Kendall Shaw

Energy Rocks Our Enormous Crib

AUGUST 29 – OCTOBER 16, 2016

“Everything, you, me, the floor, the street outside, the ocean, air, is masses of atoms, vibrating electrons; all is energy, which we cannot make nor destroy, but energy can be endlessly transformed…The universe is a majestic hum of vibrating energy.

My colors have no system. I feel their energy in their juxtapositions. Color is reflected energy, everything is energy…colors, feelings…are real. My “Cajun” multiple panel paintings are not concerned with traditional rules…the relations are between painting and wall, which becomes part of the painting, and the united pair relate through (their) “human” sizes to (the viewer).

During WW 2…I flew over pieces of ocean…Years later, when thinking about painting toward “under the flesh” of visual appearances, I recalled patterning in life….and importantly the knowledge that everything is energy; all vibrates rhythmically with specific frequencies. Rhythm over rhythm over rhythm creates pattern. This was the source of my patterns and paintings; only a clumsy, in-no-way-precise vision below the surface of real matter, and a celebration of the energy of life and universal existence…

About Joyce (Kozloff), Miriam (Schapiro) and (the) Pattern and Decoration (movement in art, mid 1970’s – early 1980s); pattern and decoration may be “feminist,” but…weaving and patterning seemed to be ubiquitous, and we seized patterns to be more significant for art than could be portraits of Generals. Joyce said we would chop up the flat gray rectangle in our reaction against minimalism. We sought engagement, and subjectivity.

In my impoverished New Orleans public schools I had no art or science instruction. However, I made plenty of art at home without instruction…I always made art in my bedroom or backyard. My first art course was when working towards a PhD in Chemistry at LSU, when I took a class in painting with O. Louis Guglielmi, after which I took a train to New York, dropped PhD science studies, to study with Stuart Davis, Ralston Crawford and Guglielmi.

Before I finished MFA study at Tulane’s Newcomb College, Mark Rothko came to teach graduate students. Mark liked to cool out in my studio, I introduced him to New Orleans jazz, later taught with him at Hunter College. He changed my way of painting…Mark Rothko convinced me that a painting can live with life on the wall.

(I had been) working for (a) chemical company as a research engineer, then in administration and sales management. When (the owners) visited my mother and told her I would soon become a vice president of the company, I quit, for I could not mislead them. I was determined to paint with full attention.

It is the journey in art-making that fascinates me; the chance to move forward and find a new possible reality. As a Creole-Cajun artist I celebrate life, not with gray, but with color that provokes emotion.”

About the Artist

Kendall Shaw was born in 1924 in New Orleans and grew up on the Gulf of Mexico.

Kendall Shaw’s solo exhibitions include: the Orleans Gallery, the 509 Bienville Gallery (New Orleans); Columbia University; Tibor de Nagy Gallery; Southampton College; Long Island University, John Bernard Myers Gallery; Alessandra Gallery; Nature Morte Gallery; Bernice Steinbaum Gallery; Lerner/Heller Gallery; Artists Space; Pierro Gallery of South Orange; Tulane College; The Ogden Museum; Marsh Art Gallery; University of Richmond; Ruskin Hall, Cambridge University; Narthex Gallery of St. Peter’s Church (Lexington Avenue,NYC); Skoto Gallery; Hudson Guild Galleries; The Gallery at Richard Meier on Prospect Park (Brooklyn); The National Arts Club, NY.

Shaw has exhibited in many group exhibitions, and he has paintings in many collections, including: the Albright Knox Gallery, the Brooklyn Museum; the Ogden Museum; the Everson Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art (Nagaoka); New Orleans Museum of Art; New York University; Orlando Museum; Polk Museum of Art (FL); Mississippi Museum of Art; University of North Carolina: Aachen Neue Galerie (DE).

Kendall Shaw has taught at Tulane University; the School of Architecture of Columbia University; Parsons School of Design; Fashion Institute of Technology; The Brooklyn Museum Art School (Chair of Painting, Assistant Director, and Acting Director).


Paul Bright, curator in collaboration with the artist