Alley Buffet: A Look Inside 40 at 40

Thom Shaw (American, 1947-2010); Alley Buffet, 1996; Woodcut on paper, 11 of 30; Gift of Ellen Price; 2017.11


Thom Shaw (American, 1947-2010) was a Cincinnati-based artist who created works in a myriad of mediums, including painting, drawing and printmaking. Shaw’s artwork explored a wide range of subject matter: urban poverty, violence, racism, his own illness, science fiction; all deeply personal to the artist. Each piece has an underlying theme of social awareness. Alley Buffet, for example, directly addresses race and the suffocation of urban life and is on view now in 40 at 40: Celebrating 40 Years. Because of the topics Shaw depicted, he became an icon in the African-American community, as well as others living in the inner city.

Looking specifically at Shaw’s use (or lack of) color, his works are predominantly done in black and white. This plays on the “black and white” nature of life, stressing the limited, and somewhat non-existent, “grey-area.” Relating back to the themes and subject matter of Shaw’s work, this confrontational aspect of his methodology really causes the viewer to step back and acknowledge the subject at hand.

Thom Shaw (American, 1947-2010). Alley Buffet, 1996. Woodcut, Number 11 of an edition of 30. Gift of Ellen Price. 2017.11.

MUAM houses several works by Shaw in the permanent collections, many of which have been generously given to the museum by Ellen Price, a Professor of Art (printmaking) at Miami. Professor Price holds an MFA from Indiana University and is a celebrated artist. She has shown many of her prints throughout the country. Price collected many pieces by Shaw throughout his career and will be conducting an Exhibition Talk about the late artist, Thursday, March 7 at 5:50 P.M. This talk will focus on Shaw’s life and work with a special emphasis on his lineage and significance as a printmaker.