Symeon Shimin

Symeon Shimin was born in Astrakhan, Russia, on the Caspian Sea, in 1902. His family immigrated to the United States ten years later, living in two small rooms behind their delicatessen. Already interested in drawing for a living, Shimin apprenticed himself to a commercial artist at age 16 to help support his family. He attended art classes at Cooper Union Art School at night and briefly at the studio of George Luks.  Primarily self-taught, as a young artist he studied the works of the master artists spending time in Spain, France and Mexico. Later trips to Italy proved to be inspirational for him and his work. 

In 1936 he was awarded a contract by the PWAP, Public Works Arts Project, to paint the mural “Contemporary Justice and the Child,“ for the Department of Justice Building, Washington, DC, which won wide acclaim. Taking four years to complete it can still be seen today. His paintings have been exhibited by the Whitney Museum in New York and many other museums throughout the United States. Shimin’s work in children's books began in 1950 and he subsequently became a greatly respected illustrator of more than 50 books for children, including two that he also authored.   Among other work early in his career, Shimin painted large-scale murals for Hollywood films, creating the original poster for “Gone with the Wind.” He died in New York in 1984. 


About Tonia Shimin
As a dancer Tonia Shimin performed in the companies of Martha Graham, Jose Limón, Pearl Lang, The Ypsilanti Greek Theater and as a soloist with Anna Sokolow's Player's Project, Mary Anthony Dance Theater and Repertory West Dance Company. She has had an extensive teaching career in the United States and abroad. Her choreographic works have appeared in the United States, the Czech Republic, Russia, Germany, Turkey, Switzerland, Greece, Italy and Mexico.  An award winning dance filmmaker, for among others the documentary Mary Anthony: A life in Modern Dance, her awards have included support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance. Currently she is Professor Emerita of the Department of Theater Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara and continues her creative work in the USA and abroad. Most recently she has curated, edited and with Mercury Press International published the award winning book, The Art of Symeon Shimin, on the remarkable work of her father, whose fine art is here shown in a collection for the first time.