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Lee Shapiro Honored at Colorado Mountain College Aspen for 41 Years of Teaching

Lee Shapiro Honored at Colorado Mountain College Aspen for 41 Years of Teaching

Lee Shapiro is retiring from Colorado Mountain College after 40 years of teaching.
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Longtime Aspen resident H. Lee Shapiro is a true Renaissance man. He is an engineer, former hospital administrator, artist, author, motivational speaker, poet, teacher, counselor and seminar leader.

A nationally known watercolorist whose work has been exhibited in over 40 galleries across the U.S., he is best known for illustrating the international children’s bestseller There’s No Such Place as Far Away by Richard Bach. He also designed the posters for the 1991 and 1993 Aspen World Cup.

1991 World Cup poster design by Lee Shapiro.
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Shapiro also spent 41 years teaching figure drawing and watercolor at Colorado Mountain College. On Wednesday, CMC is hosting a retrospective exhibition on the Aspen campus to honor and celebrate his tenure as he steps down from teaching at the institution to pursue other interests. The opening reception will be from 4 to 7 p.m., and the artist will give a talk at about 5:30 p.m.



“It’s mostly newer work, but there’s a lot of subject matter,” Shapiro said. “There’s work from 40 years ago and different works over the years. When I first started painting, I started painting dancers because I found that dancers have a great sense of movement. As a teacher, I’d come up with a new subject and a new approach to watercolor every week. It’s exciting and it keeps me creative and keeps me from getting stuck in the rut of doing the same thing over and over.”

Watercolor painting of a horse by Lee Shapiro.
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Shapiro came to Colorado in 1974 after graduating from the University of Michigan. In 1981, he headed to Aspen. The mountain lifestyle, from the outdoors to cultural pursuits, has found what he describes as “a place for my soul.”



“As soon as I got my master’s degree, I bought a car and moved. I knew I wanted to live in Colorado. When I came here, it was like I was in heaven,” he recalled.

The Cyclist by Lee Shapiro.
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It was in this valley that he was able to stray from a more conventional path and develop his natural artistic abilities. After a few years as a hospital administrator, he realized that he was not interested in the politics of the industry and left without a plan. His girlfriend’s mother was an artist and she learned to paint in her studio. This changed the course of his life.

“I just jumped right into it,” he said. “I had my first show after about six months of painting and sold a bunch of paintings. And I thought, ‘Well, this is cool, this is a pretty good life.’ So I became an artist. Being an artist teaches me how to see. I see art as a tool for connecting with myself and tapping into this spiritual flow. It’s kind of like you’re dancing and you’re not thinking about it, but the music just flows through you and your body becomes a conduit for that music and you get a dance that’s pretty exquisite when you let go. And the same thing can happen with painting.”