Barbara Swanson Sherman, born in New York City,  spent a few formative years in Northern Vermont.  Returning to the city at age 21 she found a nurturing home in the Art Students League where she was awarded a merit scholarship and studied under Robert Beverly Hale, Roberto DeLaMonica, Michael Ponce De Leon and others.  

She is the founder of Art at First, a program of exhibitions at First Presbyterian Church, Fifth Avenue and Twelfth Street in New York City. As co-chair of the restoration of the church’s 1894 McKim Meade White church house, which involved raising 1.5 million dollars and working with architects and contractors, she saw two great needs.  The newly restored rooms cried out for art on the walls and emerging artists cried out for a place to show their work. 

In 2005, as she served on the Gates, Christo and Jean-Claude’s monumental project in Central Park, she thought, “If they can do this, surely we can hang art on the church’s walls.” Creating a program involved persuading the church’s Elders, the Trustees, and the custodial staff.  All eventually agreed when the head pastor declared, “A church in Greenwich Village should serve the artistic community.” 

Since then over one hundred artists have participated in both group and solo shows. Some titles are, “Color: Color was made for the Perpetual Comfort and Delight of the Human Heart,” and “Dog, Dog, Cat! Artists Paint their Pets.” Art at First is currently planning an exhibit of the work of Russian artists titled “No Invasion_Stop the War,” addressing the invasion of Ukraine. 

Before the pandemic Art at First and the church provided meeting space for the New York Artists Circle and ATOA-Artists Talk on Art. 

Sherman has curated online exhibits such as “Save the Earth; Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis”  on the New York Artists Circle website and “Pink Balloons, My Autobiography in Pictures.” 

She writes a weekly blog titled, “Seeking the Sublime in the Everyday,” an illustrated short essay, commenting on art and artists, faith in an ecumenical, inclusive way, New York City, Greenwich Village, her family, things that drive her crazy, something to lift the spirits delivered every Friday morning.