Dennis Hanshew

Dennis Hanshew

Bio and Statement

Although I consider myself an artist and, specifically, a painter, I have had a very varied career.  Through the years I have been employed as a waiter, forest ranger, gardener, teacher, psychiatric aide, crew and officer in the Merchant Marine, paralegal, and law office manager.  All of my occupations have informed my art and, however employed, I have concurrently worked on my art.  My years at sea directly inspired many of my seascapes.  My years working in a psychiatric acute care center contributed to my portrait paintings as psychological studies.  More generally, my extensive travels and the journals I keep, both written and photographic, have inspired much of my art work.

As I have recently returned to painting the human figure and portraits, I have sought to imbue the paintings with a sense of the subjects’ psychology.  This is also true of the series of puppet portraits, in which I have attempted to give heart and soul to inanimate dummies.

2020 has brought so much chaos and anxiety to the world and to each of us individually.  My response has been a series of paintings captioned “Existential Threats” in which the subjects range from the Coronavirus pandemic to gun violence and many other of the grim realities we face.

As a former member of the artist-operated Gearbox Gallery in Oakland, CA, I  conducting artists’ interviews for posting on the gallery website.  In concluding the interviews, I always asked the artists why they make art.  The common response was akin to, “It’s what I do.”  It seems we are all driven to make our art and it gives us purpose and meaning.  Beyond that we each find our unique paths.  For me, painting is a means of finding and creating  order in an otherwise chaotic and often unsettling reality. 

My palette has been both monochromatic and full color, depending upon the subject and theme.

The scale of my paintings ranges from quite small to rather large. Scale has an impact all its own.  I am often drawn to a square format for my pictures.  If painting a rectangular format, I often choose to divide the picture into equally sized components, either as diptychs or triptychs. 

I think of myself as a “painter’s painter.” The materials and mediums are of great importance to me – the oil paints, cold wax, bees wax, metallic pigments, wood, paper, canvas, and so on – and the combining of these materials and mediums endlessly fascinating. As two dimensional objects, the paintings are about surfaces; however, surfaces in and beneath which to find meaning.

Education

Carmel High School, class of 1966, Carmel, CA.

University of Hawaii, Bachelor of Fine Arts, 1972, Honolulu, HI.

University of Hawaii, College of Education, Professional Diploma, 1973, Honolulu, HI.

University of Hawaii, Associate in Science Legal Assistance, 1989, Honolulu, HI. 

Timeline

1960s/1970s:  During my college years at the University of Hawaii, I was actively painting and exhibiting and continued to do so through the decade of the 1970s.  

1980s:  Beginning in January of 1980, I dropped out of the art scene, joined the Merchant Marine and spent most of the decade at sea in Hawaii and French Polynesia.  During this period I also traveled extensively on my own, worldwide, and kept both written and photographic journals.  Although I did not exhibit, I continued to paint and my work from this period is in both public and private collections.

1983:  Patrons Christopher and Gunnel von Essen provided me a year to paint during which I completed a series of seascapes.

1990s/2000s:  From January 1990 I was employed as a Family Law Paralegal until my retirement in June of 2018. I also served as the first appointed Continuing Education Coordinator for the Paralegal Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco.

Recently:  I was a member of the artist-run Gearbox Gallery in Oakland.  I served on the Curatorial, Installation and Public Relations Committees; Chaired the Diversity Committee; and did much of the writing for the gallery’s website.

Currently:  I serve as a Director on the Board of the Suzie S. Thorn Family Foundation, a private, non-government foundation that primarily assists underprivileged women and children and supports a variety of organizations, locally, nationally and internationally.  The Foundation is dedicated to family improvement through education.

Solo Exhibits

1977 – Anthuriums And, Honolulu Advertiser Gallery (now The Contemporary Museum/

Honolulu Museum of Art), Honolulu, HI.  My first solo exhibit, a group of drawings, prints and paintings of tropical still life.

1991 – Windows, Ramsay Galleries, Honolulu, HI.  An exhibit of photographs taken from my travels, all having to do with shop windows, both the interior spaces and the reflected environments.

2013 – Selected Works, Judith Harding Gallery, San Francisco, CA.   An exhibition of land and seascape paintings in various mediums that benefited Kid’s Turn, a non-profit organization designed to help the children of divorcing families.

2020 – We Will Remember…. These Truths, The Gearbox Gallery, Oakland, CA.  A series of monochromatic psychological portraits and figurative paintings.

Invitational Exhibits

1997 – Sea-Sky-Land Scapes, The Contemporary Museum/Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, HI.  I was one of four invited artists showcased in this exhibit featuring Hawaiian land and seascape painting at The Contemporary Museum/Honolulu Museum of Art, 1997.  The Honolulu Mayor’s Office Of Culture & The Arts acquired my seascape painting,  Clouding Up, oil and wax medium on canvas, 63×48, 1994.

1998 – Recent Acquisitions, Gallery Iolani, Windward Community College, Kaneohe, HI.

2002 – Enriched by Diversity, The Art of Hawai’i, Hawaii State Art Museum, Honolulu, HI. I was one of 284 artists honored to exhibit work, acquired over decades by the Hawaii State Foundation On Culture And The Arts, in the inaugural exhibition at the newly opened Hawaii State Art Museum, Honolulu, 2002.  My painting, Blue Dusk, Hilo – oil and wax medium on canvas, seascape, 1995, was featured in the exhibit.   It has since been placed in the Hawaii State Senate in Honolulu.

Juried Exhibits

1970 – Artists of Hawaii Annual, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, HI.

1971 – Ala Moana Easter Art Festival, Ala Moana Center, Honolulu, HI.

1972 – College Art, Ala Moana Center, Honolulu, HI.

1972 – Hawaii Craftsmen Annual, AMFAC Plaza Gallery, Honolulu, HI.

1972 – Artists of Hawaii Annual, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, HI.

1972 – Art Scholarship Show, University of Hawaii Art Gallery, Honolulu, HI.

1973 – Annual Hawaii Art Educators Exhibition, AMFAC Plaza Gallery, Honolulu, HI.

1973 – Young Artists, AMFAC Plaza Gallery, Honolulu, HI.

1976 – Art Hawaii Two, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, HI.

1976 – Art Hawaii Showcase, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, HI.

1977 – Men Look at Women, Contemporary Art Center, Honolulu, HI.

1978 – The Great Hawaiian Art Show, AMFAC Plaza Gallery, Honolulu, HI.

1982 – Bad Art!, Honolulu Federal Building, Honolulu, HI.

1992 – Honolulu Art for Life, the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, HI.

2021 – Crocker / Kingsley, Blue Line Arts, Roseville, CA and the Crocker Museum, Sacramento, CA.

Acquisitions/
Collections

Paintings acquired by the Hawaii State Foundation On Culture And The Arts:

Manoa Series No. 5 – acrylic on canvas, 48×48, landscape, 1972.

Passing Over Lenny – encaustic on panels, 20×52 diptych, literary portrait (from Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men), 1972.

Ming’s – oil and gold leaf on canvas, 66×50, tropical still life, 1976.

Billowing Cloud – watercolor on paper, 20×16, seascape, 1994.

Blue Dusk, Hilo – oil and wax medium on canvas, seascape, hanging in the Hawaii State Senate, 1995.

The Honolulu Mayor’s Office Of Culture & The Arts:

Clouding Up, oil and wax medium on canvas, 63×48, 1994.

The Persis Collection, Honolulu:

Hibiscus – oil on canvas, 65×65, landscape, 1977.

Memberships

The Gearbox Gallery
770 West Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 271-0822

I have recently left the gallery to devote more time to my studio practice.  While a member, I served on several of the gallery committees:  Curatorial, Installation, Public Relations; and routinely posted artist interviews and exhibition reviews to the gallery website.  I chaired the Diversity Committee, doing most of the research for and drafting of various proposals submitted to the gallery’s membership.

The Suzie S. Thorn Family Foundation
Established in 1998 in San Francisco, California is a US Charity, 501(c)3 primarily tasked to assist underprivileged women and children and supports a variety of organizations, locally, nationally and internationally.  It is dedicated to family improvement through education. I serve as Director on the Board.

Contact

Dennis Hanshew
(510) 893-0753
hanshewdennis@gmail.com