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Palmer Schoppe


Palmer Schoppe was born on April 2, 1912 to parents who managed his grandfather's orchards and alfalfa fields in Woods Cross, Utah. He was praised early on for his natural artistic aptitude and determined to pursue the career of an artist. Encouraged by his parents to obtain an academic degree he attended UCLA and Yale for a period of time before enrolling at the Art Student's League of New York. He was compelled by the paintings of Jean Charlot, an artist and instructor at the League, but soon grew disillusioned by the strict compositional theories of instructors Charlot and Thomas Hart Benton. However, Schoppe's artistic talents prevailed over his lack of formal training and he was hired by the Chouinard Institute and Walt Disney Studios in the 1930s as a drawing instructor.

Outside of teaching, he worked on his personal artistic endeavors and like many artists of the time focused on figurative subject matter. Schoppe's early travels in the low country of South Carolina; Harlem, New York and Los Angeles, California informed his paintings as he captured the regional life of manual laborers, musicians, circus performers, sun bathers and surfers. Schoppe once stated that, "It seems fairly certain that my work is not 'art about art', but art that is a reaction to a given stimulus. These are 'subject' pictures in that they are definitely in response to a certain place, type of people, cultures and customs".

Following a period of service in World War II, Palmer Schoppe returned to teaching at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. He became increasingly disillusioned by the changing focus of the art world in the 1950s, when "the' drip' , the' blot', and the' isms' had taken over". He stated that, "it was difficult for the figurative painter to exhibit and I retired from the scene." However, a new artistic outlet presented itself when Schoppe began working as a muralist and architectural sculptor for the architect Aurthur Froelich, who designed race tracks and club houses around the country. This led to a proliferation of mural projects ranging from restaurants to scores of hotels and casinos, such as the Aladdin Hotel, Las Vegas; Circus-Circus, Las Vegas; the Queen Mary ship, Long Beach; and Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas. The last of these large scale murals was completed in 1987 at the Colorado Belle Hotel, Laughlin, NV.

Schoppe successfully balanced executing murals while pursuing his teaching career, and was approached in 1953 to join the staff of Motion Picture and Television Department of UCLA as an instructor in art direction and set design. He went on to teach at UCLA for 22 years, interrupted only by sabbaticals to travel and study abroad. in 1976 he returned to teaching at Art Center College of Design and remained there until 1980, completing a long and distinguished commitment to art instruction.

After a prolonged hiatus from the art world, Palmer Schoppe began to exhibit his work again in 1982. Themes that were prevalent in his paintings throughout his career were revisited .Subject matter that first gained popularity in the 1930s became lifelong explorations for Schoppe, with beginnings in speakeasies, jazz clubs and under the big top these motifs became increasingly more personal as Schoppe painted from memory. Deriving inspiration from the world around him, Palmer Schoppe's interpretation of his surroundings transformed regional themes into universal imagery.

Schoppe died in Santa Monica on March 11, 2001.

Foundation of Western Art (LA), 1935, 1943; American Artists Congress (LA), 1936; Golden Gate International Exposition, 1939; California WaterColor Society, 1940-44; Raymond & Raymond Gallery (LA), 1941; Stendahl Gallery (LA), 1941; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1942; Los Angeles Art Association, 1944-48; Stary-Sheets Gallery, 1990.

Tanforan Race Track (SF); Colorado Belle Hotel (Laughlin, NV); Fairmont Hotel (New Orleans); Caesar's Palace, Sahara Hotel, and MGM Grand Hotel, all in Las Vegas; Playboy Casino (Atlantic City); Queen Mary (Long Beach).


Article from Los Angeles Times on Palmer Schoppe: TIMES ARTICLE