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Palmer Schoppe; L.A. Artist Portrayed Jazz Musicians


Palmer Schoppe, a Los Angeles-based artist best known for portraying jazz musicians in a blend of Expressionistic verve and Cubist abstraction, has died.

Schoppe died Sunday at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica of complications from an embolism. He was 88.

A painter, muralist and teacher, Schoppe drew much of his subject matter from Depression-era jazz clubs in Harlem and the Carolina low country, but he was a fixture on the local art scene. Commenting on a 1985 exhibition at the Tobey C. Moss Gallery in Los Angeles, Times reviewer Colin Gardner said Schoppe's portrayals of musicians provide "the basis for a rhythmic interplay of line, space and chiaroscuro, infusing each scenario with raw emotion."

Schoppe was born April 2, 1912, on his family's farm near Woods Cross, Utah, and moved to Santa Monica in 1920. He enrolled at Yale University, then transferred to the Art Students League in New York, where he studied with painter Thomas Hart Benton and became infatuated with the Harlem jazz scene. A trip to South Carolina in 1934 inspired him to create paintings and drawings of the Gullah community, which later evolved into a series of lithographs.

Pursuing his career in Los Angeles, Schoppe taught animation at the Walt Disney Studio, Chouinard Art Institute and Art Center College of Design and gave lectures to film students at UCLA. He also became a prolific muralist. Working with architect Arthur Froelich, he designed murals for racetracks in Maryland, New York and California, including Del Mar and Hollywood Park. He also created murals for the Playboy Club in Atlantic City, N.J., and for several Las Vegas casinos.

Schoppe's work is represented in the collections of the Library of Congress and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His archive is at the Archives of American Art at the Huntington Library in San Marino.

Schoppe is survived by his wife, Marie; son, James; daughter, Christine; and two grandchildren. A memorial service is scheduled for May 6 at the Tobey C. Moss Gallery in Los Angeles.

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