AUNIVERSAL PICTURE 3, 2013, Charcoal on paper, 85 × 85 inches

APEX: Shelby Shadwell

Nov 21, 2015 – Mar 13, 2016

Masterful, classically beautiful, observation-based drawing is seen rarely in the contemporary Northwest art world. Shelby Shadwell of Laramie, Wyoming, employs a meditative concentration to produce elegantly rendered, grand-scale drawings of piles of cockroaches, used diapers, and challengingly adept portraits. Using charcoal and erasers to control strong contrast and deftly model form in his black-and-white drawings, he purposefully chooses subject matter that will shock the unsuspecting viewer. Small insects, heaped together and enlarged, present a fascinating spectacle—repellent and engaging, as do piles of dirty diapers. Shadwell says of the context for his art, “I believe that my work fits into the ongoing dialogue that elevates the mundane, the ephemeral or the vulgar to a higher status, thereby reflecting parts of society that we often refuse to acknowledge in the mirror of traditional norms.” Shadwell has exhibited around the United States and received the First Place Award in the Texas National 2014 Exhibition at the Cole Art Center in Nacogdoches, Texas, from juror Jerome Witkin.


The APEX series is supported in part by The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Endowments for Northwest Art and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.