Jelly, jelly so fine

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Shannon Stirnweis

Backed Off!

I have always loved great illustrators. Some of the greatest artists in American history have been illustrators, think N.C. Wyeth, Pyle, Parrish, Leyendecker and Rockwell. I used to fight with a certain art professor in college about this. F.J. said that anything that was used to sell a product could never be "fine art."

This is absolute bullshit, of course. Most illustrators could paint circles around the so called "fine artists", but I digress.

When I was in Mesa I saw several paintings on the floor by an artist I was not familiar with, Shannon Stirnweis (1932-2019).

I was immediately taken with the high quality of the work and bought two of them. Sold one almost immediately and bought another. The vendor I bought them from was representing the estate, which possesses several hundred paintings.

I did a little research and found out that Stirnweis was one time president of the Society of Illustrators and had a long and illustrious career.

From his obit:

He was a member of St. Patrick's Parish in Jaffrey. Serving in the Army in 1954, he was stationed in Germany where he illustrated for the Army. Working as an Illustrator in NYC, he was President of the Society of Illustrators and one of the founding fathers of the Graphic Artists Guild. Shannon illustrated over 35 children's books as well as 3 books for Grumbacher Library, "The Art of Painting Dogs", "The Art of Painting Cats", and "The Art of Painting the Wild West". He recently published a book on his life as a painter, "80 Years Behind the Brush". He wanted to be remembered most for painting scenes of the American West.

An Art Center graduate, originally from Portland, he started out doing book illustration and pulps, including a lot of work for Argosy. 

He also did a lot of movie work which I am told included work on Lonesome Dove. 

He won numerous medals and had at least three solo exhibitions, one at the Jaffrey Center in 2015 which resulted in the publication of the book Shannnon Stirnweis, 80 years behind the brush.

My mother, Adelle Fisher, was editor at Pinnacle Books when I was a kid.

She was responsible for a lot of pulp titles, including the Executioner, Destroyer and Edge as well as a lot of racier stuff with her Bee Line line.

So I sort of grew up in this world and was well acquainted with many of the illustrators, including my favorite, Tony DeStefano.

So it was hard for me to pass these by.

When I got home Tuesday I went about finding frames for the pieces. I tried to call Summit frames but found out that they have stopped making them.

But fortunately my friend Joan had the exact Summit frame in the exact size I needed, 24" x 18" and she gave it to me yesterday. Thank you, Joan! 

I think the train robbery painting is really spiffy and could not look better!

I have ordered a different frame from my framer Jennifer for my snow scene. I think it will look fabulous, as well. There is some really good brushwork here.

If these sell I think I will arrange to buy a few more. I look forward to discovering more about this great illustrator.


Anonymous said...

My Dad was an illustrator for most of his life and I still have a lot of his work

Blue Heron said...

Who is commenting and who was your dad?