OC Register: Like Father Like Daughter


Like father, like daughter
An upcoming exhibit will show their collaborative paintings.
Sun Post News

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Happy mistakes have become a part of the creative process for Jerry and Ashley Schoenfeld's paintings.

Bound to an electric wheelchair these days, Schoenfeld will sit with his 14-year-old daughter, giving her direction as she moves a palette knife across canvas. Sometimes the technique and effects he pictures in his head are illustrated exactly by Ashley's hands. Other times it comes out differently.

"That's what makes it fun," Schoenfeld said. "Sometimes it's different, and I'll be like, 'Oh … that's better.' It came out nice. Let's keep that. It is collaboration."

On Oct. 28, from 3 to 5 p.m., their work will be displayed by the San Clemente Art Association Gallery, 100 N. Calle Seville. Called "Memory Fragments," the pieces evoke time, images and emotion from layered colorscapes. They're distinctive of Schoenfeld's work before the past year and a half, when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. The neurological disorder degenerates the body, weakening muscle movement and progressively causing paralysis. It can kill within three years.

Its cause and cure are unknown, but Schoenfeld believes it may sometimes be triggered by the mixture of vaccines received by military personnel. While it affects civilian populations as well, a disproportionately large number of military veterans develop ALS, especially if they served in the first Iraqi war, Schoenfeld said. He retired several years ago as a captain after 25 years in the Navy.

Together, Schoenfeld and Ashley use their artwork as a bonding time. They'll talk about which colors and technique to use, where to place the squares bordering most paintings. But they also talk about school and life in general.

"It's really fun, a bonding time," said Ashley, a San Clemente High freshman this year. "It's really nice putting together both our creative juices and coming up with a colorful painting."

Schoenfeld emphasizes that their exhibit is a combination of both their talents, with Ashley often contributing her own ideas. The signature on each of their paintings suggests as much – GAS, which stands for Gerard (Jerry) Ashley Schoenfeld.

"They are different than just me doing it," he said. "At the same time, I'm getting these ideas out of my head and on to the canvas with her help. It makes life a lot better, gives me something to look forward to. I've always enjoyed the creative process. With her help I continue to do that rather than sitting here and watching TV."