For longtime Sunset art teacher, final show is part of battling Parkinson's

For longtime Sunset art teacher, final show is part of battling Parkinson’s
Ned Shelley has been an artist for much of his life. In addition to painting and drawing as a hobby, he also taught middle school art for more than 30 years and drew a newspaper comic strip. (BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)

WEST POINT — Former Sunset Junior High art teacher Ned Shelley can no longer draw, paint or speak on most days as a result of Parkinson’s disease, but he’s still making a difference with his masterpieces.

A final art show Saturday, April 21, will feature his work and raise funds to help fight Parkinson’s, a progressive disease of the central nervous system that causes muscle tremors. April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month.

Shelley will auction off his final works from 2-5 p.m. on the eve of his 79th birthday at the Sunset Central Park Bowery, 85 West 1800 North in Sunset.

“He wants to use what he is able to do to help that disease get some scientific research done,” said one of his nieces, Karen Susov of Pleasant Grove. She said Shelley is able to draw or paint on special occasions when his brain cooperates.

“I’m sure he would enjoy knowing that in some small way, he is helping to make Parkinson’s more treatable,” she said.

Shelley taught art for 33 years before the disease took him out of the classroom in 1997.

“He has to face it every day,” said Shelley’s son, Doyle Shelley. “It’s like fighting back if he can donate money to the cure for the disease.” 

Ned Shelley's artwork lines the walls of his apartment at Family Tree Assisted Living on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, in West Point. (BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)

Shelley’s works — all of which were completed since his Parkinson’s diagnosis in 1999 — will be sold through a silent auction during Saturday’s event, Doyle Shelley said.

Last summer, Shelley held another art show to benefit Parkinson’s research. That sale, at the West Point Family Tree Assisted Living Facility, where he now lives, raised about $4,600, Doyle Shelley said. 

“I am trying to get the word out to former students,” Doyle Shelley said of the Saturday art show. “We are going to keep the prices down on the paintings a little bit more this time.”

Doyle Shelley wants to provide an affordable way for area residents to be able to purchase art and to find a way to limit the number of pieces the family will need to store in the future as they downsize. 

“He is getting to the point where he can’t draw really well,” Doyle Shelley said of his father. “It’s kind of a big deal to do an art show.”

The artist behind a decades-old glass mosaic that still hangs in the commons area at Sunset Junior High, Shelley is remembered as a man who positively influenced many youths.

One of those former students who benefitted from Shelley’s guidance is Gene Dunford, 52, who now is a senior vice president and Los Angeles regional director at Umpqua Bank.

While he was growing up, his own father had medical difficulties and was limited in his ability to hunt, camp and fish, Dunford said.

However, Shelley took Dunford in and made him feel as if he were part of his own family, taking him along on adventures and spending time with him under a mulberry tree on his front lawn.

“Ned took on a fatherly role,” Dunford said. “Any time I needed things, I could always turn to him. ... He certainly was influential about my going to Utah State University.”

Even before he was old enough to take classes at Sunset Junior High, Dunford said he would go to Shelley’s classroom after school and make pottery and other art projects.

Wooden dowels with historical figures sketched on them line the window sills in Ned Shelley's apartment at Family Tree Assisted Living on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, in West Point. Shelly's room is filled with art he created. (BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)

“I think of him more as a father than a school teacher,” Dunford said. “I watched him work with a lot of different kids doing different kinds of art, not just the basics.”

Among Shelley’s projects Dunford recalled were large 7 foot by 4 foot plastic “stained glass” windows he would hang in the school for Christmas every year.

He also painted the school’s logo on the basketball court, Dunford said. It remained there for many years before eventually being replaced with a new logo.

Among Shelley’s other accomplishments are numerous poems he’s written and a prize-winning cartoon about animals called “Mooford” that was published for years in the Spanish Fork Press, Doyle Shelley said.

One customer who will be sure to attend Saturday’s art show is Norm Haugen, who lived near Shelley in Sunset for more than 40 years.

Haugen said he’s been an admirer for all that time.

“He used to draw barns,” Haugen said. “My wife and I would take trips and we would go all over, places like Idaho and Canada, and take pictures of barns and old houses. We took pictures of them for him to draw and to do watercolors.”

Reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or on Facebook at Facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis.