Shirley Feinstein Leads by Sharing
by Joyce Shelfo
Published Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012
“Don’t give me diamonds. Give me art,” says Shirley Hodes Feinstein form her Boca Raton home, where she surrounds herself with original works by artists she represented in her Connecticut gallery years ago.
Shirley grew up in the Prospect Park section of Brooklyn, N.Y. She took courses in design at New York University, married and artist Walter Hodes in 1942 and moved into a one-room apartment in New York City. They had one child, Margaret (Maggie), who currently lives in Sun Valley, Idaho—“the most beautiful place on Earth,” according to Shirley.
They moved to West Hartford, Conn., where Shirley opened the Verle Gallery to exhibit the works of well-known artists as well as pieces by the faculty from the University of Hartford’s art school. The gallery remained opened for 10 years. “It was the first ‘true’ art gallery in West Harford,” Says Shirley.
Devastated by Walter’s death and with her daughter in college, 48-year –old Shirley lived for a time with a friend in New Jersey. She landed a job on Madison Avenue as the director of the Phoenix Gallery, then located next to the Whitney Museum.
She later married Dr. Stanley Feinstein, a man she’d known for a long time. “He was a dentist whose hobby was cooking. He made the best apple pie,” Shirley remembers fondly.
Shirley continued full time with her design business in West Hartford and started her philanthropic endeavors. She helped raise funds for the local branch of the Junior League by decoration rooms in the showcase houses the League featured on its tours of homes.
She also became very involved with the University of Harford’s art school, offering a course in “the business of art” to teach artists how to market themselves and their works. Additionally, Shirley created a scholarship fund at the art school in member of her late husband, Walter W. Hodes. She also served on the board of the university’s music school.
Shortly after second husband Stanley died in 1992, Shirley moved to Florida. She expected to spend her days on the golf course, but instead began volunteering her time to Lynn University, Boca Raton Museum of Art and the Broken Sound Women’s’ Club.
Shirley confidentially states that she’s had a very good, happy life with no regrets. “My artist-husband was not a materialistic man. We got our pleasure from the enjoyment of travel and beauty.”
Shirley has a special affection for Lynn and says she’s enjoyed watching its growth and success over the years. An avid concertgoer, she faithfully attends Lynn’s conservatory performances, which she describes as “superb, outstanding, the best.”
Her love for art, music and education made Lynn a perfect fit for her benevolence.
Today, Shirley’s estate plan includes a bequest to Lynn.