This web site was created under the direction of Estelle Shay’s daughter, Helen, in loving memory of her life and work.


Estelle Shay (b. September 14, 1921 d. December 14, 2006) – Born in New York City, Estelle Shay was a graduate of the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts (now Parsons School of Design) with a degree in graphic arts, and began studying painting in the early 60s in various schools in New York as well as L’Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris. Ms. Shay studied in an experimental workshop with Henry Pearson, who was an important influence in the transition from realism to abstract art. She worked as an Art Director for many years in several advertising agencies.
Estelle Shay’s paintings were included in numerous juried exhibitions, with jurors such as New York Times Art Critic Vivien Raynor, Anthony Toney, Joseph Solman, Irving Sandler and Henry Pearson. Ms. Shay’s juried group exhibitions included the Salmagundi Gallery, the 1994 National Annual Exhibition of the Butler Institute of American Art, Wunsch Arts Center Gallery, Bergen County Museum, Silvermine Guild of Art, Olin Institute of Fine Arts, Art Center Gallery of Central Missouri University and The New School Gallery.
Ms. Shay received an awarded prize by the Institute of Electronic Engineers (Will Barnet, juror), and her paintings were published in the magazine Oxymoron, where she was described as “a painter who moves at will among differing visions, seemingly unconnected. The painting of the Renaissance frame is introduced as an element linking remove realities that move across time and space. The contrasting styles and techniques suggest the ambiguity of experience.” She was a participant in the International Group Quilt Project for artists, and one of her quilts was exhibited in the international headquarters of IBM. One of her paintings was sold by Channel 13 on the Thirteen Collection Televised Auction.
Estelle Shay was a Member of Artists’ Equity. Many of her works are now part of numerous private collections.

Artist's Statements

Artist's Statements

“Time is a defining factor in art forms. The basis of my work is provided by a deep appreciation of Renaissance frames as works of art. The volutes, griffins, cherubs, grotesque masks, caryatids and seraphs are some of the characteristic forms in Italian Renaissance frames.
The inner painting can be anything. I work with differing visions in the broad spectrum of contemporary artistic styles.
The Renaissance frame is the element linking art forms that move across time and space – separated by five centuries.”

Modern Painting

“How many people have gone into a museum and looked at contemporary paintings, and found themselves wondering what was going on?
Modern painting is indeed a challenge to experience a new way of seeing. How would an individual go about accepting this as a challenge?
It can be helpful to assume that there is much good modern art that may not be at first understood. We cannot assume that everyone sees the same thing in a work of art. Neither can the observer assume that he or she can differentiate between a work of art and one that is not.
Seeing is a matter of storing information about objects from our experience. Extracting information from what we see is a complex process.
What happens when someone is confronted with something unique? The answer is we do not perceive it.
For example: We may have had the experience of listening to a doctor discuss what he sees on an x-ray. The patient does not see what the doctor sees, unless he or she has had specific training.
A similar process takes place in all visual experiences, including looking at paintings. We tend to screen out all information that is unfamiliar or different from our own personal notions of reality.
One of the purposes of art can be said to be to help us see things we have ignored. Art may move us, shock us and challenge us.
The individual might begin by setting aside some of the barriers between an observer and a work of art. What are these barriers?
As previously mentioned, one of these barriers is the assumption that the observer can judge what is a work of art and what is not. Frustration can be another barrier, when one is confronted with a concept that may be shocking or different in a work of art. Limited viewing experience can be a barrier.
It can be helpful to approach a viewing experience, especially with modern art, with new attitudes and expectations. Modern art can be compared to a visual dialogue between the artist and the viewer. Since the artist is not attempting to reproduce our familiar visual reality, what are the subjects of the paintings? Form, color and line, light and shadow are the elements in modern painting, in the same way that melody, rhythms and soft and loud tones are the elements in the work of a musical composition.
There is art which does not have a specific meaning of course, and might be compared to scholarly lecture rather than a dialogue. For example: the specific meaning might be seen in a painting of a king or an aristocrat looking very noble and dignified, a religious subject with specific implications, a landscape depicting natural tranquility, and so on. In other words, messages and opinions are contained in these paintings.
It can be helpful to consider the changes that have taken place in art since the invention of the camera. What impact can this have had on the artist?
When the meaning of a painting is less clear, it is more of a challenge. What is the artist doing? What does it mean to me?
The modern artist is continually experimenting and searching for new ways of experiencing that which is visual and expanding the horizons of art.”


“As a painter, I love to move between the two-dimensional surface of the canvas and the curving surface of the sphere. It is a form that I find to be hypnotic and a meditative experience. The process of transforming the curving surface brings new ideas and I can move at will among differing visions.”