She doesn’t mind

Rebecca Shadowitz

With degrees in physics and architecture, Rebecca Shadowitz uses painting as a way to escape her head.

With degrees in physics and architecture, Rebecca Shadowitz uses painting as a way to escape her head.

Photo By David Robert

You can tell by looking at Rebecca Shadowitz’s paintings that she can’t really make up her mind, and that’s probably because she doesn’t use it—her mind, that is. She’ll tell you that herself. Between a master’s degree in architecture, a bachelor’s in physics, and the fact that she’s been tutoring math since seventh grade (she’s now 50), Shadowitz spends a lot of time inside her all-gears-and-levers brain, so she’s content to use painting as a means of getting out of there.

Some of Shadowitz’s paintings are landscapes, some are flowers, some are patios, some are horses. She hasn’t tied herself down to a theme, nor has she defined a consistent style. Some of her landscapes are more surreal, leaning toward something abstract and impressionistic, and some of her florals are straightforward still lifes of flowers.

“Tahoe in Autumn” is a fine example of Shadowitz leaning toward sceneries that are all feeling and no mind. The oil painting is based on a photo from an advertisement she saw in a magazine. She retained the structure of the photograph but very little of the tone or color scheme. Without the title, viewers probably wouldn’t guess that the lake or trees belong to Tahoe. The hills is the background look more like the rolling sand dunes of the Kalahari during a sunset; the lake is a bolder-than-natural periwinkle blue that a child might use when painting water; and the trees look like they belong to one of upstate New York’s more colorfully diverse autumns.

To look at a painting and say it doesn’t look like much thought was put into it is probably an insult to most artists; Shadowitz, however, wouldn’t take offense, as long as you still thought her landscape was a desirable place to be, no matter how simple or vague the piece is overall.

“I want [viewers] to feel like that’s where they want to be because it evokes so much good,” Shadowitz says. “I’ve had enough people tell me that’s the case that I can keep on painting.”

Shadowitz’s works are undemanding of the viewer and are more like photographs that have been tampered with in Photoshop than layered oil paintings. In “Flower Kiosk,” about eight vases of flowers fill up the space of a relatively small frame. Flowers, tulips, lilies and daisies in atypical colors create a kaleidoscope-like clutter; it’s very busy, but joyful and fun. Shadowitz’s confessed lack of thought implies an innocence more than anything else. You can’t criticize Shadowitz for making bad choices with her combinations of color and form because she doesn’t really make choices, she feels them, and it’s impolite to criticize the way someone feels.

“I have all these degrees and I have all this knowledge, and I try not to use any of it,” Shadowitz says. “I want to just do it by feel. I can’t say it’s the most successful way to approach it, but I don’t know.”

Shadowitz is successful enough that she has already sold several of her paintings on display at Dreamer’s. Like a 4-year-old finger painter, Shadowitz doesn’t deny that her paintings are just excuses to use lots of color.

“Color has a more powerful pull than content in my paintings,” she says.

Shadowitz’s paintings are reminders that things don’t have to possess substance or intellect to be enjoyable. Sometimes if it feels good, that’s enough.