Shane Walsh

How Are You Coping? Artist Shane Walsh

Working in the studio and taking his dog for walks are helping him stay sane.

WE ASKED MILWAUKEE ARTIST, curator and educator Shane Walsh, whose work will be on view at The Alice Wilds in Walker’s Point through June 6. 


A painting by Shane Walsh
A painting by Shane Walsh; photo courtesy of the artist

How are you staying sane right now?

Oddly enough my life hasn’t really changed all that much. I’m a studio rat so it’s not that different. Not physically going to teach during the week is a bit strange, but I think we’re all trying to adjust to that. At this point I’m mostly staying sane by working in the studio, taking my dog Miles for long walks and limiting my exposure to the news. When this all started I’d check CNN every few hours, and that’s obviously not great for mental health. I’ve chilled way out in the past few weeks with media, and that helps a lot!

Are you still finding time to work on your art?

I’m really fortunate that my studio is across the hall from where I live on Historic Mitchell Street, so I’m putting in a ton of hours painting during this pandemic. I know a bunch of artists both locally and nationally that are stranded from their studios for the foreseeable future. I’d probably be losing my marbles if that were the case. I know I’m lucky in that way, and I feel very grateful.

Tell us about your teaching. 

Teaching has been the biggest challenge in the Covid era. My colleagues at UWM are doing an amazing job figuring out how to deliver content to the students and still provide a meaningful experience. It’s really tough to teach something like drawing or painting without being physically present. We’re all working hard to come up with solutions though.   

Have any upcoming shows or fairs you were planning to participate in been canceled?

I opened a solo show, “Combinated,” at The Alice Wilds here in Milwaukee on March 6th right before the Safer at Home orders, and that show will be extended through June 6th in hopes that people might be allowed to venture out safely by then. I was also going to be included in the art fair Future Fair with Asya Geisberg, my New York gallery, in May, but that’s been rescheduled for fall. This has definitely interrupted the art world for the moment, which is extremely social by nature.  

Whose work is inspiring you right now?

There are a few artists who are always on my mind. People like Elizabeth Murray, Frank Stella and the Chicago Imagists are constants.  There’s also a ton of exciting things being made in Milwaukee right now. My friends’ artwork and the work of former students who are now having their own showing careers as practicing painters are probably the biggest inspirations to me.

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when social distancing ends?

Give a huge hug to everyone I know and watch the Bucks win the NBA championship!


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Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.