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Published: Sunday, 4/18/2010

Longtime Blade artist loved military history

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Don J. Shinew, an artist whose watercolors were shown at museums and galleries and whose drawings, cartoons, and watercolors illustrated articles and Sunday Magazine covers in The Blade for 25 years, died Friday in Lutheran Home at Toledo, where he lived about 1 1/2 years.

He was 91 and the cause of death was not known, but he had prostate cancer and was in declining health the last two years, his daughter, Judi Jaquillard, said.

Mr. Shinew, formerly of Northwood and East Toledo, was active until about three years ago in the Monday Morning Painters, a casual group of artists who travel to and then paint scenic spots in the region.

The Monday painters is an outgrowth of Group 9, another artists group whose founding members included Mr. Shinew and Ray Bloch, editorial art director of The Blade.

"That was what defined him, the art," his daughter said. "He found comfort and peace and enjoyment out of it. He was a very gentle person."

Mr. Shinew retired in 1984 after more than 26 years as a Blade editorial artist. He worked largely by assignment - providing cartoons to accompany an article about the prime rate or an Erma Bombeck column or a magazine article about the Blizzard of '78 or graphics for a Behind The News article about Cleveland mayoral politics or portraits of personalities for the TV Tab. Plus he helped with the design of magazine pages.

"He was absolutely superb," said John Smestad, a retired Blade editorial artist. "Don could handle any kind of an assignment someone would come up with: a caricature, an illustration, a lettering job. Don was an all-around professional artist."

Not everything was assigned. A watercolor showing the four seasons in one farm scene was used on the Sunday Magazine cover to ring out 1961 and herald in 1962. He was to have a one-man show of his artwork at the Toledo Museum of Art's Gallery 8 in spring, 1962.

He had a longstanding interest in military history. For a Sunday Magazine in 1965, he wrote about the 339th Infantry Regiment, which fought the Red Army in northern Russia past the end of World War I.

His stepfather had been in the Polar Bears, as the regiment was known, and Mr. Shinew illustrated his piece with stark pen-and-ink drawings.

When he was hired by The Blade, "They handed him a brush and said, 'Get to work,'•" Mr. Smestad recalled. "There was no question about what he could or couldn't do. That was apparent."

Art was his avocation, too. The dining room of the family's Valleywood Drive home was his studio and, after dinner most nights except Sunday, he took to his easel.

"My dad never watched television," his daughter said. "But he was always working on some project or artwork."

He was a member of the artists group, Artklan, and was a former president of the Toledo Federation of Art Societies. He received a service award from the Toledo Artists' Club.

Landscapes often were his subject, but not necessarily fields and flowers.

A work in the Toledo Museum of Art showing, "Lafayette and Belmont Streets" features a rickety fence and building in the foreground; a tilting telephone pole and the spire of Historic St. Patrick Church in the background.

His work also was displayed at the Dayton Art Institute and at the annual Toledo Area Artists' Exhibition, then known as the "May Show."

"Don was a very accomplished transparent watercolorist," Mr. Smestad said. "That was the medium he preferred, and that's where he worked at his best."

He was born June 14, 1918, in East Stroudsburg, Pa., to Mae and Gerald Shinew. He grew up in South Toledo and was a 1936 graduate of Libbey High School.

He was a commercial artist and, before The Blade, worked for Short Way Lines; Industrial Printing Co., and Rossford Ordnance Depot.

He studied at the Toledo Museum of Art and took other art classes as well.

He was a Marine Corps veteran of World War II. His duty was sign painter, but he was a rifleman at the Battle of Peleliu in the Pacific Theater in 1944.

He was proud that four of his grandchildren joined the military, his daughter said.

He and his wife, Lillian, married Oct. 5, 1940. She died Jan. 22, 2001.

Surviving are his son, Jerry Shinew; daughter, Judi Jaquillard; five grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.

At Mr. Shinew's request, his body was donated to the University of Toledo Medical Center. Memorial services will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the assisted living chapel at Lutheran Home at Toledo on Seaman Street.

The family suggests tributes to the Lutheran Homes Society, the Toledo Artists Club, or a charity of the donor's choice.

Contact Mark Zaborney at:

mzaborney@theblade.com

or 419-724-6182.



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