People / Doris Shadbolt

Art critic, curator, educator. Doris Shadbolt (née Meisel) was born in Preston, Ontario in 1918. She received an honors Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from the University of Toronto, graduating Magna Cum Lauda. She worked as a research assistant at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario) (1942-1943) and the National Gallery of Canada (1943-1945), before marrying painter Jack Shadbolt and relocating to Vancouver in 1945. She also worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1948-1949). Shadbolt began volunteering at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1948. She occupied many roles at the Vancouver Art Gallery before retiring in 1975: docent and Director of Education (1950-1962), Research Curator (1963), Senior Curator (1967), Acting Director (1966-1967), and Associate Director (1972). Shadbolt’s exhibitions, both of contemporary art, such as New York 13 (1970), which brought the work of artists including Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, and Robert Morris to Vancouver, and indigenous art, like the landmark Art of the Raven (1967), played an important role in the shaping of modern West Coast identity. She also wrote the definitive text on Emily Carr’s work, The Art of Emily Carr (1979), establishing Carr’s work as seminal to the West Coast.

With her husband, she established the Vancouver Institute for Visual Arts (VIVA) awards. Through this foundation, every two years two visual or media artists are awarded a prize of $10,000, and every five years an artist of art worker who has had a lasting impact on the art scene in British Columbia is awarded $50,000. Shadbolt also served in varying capacities on the boards of numerous art institutions, such as the Canadian Film Development Corporation, the Canada Council, and the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board. She was awarded honorary degrees from Simon Fraser University (1994), Emily Carr University of Art + Design (1995), and the University of British Columbia (1996). Shadbolt was made an Officer of the Order of Canada (1976) and she was awarded the Governor General’s award for Visual and Media Arts (2000). She passed away in 2003.

  1. 03. Doris Shadbolt at the Vancouver Art Gallery
    Michael de Courcy, Doris Shadbolt, and Dennis Vance (Photograph)