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 Jerry Schurr  (1940 - )

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: landscape, animal-butterfly, printmaker

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography is based on writing by Sandra Wolf.

Jerry Schurr is known for rugged landscape paintings and prints of the Western United States.

Trained as a painter at the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia-born Schurr began to make serigraphs in 1971. Since then Schurr has developed a complex "reduction" method of painting and silk-screen printing that is as precise, and difficult to master, as the extraordinary multi-leveled imagery of his complicated vistas. Using as many as 75 colors in a single image, Schurr works on single large canvas or screen to which he applies stencils of the individual image areas. After an area has been completed, that portion is blocked out, thereby gradually reducing the open areas of the image as the composition slowly builds, layer upon layer, on the substrata.

Jerry Schurr's love of nature has led him from his overview of a vast pre-historic landscape to a study of the exquisite creatures that inhabit the nooks and crannies of that space. His latest images are three dimensional constructs of butterflies, moths and orchids. Each of these later color renderings are consistent with Schurr's layered approach. The butterflies, moths and orchids are constructed using color overlays and linear complexities derived directly from the actual specimens or their scientific photographic images. Every one is a celebration. In the tradition of Plato's concept that there is an ideal a prior form for all things existing in the material world, Schurr's creations are as close to perfectly symmetrical in both color and construct as he has been able to achieve. These are "Ideal" butterflies, moths and orchids.

Recipient of the prestigious Thouron Prize for Painting in 1966, Schurr also won the Eugene Feldman Memorial Prize in 1977 from the Philadelphia Print Club. His paintings and serigraphs are exhibited in innumerable galleries throughout the United States and appear in the collections of the Minneapolis Museum of Fine Arts; Standard Oil of New Jersey; Scott Paper Company and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Currently, Schurr spends his time actively working in his studio in suburban Philadelphia.

The following statement is from the artist's web site.

"Over the last five years, I have been involved in a Monarch Butterfly raising, tagging and release program. The program called Magical Migrating Monarchs, was started by my sister, Judith Levicoff, and is designed to introduce people to the wonders and special qualities of Monarch Butterflies and at the same time show them how integral to our own health and well being all creatures large and small are.

As a working fine artist, my role for the program was to provide exciting, realistically accurate renderings of Monarchs, host plants which sustain the Monarchs and their larva, and also the various stages of Monarch metamorphosis. The work took me far afield. I traveled to the Mountains of Central Mexico, to observe the Monarch over-wintering sites of Michoacan. I visited Pacific Grove, on California's north central coast, which hosts hundreds of thousands of Monarchs from late October to March. I also spent the summer months raising Monarchs from eggs found during field trips to local wildflower meadows both in and around the Philadelphia area, where I live.

Prior to this project, my main artistic work had been painting the American landscape, but during these journeys to the Butterfly sites, my vision began to change dramatically. The thousands of Monarchs in California and millions in Mexico, dominate the landscape. Their colors fill every nook and cranny of the environment. The very air vibrates with their brilliance and gentle sounds and the ground pulsates with shimmering Monarch wings. Sunlight, air and color pervade and the feeling of life celebrating itself is everywhere. My butterfly drawings began to reflect this sense of celebration rather than the instructional aspect of the visuals for the Magical Migrating Monarch program. I remembered butterfly collecting that I'd done as a child and reached back to those early times of wonder. The butterflies and my excitement about them was still all there. I began to draw from those memories. These new butterflies needed their own world, so I created a "Sunlit Circle of Life" for them to soar in. The early butterflies were part of the surface of the paper. I felt that butterflies needed to be free, to fly, so I cut them out and raised them up into the air. The environment that I'd created also needed its own space and I raised that above the constraints of the background. Each butterflies that I work on represents the idealization of its species. I take a number of photographs and specimens of the species and develop an absolutely symmetrical butterfly. I use the and common name below it. So far, scientists have discovered about 20,000 species of butterflies and at least another 150,000 moths. As I explore this vast array of nature's bounty I'm constantly impressed by the power, detail, and majesty of these tiny creatures.

So far, I've tried to choose butterflies that have significant differences from each other. Wing, body shape, and color are the most obvious distinguishing factors, but as I get more knowledgeable, I'm discovering more and more nuances. Antennae, compound eyes, wing tails, and hair are examples of other fascinating features. I feel that I have just begun a journey that will last well beyond my ability to complete. But isn't the process of getting there the real joy of travel?"

The following is from the artist:
EDUCATION:
1960-61 U. HAWAII
1961-63 TEMPLE UNIVERSITY
1958-60, 1965-69 U. PENNSYLVANIA
1958-60, 1965-69 PENNSYLVANIA ACADEMY OF THE FINE ARTS

PRIZES:
THOURON PRIZE (PENNA. ACADEMY OF THE FINE ARTS)
HANCOCK PRIZE (PENNA. ACADEMY OF THE FINE ARTS)
EUGENE FELDMAN MEMORIAL PRIZE ( PHILA. PRINT CLUB)
NATIONAL ARTS CLUB (JOHN MARTINEN PURCHASE PRIZE)
NATIONAL ACADEMY OF THE ARTS FOR THE PARKS
(Top 100 Landscapes in USA)

ONE MAN SHOWS (PARTIAL LISTING):
1975 CONTINENTAL BANK, PHILA., PA
1976-77 NEWMAN GALLERY, PHILA., PA
1977 ROSENFELD GALLERY, PHILA., PA
1981-82-83-84-86 SUMMA GALLERY, BROOKLYN HTS., NYC
1982 AUGEN GALLERY, PORTLAND, OR
1982 KEN BEHM GALLERY, BELLVUE, WA
1982-83 SPECTRUM GALLERY, LAKE TAHOE, CA
1982 SWANSON GALLERY, SAN FRANCISCO, CA
1983 NANCY TIEGS GALLERY, SEATTLE, WA
1984 ROYCE GALLERY, DENVER, CO
1985 ASPEN MT. GALLERY, ASPEN, CO
1986-87-88-89-90-92-93 SOMMERVILLE MANNING, GREENVILLE, DE
1987-88-90 B STREET GALLERY, SAN DIEGO, CA
1991 GROSS-McCLEAF GALLERY, PHILADELPHIA, PA

GROUP SHOWS (PARTIAL LISTING):
1969 KENMORE GALLERY, PHILA., PA
1968-69-70-74-86 FELLOWSHIP, PENNA. ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS
1974-77-78 PHILA. PRINT CLUB (JURIED SHOW)
1980 PHILA. CIVIC CENTER MUSEUM
1987 NATIONAL ACADEMY of the ARTS for the PARKS,
SMITHSONIAN, WASHINGTON, D.C.
1987-88-89-90 PHILADELPHIA ART SHOW
1988-89-90 KEN BEHM GALLERY, SEATTLE, WA
1988 to 1997 SUMMA GALLERY, NEW YORK, NY
1997 WORKS ON PAPER , NEW YORK, NY

CORPORATE COLLECTIONS (PARTIAL LISTING):
STANDARD OIL OF N.J.
SMITH KLEIN BECKMAN CORP.
MCNEIL PHARMACEUTICAL CORP.
MITSUBISHI INTERNATIONAL CORP.
FIRST PENNA. BANK
PROVIDENT NATIONAL BANK
INA INSURANCE
BLUE CROSS OF PA
CIGNA CORP.
DUPONT CORP.
M.O.N.Y.
JAMES RIVER CORP.
PHILADELPHIA VENTURES, INC.
McDONALD CORP.
SCOTT PAPER COMPANY
BELL ATLANTIC
SHOWBOAT HOTEL AND CASINO

PRINTMAKING ATELIER:
SCHURR FOUNDED GALAPAGOS INC., A TRADITIONAL
AND EXPERIMENTAL SERIGRAPHIC ATELIER,
HUNTINGDON VALLEY, PA
TEACHING:
1977-78 TYLER SCHOOL OF FINE ART, ELKINS PARK, PA

PUBLISHED:
POSTERS:
1980-PRESENT BRUCE McGAW GRAPHICS, NYC
1979-82 MODERN ART EDITIONS, NYC
1979-85 LIMITED EDITION SERIGRAPHS:
JOHN SZOKE GRAPHICS, NYC
1985-88 McGAW EDITIONS, NYC
1988-97 CHALK & VERMILLION, INC.
GREENWICH, CN
1989 GALAPAGOS PRESS INC.,
MELROSE PARK, PA
1990 POSTERS: ARTBEATS, SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
1994 LIMITED EDITION SERIGRAPHS:
PK EDITIONS. NYC
1994 IRIS IMAGES:
CONE EDITIONS, E. TOPSHAM, VT
TGI, PHILADELPHIA, PA

BOOK & ALBUM COVERS:
PAINTING: "YOSEMITE," (COVER OF MOUNTAINS
WITHOUT HANDRAILS, BY JOSEPH SAX)
BOOK ABOUT USE OF OUR NATIONAL PARKLANDS

PAINTING, "PADRES BAY," (ALBUM COVER FOR
PEER GYNT SUITES 1&2, Conducted by HERBERT
VON KARAJAN, BERLIN PHILHARMONIC),
DEUTSCHE GRAMOPHONE

PROFESSIONAL LISTINGS:
ART INDEX
THE PRINTWORLD DIRECTORY
1986 INTERNATIONAL DIRECTORY OF THE ARTS
WHO'S WHO IN THE EAST
WHO'S WHO OF EMERGING LEADERS
ART IN AMERICA NATIONAL LISTING OF ARTISTS


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