John Schoenherr’s work has been a part of my life since I was a kid, looking at an Analog cover in my favorite drug store. I was drawn in by the mysterious shapely woman in a tree, accompanied by her gigantic otter. From across the store one could tell that they were friends. This is when I began to realize that painting could not only be fun, it could touch an emotional chord.
From an early age I could tell that John’s work had a certain kind of stiffness in its application compared to other great painters whose brushwork was supple and relaxed. John’s had a rigid quality to it that couldn’t be avoided, yet it’s graphic composition was unrelenting. He captured light in a graceful manner, pulling your eye to just the most important elements and finished it all like the power of a museum piece.
In all of my art school years, I knew a painter when I saw one. I was never tempted to exclude a commercial artist’s gems from a life dedicated to the almighty gallery world. John’s work showed me that painting transcends application when it truly touches the spirit, whether it was a subtle portrait of a renaissance woman, an experiment in abstract color, or a humungous sandworm cresting a dune.
The fact is, you can’t really say much to a painter like this that wouldn’t make you sound like a simpleton, or the uber fanboy. I never got to meet John Schoenherr. He passed away April 8th having expressed what I believe he must’ve surely loved to paint right up until his last day.
And every artist after him that I have ever enjoyed or has shown me how powerful painted images can be, I will thank them, profusely, like I wish I could’ve mustered the will to do with John.
Thank you, John, for leaving so much work I will never tire of.
— Gregory Manchess