Saturday, July 3, 2010

Let Me Introduce You To Bruce And Evelyn

First, Evelyn.

Evelyn Levy Shaw was born in Cincinnati in 1921. She graduated from the Cincinnati Art Academy and the University of Cincinnati Art Department. She spent a year working in the studio of Moses Soyer in New York. She was an artist - and a good one at that. She had exhibitions all over the country in the 40's and 50's - many quite notable. Here is a listing of her exhibitions:

International Color Lithographers Biennial
Cincinnati Art Musuem
Library of Congress
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston
Sweat Museum in Maine
Print Club of Philadelphia
ACA Gallery in New York City
Creative Gallery in New York City
Dayton Art Institute
Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati
Speed Museum in Louisville
Fort Wayne Art Museum
Butler Art Institute of Ohio
Albany Museum of Art in New York
Columbus Art Museum

She was a board member of the Society of Ohio Print Makers and taught painting and drawing for many years at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Her work remains in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress as well as many corporate and private collections. She was a lifelong friend of noted printmaker and teacher Paul Naish. Evelyn died in 2009 having left behind a life of creating and teaching. When she died her estate was left to her son. Unfortunately, he died six months later and he was her only living heir. She had a home in Kenwood where so much of her life's work remained. When she passed on and when her son passed on the question arose - what to do with this wonderful woman's life's work? That's where Bruce comes in.

Bruce Clawson - owner of The Garden Gate in our historic Lebanon, Ohio. Erin and I stop by there often and look at all of their wonderful and unique garden items. It's a place for "all sorts of garden themes, schemes, and dreams." We have bought several things there in the last couple of years - including our beautiful wind chime hanging on our porch. When you visit this store, there is a room off to the back of the store on the left hand side. There is usually a lot of local artisan items for sale and display there. On this particular day, we had enjoyed the Fourth of July parade in the heart of town and then we decided to go through the shops (something we do almost weekly). Upon entering The Garden Gate we wandered through the shop until we got to this specialty room, and we immediately noticed it was set up as an art gallery - all dedicated to Evelyn Levy Shaw. So many of her works were on display as well as a brief biography. While admiring it Bruce came in and began to tell us a story. The story was so good I knew that I had to share it. He mentioned all of the above concerning Evelyn and then told us how he got a phone call one day by someone tasked with getting rid of her things (since she had no living heirs). He received the call because of the unusual amount of art, letters, cards, and memoribilia that was found at the home she left behind. Long story short, he bought it all in hopes of selling it and keeping her art alive. He shared with us letters that he found written to her from famous artists all across the country - and old Christmas cards as well - all of which go back over 60 years. And then there is her art. They are selling pieces and attracting interest, and well they should. I hope to have a piece myself soon. Some of the art is simply her sketches of subjects she would paint later. Some of it was darker. Some of it very colorful. There is definitely a quality to it that shows real heart, craft, skill, talent, and history. It was like going back in time to an exhibition she may have had herself. I couldn't help but think about what her last thoughts were concerning her art? Who would see it? Who would care? And then her son as well - knowing he was the last of the line. Thankfully, her art lives on and will continue to do so, and not just in what she created but also in how she taught others to create. Truly a great story. I recommend you stop by and talk to Bruce at The Garden Gate.

Walking home this left me to consider life - what we make of it. What are we doing now that will outlive us once we're gone - on this earth and in eternity? Are we fully utilizing our gifts and talents - pursuing our dreams and the things we love? And then having the character and care to pass it on to others? I was encouraged and challenged on a very deep level by a lady I never knew personally, but I know her art and a little about her story - all of which have outlived her and continue to inspire. And all of this should add up to a worthy lesson for us all.

What is your dream and are you pursuing it? On the subject of dreams, Ashley Smith had this to say, "Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”

What will your legacy be? On the subject of legacy, Billy Graham had this to say, “Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day.”

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