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Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
August 30, 2011  | 
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Denise Shaw and her husband heard the first plane flying over their loft just seconds before it hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  Like many others, Denise's life and her art would be changed and inspired by that fateful day. 

Between 1999 and 2007, the world's largest public art event, CowParade, took place.  Denise Shaw, NewFocusOn gallerist, artist, writer, film maker, animal advocate and friend, submitted a design to the New York selection committee for CowParade New York that would take place in 2000.  Using the guidelines that the cow could be anything the artist wanted it to be as long as there was some reference to New York City, Denise chose the World Trade Towers.  Living and working in Soho, the Trade Towers were always a point of reference for Denise as a resident of lower Manhattan.  It's impossible to forget the powerful image of looking south on West Broadway in Soho and seeing the Towers.

For no obvious reason, Denise submitted a design of a sad cow, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.  Why she would choose to design a sad cow is unknown.  Why she would choose to paint a tear on the cow's face with the Trade Towers in that tear is also unknown...a premonition?  an artist's unconscious?  The cow was on exhibit in front of Columbus Circle (New York City) for three months and was auctioned at Sothebys with all proceeds going to local charities, along with 449 other cows from CowParade New York.  Who could ever have imagined that we would all be wearing that tear just a year later? 

It wasn't until November of 2007 that Denise would learn who bought the cow with its haunting vision when Denise received a call from the curator of The Fenimore Cooper Museum in Cooperstown New York.  The cow was in one of their restoration facilities.  Jane Forbes Clark, heiress to Singer Sewing Machine (now Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation), granddaughter to the Philips Collection of Art and great great great granddaughter to the family who built The Dakota on West 72nd St. in New York among other important real estate in New York, and owner of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, is in fact the owner of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (as well as the Yankees Cow also from CowParade New York signed by the entire team and displayed in The Baseball Hall of Fame).  For seven years  Denise's cow had been on the lawn of Ms. Clark's mansion and was in desperate need of restoration.  Ms. Clark agreed to deliver the cow to Manhattan, to give Denise two months to restore it and agreed to Denise's request that an automotive varnish be put on the cow upon its return to Cooperstown.  Ms. Clark's only requirement was that Denise keep the original tear with the Trade Towers in it.

Later in 2001, Denise would contribute her work to another public exhibit.  "Inspired by the Bark magazine slogan, 'Dog is my Co-pilot' (dog is God spelled backwards), our own beloved German Shepherd Nick is the model for this sculpture.  Nick's emblem on the back of his jacket, 'Nick, Search and Rescue Ace,' is inspired by flamboyant artwork that often decorated the fronts and backs of A2 leather flight jackets in WWII.  This artwork frequently replicated nose art painted on the wearer's aircraft.  There's a patch on the front of Nick's jacket that says 'The Spirit of St. Nick'.  The rubble on which he stands has been transformed into a piece of sky."

In 2002 DOGNY: 'America's Tribute to Search and Rescue Dogs' was published by T.F.H. Publications.  The inside cover of the book writes:  "DOGNY was born out of the tragedy of September 11, 2001 when terror struck and America's search and rescue dogs went to work...DOGNY was the public art exhibit and fundraiser that brought together world famous artists to paint life-sized sculptures of German Shepherd Dogs, which were sponsored by corporations, communities and individuals.  The sculptures were on display for three months in New York City and were auctioned at Sotheby's in Manhattan."

"Nick, Search and Rescue Ace," belongs to a veterinarian in Telford, Pa. who travelled to Sothebys to bid on Denise's sculpture.  The doctor's grandfather owned a very famous restaurant called Kitty Hawk named for the famous WWII plane.  Today Nick sits in the reception room of the veterinary clinic.

Early in 2002, Denise was again invited to submit a design, this time for the 2003 White House Egg collection.  Started in 1994 by then President Clinton, an egg from a local artist representing each state and the District of Columbia, are chosen.  The eggs are part of the White House permanent collection.  Still reeling from the events of 9/11, Denise "tried to symbolically represent New York and also convey our strengths as New Yorkers at the moment and historically.  Easter is a time of renewal and rebirth.  This is the theme living in the psyches of many New Yorkers in the wake of 9/11.  I have drawn a bluebird, which is the New York State bird, hatching from an egg shell.  The bluebird carries in its mouth a red rose, which is the New York State flower.  The rose can also symbolize love and paradoxically war.  The bluebird is superimposed against the New York City skyline and the skyline in turn is against the background of the dawning of the sun's rays.  The rays were inspired by the sun on the New York State seal as well as the writing: 'Excelsior' meaning 'ever upward.'  Since that tragic day, New Yorkers have proceeded to move ever upward with compassion, resilience, hope and grace."

Denise Shaw's paintings have been exhibited internationally and throughout the United States including: The Museum of Arts and Design and The Park Avenue Armory in New York City, as well as residing in corporate and private collections.

Her work has been honored at the White House and auctioned at Sotheby's New York. Aside from her fine art production, she has created art installations for The Ronald MacDonald House, has participated in public art forums around New York City and has designed a collection of rugs made in Nepal.

Shaw’s short film "The Three Muses" was screened on The Independent Film Channel.

Her artist's book, "The Necklace of Songs: India through a Westerner's Eye" is scheduled for publication this Fall, 2011.

For more information contact:
Denise Shaw Paintings