TUCSON, Ariz. (June 16, 2010) — Married artists Mike and Beth Shirk, San Diego, Calif., each have had paintings accepted into the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Art Collection. Now in its 18th year, the Collection features artwork by people from across the country with muscular dystrophy and related disorders.
“Quiet Harbor” is the second watercolor Mike Shirk, 69, has had accepted into the Collection. The first, “Point Piños Light,” joined the Collection in 2003 and has been reproduced for MDA special programs.
The mixed media piece “Discovering Gold” is the first artwork by Beth Shirk, 63, to be accepted into the Collection.
The Shirks are a unique couple not only because both are accomplished artists, but also because both have received diagnoses of neuromuscular diseases. In 2005, about ten years after Mike was given a diagnosis of inclusion-body myositis, Beth received a diagnosis of myotonic muscular dystrophy. Mike and Beth both use power wheelchairs for mobility, and are each other’s caretakers.
Beth Shirk has been an artist since she was a child, and it was her interest in painting that led Mike to pick up a brush after his diagnosis in 2000.
A former advertising and marketing executive, Mike began as a plein air (outdoor) painter, using a specially adapted scooter to get to his locations. He now paints primarily in his studio, either working abstractly or relying on memory and earlier sketches.
Beth Shirk began her artistic career as a printmaker, and has received numerous awards for her work, including the Brighton Press Award and “best of show” at the San Diego Print Club. She has been a watercolorist since 1990. Her work is frequently selected for exhibition by the San Diego Watercolor Society, to which both she and Mike belong. Mike’s watercolors also have appeared in juried shows and won numerous awards.
“Quiet Harbor” is an impressionistic scene of a harbor at sunset, with orange, pink and purple hues coloring the sea and sky. “Discovering Gold” employs similar colors to create an abstract scene of fall trees peeking through a design of shapes and patterned paper.
The Shirks’ latest selections are on display at MDA’s national headquarters in Tucson, Ariz., and can be seen here. The Shirks’ pieces also will be included in MDA Art Collection traveling exhibits.
“We’re deeply honored to welcome Mike and Beth Shirk’s new works into the permanent MDA Art Collection,” MDA President and CEO Gerald Weinberg said. “Their contributions will undoubtedly delight all who see them as they travel to galleries and museums as part of special exhibits of the Collection.”
The Collection was established in 1992 to focus attention on the achievements of artists with disabilities and to emphasize that physical disability is no barrier to creativity.
It comprises some 375 works by artists age 2 to 82, representing all 50 states. Each artist is affected by one of the more than 40 diseases in MDA’s program.
Selected art from the Collection has been exhibited at the Dallas Museum of Art; Cork Gallery at Lincoln Center and the Forbes Collection in New York City; Chicago Public Library; Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art; Los Angeles Children's Museum; Capital Children's Museum, Washington, D.C.; and many other sites.
MDA is a voluntary health agency working to defeat muscle diseases through programs of research, services, advocacy and professional and public health education. Its programs are funded almost entirely by individual private contributors.