Lloyd Schermer’s art career began decades before he became an artist. As a newspaper publisher, the very material that would ultimately become his extraordinary sculptures and monotypes surrounded him. But it would take another 30 years before idea and material would join into the exceptional work we see today. Even as an eleven year old Cub Scout, Lloyd was carving sculptures out of clay. His art career then went into recess—but was reactivated 55 years later.
Like all newspapers in the 1960s, Schermer’s paper in Montana was printed using hot metal typeset technology; methods that evolved from the manual technique of placing wooden or metal letters by hand, into page forms, aligned, inked, then printed. Schermer’s newspaper was one of the first in the U.S. to change to offset lithography, which uses photographic typesetting that is then placed into page forms. Faster and less expensive, it wasn’t long before this technology spread to the entire newspaper industry. Simultaneously, millions of blocks of wood type, many hand carved, others a century old, became obsolete. Seen as useless, virtually all of this material was discarded and destroyed.
Fortunately, Schermer saw the beauty in these little gems. He held onto his own private cache until the idea for his unique sculpture formed. Over the years, he has added to his type collection, but believes he has found most of what is available in quantity. As Lloyd likes to remind his collectors, “You are dealing with two diminishing resources: antique type and me!”
Type is part of history and the story of communication. Before Gutenberg, type was made by carving wood, which was slow and expensive. Then in 1477 he discovered how to make molds of letters into which molten metal was poured. He revolutionized communications. Printing books, leaflets, and posters were now made quickly and inexpensively. In Schermer’s work, the impact of this change is captured in man’s most lasting medium—art.
Today Schermer is only slowing down slightly. For him that means working on two commissions and a solo exhibition. He is designing an installation for the New York Public Library, and another large piece entitled “Gateway to the West,” for the Jefferson Memorial Arch Museum in St. Louis. His retrospective exhibition at Ann Korologos Gallery is a celebration of the long and increasingly colorful career of a true man of Arts and Letters.
Meet the artist at the Artist’s Reception on Thursday, June 23 from 5-7 pm.