Shapiro to share work during art walk

12 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Local resident Mac Shapiro will be the featured artist at the Wintergreen Arts Center on State Street during the June 1 First Friday Art Walk.

Mac Shapiro started painting when he was school age, for class projects and such. His first picture was a portrait of his mother that he said didn’t go over well.

“She ended up not liking it because she thought her face looked dirty. I’d shaded her face and she didn’t like it,” said Shapiro.

He started seriously painting when he was 17, painting his first mural at 19 at Valley Forge General Hospital.

“I was in the unit supply room, had a blank wall and felt it should be painted. I was promoted to sergeant for my work,” he said.

Inspiration to paint now comes from his surroundings. If he sees something and it strikes him — anything from a cartoon to a picture in a magazine – he’ll paint it if he feels compelled to do so.

“Some people paint pictures but I create paintings,” explained Shapiro.

He finds his floral creations to be his favorite.

“I’m particularly intrigued by the roses I’ve painted over the years and the effort it takes to shade and lighten each petal,” said the self-taught artist.

His attraction to beauty is the driving force that moves him to create.

“It gives me a good feeling to walk in somewhere and see a painting of mine on the wall,” he said.

Though he has no children, Shapiro said he loves to share his work with family.

“I like the drama that comes with people seeing and reacting to my paintings,” said Shapiro.

When asked if anyone has ever reacted negatively to his work, he said, “drama is everything in the arts — sometime in the form of jealousy, but mostly I’ve had positive feedback about my paintings,” said Shapiro.

More than a dozen of his works will be on display come Friday.

“I’m really looking forward to Friday when I’ll be showing 15 paintings from my own collection,” said Shapiro. “People have expressed interest in buying my work but I don’t like to sell it because it is a very personal piece of me. It takes a lot out of me to create.”

Shapiro’s family includes two sisters and one brother, as well as several nieces and nephews. His brother, Meredith “Whitey” Shapiro, shares the family’s artistic gene.

“My brother is a wonderful painter of landscapes. I like to paint now for my family and take requests from them — currently working on a frog for one of my nieces,’ he said.

He indicated he likes to add bugs, beetles and butterflies to his paintings to create a little extra drama in the piece.

Shapiro and his brother once owned the men’s and women’s clothing shop called Malmarks, once located on Main Street just a short walk from Wintergreen. The building also had apartments. Shapiro currently resides in one of the small apartments in the building he used to own. He uses his kitchen as his art studio.

It’s taken him several years to get back to painting, after being away for nearly two decades.

“I didn’t paint for a 20-year period, starting at age 25. I returned to it when I saw my brother painting once. It made me wonder if I still had it. I had a subscription to ‘Architectural Digest’ and saw a picture of a rose that struck me, so I decided to paint it,” said Shapiro.

He said he still has that painting. Shapiro’s interests go beyond flowers; he also likes to paint animals and insects.

“When I paint, I like to be by myself and not distracted by outside elements. I use acrylics mostly, but started with pastels,” said Shapiro, acknowledging that “you don’t get the depth and richness as you do with oils, but it dries faster, so I like it.”

He said visitors are in awe of his work when they visit but sometimes don’t believe he actually is the creator of it. On Friday he’ll be showing his self-portrait – a big deal for him, since he feels he’ll be revealing a part of himself without having to say anything.

When asked what he’d like people to know about him and his work, he said, “I’m proud and thankful that I can bring beauty to myself and to others.”

For more information, call 762-3576.