Edwin & Mary Scheier: Mid Century Modern New Hampshire Artists

Ed Scheier pottery

Photograph by Ralph Morang

Exhibit Location: Discover Portsmouth, Portsmouth, N.H.

Experience a world of art and craft that began during the depression in New Hampshire at Discover Portsmouth. Edwin & Mary Scheier: Mid Century Modern New Hampshire Artists includes more than 80 examples of the Scheiers’ art from a dozen institutions and private collections. Central to this are the UNH collections and the Currier Museum of Art, which inherited the Scheier estate.

Upstairs, a related show Retrospectives: Art and Crafts of the NH Art Association and League of NH Craftsmen will provide regional context for the Scheiers work by focusing on two organizations indispensable to the Scheier's careers. Ed Scheier was active in the NH Art Association (now celebrating its 75th year) and both Scheiers were employed by the League of NH Craftsmen.

The shows are a result of two pioneering partnerships; one, between the state government of New Hampshire and the University of New Hampshire which offered financial support for craft education and marketing, and a lifelong partnership between Ed and Mary Scheier, two internationally known potters who made significant contributions to the American Craft movement and whose work is on display at museums around the country, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the American Craft Museum and the University of New Hampshire Special Collections.

Pioneering Partnership—State and University Support for Arts/Crafts During Depression

“First in the nation status doesn’t just refer to our presidential primary but to the state’s financial support of the arts in the Depression,” explains Richard Candee, President of the Portsmouth Historical Society Board of Trustees. “Governor John Gilbert Winant successfully urged the N.H. Legislature to support the fledgling League of NH Craftsmen in 1933 which would boost the economy through small craft industries (including Portsmouth Home Industries established that year). The Governor and Council’s support of educational training, exhibition of art, and marketing of N.H. art and crafts all contributed to New Hampshire’s mid-century reputation as a highpoint of the creative economy and to its special reputation as a haven for artists and craftsmen.”

Candee continues, “Later, in the 40s that same nurturing spirit continued as League Director David Campbell recruited top craftsmen like the Scheiers from across the country to move to and work here in the state, with the support of the University of New Hampshire. The Scheiers' work and their involvement in both the NHAA and the League are part of our arts and crafts legacy today.”