STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
For impressionist palette knife painter Irma Shapiro of Bala Cynwyd, it’s all about the color.
Opening Jan. 9, and continuing through Feb. 19, at the Villanova University Art Gallery is an exhibit of her works, “Passion for Color.” Check out selected works on the gallery’s website at www.artgallery.villanova.edu.
“I am a colorist; color is what differentiates my work,” the 79-year-old artist said in a press release from the gallery.
In the same release, Shapiro’s mentor — painter, teacher and art conservator Bill Greenwood — recommended that you “look as well for the richness of her brushwork as applied to nature and the overall orchestration of her canvasses.”
The elation of preparing to assemble this solo exhibition turned to horror in 2012 when she lost a large body of her work, and all of her art awards and honors, in a fire that destroyed her home while she was attending an art class. While still trying to put her life back together, she had just two and a half years to fill the gallery’s 12 hanging walls — a tall order for an artist who is constantly revising her canvasses.
“I paint my images back to front, so I’m up a creek if a sky needs redoing,” Shapiro said in the press release.
So what did she do to get it done on time?
She chose large canvasses, some 40 by 60 inches, and used fast-drying acrylic paint, big brushes and longer brush strokes. It worked well with her style of exaggeration and embellishment of her subjects. Although Shapiro’s repertoire includes waterscapes, abstracts, still lifes, flowers and portraits, she focused primarily on landscapes.
How long has she been painting?
That’s not an easy question to answer. At times, Shapiro’s art had to be put on hold because of her marriage, work and raising five children. She also stopped painting for 20 years after her mother died. Afraid that her work was out of vogue, she mustered the courage to contact the Art Works gallery in Kennett Square, who agreed to help her by showing and selling some of her works. The gallery ended up selling all 16 paintings that Shapiro gave them.
Is there an artist reception?
Shapiro is scheduled to attend a reception 5 to 7 p.m. Jan. 16 in the Art Gallery, which is in the Connelly Center on the Villanova campus. Refreshments will be served.
This is at the university?
Yes, 800 Lancaster Ave., in Radnor Township.
What are the hours?
On weekdays from 9 a.m. into most evenings. For more specific information, call (610) 519-4612 or check www.artgallery.villanova.edu