Above image: “Kiki and Garbo,” oil painting on board by Monica Shinn and Shinn in her studio.
BankRI Turks Head Gallery: “Real World Paintings by Monica Shinn,” August 3 through September 6, 2017 at the BankRI Turks Head branch in downtown Providence at One Turks Head Place. There will be a Gallery Night reception on August 17 from 5 to 8:30 pm with live music by guitarist Mark Armstrong and light refreshments. Exhibit hours are Monday through Wednesday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Thursday and Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact www.bankri.com or call 401 574-1330.
MEET THE ARTIST – MONICA SHINN
You might see her on a truck hauling compost or perhaps you’d spot her high on a ladder restoring the enamel surface of the former gas station that houses the West Broadway Neighborhood Association on Westminster Street. Maybe you’d catch a glimpse of her with a blowtorch in hand teaching a welding class at the Steelyard or teaching art at School One. Where you won’t see is the intensely private Providence artist Monica Shinn at home in her Fox Point studio painting.
Shinn guards her studio and studio time. It’s here in the safety of her home, that Shinn’s creativity runs free. Her paintings are novellas in color and line, stories that describe ordinary everyday life with a distilled sense of wonder and deep foundation of empathy.
Shinn moved to Providence in the 1990s after attending Oregon College of Arts and Crafts. Driving along route 95, she saw the colorful houses in Fox Point and thought she’d like to live there. She and her longtime girlfriend Mare Davis got off the freeway to start their life in a city that was beginning to craft an identity as an arts town. It was a good fit for them both and 21 years later, they are still in Providence enjoying the creative community.
Shinn will paint any corner of life in whatever neighborhood she inhabits. A tugboat under the bridge at India Point, a fellow compost worker and her dear elderly dog, an older couple together for years and years – all are inspiration for her paintings.
The paint can be thick or thin, with both large single swatches of color or smaller dabs. The line that draws them together is descriptively exquisite and deceptively simple. To describe a person or a creature fully with such economy of line is a gift Shinn uses to great advantage. Shinn’s work is more than colors on canvas or descriptive line. She gets to the heart of what she paints in a manner that draws people in. In a time when so much of art is political and social commentary, Shinn takes the time to look at real people in their very real worlds.
The BankRI Galleries are curated by Paula Martiesian, a Providence-based artist and arts advocate.