010   CFE, Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, California

         Snarled Megalopolis, Platform, IHC, Santa Barbara, California

         Gorgamon, Good Children Gallery, New Orleans, Louisiana

         Visible Spectrum, UCSB MFA Thesis Show, University Art Museum, Santa Barbara, CA

2009   The Local Orbit, Los Angeles, California

         Grand Narrative, Old Gym, Santa Barbara, California

         Official Vision Quest, Gallery 1434, Santa Barbara, California

2008   Twelve, Ridley-Tree Education Center, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA

         Dis, Dat, Deez, and Doz, The Joanna Gallery, Houston, Texas

         Tres Puddle, Box 13 ArtSpace, Houston, Texas

         Post Tension: Fresh views on abstraction, The Joanna Gallery, Houston, Texas

2007   La Destruccio´n, American Wandering Club, Houston, Texas

         The Big Show, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, Texas

         Mass Distraction, Commerce Street Artist Warehouse, Houston, Texas

2005   The Big Show, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, Texas



  • Iberia Bank Corporation
  • Edward Albee Foundation



Arning, Bill. Houston Loves Eccentrics" Art In America Magazine, May 2016.

Shey, Brittanie. “Haute in Houston” Houstonia Magazine, August, 2015.

Davenport, Bill. “Top Ten Painters in Houston” Glasstire, July, 2014

Pena, Arthur. “Every Art Lover’s Gateway Drug” Art & Culture TX, October, 2013.

Hooper, Rachel. “Painters Painting” Glasstire, February, 2013.

Barrera, Debra. “Howard Sherman: Artist Picks” Art & Culture TX, February, 2013.

Arning, Bill, ed. New American Paintings Issue 102 (October 2012).

Britt-Darby, Devon. “Shane Tolbert: Talk of Montauk.” Arts+Culture Magazine, December 2012.

Bronze Age Editions. Fruit Salad. Bronze Age Editions: London, 2012.

De La Hoz, Ryan. “Shane Tolbert’s Dyed Fiber Paintings.” Beautiful/Decay Online,

December 2012,

Deliso, Meredith. “Talk of Montauk Lands in Houston.” Houston Press, December 2012.

Britt, Douglas. “The Modernist Thread.” Houston Chronicle, October 2011.

Britt, Douglas. “Geoff Hippenstiel and Shane Tolbert Breathe New Life into an Old Style.”

Houston Chronicle, March 2011.

Fischer, Joshua. “Dis, Dat, Deez, Doz at The Joanna.” Temporary Art Review, December 2011.

Vogel, Wendy. “Shane Tolbert.” might be good, April 2011,