Friday, April 23, 2010

Dad and the MAD Man

I really appreciate all the public and private tributes to my father that have appeared over the last two weeks. They fortify my opinion of him as an artist and as a person, and sometimes they shed light on parts of his life that I knew little about.

Today I got a note from Nick Meglin, editor of MAD magazine for 20 years (and on its staff for decades more) and author of Drawing From Within: Unleashing Your Creative Potential- among many other books and articles. He also went to Stuyvesant High School with my father, but they had fallen out of touch after 1952. In recent years my father had begun to re-forge old friendships, and I feel like it would only have been a matter of time before he found his former classmate. Here is the message Nick sent to his family (reprinted with his permission):

My family...

Joel Haas sent me an obit from the NY Times and I'm feeling very, very bad to learn that this John Schoenherr was someone I knew in Stuyvesant H.S. He was a year ahead of me, a terrific artist. Like me, we were rare talents in a school known for science and math.

We weren’t close friends; he was modest and rather shy. Our only time together was our involvement with the school literary magazine. Despite his fine talent, I had no idea that he was that dedicated to art as a future direction as it was for me. He thought I was better at it than he was, but I truly wasn't, just more driven at that time. I had to validate going to School of Visual Arts rather than a state college where art departments had little to offer a would-be commercial artist. There was no money available that would allow me to attend a university like Syracuse or Pratt with highly regarded commercial art departments.

John and I collaborated on the title page art of the magazine in his senior year and I had to insist that he initial his half of the stylized cartoon illustration we designed together. I believe I have a copy of it somewhere in one of those boxes I still haven’t gotten to since I moved to Durham seven years ago.

Spotting a similar name as his on a magazine illustration some years after our high school days, I tried to learn if this was the same person I knew. But those were the days that if someone lived out of NYC and/or had an unlisted number, it was impossible to communicate with them, so I guess I just forgot about it.
I could have written articles about him and his work as I did other friends for American Artist Magazine when they published just about anything I offered them.

When I read the obituary and some other biographical data about John I learned he was a fine person and indeed that bright fellow I knew back then. I was taken by our similar passions and priorities -- he, too was more dedicated to his family than his own artistic aspirations. The more I read, the more I felt saddened that I had lost a personal, lifelong friend that should have been but never came to be.


No comments: