Friday, February 5, 2010

Cleveland Jewish News > Archives > Arts > Visual > Artist, 91, proves you are never too old to achieve success

Matt and I stopped into Waterloo 7 tonight to see Jerry Schmidt. So many wonderful thing happened while we were there. Jerry told us about an opening that he's having on Friday Feb 12 featuring Hy Snell. I saw a preview of it today. It was so completely moving and touching that my eyes teared up. This is the article that is in the Cleveland Jewish News featuring Hy & Jerry. Look for an article this Sunday in the Plain Dealer. If you have a chance stop by and check out Waterloo 7. If you don't have a chance, you should clear your schedule and make some time.

Artist, 91, proves you are never too old to achieve success
Click image to enlarge
Fragments of recycled metals are incorporated into many of Snell’s sculptures, soon to be displayed at local galleries.

Senior Staff Reporter
Published: Friday, January 29, 2010 1:09 AM EST
At age 91, artist and sculptor Hy Snell is an overnight sensation.

The former Jupiter, Fla., resident moved to Stone Gardens in mid-December. Before he had officially settled in, he found himself thrust into the spotlight when local artists discovered his lifelong collection of sculptures and paintings. Two separate exhibits in February will honor his work.

What makes the story even more remarkable is that Snell, who continues to paint, is almost sightless.

“This is so amazing,” says the Bronx, N.Y., native who spent his professional life as a department store display artist. “No one has ever paid this much attention to my work before, and suddenly it seems the world is taking notice.”

Within days of Snell’s arrival at his assisted living home, artist Jenna Fournier, a Stone Gardens employee, alerted renowned metal sculptor Jerry Schmidt about Snell’s work. Once Schmidt walked into Snell’s art-filled apartment and saw rows of exquisite sculptures and a series of vibrant oil paintings featuring swirls of colors, he “knew I had stumbled upon genius,” Schmidt says. “Here was this humble, elderly self-taught artist whose work had been largely unrecognized. I feel incredibly lucky to have uncovered this treasured artisan and to be able to share his work with a large, appreciative audience.”
Schmidt, who owns The Waterloo 7 Gallery in Collinwood, is launching a one-man exhibit of Snell’s work starting Feb. 12. Included will be Snell’s detailed, sculpted menorah, abstract figures, and powerful horse sculptures.

“I usually display several artists at a time,” says Schmidt. “But Hy Snell deserves a show of his own, and I am honored to represent him in my gallery.”

Fournier, who along with artist Kristin Olsen is opening The O Gallery at LaPláce in Beachwood, is including several of Snell’s sculptures as part of their opening show on Feb. 6.

Despite his visual impairment, large clean canvases stacked in Snell’s apartment are testament to the artist’s drive to paint. “Even though I can’t see the canvas clearly, I know what the colors, shapes and designs look like in my head,” he says. “Like Jackson Pollock, I swirl paint onto the canvas in a thoughtful design. When I am painting, I feel such elation. Painting is a great escape for me.”

But it is his sculptures that show Snell’s greatest talent, he says. “I used to go to junkyards in New York and gather interesting fragments for my work. Then I soldered them together into an expressive whole. My inspiration comes from the world around me.”

“I feel incredibly

lucky to have

uncovered this

treasured artisan.”

Jerry Schmidt, sculptorSnell’s daughter, Solon resident Amy Kintslinger, is delighted that her father’s new-found fame has helped his Stone Gardens transition. “My father lived in Florida for 25 years, and moving away from warm weather, his friends and daily routine has been very hard for him,” she says. “So this interest in his art has been good. Although he made a celebrated menorah for Temple Beth Am in Jupiter, his talent has not been fully recognized anywhere before.”

But it’s not just Snell’s artistic ability that delights Stone Gardens’ activity staff and residents. They are also impressed with his “zest for life,” says activities director Sarah Taub. “Hy’s energy, sense of humor, and ease on the dance floor make him very popular here,” she says.

“I had a wonderful time at our New Year’s Eve party; I was asking all the women if I could sign their dance card,” Snell adds with a smile. “Who thought at this time in my life I would be so popular?”

WHAT: Exhibits of Hy Snell’s work

WHEN & WHERE: Sat., Feb. 6, from 5-9 at The O Gallery at LaPláce in Beachwood. Fri., Feb. 12, from 5-9 at Waterloo 7 Gallery at 16006 Waterloo Road