Sheldon Tapley was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela to British parents. He was raised in Europe and North America. He has taught at Centre College since 1983, and held the Paul L. Cantrell Professorship of Art from 2002-2005. In 2005 he was named Stodghill Professor of Art. He received the Kirk Award for excellence in teaching in 2015.
Tapley is a nationally recognized artist whose paintings are held in museum, academic, corporate, and private collections across the United States. In the spring of 2004, the Evansville Museum of Art presented a major retrospective exhibit of Tapley’s art, displaying thirty of his still-life works from the last ten years.
American Artist magazine published one of his large still-life paintings on its cover in November 1999 along with a feature article inside. In that article the writer asserts that Tapley “masterfully blends hard-earned classical technique with a vision that is thoroughly modern and personal.” The New Yorker reviewed his 1998 show at Tatistcheff Gallery in New York City, commenting that the “works are intelligently composed and executed with polished skill.”
At the beginning of his career in the early 1980s, Tapley was a printmaker and abstractionist working with bold colors and textures. Gradually, he returned to the direct observation that made his first experiences in art exciting. A desire to describe his own surroundings led him to paint the landscape, making modern realist images that won wide praise in a series of exhibitions at Linda Schwartz Gallery. In the mid-90’s, the artist changed his focus again, creating the energetic still-life images for which he is now known.
The artist was honored with a 1998 Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council. Kentucky Educational Television featured the artist in its 2001 series “Looking at Painting.” He was filmed and interviewed in his studio and also at the Speed Museum in Louisville, discussing the museum’s recent acquisition, a still-life painting by Cezanne. In 2003, the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art exhibited a selection of his works from the past twelve years.
Tapley continues to exhibit at Tatistcheff Gallery, located in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. He regularly speaks at art events and judges competitive exhibitions.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate holding a 1980 B.A. from Grinnell College, Tapley received an M.F.A. from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1983.
To read about Tapley’s recent solo show, click here.
To read about the annual summer art workshop led by Tapley, click here.
File last updated: 06/05/15
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