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An Artist’s Eye: Interview with Lisa Shimko

Tucked away in the heart of Eastside borough lives artist Lisa Shimko. Upon entering the picturesque green Charleston house, one is completely immersed  in the “Shimko” lifestyle. Healthy eating, sustainable living and a curiosity of life are themes that resonate after speaking to Lisa and being in her space. An artist’s workshop says a lot about them and in Lisa’s case, her decorating style truly emulates her personality and art. The cozy apartment is thronged with art. Some paintings are by Lisa herself, others by her contemporaries including Trever Webster and Hirona Matsuda- both who are represented at Michael Mitchell. Lisa’s painting style ranges from her well-known animal and nature fantastical-based art to more abstracted paintings which she claims, allow her to “use the other parts of her brain.” The kitchen is filled with plants, paintings, fruits and vegetables. As someone who consumes no land animals, Lisa has shied away from her hearty German Pennsylvania roots, yet pays homage to it through pieces like a beautiful standing cutting table in her kitchen from Lancaster County. The studio is well lit and creatively organized- making the most of the space. Holding a cup of home-pressed fresh coffee, Lisa welcomed me into her apartment. Here are some photos of the visit and interview from the artist’s eye.
Q: Tell me about your professional career up until the present. What has been your path?
A: Making art has been a basic foundation of my life as long as I can remember. How it manifests itself in my life, personally or professionally has been varied, with the underlying appetite for knowledge. “Knowledge” encompasses pretty much any subject that crosses my eyes and ears, just a general curiosity about the world and loving to learn.
Q: Animals are frequent motifs in your paintings. Are you an animal- lover?
A:  I’ve done many shows/paintings with thoughts of what we on this planet are doing to it, and the birds, animals are the warnings in our ecosystem. Also, I am drawn to animal symbols because they have been used across all cultures for the span of human existence in stories whether its in folklore, shamanic traditions, mythology, or fairy tales/fables.
Q: What is inspiring you at the moment?
A: Generally with the mention of my love of learning, I’m constantly reading, listening, looking and let the fragments coalesce as they may with time. Nature in general, is an inspiration.  Part of my job as an artist is to give myself the environment to let these bits come out as they will.
Q: Tell me about the quotes that you post regularly on your personal Facebook page. Where do you get them from? What kind of quotes do you look for?
A: The quotes on Facebook come from an enjoyment of sitting down with coffee and going through the thoughts of those wiser/more eloquent than I to convey an idea, emotion, etc.  Somedays I have a specific topic I want to think about, but most days its random, going through pages of quotes until one “feels right” for that particular time.
Q: As a native north-easterner, what is the best part about moving to South and specifically Charleston?
A: Not to sound shallow, but the weather down here is the first thing I think of as far as being a wonderful thing about living here.  Also I think of the beautiful landscapes, especially what is seen being out on a boat.  Being out on/in the waterways is one of my favorite things (and what I love to do when not painting).
Be sure to come by Michael Mitchell to see more of Lisa’s amazing work!