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Ira Upin

  • 20150810201816-reaching_for_paris
  • 20150810201357-church
  • 20150810201123-pollux_award_x-ray_room
  • 20150810200744-bird_brain
  • 20150626183152-cafe-small_world
  • 20150626183545-cafe-orange_shadow
  • 20150626184311-cafe_-_aquarium
  • 20150626183914-cafe_-_bird_brain
  • 20150626185449-cafe-touch_me
  • 20150626184640-cafe-at_first_sight
  • 20150517002359-as_rendered_abstraction_b
  • 20150128010155-ra_hat_in_hand
  • 20150128005753-sw_-_nola_boys
  • 20130204143358-jen_2013_use
  • 20120924130145-scary_bumpa_for_cafe_
  • 20130204143607-hotdog_use
  • 20120911181252-police_state
  • 20120324165419-zero_gravity_jpg
  • 20120122200348-artslant_strong_man_series_chapter_10_-_driven
  • 20120122194401-__
  • 20120122194306-a_-_strong_man_series_chapter_8_-_legacy
  • 20120122194133-a_-_strong_man_series_chapter_7_-_fat_cat
  • 20120122194047-a_-_strong_man_series_chapter_6_-_focus
  • 20120122193951-a_-_strong_man_series_chapter_5_-_ignorance__is_bliss
  • 20120122193841-a_-_strong_man_series_chapter_4_-_safe_haven
  • 20120122193500-a_-_strong_man_series_chapter_3_-_impossible_burden
  • 20120122192812-a_-_strong_man_series_chapter_2_-_helpless_in_the_ways_of_the_world
  • 20120122193727-a_-_strong_man_series_chapter_1_-_hope_not
  • 20120122200744-a_-_jen_1977
  • 20120122200921-a_-__jen_2008
  • 20120122200645-a_-__grant_park_lady
  • 20120122200542-a_-_tommy_merryfield
  • 20120122201227-a_-__matt_pappajohn
  • 20120122201315-a_-__keith_knedler
  • 20120122201418-a_-_maris_
  • 20120124161742-battleground
  • 20120124162144-underwater
  • 20120124162256-pigs
  • 20120124162353-boot_study_30inx40in
  • 20120124162809-cat
  • 20120124161541-big_fish_79inx60in
  • 20120124162942-birthright_79inx71in
  • 20120124163223-e__man_in_the_middle_98inx80in_2
  • 20120124163551-dd__hot_and_cold_72inx112in_2
  • 20120124163738-reality_check_80inx36in_m
  • 20120124163932-where_are_you_going_30inx20in
  • 20120124164441-atomic_tan
  • 20120124170028-if_fish_could_fly
  • 20120124170146-landscape
  • 20120124170251-creeping_vine
  • 20120124170418-missing_person
  • 20120124170544-delicate_balance
  • 20120124170712-earthly_bonds
  • 20120124170858-between_heaven_and_earth
  • 20120124171006-fall
  • 20120124171120-infinite_patience
  • 20120124171328-falling
  • 20120124171520-fallen
  • 20120124171633-magic


Chicago, IL

Birth year

Lives in

Works in


MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art), 1973, MFA - Painting
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1971, BFA - Painting

Representing galleries
Projects Gallery, Milavec Hakimi Gallery

hypr-realism figurative, color painting



I've thought of myself as an artist since I was 5 years old when I drew a picture of my father and it looked exactly like him.

I was born in Chicago in 1948 and left at 18. After school I chose to move to Philadelphia, where I knew no one, and proceeded to establish my life from scratch.

Coming from a practical background I didn't really believe I could survive as an artist until I graduated from graduate school and realized painting was all I wanted to do. At that point my focus was always on how to facilitate my ability to make art.
I eventually was able to survive financially by moving to a neighborhood where real estate was cheap. I acquired enough property to have a place to live, a studio, and rental income to be an artist full time.
The two constants in my work have been the narrative and the intensity of the visual. I want the viewer to be intoxicated  and perplexed by how I make my paintings and intrigued by the stories I am trying to tell. I’m interested in human dynamics whether they be social, political, or emotional.
In the end though it's about randomness and our inability to control that randomness. Things happen - anything can happen and we want somehow to control it, but we can't. Art is a good attempt at trying.




1966-1967            Bradley University, Peoria, IL                                                                                                                       

1967-1968            Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL                                                                                               

1968-1971            University of Illinois, Champaign, IL - B. F. A. in painting 1971                                                             

1971-1973            Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD- M.F.A. in Painting 1973                                                           


Painting Awards

1973            Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Fellowship                                                                                               

                    Painting Biennial, VCU, Richmond VA, 1st Prize                                                                                                           

1972            Henry Walters European Travel Scholarship

1971            Kate Kinley Memorial Fellowship (Given by University of Illinois Trustees)

                    Wabash Valley Regional, Swope Art Museum, Terre Haute IN, 1st Prize, purchase award


Selected Collections

            - Sheldon Swope Art Museum, Terre Haute IN

            - Combank Corp., Chicago, IL

            - Towers, Perrin, Forster, and Crosby, Phila., PA

            - First Union Bank Corp., Wilmington, DE

            - Beneficial Savings Corp., Wilmington, DE

            - General Instrument Corp., Horsham, PA

            - Monell Senses Center, Phila., PA

            - Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick, NJ

            - Howard Tullman Collection, Chicago, IL

            - Grace Hartigan, Baltimore,MD


One Person Shows

2013            Recent Paintings from The Strong Man and Portrait Series, Giles Gallery,

                     Eastern KY U, Richmond, KY

2013            Strong Man Series, Artspace, Raleigh, NC

2013            Recent Paintings from The Strong Man and Portrait Series,

                      Dairy Center for the Arts, Boulder, CO 

2011             2 Brothers 2 Profiles, Projects Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

2008             Weber/Kelly 201 Gallery, Phila., PA

1993             F.A.N. Gallery, Phila., PA

1992             F.A.N. Gallery, Phila., PA

1981             Cheney Cowles Museum, Spokane, WA

1979             Zaks Gallery, Chicago, IL

1977             Rosenfeld Gallery, Phila., PA

1975             Center Square, Phila., PA

1973             Turner Auditorium, John Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD

1972             Sheldon Swope Art Museum, Terre Haute, IN


Selected Group Shows

2012            No Dead ArtistsJonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA

2012            Death is the Destination, Ernest G. Welch Galleries, Georgia State University,
Atlanta, GA

2012             Living With Others, Giles Gallery Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY

2012             Au Naturel International Juried Exhibition, Clatsop Community College

                       Art Center Gallery, Astoria, OR

2011             Hello World, Milavec Hakimi Gallery, NYC

2011             Artist of the Week, Saatchi Online

2011             Northern Liberties: A Transformation, Projects Gallery, Phila., PA

2011             To-day is Another Day-MAKE ART

                     Art in the Great Recession, Pterodactyl Philadelphia

                     Project Space, Phila., PA

2010             Philadelphia Story, Woodmere Art Museum, Phila., PA

2009             Obamarama, Projects Gallery, Phila., PA

2005             Operation Raw, The Icebox, Phila., PA

2003             Art in Northern Liberties, Phila., PA

2000             National Invitational Art Exhibition, Brenau College, Gainesville, GA

1999             The Art & Science of Surviving Cancer (Traveling Exhibit), Amgen Inc.

1997             Manna Benefit Art Auction, Institute of Contemporary Art, Phila., PA

1996             Confronting Cancer through Art, Arthur Ross Gallery, Phila., PA

                     Group Show, Moore on Second Street Gallery, Phila., PA

1995             Meet the Neighbors, Paley Design Center, Philadelphia College of Textiles, Phila., PA

                     Shades of the Spirit, Painted Bride Art Center, Phila., PA

1994             Group Show, Axis Fine Art, Phila., PA

                     National Invitational Art Exhibition, Brenau College, Gainesville, GA

                     15x15 Alumni Exhibit, Maryland Institute, Baltimore, MD

1992             National Invitational Art Exhibition, Brenau College, Gainesville, GA

                     Dominion: The World of Man and Beast, F.A.N. Gallery, Phila., PA

1991             Differing Views-Four Artists, Spokane Art School Center for the Visual Arts, Spokane, WA

1990             Third Annual Exhibition of Pennsylvania Artists, Josiah White

                       Exhibition Center, Jim Thorpe, PA

1988             Consciousness and Reality, More Gallery, Phila., PA

1981             Untitled One Nine Eight One, Cheltenham Art Center, Phila., PA

1979             Opens Friday, Moore College of Art, Phila., PA

1978             Arthur A. Baer Memorial Art Competition, Beverley Art Center, Chicago IL

                     About Face- Contemporary American Portraits, Squibb Gallery, Princeton, NJ

1977             Grace Hartigan and Friends, Gallery at the Mechanic, Baltimore, MD

1975             641 Gallery, Washington, DC

1973             National Annual Drawing and Small Sculpture Show, Muncie, IN

                     National Drawing Exhibition, Potsdam, NY

                     National Annual Print and Print Drawing Show, Grand Forks, ND

                     Painting Biennial, Richmond, VA (1st Prize)

1972             National Annual Drawing and Small Sculpture Show, Grand Forks, ND

                     Recent Baltimore Paintings, Washington College, Chestertown, MD
                     Chautauqua Exhibition of American Art, Chautauqua, NY

                     Baltimore Arts Festival, Baltimore, MD

1971             Wabash Valley Regional, Swope Art Museum, Terre Haute, IN

Recent Exhibits

Ira Upin participated in these exhibits:

Dec, 2014 Red Dot Art Fair
Red Dot Miami
Apr, 2014 Material World , no barking aRt biennale 2014 Part II
Espacio Gallery
Mar, 2014 no barking aRt biennale 2014 , Material World part I
Shop 25 (The Old Truman Brewery)
Oct, 2013 Solo Show
Giles Gallery, EKU
Apr, 2013 Solo Show
Artspace, Raleigh, NC
Jan, 2013 Solo Show
The Dairy Center for the Arts
Click here to see all exhibits for Ira Upin
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