MARY ELLEN SHIPNES (1908-2001)
Mary Ellen Shipnes was a popular and prolific Houston artist in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. Shipnes studied art at the Boston School of Fine Arts and moved from Indianapolis, Ind., to Houston with her husband, Stanley Shipnes, and their children in the 1940s. Her one-woman shows became sell-outs at galleries around the country. Many of the artist’s paintings hang in Houston homes.
Following the death of her husband in 1995, Shipnes continued to paint in her Brenham farm studio. Despite the crippling onset of macular degeneration in her late 80s, she learned a new way of painting with limited vision, splashing paint on canvas and wood with palette knife and long-handled brush. A newly finished canvas sat on the easel in her studio when she died in 2001.
Her work affirms the artist’s joy of life — from whimsical watercolors of beaches with children and sailboats to large, bright acrylics and paint-laden oils of Texas bluebonnet landscapes, Caribbean basket-laden marketwomen and nuns, joyous street scenes, abundant gardens and rich, floral still lifes. Her canvases radiate color and vitality.