Virginia Cantarella - Artist

About Virginia
Bio/Vita | The Studio | Exhibits  
Artist's Statement
I love to paint. It is almost an obsession. I work from subject matter enjoying the hand/eye dynamic. Good drawing is important to me although I work abstractly as well, sometimes combining the two. I am interested in composing as well as working with minimal colors to push the variety they can produce. For me, the subject matter or message is secondary to what the painting looks like. It is the visual experience that interests me the most.

Virginia Cantarella

Education: The 50s

Spent two and one half years as an art major, science minor at Connecticut College For Women. Class Officer.

Spent six months in Italy: Florence, Genoa, Venice, Rome, and Siena - studying art history, and painting in water colors and oils.

Spent four years as a painting major at the Boston Museum School, auditing courses at MIT, Harvard and Brandies. Learned Fresco Technique. Graduated with honors.

The 60s

Married and had two children.

One person show: Montclair State Teachers College.

One person show: Greenwich Art Library, Conn.

Co-Chaired fund drive for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, putting on a major exhibit of contemporary artists in the Brooklyn Museum including Larry Rivers, Bertoia, Gorgy Kepes, Elaine de Kooning,.

Started medial illustrating for Columbia University and Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Family spent two years in Paris. Researched television production "Is Paris Passé?", interviewing museum curators, gallery owners and artists.

Back in Brooklyn: bought 500  pounds of marble dust and developed modified fresco technique using acrylics. Painted in Abstract Expressionist manner.

Joined Gallery 84. Had three one person shows and was in several group shows.

The 70s

Illustrated the first two of three volumes of Microsurgery of the Eye, by Dr. Richard Troutman, introducing microsurgery in ophthalmology to the United States.

Served as governor of the Brooklyn Museum and Trustee of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences for five years. In charge of the Museum School, served on Acquisitions Committee, Finance Committee, Personnel Committee.

Paintings represented by four agents in New York City.

Three one person shows at the Brownstone Gallery in Brooklyn.

Joined the Bellanthi Gallery. Had two one person shows and in many group shows.

Won painting prize: Silevermine, Connecticut. Won first prize painting, Cooperstown, NY annual exhibit.

Divorced. Expanded medical illustration to full time free lance business. One of the first to work entirely free lance in this field.  Specialized in illustrating ophthalmic  surgery for medical text books, slides for lectures and exhibitions.  Assisted teaching courses in microsurgery of the eye at Downstate Medical Center and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Joined the Association of Medical Illustrators and the Graphic Artists Guild.

The 80s

Bought a house in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY and South Westerlo, NY. Set up studios in both houses. Married Herman Shonbrun

Text book illustration  branched into ophthalmic plastic surgery, retinal surgery, strabismus surgery, aesthetic and reconstructive surgery; and cutaneous surgery.

Adjunct Associate  professor L.I.U. for four years, teaching the course: Introduction to Medical Illustration.

One person show of paintings , LIU.

One person show of drawings, "Ordinary Objects", Renssalaerville Institute of Arts and Sciences.

Private Retrospective Exhibition: Salisbury Manor, Leeds, NY, given by Dr. and Mrs. Hugh Butts. 

The 90s

Moved full time to South Westerlo. Built medical art studio in the house  and painting and drawing studio in the barn. Completed Troutman's third volume on "Corneal Astigmatism".  Completed revision of Byron Smith Text ;  "Ophthalmic and Reconstructive Surgery". (Texts require from 100 to 1500 illustrations taking from one to four years to complete, consulting with doctors from New York, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Detroit and Miami). Retired in 1997 from Medical illustrating and now devoting full time to fine art.

Completed paintings called "The Blue Pitcher" series.

Completed a series of wash drawings called "Interiors".

One of fifteen chosen artists, out of 200 applicants, selected for the MS Society's exhibit, "The Creative Will" which opened at NYU's Grey Gallery and then toured the United states for two years. One drawing was featured by the Society at a fund raising fashion show in Los Angeles, California.

One person show at ArtSpace in Hudson, 33 paintings from series of Ordinary Objects.

Currently working on the series paintings continuing the series of "Ordinary Objects" and another series called "Still Lives with fruit and Other Things".

Finished an anatomy text called "An Illustrated Anatomy, Bones and Muscles" which is self published as an E-book. http:///

Teaching the disabled drawing and painting at Sunnyview Hospital, Schenectady, NY.

2000 - 2008

One person exhibitions at : The Rensselaerville Institute, the Greenville Library, and The Greene County Community College.

Ehhibied in the juried  show at Sunnyview Hospital in Schenectady, and served on the jury for the '07 exhibition.

Took on three private students in painting.

Acted as consultant on medical illustration for a Sam Mendes Film in which I provided art and created art.

Illustrated "The Phonetic Alphabet", a book for young children on how to pronounce all thee letters and clusters of letters.


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©2003-2008 Virginia Cantarella

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