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Four generations of the Schmidt family share artistic expression

Sep 18, 2017 11:19AM

Jerry, Nate and Tyler Schmidt in front of a sculpture created by patriarch, Fred Schmidt in 1971 for the Cleveland Free Clinic. It is currently on display at the Matchworks building in Mentor.

By Laura Lytle

The fourth generation of the Schmidt family has begun creating art at the Waterloo 7 Studio and Gallery.  Nine-year-old Nate Schmidt has joined his uncle, Tyler, and grandfather, Jerry, in crafting metal art sculptures.

Since childhood, famed artist Fred Schmidt had inspired Jerry to express himself through art and sculpture.  Though it was only a few years ago that Jerry decided to dedicate himself to his art full time.

“I knew I wanted to be an artist the first time I saw the light shine from under my metalworking hood.  About eight years ago, I left the business world and devoted all my time to being an artist.  I couldn’t be happier,” said Jerry Schmidt.

While childhood was not always perfect, his parents divorced in the 1960s, Jerry committed to spending his extra time at his father’s art studio in Murray Hill helping him create.  Fred passed on his world-famous knowledge and wisdom of working with metal materials and being expressive.  With no formal art education, Jerry has since become a successful self-made artist.

“While Fred was alive, he was the designer and I was the creator.  Now my art comes from my thoughts and emotions.  I don’t always start with a plan as he did, but he did inspire me to have a reason behind each piece; teaching me to capture a moment or a feeling then expressing it visually,” added Jerry.

Each Schmidt artist has a different style.  Jerry makes his art in all forms from sculpture to tables and chairs, constantly moving in different directions.  Tyler uses unique form influenced by his dad but put into his own perspective, while Nate expresses emotion and sees beauty and potential in all materials.

“Picking Nate up from school and spending time with him in the studio every day is very rewarding.  I love to watch him look at a pile of metal, pick pieces out and begin creating,” said Jerry.

He is also passionate about encouraging young artists and sharing his passion with them whether he is talking with students from the Cleveland Institute of Art or youth walking past his studio.

“While Collinwood is not always thought of as the best part of Cleveland, I have gained great respect for and from my neighbors.  I have never had a piece stolen or vandalized.  Everyone is welcome to walk in anytime to look around.  I am happy to teach young artists, show them how to create and help inspire them, with approval from their parents first of course,” said Jerry.
Jerry also collaborates with other local artists letting them take part in his work to change it to what they want it to be.  It began with a broken model that he was asked to repair.  The other artist was inspired to paint the piece once fixed and when it was done, it took Jerry’s art to a new level.

“It can be intense waiting to see how the piece comes back changed and enhanced but I am always satisfied.  It’s amazing to see paint on a 3D sculpture instead of a flat canvas.  My collaborations have opened new doors with other artists and galleries around town,” added Jerry.

Some of Jerry’s work is currently featured at Stella’s Art Gallery in the Matchworks Building on Station Street in Mentor through October 15.  Art from Jerry’s studio can be found at the Hilton Cleveland Hotel and other places around town.

To view some of the sculptures and artwork created by Jerry, Tyler and Nate at the Waterloo 7 Studio, visit www.schmidtsculpture.com or stop by to see the nearly 1,000 pieces inside and outside the studio.

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