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A Passion for Nature and Self-Discovery
A visit with San Marco Nature Artist - Sheila Finkelstein

A visit to the home of Sheila and Sam Finkelstein is almost like taking a trip to a local Museum or Art Gallery. The stained glass piece hanging in the doorway greets you, the wall hangings and sculptured pieces invite you to come in and enjoy.

Sheila was born in Philadelphia. She met and married Sam in 1960, moved to Queens, NY, where their two sons, Joe and Rob, were born. They moved to Old Bridge, NJ in l965 and liver there for the next 37 years.

Their home was surrounded by woods and nature was growing wild. Before meeting Sam, Sheila spent 3 years at Temple University studying to make a career of Social Work. Those interests and skills over the years helped her develop into a Personal Coach.

Shortly after moving to Old Bridge, Sheila got passionately involved in establishing a public library there. She returned to college, got a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts Education from Kean College, and while teaching Art in public schools, achieved a Master’s Degree in Creative Arts Education from Rutgers University! An over -abundance of Art teachers and a decline in enrollment caused Sheila to enter the world of sales and marketing, where she remained for many years.

OK, where does the Nature stuff begin...right now. Sheila’s passion for taking pictures were originally inspired by Sam’s talents along those lines. His support and Sam’s hours of work in his darkroom, printing Sheila’s black and white photographs of students’ art work set her on the course that led to her life’s work, Nature and Discovery.

In l995, during the course of a major beach restoration project in the Laurence Harbor section of Old Bridge, Sheila took 3,000 photos, documenting the construction activities, equipment, nature changes surrounding the work,and the many views of the sunrises over the bay.

Since that time, Sheila carries her point-and-shoot and digital cameras wherever she goes. Discovery and play resulted in her current Photo/Drawing prints, which she has developed during the past 4 1/2 years.

Walking, focussing on images in Nature, and making unique discoveries, these are the things Sheila knows she can count on to enliven and enrich her life. The Finkelstein’s move to Florida in 2002 brought them closer to their sons and their families and even closer to nature.

Backyard birds consisting of snowy white egrets and other tropical assortments surround her San Marco home and are constant subjects of Sheila’s camera. The discovery of the Wakodahatchee Wetlands in 2003, just minutes away from their Tevere Drive home, have added to her pleasure. The wetlands, the tropical flowers, the wildly growing plants, the birds, they all reflect in Sheila’s work.

Sheila’s Photo/Drawing prints are wonderful, blowups of nature scenes photographed by Sheila, painstakingly recreated with her pen-line drawn on the existing photo to bring out the natural beauty of each of her subjects. Colorful flowers, wildlife scenes, birds, etc.

Sheila’s Photo/Drawing art is also adapted to tiles, beautifully colored tiles that can be used to decorate any place in your home, trivets or inlaid flowered tiled boxes for your jewelry or your favorite things. These are just a few of Sheila’s captivating creations. There are magnets, shopping bags, etchings and wonderful note paper, anyone can be proud to receive as a gift. Pay her a visit at home and see for yourself, or make sure you stop by Sheila’s table on January 9th, when the San Marco Arts/Crafts Show reconvenes in our clubhouse.

Besides the creative effort that goes into producing the items I have described, there is the WITVA - Women in the Visual Arts - Orchid Society Show Blue Ribbon First Prize winning print that hangs proudly in her living room. Many other framed pieces surround the walls of their home. Sheila is also an exhibiting member of the Delray Art League.

Recently Sheila started to concentrate on straight photography with her digital camera, using images in nature to inspire her creativity and relating to self and others in expanding ways. She is in the developing stage of setting up eTeletours and has already completed two Teleseminar focus groups.

Sheila is currently working on discovering markets where her work will make a difference in how people “see” their worlds. She says “suggestions and referrals are welcome”. You can reach her at naturesplayground.com or eteletours.com.

I undertook this interview so you could discover Sheila, just as she has invited us to discover other San Marco artisans in previous issues. No interview with Sheila would be complete without me telling you of some of her beliefs and aspirations.

Sheila loves people and their stories, thus this Art Matters column was born through her ideas. She tells of her reticence and introverted personality. It still lingers when it comes to meeting and interacting with people. That may be. I found her outspoken and very talented.

I leave you with one of Sheila’s favorite quotes by Raymond Inmon:
“If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk”.

Joel Savitsky


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12/28/05