Shane M. Hemberger

Shane Hemberger was born 1972 in Grand Junction Colorado, where he lived in the Rocky Mountain state until he was five years old. During this time, he had a small friend of similar age who lived right next to him with whom he played with everyday and whose mother just happened to be a hobby artist. She drew portraits in pastel and would let Shane dabble around with her materials upon seeing that he was interested and not realizing that she would be sending him down a path, himself, of becoming an artist. This early influence became the foundation of a life time of art making. Fortunately for Shane, his mother played the organ and had a positive attitude towards art and so was very supportive of his artistic inclinations. The artist recalls an instance during this time while still in preschool when the teacher instructed everyone to draw the class Christmas tree. Every single kid, of course, drew a set of triangles stacked on top of one another since this is the way they had been taught. Shane on the other hand began with a thick, squiggly vertical line to represent the trunk along with random lines shooting off in every direction for limbs and finally crowned with even smaller lines to represent needles. The entire thing was an atrocious mess but it could be seen here, early on, that Shane was already trying to draw what he was seeing and not just putting down some formula he had been taught. The incident has stuck in the artist's mind to this day because the children had jeered at him for his independence of mind and obvious lack of "skill" at drawing a proper Christmas tree.


When Shane was around the age of five, his family packed up and moved to Oklahoma, finally settling down in the small town of Welch where the artist attended grade school. Later, when the artist turned twelve, the family moved down the road to Bluejacket where he attended high school. Shane's artistic life was typical for a person of this age as he filled notebooks, desk tops, and the backs of exams with doodles and sketches. In high school, Shane was the class artist designing and creating football banners, annual covers, or designing pumpkins for the annual Halloween fund raisers. He recalls drawing pictures on one of his pairs of jeans with markers and wearing them to school one day. Despite negative glances from teachers, before he knew it, everybody in the school was wanting a pair and he had trouble keeping up with the demand. He also remembers drawing a giant rhino on the chalk board which was challenging because everything was reversed as he was drawing with light on dark instead of the usual pencil on paper which he was used to.


Somewhere around the ninth grade, Shane began to take art seriously, filling sketchbook after sketchbook with careful observation and drawing everything in sight and absorbing every art book he could get his hands on. His family did not have the money to buy painting supplies, so Shane just drew pictures with his school pencils becoming quite skilled. He would later realize that as fate would have it, it was better to have started off learning drawing skills first rather than painting because drawing is foundational to all the artistic disciplines and this led to a strong, solid understory for the eventual growth of his painting skills.


In Shane's junior year, he tried out for the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute. Lucky for him, only drawing was required for the tryouts. He was accepted. Despite an obvious lack of painting skills, his advanced drawing skills captured the attention of his painting teacher who was Robert Zakanich, a well known New York based artist. Zakanich put his weight behind Hemberger seeing in him someone who was very driven by a love for art. This opened up the opportunity for Shane to attend the Kansas City Art Institute through the generous help of the prestigious Zarrow family who resided in Tulsa. Shane attended the school for a couple of years but ran into many personal problems at this time which led to his leaving the school and reevaluating what he was to do with his life.


The artist worked odd jobs for a short while then joined the military. Serving in the role of small arms repairman, Shane continued to draw in his barracks doing a lot of colored pencil to help him learn color but still not getting to paint since these were not allowed. At the age of twenty five, after serving in the military for four years, the artist bought himself a home and settled into a factory job living close to family in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is an important period in his life because he decided he was finally going to learn how to paint and bring it up to par with his drawing skills. He chose to learn oils which is what he uses to this day. So Shane set up a studio in his garage, bought oil painting supplies, and began to paint ferociously on a daily bases. If he wasn't working, he was painting since he had no other obligations at the time. It was nothing for the artist to put in twenty hours of painting a week on top of his forty hours a week job. It was during this period as bachelor that his painting skills developed fully and came up to the level of his drawing. He would soon marry his wife Lorei and raise children. After a few years into the marriage, Shane decided he would return to finish his college degree despite working a full time job. He no longer had the support of his art patrons but did get a G.I. Bill while in the military and used it to attend Oklahoma State University where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree working under Dean Bloodgood, his painting teacher.


After college Hemberger went on to do many group and solo shows. He has had solo shows at the Artsplace Gallery in Ponca City and the Tulsa Artists' Coalition Gallery in Tulsa. He has participated in many prestigious group shows such as the Seven State Biennial exhibit that ran from 2017 into 2018 and toured through various venues in Oklahoma, the Oh, Tulsa! Biennial exhibit at Living Arts in Tulsa Oklahoma, and the 2005 Oklahoma Biennial exhibit through the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition and many, many more. Shane continues to paint to this day and feels privileged that he has been able to be a part of such a rich artistic community as is found here in Oklahoma.