“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” said the man behind the curtain to Dorothy and her friends as the Wizard’s true identity came to light. Though we discovered he was simply an ordinary man, his wonderful skills dazzled the onlookers as he enlightened, encouraged, educated and invited us all to find our way home.
Calvert Marine Museum may not be Emerald City, but it is the place to become enlightened, encouraged and educated about life here in our Maryland home. Artistic wiz Tim Scheirer is behind the curtain (and up on the ladder) helping to create a myriad of marvelously wonderful exhibits that tell the story of life here from pre-historic times to the present.
“I get to play,” Scheirer says with a wry smile. “I get to pick the brains of an incredibly talented staff of experts in paleontology, estuarial biology and maritime history, then create the visuals that tell the stories. Back in high school, I never would have dreamed I’d have a career in art. I had only hoped to graduate.”
At 70, Scheirer looks 50 but moves like he’s 102. An auto accident in 1987 shattered his pelvis. It slowed him down, but it doesn’t stop him from doing the things he loves.
“I’ve always had my hands in one art medium or another,” he says. “I pick things up pretty quickly.”
Whether it’s hand crafting a stunning steel eagle sculpture for a Pennsylvania courthouse or building free-form rocks and trees from concrete and rebar for a Boston zoo, he can handle it. His artistic toolbox includes airbrush painting, silk-screening, illustrating, graphic design, drafting, rebuilding cars and motorcycles and his specialty, mural painting.
“It’s been a wild ride,” he says. “I haven’t met anyone else who can say they slipped on blue jeans to travel down a dark alley in the early morning hours to meet with a biker club to restore a vintage hog, then cap the day off wearing a tux for an exhibit installation ceremony up in an Inner Harbor penthouse.”
Scheirer’s wild ride began when he enlisted in the Navy in 1968, smack dab in the middle of the Vietnam War.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” he laughs. “I thought I was out of options.”
The Navy tested him and found he had an aptitude for drafting and illustrating. He designed training aids for pilots and eventually received a high security clearance to create daily visual operational reports for senior brass.
After military service, he heard about a school back home in Pennsylvania called the York Academy of Arts. It was a small private school designed and taught by veterans to produce functioning artists. They studied everything.
“It was a great three-year program,” Scheirer says. “All of the instructors had worked as layout artists for production studios. We were given opportunities to work in every medium.”
From there he earned a fine arts degree from Kutztown State University. Then came the auto accident. With time on his hands while recuperating, he tinkered around rebuilding cars; metal work became another talent.
Eventually his work was noticed and he was recruited for several historic restoration projects in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Then he was invited to work on St. Mary’s City Historic Park. That’s when he learned of the Calvert Marine Museum, and in 1999 he began another career painting murals.
“I applied a year before and didn’t get the job,” he says. “But someone left and they called me back. I’ve been here ever since.”
You’ll see his work everywhere in the museum. He has a gift for interpreting the scientific data and converting it into artistic masterpieces that transport the viewer back to the beginnings of time. He also hides his signature in each piece he makes.
You might recognize the faces gazing out at the Bay in the new Maritime History mural. Many local people are pictured, each special to the staff. One uses a wheelchair after a paralyzing accident. Scheirer added him to the throng with delight.
“He couldn’t do much physically, but he would regularly visit the museum with his wife and daughter,” Scheirer says, “because it was a beautiful place and it had access for his chair. His daughter loved the visits and the memories of being with her father. Now she comes to visit with her daughter. That kind of stuff gets me.”