Known for his life as a prolific painter, muralist and teacher, Palmer Schoppe was born on a farm near Salt Lake City, Utah. He moved with his family to Santa Monica, California at the age of eight. He studied at the University of California in Los Angeles and at the Yale School of Fine Arts where he met famed painter, printmaker and muralist Jean Charlot, who convinced Schoppe to study at the Art Students League in New York City.
There he became infatuated with the Harlem jazz scene and studied under Thomas Hart Benton who inspired him to travel to the Southern United States. Following Benton’s figurative style, Schoppe produced lithographs and watercolors of blacks working the fields and jazz musicians. Upon his return home to Santa Monica, after four years of jazz and blues in New York and in the Gullah community of South Carolina and in New Orleans, his first major focus was on the music…a sustained interest throughout his career.
Back in California, he created a series of lithographs for the “Carolina Low Country Portfolio” in the studio of Lynton Kistler. Schoppe also taught at the Chouinard Art Institute, Walt Disney Studios, the Art Center College of Design, the U.S. Signal Corps and U.C.L.A. During his 22-year tenure at U.C.L.A., Schoppe took a one-year sabbatical leave in 1964 and traveled through Europe with his family, spending the last few months in San Antonio, Texas before his return to California.
Throughout his career, Schoppe 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.
His travels – and there were many trips – were echoed in subsequent series of paintings and drawings. Whether a painting, watercolor, lithograph or drawing, his composition is strong, spirited, finely executed and beautifully rendered. His works are closely held in private as well as museum collections. 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.