About

My daughter, Naomi, was diagnosed with autism when she was 5 years old. She’s always loved art and she would keep busy sketching for hours on end until some harsh criticism stopped her from doing what she loves. I was heartbroken to see this love of hers squashed, so I decided to start Renewing the Renaissance® as a way to support, both financially and spiritually, artists on the autistic spectrum.

We began in 2010, and our team has grown to include more people who are passionate about art and helping differently-abled people. Ashleigh Norman, our office manager and art advisor is a graduate student, getting her MFA in painting. Her sister had cerebral palsy and Ashleigh grew up around Michelle and her friends, the majority of whom were living with one form of disability or another. Their mother was a fundraiser for United Cerebral Palsy in the 1970’s and 80’s and a strong view of disability not as dis-ability but different-ability has been passed on.

Our sculpture manager and incredibly talented lead sculptor, Kent, has a son that has been diagnosed with autism and a wife who struggles with physical challenges due to an unfortunate mishap. Kent is one of very few artists I know that is able to make a living with his art and he’s always enthusiastic to share his knowledge with others. 

Taking a cue from the patron-artist relationships that abounded in the era of the Renaissance, my aim is to be able to connect our wonderfully talented artists with patrons to allow them not only to be able to sell their work, but to make connections with people that show the artists they are supported and their work is meaningful. My dream with Renewing the Renaissance® is to create an effective model focused on challenged adults’ individual strengths and to provide mentorship, helping them to flourish creatively.
Read more

As a patron, you’ll be helping to renew the Renaissance. Here’s what your purchase creates:

  • Dignity. Each Renaissance artist receives fair compensation for each work of art created. No more menial jobs or underselling valuable paintings just to make the rent.
  • Professional Development. Our challenged artists develop their craft and vision with the help of professional art managers. Daily contact is adjusted according to their unique needs. Your patronage triggers a deeper relationship with the outside world through a trusted mentor. With the details of business taken care of, our artists can focus solely on perfecting their craft.
  • Community. Unlike traditional galleries that often focus on celebrity artists, our system fosters an artistic collaboration in a safe setting. A consultative online art school is planned, allowing each artist to contribute his/her own expertise to the artistic process of all. The result will be a unique synergy reminiscent of the Renaissance: an original artwork that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Original Artwork. These artists are exceptional. For them, art is a refuge, a place for discovery and sharing. Their talent and passion have been honed through years of immersion, resulting in stunning pieces of original art work.
  • If you aren’t in the market for artwork, you can always donate. Every tax deductible donation gets us closer to being able to help another talented artist living with challenges. In addition to mentoring our artists, we also support them by keeping them in art supplies, so every donation, every sale helps the artists directly. We all thank you for your support.

    Phil Shemanski, Founder and President
    Renewing the Renaissance®

    Our Team

    Phil Shemanski, President
    Read more

    Inspired by his autistic daughter, Shemanski came up with the idea to create a company focused on mentoring gifted artists with challenges, and providing them the opportunity to focus on their art instead of the additional complexities of running a business. He currently serves as President of Renewing the Renaissance. He is a former longtime tax partner of Ernst & Young and adjunct Professor at Golden Gate University in the Masters of Tax Program. Shemanski earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine in Economics and graduated Summa cum Laude with a Master’s degree from Golden Gate University.

    Originally from Los Angeles, Shemanski has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past 40 years with his wife and daughter.

    Cliff Behl, Vice-President Gallery Art
    Read more

    Behl has been in the Art business for several decades as gallery manager, art director and gallery owner of the famed Gallerie Hawaii in Maui. Other galleries include Martin Lawrence, Robert Lynch, Wyland, Goddard, Chase Thomas and Royal Art Gallery. He has worked with LeRoy Neiman, Csaba Markus, Stephen Holland, Sam Park, and several other artists from Europe. Most recently he was working with the late Thomas Kincade. He has also worked for several publishing companies including Soho, Mamone, Hasson Fine Art and Martin Lawrence.

    Behl is originally from Santa Clara, CA.

    Douglas ‘Dar’ Ritter, Vice-President Company Programs
    Read more

    An accomplished art consultant, Ritter has been managing art galleries and directing art exhibits for more than 20 years from New York City to San Francisco - some valued at more than $50-million. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art from the School of Visual Arts in New York and a Master’s degree from Columbia University.

    Ashleigh Norman, Office Manager and Art Advisor
    Read more

    Ashleigh is a former art gallery director and has directed several art exhibits. A veteran of the entertainment industry, Ashleigh has appeared in several television shows and commercials. Originally from Washington State, she moved to California in her teens. She graduated high school at age 15 and went on to obtain a Bachelor’s degree with a dual emphasis in studio art and art history from California State University, Channel Islands. She is currently pursuing her Masters of fine art degree at the San Francisco Art Institute.

    Press Releases

    Renewing the Renaissance® Connects the Work of Challenged Artists and Sculptors with Connoisseurs Worldwide
    Read more

    New, Online Fine Arts Company Provides Aid for Artists Coping with Mental and Physical Challenges Such as High Functioning Autism and Stress Disorders

    San Jose, Calif. (December 10, 2012) – Renewing the Renaissance,® an online fine arts company based in the Silicon Valley, just went live this month and will seek to bridge the work of exceptional, challenged artists and sculptors with collectors worldwide. Renewing the Renaissance® (RTR) is the brainchild of art enthusiast/entrepreneur Phil Shemanski, and is dedicated to providing income and steady support for challenged adults. The artists live across the country but all art is available for purchase worldwide through the RTR website.

    RTR patrons can purchase an already completed sculpture or painting from the website gallery, or choose from the following options:

  • Commission Art Work: Patrons can choose to work with one of the company’s art managers to commission a unique piece of artwork for themselves or as a gift through RTR’s unique “Painters Corner” at www.RenewingtheRenaissance.com .
  • Employee Recognition/Awards: Companies can create award sculptures or recognize their project team’s critical contribution with an award of a commissioned painting. www.RenaissanceRenewed.com
  • Renewing the Renaissance’s new project, Supporting Artists with Autism, is dedicated to providing opportunities to artists with high-functioning autism. Supporters of the project will receive a tax deduction for any donation made. Supporting Artists with Autism is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.

    For more information about the project and how you can donate, please visit http://www.fracturedatlas.org/site/fiscal/profile?id=8051

    If you are interested in learning more about RTR or existing employment opportunities, please email us at info@renewingtherenaissance.com

    What will your artwork from Renewing the Renaissance look like?

    Call for Artists

    Renewing the Renaissance is seeking artists with challenges to create original works of art. Qualifying artists will be expected to work out of their personal studio and online with one of RTR's Art Managers. Read more 

    Supporting Artists with Autism is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of Supporting Artists with Autism must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.