Luke A. Shaw, 69, art professor at Coppin State

December 25, 1997|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Luke A. Shaw, a nationally known artist, longtime professor and former chairman of the art department at Coppin State College, died Saturday of a heart attack at Sinai Hospital.

Dr. Shaw, who lived in West Baltimore, had taught at the college since 1966 and had exhibited his paintings at shows throughout the country since the early 1950s. He was 69.

Coppin State President Calvin W. Burnett called Dr. Shaw one of the school's "outstanding" faculty members and said he owns xTC two of Dr. Shaw's paintings.

"He was very talented but also tremendously interested in his students," Dr. Burnett said. "He always came [to class] well prepared. [His death] was a loss to the Coppin family that I can't describe."

Colleagues and former students said Dr. Shaw was a colorful and straightforward professor -- one who would always take the time to talk to students, if not always agree with them.

"You always got a good feeling when someone as respected as Dr. Shaw could and would take the time to sit down to show you certain techniques," said Philip Davis, a student of Dr. Shaw's in the 1980s. "He always made himself available."

Dr. Shaw experimented with approaches to enhance his paintings. One of his favorite methods was tonal layering, in which several surface layers of acrylic paint were applied with a syringe on top of other images.

Many of his paintings were said to contain hints of van Gogh, Picasso and Mondrian works.

"I guess you'd say I've run the gamut in my work, but I love modern painting. I'm into that," Dr. Shaw said in a 1980 interview with The Sun. "But on the other hand, I guess I'll paint anything to get attention. While lots of artists feel they have to please themselves, I realize I like to please the public."

One of his fondest memories was holding an art show with his son, wood sculptor Luke Shaw Jr., at Coppin State in 1980. He beamed as he walked through the exhibit where his paintings and his son's carvings lined the walls. His son died several years ago.

A native of Wilson, N.C., Dr. Shaw graduated from high school in Illinois and moved to Baltimore to attend the former Morgan State College, from which he graduated with a bachelor's degree in music in 1950.

He attended the Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and received a master's degree from the Maryland Institute, College of Art in the late 1950s. He received his doctorate from Illinois State University in 1978.

His teaching career began in the early 1960s, when he taught art at the old Bates High School in Anne Arundel County and at Glen Burnie High.

"When he came to Coppin, he helped put the school's art department on the map," said Elaine Corbin, his former wife, whom he married in 1954 and divorced in 1994. "He had quite a bit of talent."

Services were held yesterday.

He is survived by two sons, Alfred Shaw of Sparks and Eric Shaw of Baltimore; two brothers, John Shaw of Wilson, N.C., and Roy Shaw of Dover, Del.; two grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

Pub Date: 12/25/97

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