Bill Shipley; UMD alumnus, artist, educator, art historian, collector, and now docent at the Tweed Museum of Art, has come full circle with UMD. His artistic journey has taken him from Duluth to Iowa, New York to Florida, and back home to Duluth, where he happily resides on Park Point. Equally at ease with elementary school groups as he is with University for Seniors scholars, Bill has a knack for telling stories and bringing works of art to life in a manner that people can understand. He will lend his docent talents at the museum this Saturday, April 21 from 11 am – 5 pm as art enthusiasts visit the Tweed, one of the local art venues included in the Duluth Art for Earth Day Gallery Hop.
As part of the Art for Earth Day Gallery Hop, there will be a reception at Tweed from 2 – 4 pm for the exhibition Where the Two Came to Their Father: Navajo War Ceremonial. The Art & Design Department will open its studios from 11 am – 5 pm, with an art sale from 6 – 8 pm, and an awards ceremony at the Tweed at 6:30 pm. The Tweed store will also hold a trunk sale in the Activity Gallery that day.
With the aid of an Alice Tweed Tuohy scholarship, Bill graduated from UMD in 1966 with a degree in studio art and art history which has served him well over the years. From Duluth, he went to the University of Iowa and completed his masters degree in drawing. He left Iowa City in 1972 for a Fellowship at the Fine Arts Center in Provincetown, MA and studied under Myron Stout, who he admired as a mentor, teacher, and painter.
Eager for a real taste of the art scene, Bill moved to New York City and did freelance art and picture framing until 1980 when he was hired by Trinity School, an exclusive, private K-12 school in Manhattan. In 1996, he was named department head at the school and eventually retired in 2000 after 20 years. Always the teacher, Bill started doing tours of New York City galleries on the weekends, but decided he had another mission to complete and moved to Florida where he opened an art gallery of his own on 9-11-01. He’s not sure if the fateful opening date or his admitted lack of business sense had the most to do with this unsuccessful venture. Whatever the reasons, and for the good fortune of the Duluth community, he decided to return to Duluth in 2004, after an offer to curate the Leslie Bohnenkamp exhibition at the Tweed Museum of Art.
Painting is still one of Bill’s passions. A collection of his work is currently on display at Lake Ave Cafe in Duluth’s Canal Park until April 30, 2012. This fall, by popular demand, he will teach a class for the UMD University for Seniors program entitled, The Art Experience – How it Happens and Why it Matters.
When asked what his biggest inspiration is, Bill replied, “The people I meet at the museum. They ask great questions which continues to inspire me to grow and thrive in the UMD environment.” He has been encouraged by friends to write his story; one that would include the famous artists and successful students he knows and has nurtured, along with tales of his fascinating New York experiences. He will continue to teach us how to appreciate the beauty and significance of art in our world.