Paintings pictured to the left are: “Our Courtyard,” the fountain at Westminster, home to Tom and Janice; and the Central Presbyterian Church chancel, completed in November and Tom’s final painting. As our featured artist, a print of “Our Courtyard” is on display through January at both Miller IDS locations.
Our featured artist this month is the very special Tom Shefelman who passed away last month. This is, in effect, my written tribute to Tom as I knew him. You can read about him online on many websites and articles, some of which are listed at the end of this piece.
As an artist Tom was most publicly recognized for his architecture. He had an amazing number of interesting projects but he personally favored churches over all others. His websites show enthusiasm for research and sketches. In architecture he was a collaborator early on, both with other urban planning phenoms (including Alan Taniguchi, David Minter and Jim Nix), and in “teaming” on public space planning with Coffee Crier, Villava-Cotera and others. After studying at both UT Austin and Harvard, his career began at Kuehne Brooks and Barr followed by Emerson Fehr, and then on to Shefelman/Nix. Three amazing firms with amazing project history.
Tom designed numerous churches and I found that his design of the current Central Presbyterian Church dates back to 1955; his design of the church and the stained glass windows remain timeless and beautiful. His most recent painting is of the chancel (also featured here). Fittingly, Tom’s memorial service will be held in this beautiful place of worship this Saturday, January 14th at 11am.
Interesting project mentions include Lower Waller Creek Development Plan in 1982; design of the Starr Building back in 1954 for American Bank, now where McGarrah Jesse is located; and renovation of the Stephen F Austin Hotel in the ‘80s.
Tom was an accomplished watercolorist who partnered with his wife Janice illustrating children’s books she authored. His watercolors also include renderings of the lovely buildings he saw on his lifelong travels with Janice. Tom’s earliest artistic talents were focused on drawing and cartooning; he is quoted as saying “I don’t remember ever wanting to be an artist, I just was.”
To read more about Tom visit:
Michael Barnes Statesman
Cindy Widner @Curbedaustin
Shefelmanpaintings.com (with links to Shefelman Nix and Shefelman Books)
Austin History Center Tom W Shefelman records and drawings:
Our own featured article about Tom from 2015