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Lonni by Nelson Shanks, Oil on Canvas, 20x16
Group Exhibition Presenting Studio Incamminati
July 11-26, 2012
Opening Reception
Saturday, July 14, 5:00 - 9:00pm
Featured Atists:
Joe Dolderer, Kerry Dunn, Robin Dawn Frey, Katya Held, Natalie Italiano, Peter Kesley, Ja Fang Lu, Yoni Park, Leona Shanks, Nelson Shanks, Dan Thompson and Lea Colie Wight
Meet the Artists @ Opening Reception
Artist Talk and Intro @ 7:30pm

Dacia Gallery proudly presents Light and Form, a group exhibition presenting the artists of Studio Incamminati. Featured as one of America’s top art schools by American Artist magazine, the Philadelphia school founded by the renowned painter Nelson Shanks produces artists internationally recognized for their blend of traditional skills and modern aesthetics.Shanks, who is also the school’s artistic director, last year staged a one-man exhibition at the Russian Museum, St. Petersburg and the Russian Academy of Arts, Moscow. He is scheduled to bring his work to China later this year. His string of notable portrait commissions includes diverse luminaries such as Princess Diana, president Bill Clinton, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and His Holiness Pope John Paul II. This exhibition brings together a talented group of artists presenting a selection of realist paintings from still lives to figures and portraits that entices and captivates the imagination.

“This is our first New York showing and we’re thrilled to be part of Dacia Gallery’s efforts to bring new voices and visions to the public,” said Studio Incamminati Executive Director Jay Pennie. “It’s energizing to everyone.”


Nelson Shanks, world-renowned painter, art historian, art teacher, connoisseur and collector, distilled the principles upon which Studio Incamminati stands from his lifelong experience and devotion to fine arts. Nelson, and his wife Leona Shanks, founded Studio Incamminati to provide a place where artists devoted to realism could study painting and acquire other skills necessary for successful artistic careers. When Nelson set out to become a painter, he pieced together his own education and training from the limited options available for the study of realist painting. As an 18-year-old student at New York’s famed Art Students League, he earned his tuition by serving as a monitor in the classes of artists such as Robert Brackman, Ivan Olinsky and Edwin Dickinson. Established painters such as John Koch took him on as a private student and provided substantial material as well as spiritual support of his dreams and aspirations. His own remarkable progress soon earned him grants, including the most prestigious grants made to realist artists: the Greenshields Foundation (twice) and the Stacey Foundation (three times), that enabled him to study in Florence with the legendary Pietro Annigoni and at the Accademia di Belle Arti. His European education completed, teaching positions took Nelson to Memphis, Chicago and then to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where he has maintained a studio for more than three decades. Nelson has taught on the faculty of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Art Students League, National Academy of Design, The George Washington University, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, among others. He also established an apprentice program at his Bucks County home and studio, where artists received room, board and instruction at no cost. As was well understood from the Renaissance forward, it takes years of concentration and practice to become a highly skilled painter. Throughout his career, Nelson has painted nearly every day of the year—landscape, still life, the figure, and portraits. He takes pride in setting his own goals to grow and improve with every painting. His skill in capturing the complex nature of his clients has contributed to his fame as well. Among his notable commissions are President William Jefferson Clinton; Diana, Princess of Wales and Charles, Lord Spencer; and His Holiness Pope John Paul II. Recent significant commissions include Luciano Pavarotti for the Metropolitan Opera, Mstislav Rostropovich for the Kennedy Center, and Denyce Graves for the National Portrait Gallery. His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Kensington Palace in London, and Fortezza Firmafede in Sarzana, Italy. In the late 1990s, Nelson launched a successful series of workshops in response to the growing need for serious art instruction. The need for students to immerse themselves deeply in his teaching principles was made clear by the high demand and extensive oversubscriptions to these workshops, which led to the decision to open a full time atelier program, aptly named Studio Incamminati, which can be translated from Italian as "those who are progressing”. Nelson sacrifices painting time to teach at Studio Incamminati as part of his total commitment to changing the world’s view of art. He is richly rewarded by pride in his students’ progress and the presence of remarkable people who are attracted to this cause, willing to pledge and devote time in sincere measure. In 2006, Governor Edward G. Rendell presented Nelson with the Governor’s Distinguished Arts Award, which recognizes a Pennsylvania artist of international fame or renown whose creations and contributions enrich the Commonwealth. Among those contributions noted were his lifelong commitment to teaching and his establishment of Studio Incamminati.

Upcoming events in Nelson Shanks’ career include one-man shows in Russia and Italy.

Artist Bios

Joe Dolderer, a Studio Incamminati teaching fellow, was among those artists whose artwork was selected for a “teaching wall” at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith that is designed to demonstrate the painting process to young artists there. He has exhibited at The Artists of Studio Incamminati catalog exhibitions, Markeim Arts Center, the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra gala, the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours and auctions at The Union League of Philadelphia, the Doylestown Country Club and the Red Cross of Central New Jersey.

Kerry Dunn, is a Studio Incamminati guest instructor, Kerry won First Prize in the 2010 Laumeister Fine Art Competition at the Bennington Center for the Arts and received Best in Show at the Salmagundi Club’s 2009 annual Juried Painting and Sculpture Exhibition for Non-Members. He was awarded a Certificate of Excellence in the Portrait Society of America’s 2009 competition. He earned an Exceptional Merit Award from the society in 2007. He was one of four studio artists chosen by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for Face to Face: The Craniofacial Program Portrait Project. He was a finalist in the 2008 American Artist Magazine self-portrait competition and had work accepted into The 2008 Biennial: Contemporary American Realism at the Fort Wayne Museum. He also won the prestigious Best of Ringling award three consecutive years and the1998 Marie Zurich Award for Painting. His work and teaching methods have been featured in American Artist magazine and exhibited in numerous group exhibitions and private collections.  Kerry joined Studio Incamminati in 2002 after studying with Nelson Shanks at the Art Students League in New York.

Robin Dawn Frey started painting lessons at a young age in Sarasota, Fla. She studied at the Art Students’ League of New York with artists such as Nelson Shanks, Gary Faigin and Ron Sherr. After moving to Philadelphia, she helped start Studio Incamminati founded by Nelson Shanks. She also trained there with Mr. Shanks, Michael Grimaldi, Dan Thompson, and Darren Kingsley. She is a Teaching Fellow at Studio Incamminati where her studio is located.

Katya Held is a Russian-born, a Studio Incamminati fellow, has had her work displayed worldwide in galleries and exhibition halls, including Newman Galleries in Philadelphia, The Artists of Studio Incamminati catalog exhibition, Markeim Arts Center, the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra gala, Artworks at Philadelphia Museum of Art, National Arts Club in New York, the League of Artists of Russia, Baron Stiglitz Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and many others. She also has many pieces in corporate and private collections throughout the world. Katya maintains studios in both Philadelphia and St. Petersburg and exhibits her work throughout Europe and the United States.

Natalie Italiano is a contemporary realist painter focusing on portraits, figurative painting and still life. Her inspiration comes from people, their intimate environments, and the objects they surround themselves with. Growing up in New Jersey, Natalie was encouraged to pursue her creative interests from a young age, and her first formal training was with Nelson Shanks while still in high school. Natalie continued studying with Shanks as an apprentice and at Studio Incamminati. She also studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She teaches at Studio Incamminati in Philadelphia.

Peter Kelsey, a Studio Incamminati teaching fellow, also monitors Studio Incamminati’s popular weekly Open Studio public sessions. His work was juried into the 2011 Laumeister Fine Art Competition at the Bennington Center for the Arts, Bennington, VT. He has exhibited in The Artists of Studio Incamminati catalog exhibition, Markeim Arts Center, the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra gala, the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours and for auctions at the Doylestown Country Club and for the Red Cross of Central New Jersey. His work hangs in several private collections.

JaFang Lu received her Bachelor of Arts from the City College of New York University and is a recipient of 2011 Leeway Foundation Art and Change Grant.  She is a guest instructor at Studio Incamminati.  Among her various experiments and exploration in the field of painting, one of her focus is in using color relationships to create the sense of space, volume and mood.  She is currently working on her project of Portraits of Philadelphians in collaboration with Asian Arts Initiative, a nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia.  

Yoni Park, a Professional Program graduate, was an accomplished concert pianist for two decades before starting her art career in earnest. Her commissions include the official portrait of Medal of Honor winner Lt. Michael Murphy, USN. Her work was featured at the juried 36th Annual Art Show at Daylesford Abbey, Paoli, PA., and at the Newtown Public Library, Newtown Square, PA. She also has exhibited at The Artists of Studio Incamminati catalog exhibition, Markeim Arts Center, the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra gala, Philadelphia Open Studio Tours, The Union League of Philadelphia and the Doylestown Country Club. Her work is included in several private collections.

Leona Shanks co-founded Studio Incamminati with husband Nelson and is an instructor at the studio. Her work was juried into the 2011 Laumeister Fine Art Competition at the Bennington Center for the Arts. SHe placed first in the juried competition of Inspiring Figures: American Women and Figurative Art at The Butler Institute of Contemporary Art in 2010. In 2009, she was selected as one of the top 100 finalists in the Art Renewal Center's International ARC Salon in the still-life category. She was also a finalist in the 2007 competition. An accomplished sculptor, Leona won the Edmund Stewardson Award for Sculpture. Her paintings have been included in numerous exhibitions and her work is included in many private collections.

Dan Thompson, a Studio Incamminati instructor, has garnered numerous awards including: 2001 Grand Prize, the American Society of Portrait Artists; Second Place, Figurative Category, Art Renewal Center's 2006 International ARC Salon; 2005 Ethel Lorraine Bernstein Memorial Award, Corcoran College of Art and Design; and 2003 Best of Show in Southwest Art magazine's Artists to Watch exhibition. His work was included in the book “Star Wars: Visions.”  His work has been in The Artists of Studio Incamminati catalog exhibition and is included in numerous collections including those of Forbes Magazine, the University of Maryland, The Portrait Society of Canada, and many private collections. Exhibition catalogs featuring his work include: “Self Portraits, John Pence Gallery” and “The Water Street Atelier,” Meredith Long Gallery. Dan Thompson is a founding member of the Grand Central Academy in New York and has held teaching positions at Parsons The New School for Design, The New York Academy of Art, and the Water Street Atelier.

Lea Colie Wight was born in Philadelphia, Pa in 1951.  She earned a BFA from The Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1974.  In 2003, Lea discovered Studio Incamminati, an intensive atelier founded in Philadelphia by renowned artist Nelson Shanks, and entered as a student.  In 2005, Lea was invited to join the teaching staff rising to become a lead teacher.  Lea periodically served as teaching assistant to Nelson Shanks at The Art Students League in New York and  as lead instructor for various Studio Incamminati workshops as well as her own workshops. She was awarded an Honor Award at the Portrait Society of America’s national competition in 2009 and in 2010 as well as a 2011 Certificate of Excellence. Her work has been featured in numerous publications. Lea maintains studios in Manasquan, NJ, and Philadelphia.

Headdress by Nelson Shanks, Oil on Canvas, 48x28 Lillies and a Rose by Joe Dolderer Alonso's Meat Market by Katya Held Premonition by Kerry Dunn En Pointe by Natalie Italiano Violin by Peter Kesley Rice Bowl by Yoni Park Nemesis by Dan Thompson The Living Tree by Leona Shanks Ellie by Lea Colie Wight Sin Yui by Natalie Italiano Fortune Teller (Self Portrait) by Katya Held Maria by Robin Frey Oracle by Leona Shanks Roses by Kerry Dunn Apple & Milk Bottle by Ja Fang Lu