Younger brother Gregg & Paul Jeffrey
Paul Jeffrey Sharits was born in Denver, Colorado on February 7, 1943. His parents were Paul Edward Sharits and Florence May Romeo-Sharits. He had only one sibling; Gregg Leigh Sharits born on April 24, 1945.
He grew up in a nice south Denver neighborhood next door to his grandma and grandpa Romeo. While he was going to South High School he won first place with his oil painting, "WarHorses" (seen on the Sharits Gallery page).
As a young teenager, he frequented a dance hall in southwest Denver off of Lincoln Blvd. It is there that he met my mother and her sisters.
He graduated from High School in 1960 at the age of 17. He also married my mother, Frances Trujillo, that July. Florence May was...well, not happy. Paul was too young to marry, so he got a note from Paul Edward. Thus, began a very tense relationship between mother-in-law and daughter- in- law.
Paul went to The University of Denver's School of Art where he earned a BFA in Painting. He was primarily a painter, but he discovered 16mm films and his mentor Stan Brakhage. He made his first popular Wintercourse in 1962.
In 1964, he went to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana for his MFA in visual design. On March 19,1965 my mother gave birth to me, Christopher Sharits. On August 3, 1965, my grandmother, Florence, committed suicide. Some thing the boys never recovered from.
After he received his MFA, we moved to Baltimore, Maryland. He went to work teaching at The Maryland Art Institute.
He had a "shock value" sense of humor. At one point he orchestrated a magnificent art show featuring his students. He also called the police to report a rape in a bar by Paul Sharits. When they arrived, everyone in the bar said they were Paul Sharits.
Three years later, we moved to Antioch, Ohio where he was instrumental in establishing that college's Media Studies department. From there my parents divorced and I moved with my mother back to Denver.
Dr. Gerry O'Grady, at The University of Buffalo Center for Media Studies, recruited experimental filmmakers from around the country including my father. There was my father, James Blue, Hollis Framton, Tony Bannon, and Tony Conrad. In addition there was Woody and Stenia Vasulka and Peter Weibel.
Throughout the 70's Paul continued to make films and paintings. Most reflected back to his film work. In 1979-80, Paul spent a year in Positano, Italy. I was lucky enough to spend February-April 1980 with him. During this year he produced a massive amount of acrylic line paintings aptly titled the "Posilo Series."
On September 6, 1980, his brother Gregg, also a filmmaker and illustrator, committed suicide in Berkeley, California. Paul was very close to his brother and, on top of his mother, nearly sent him over the edge.
On July 8th, 1993 his body was found peacefully in his Buffalo, New York home. I believe he actually committed suicide on the 4th, his favorite holiday.
Paul was survived by myself, Christopher Sharits, his father, Paul E. Sharits (since deceased) and the rest of my family; my wife, Cheri, our three sons, Gregory Paul, Jeffrey Patrick, and Robert Christopher.
Why so much pain and anguish in one family? Bipolar disorder. It runs in the family. There is a lot of misconceptions about bi-polar disorder. For one, many people don't realize some of our most cherished, talented, high functioning achievers were and are bi-polar. If you wish to learn the truth about the Sharits family and others struggle with bi-polar disorder, select the "About Bipolar disorder" tab.
"PAUL SHARITS was not one to silently tiptoe through life and art. He was driven, he wrote in one of his many notations, by "inescapable anxiety." He guessed that anxiety was what kept him working, kept him leaping from one creative project to another."
-Buffalo News July 18, 1993 Richard Huntington