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Art & Life with Peggy Schutze Shearn

Today we’d like to introduce you to Peggy Schutze Shearn.

Peggy, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I grew up in Michigan, the youngest of four children of an Episcopalian minister and a schoolteacher. Needless to say, it was a pretty straight-laced upbringing. I always spent a lot of time by myself, day-dreaming, drawing and spending long hours practicing different fonts with my Speedball lettering set, but being a professional artist was not yet on my radar.

I attended Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, where I studied political science before taking off for the West Coast. While living in Berkeley and working in an alternative publishing collective (it was the 70’s, after all!), I studied layout and design, production, typography at Laney College, in Oakland. The classes were taught by tradesmen from the printing industry and I liked the feeling that I was learning a real trade. My goal was to work with a small press, but life interfered, and I returned to the Midwest and worked as a typesetter at a commercial art and photography studio in Chicago. It wasn’t until I had a family and had free-lanced for many years as a graphic designer, that I seriously pursued painting and printmaking.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Writing always felt like a natural way of expressing myself and it crept into my paintings early on. Letterforms, abstract calligraphies and text have always been a part of my art-making. I love line and pattern, the mark-making of writing systems, letters, the autographic line. The ways language defines, expands and delimits our thinking and our understanding of the world intrigues me. After all, when we talk about art, what do we use? Words!
My images are questions about that meeting of the visual and the verbal; I leave it to the viewer to find “answers” in their personal associations and interpretations. Whether I am working with thickened paint to create dramatically-textured work, or creating areas of pattern with intricate brushstrokes, I begin with loosely-drawn words or letter shapes and build up layers of color and pattern, or layers of textural paint.
I hope my pieces will be a “moment of Zen” for people; a focal point for contemplation, a pause in the craziness of our world, and a gentle reminder of the importance of paying attention.

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
Because there are fewer brick and mortar galleries these days, most artists need to be in business for themselves. Social media exposure, PR, finding opportunities to exhibit and sell and some basic business smarts have become necessary “artistic” skills. Finding time and space to work on the art itself and making it all work financially is often the most daunting challenge. Squeezing in a full or part-job to pay the bills is usually a part of this picture.

And then there is the “image competition” created by the proliferation of easily-obtainable images online. It takes a caring and discriminating buyer to value the unique work of one artist over mass-produced wall decor, like a painting or photograph printed onto canvas and sold as “original art.”

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Images of my work are on my website: http://peggyshearn.com, Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/artoffthegrid/, and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peggy.shearn.

I have a shared storefront space with Artists-In-Residence, 348 Tudor Court in Glencoe, IL; just email me for a convenient time to visit: peggyshearn@gmail.com.

Artists-In-Residence is a women’s community of artists sharing studio and gallery space. We will have a group show opening September 29 and running through October – Come check it out!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All images ©2018 Peggy Schutze Shearn

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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