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 Sharon Rusch Shaver  (1952 - )

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: Portrait, landscape, still-life, genre painting

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Ad Code: 4
Sharon Rusch Shaver
Early in the Spring
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Sharon Rusch Shaver (b. 1952)

She was born in July 1952, has been painting professionally since the 1970’s, and continues to receive top awards and recognition in her field.  In 2008 the artist was awarded an Artist in Residence at Glen Arbor Art Association in Glen Arbor, MI.  Columbia State University in Tennessee has purchased one of the artist’s paintings for the creation of a permanent collection of Tennessee Artists in 2008.   Southern Living Magazine did a feature article on the artist in 2005.

Awards include the Tennessee Allstate Purchase Award, Best in Show at the Central South Awards Show, Nashville, TN, and the Juror’s Award for Excellence in painting at the new Renaissance Regional Art Exhibition in 2000.

The artist completed over 30 paintings for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in Birmingham, and a 100 square foot mural for the United States Postal Service downtown office at the new Frist Center for the Arts in Nashville, TN.

Sharon Rusch Shaver was commissioned to do a painting for the White House in Washington, D.C. in 1999, which is a part of their permanent collection.  Major corporations such as Brown-Forman in Louisville, KY; Wal-Mart in Bentonville, AR; Blue Cross and Blue Shield, just to name a few, as well as private collections throughout the country also include this artist’s work.

The Artist teaches intensive workshops in oil painting for artists several times a year most recently to Europe, and works with various grant programs through organizations in her home state, to teach the basics of oil painting to beginning students.

Selected Publications:
2,000 Notable American Women 6th Edition 1994-Nominated Woman of the Year 1993
The World of Who’s Who of Women 11th Edition 1991
Who’s Who Among Young American Professionals 2nd Edition 1991
Marquis Who’s Who In America 1993
Marquis Who’s Who in the South and Southwest 22nd, 23rd, & 24th Editions
American Illustrated Survey 1990/Les Krantz, Publisher
Dictionary of International Biography, London, England 1992
Artist Artsembles 1989
Nashville! Magazine Cover Artwork 1989
Nashville Woman, Success Story Sharon Rusch Shaver Artist by Susan Knowles 2000
Visual Arts Alliance of Nashville, Talking with Sharon Rusch Shaver by Kaaren Hirschowitz Engel 2002
American Art Collector yearly feature page 2002 to 2013

Sharon Rusch Shaver grew up on Grand Island, New York; the oldest of five, three girls and two boys.  Both of her parents were artistic and painted in oils, though neither professionally; so they were encouraging and supportive of her talents when school teachers commented on their amazement at her early artistic ability.  She always drew and was fortunate to have a comprehensive high school art program.  Her career had begun.

Looking at Sharon Rusch Shaver’s paintings and immediate award winning canvases is a glimpse of native talent reacting to the world around her. “I would see something and just have to paint it,” she says.  Never without a sketchpad and a camera, the artist records visuals and then interprets a focus that while recognizable is her unique perspective and perhaps subtle comment.  She won a first place purchase award in 1978 for an oil of a corner in her bedroom, a tightly painted view of her dresser, balanced just to the right of center by a view out a curtained window.  Her own gallery viewings of schooled compositional arrangements, nuances of color rounding with light and shade, and conventions of interior views with glimpses beyond instructed her instinctively.  The artist titled this painting, “Morning,” a recording of her space, now an early glimpse of her talent.

Once Sharon Rusch Shaver began her painting journey, she knew she had found her gift and literally threw herself into the paint.  Her portfolio is the history of American Art: portraits, landscapes, still-life, genre; children at the beach, birds on a wire, flowers in her garden, a stream tumbling over rocks, musicians taking a break.  They are an interpretive look at life around the artist.  Photographs of the artist painting en plein aire, in a class, on installation site, or at an exhibit catch her color-loaded palette, a smile on her face, and an intense eye on her subject and canvas.

The artist Sharon Rusch Shaver was commissioned to paint portrait murals in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in Birmingham.  Nashville Magazine then asked her to paint a portrait of Patty Lovelace for the cover of their October 1989 issue.  As the arts in Nashville gained center stage focus, so too did Sharon Rusch Shaver’s art when she was selected to paint the mural for the Frist Center for the Arts Post Office.  It is a Norman Rockwell style look at Tennesseans responding to WWII , saying good-bye, and leaving on the train from Union Station next to the Frist Center, which was the old Nashville Post Office.  She gave that mural and the one for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame an archival look, paintings translated through print processes into black and white magazine or newspaper images, a style that she has continued to develop and has used to stimulate her particular creativity.

Sharon Rusch Shaver began the 21st century in celebratory style with a commission from the White House to be one of thirteen artists for its 2001 Calendar.  When she traveled to Washington, D.C., to receive the award and meet the other artists, she asked to look through the White House photo archives, as she knew she wanted to paint a subject with people and history.  She found a photograph taken during the presidency of Warren G. Harding of a Plains Indian in full ceremonial regalia, standing in front of the White House, shaking hands with President Harding.  That is her painting done in her now developed style of an early black and white collodian print, giving only the Native American textiles and beading their natural color. The original Sharon Rusch Shaver from Tennessee painting for the month of November, 2000, is now a part of the permanent White House collection.

Beyond the value ascribed by winning awards (15 major juried), exhibiting solo (28 gallery shows), public commissions (6), and being published (12 articles with accompanying images), this artist’s true artistic merit is that she is capable of painting both lush landscapes and sweet children; but like other artists of note in American history, she has developed her own style, her particular means of communicating what she sees.  And she experiments daily.  Dedication is her discipline; Sharon Rusch Shaver is compelled to go to her loft studio and “get into the paint” for hours each day.  She also has an occasional tea party and invites the neighbors into her wonderful world: long skirts, big hats, fresh flowers.  The artist shares herself generously and gains from that sharing.  She soaks up people nuances and then puts them on canvas.  Her nudes seem to be glimpses rather than studies, though she has done a series.  They are women not so much painted in life class but painted in life.  Sharon Rusch Shaver paints them in her now signature style of deep blues to gray with red promptings.  She technically commands her medium and controls her space; but beyond that, Sharon Rusch Shaver gives the viewer insight into the individual or the situation without crossing a personal space line.  A visit to her loft and a look at what she is doing this very moment is an adventure into color applied unsparingly, making her surfaces sparkle.  The artist’s subjects range from a three by four foot close inspection of luscious purple grape clusters on large-leafed, mature vines or a well-lighted kitchen counter holding lemons cut to squeeze on a glass fruit juicer with oranges waiting their turn and apples looking on, to six by eight inch snippets of 17th c. still-life renderings of floral porcelain teacups and saucers and exotic butterflies.  Ground is becoming less, and figure more.  Darkness fills less, and exquisite color more.  It is a subtle transformation and perhaps only temporary; a constant fine-tuning of technique and presentation, as well as an ever open eye and mind to new expression.  Sharon Rusch Shaver’s work appeals now to a huge audience, but better yet to all the individual reasoning in that audience.  Because her ability to get into the paint as well as into the subject, Sharon Rusch Shaver’s work is a present success with enduring appeal, “everyman” modern.

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