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UC Alum Wins Prestigious International Art Awards in Paris

UC design alum Shane Wolf was recently awarded the National Society of Beaux-Arts' bronze medal at Paris' Carrousel du Louvre and the prestigious Prix Taylor (Taylor Prize) at the Grand Palais, also in Paris. 

Date: 1/1/2012
By: M. B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Provided by Shane Wolf
As a University of Cincinnati student, alumnus Shane Wolf didn’t start out his UC studies with any well-planned design for an international creative career.
Instead, it was his design education at UC’s top-ranked College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) that first provided him the opportunity to work and live overseas and later global travels, studies, teaching and now, art endeavors that are receiving international attention in Paris.
Wolf, originally from the Cincinnati community of Reading, just received the Prix Taylor (Taylor Prize) from among 2,500 artists showing in “Art en Capital” at Paris’ Grand Palais. The prize is presented by the Taylor Foundation, founded in 1844 and whose members have included art luminaries such as Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Edouard Manet and Eugene Delacroix.
UC alum Shane Wolf with his award-winning painting, "Soumission."
Shane Wolf with his award-winning painting, "Soumission."

While happy with his win of the Prix Taylor, Wolf said that the best part of participating in the “Art in Capital” at the Grand Palais is the opportunity to share in a time-honored cultural tradition in the very heart of Paris, in the same salon space and atrium as the great masters of the past. He added, “There are few experiences that make me feel the giddy excitement of childhood again, but entering this space with my painting (a larger-than-life figurative painting titled “Soumission”) for the first time certainly had that effect. On a personal note, it’s hard to explain to those outside the painting world how symbolic and meaningful it is to enter the halls of the Grand Palais, participate in this salon and even be decorated with an award.”
And the experience has only gotten better since “Soumission” won the Prix Taylor. Wolf said, “All ages, even a five-year-old, as well as men and women alike have stood, studied, returned with friends, interrogated and commented on my painting as the painting of the show. After all, painting as a language is neither written nor verbal but visual. To have had such an overwhelmingly positive response to my visual language is indescribable. On top of that, winning the Prix Taylor was a completely unexpected honor and reinforcement that the public admires the values I seek to communicate via my work.”

Because of this win – by a rare unanimous vote among the judges – Wolf was invited to subsequently show another painting at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris, for the 150th anniversary of the National Society of Beaux-Arts. From among 700 works, Shane's painting, "Impetus" (oil on canvas, 50x100cm), was honored with a bronze medal.
Shane Wolf
Shane Wolf's medal-winning painting, "Impetus."

Just as the Prix Taylor and the bronze medal were unexpected, it can be said that much of Wolf’s artistic career was unexpected when he entered UC’s graphic design program in 1995.
“I think I’m like a lot of students who enter the design programs at UC,” stated Wolf. “I knew DAAP had a great national reputation, and I knew I wanted to do some sort of design. But beyond that, I really wasn’t sure about the different avenues open in design and what each really meant.”
And it’s why Wolf is particularly grateful for the cooperative education quarters he had while at UC, designing for firms throughout the United States, including a stint in the Boulder, Colorado, offices of international sporting goods company, Salomon, headquartered in Annecy, France.

He recalled, “When I graduated, I’d received some tentative offers from some of my co-op employers, but I really wasn’t tempted. I really wanted to travel. Then, I got a call from my co-op supervisor from Salomon. He was now back in France, and he said he wanted to fly me there to interview. I immediately said yes… though, partly, because I figured it would be a great trip if nothing else.”

He was hired as one of two graphic designers for the company’s Alpine team, staying for four years before spending 16 months traveling the globe – prompted by the fact that the apartment building where he lived in the medieval town of Annecy burned to the ground.

Wolf recalled, “I was traveling in the Dijon region of France on a wine-tasting tour. Well, in wine cellars, cell-phone reception is impossible. When I came out of one establishment, I saw that my phone had 17 missed calls. Someone was calling to tell me the whole block where I lived had burned. No one had been hurt, but everything I owned in the world was gone except for the clothes that I was wearing.”

Wolf’s immediate reaction wasn’t one of loss but of freedom. “My first thought was basically: It’s time to hit the road.” And the insurance check he received was enough to fund his long-time dream of travel. And five months later, Wolf was on a cargo ship from Marseilles to New York City and then on to later stops in St. Lucia, Martinique, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Egypt, Greece, Italy and then back to France. In all, he stayed about six weeks in each country.

The best part about his trip, he said, is the time and freedom it gave him to think and reflect. Writing and sketching informally every day, Wolf found himself more and more interested in fine-art drawing.

“I’d always say: ‘Don’t neglect drawing.’ It’s the root of our profession. But, in traveling, I realized how much I liked drawing for its own sake,” said Wolf.

Then, a stop at the Getty Center in Los Angeles put Wolf on a new course. Back to Europe. This time, Italy.

“I visited the Getty, and I saw that they were going to have a visiting artist from India lead an after-hours drawing class on a first-come, first-served basis,” explained Wolf. “I was there four hours early to make sure I got into the session.”

Since Wolf was interested in classical, figurative drawing, that visiting artist suggested Florence, Italy, as the best place for study. So, while continuing his travels, Wolf applied to the Angel Academy of Art in May 2005.

He recalled, “I actually sent the application from India and found out I was accepted as I came down from the Himalaya. Now I knew my next destination.” In September 2005, Wolf began art studies at the school, and he received a prestigious scholarship usually reserved for more advanced students.

He later served as an instructor of drawing and painting in Florence and has since won multiple awards, including the Hudson River Fellowship (twice), the Art Renewal Center International Salon’s top finalist awards and the America China Oil Painting Artists League top finalist. In 2010, Wolf was granted an acclaimed “competence and talents” residence permit by the French government, allowing him to move to Paris and paint full time.