Priscilla Bender-Shore passed away Friday May 20, 2016 at the age of 90. Despite diminishing health in the last few months, her exceptional spirit and hope for the future never faltered. An intellectual and cultural powerhouse with a commitment to making the world a better place, she was also a foundation of love and support for her family.
Born in the Bronx in New York City on May 2, 1926, Priscilla attended Washington Irving High School for girls. In her sophmore year, her first art teacher reported to her mother that Priscilla was gifted and became her mentor. One of her drawings was submitted in a Macy’s exhibit, sponsored by Higgins Ink Co. and Priscilla won 1st prize. After graduating high school in 1942, Priscilla took the competitive entrance exam for the Cooper Union School of Art in 1943 and was admitted for a 3 year program. She graduated in 1946 with a special fine art award, and then attended Yale School of Art in New Haven, CT from 1949-1951 on scholarship. She left Yale in 1951 to marry Merle Shore, a graphic designer and illustrator.
They moved to Annapolis, MD in 1951 where Merle chose to attend the St. John’s College Great Books program. When the school opened it’s doors to women for the first time in its history, Priscilla was accepted on full scholarship, graduating in 1955, one year after Merle. This 4 year, non-elective BA program became their educational cornerstone, reflecting their passion for learning, dialogue, inquiry and discussion.
In 1957, Merle and Priscilla moved to Santa Barbara, CA and Priscilla returned to school to obtain her MFA at UCSB, graduating in 1969. In 1966, Merle and Priscilla founded Village Frame, a comprehensive art service and framing business in Montecito. In 1971, Priscilla took a position at Santa Barbara City College, teaching art there for 25 years. Loving what she did as an artist and a teacher, Priscilla touched the lives of hundreds of students, making life-long friends and helping to develop the arts in Santa Barbara.
In 1988, Priscilla won the Lila Acheson Wallace National Painting Competition, resulting in a 6 month residency in Giverny, France where Claude Monet lived and painted. Her work has been exhibited in Europe and the United States and is represented in many collections. She has a long resume of both jurying and curating local, regional and national exhibitions in painting, drawing and photography. Priscilla has had 23 one-person exhibitions (including PS1 in New York City which has now incorporated into MoMA PS1) and 57 group shows. Her most recent show, a retrospective of her work at the Marcia Burtt Gallery in Santa Barbara, was in October 2014.
Throughout the years that she returned to school for her MFA and then worked both at Village Frame and SBCC, Priscilla continued to develop her career as an artist. But she was also a devoted mother, raising a family and nurturing all who crossed her path. Taking care of Merle in the waning years of his life, she was patient, strong and unswerving in her loyalty and compassion – she was goodness personified. A political animal at heart, Priscilla stayed connected to the national pulse of the country, passionate about improving the lives of those around her and making sure her vote counted.
Above all she loved her family. She is survived by her children, Evan Shore and Ann Shore Jactel, her son-in-law Bruno Jactel, and her grandchildren, Samuel, Sarah and Sophia Jactel.
The family thanks Cottage Hospital and Santa Barbara Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care at Serenity House for their humane and professional care. Donations can be made in the name of Priscilla Bender-Shore to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (www.ccfa.org/get-involved/donate-to-ccfa/honors-and-memorial).