Schomer Lichtner and Ruth Grotenrath
(1905-2006) and (1912-1988)
Schomer Lichtner passed away on May 9, 2006 at the age of 101. He continued to amaze and create with his whimsical paintings of ballerinas and cows. He and his late wife Ruth Grotenrath, both well-known Wisconsin artists, began their prolific careers as muralists for WPA projects, primarily post offices. A wonderful example can be seen in the Sheboygan, WI post office.
Kohler Foundation has placed paintings and other art pieces by both Schomer and his late wife in museums and other appropriate collections. Lichtner approached Kohler Foundation about preserving his body of work, and he worked closely with the Foundation for several years through the process of transferring his art, seeing it preserved, and ultimately placed in institutions. It was a joyful partnership. After Lichtner's death, the remainder of his body of work was preserved and gifted to non-profits. Substantial archival material and thousands of sketches were found in his studio, and much of this material is being put to excellent use in study collections at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Racine Art Museum, Edgewood College, Alverno College, Lawrence University, and St. Norbert College. Over five thousand individual pieces of Schomer Lichtner and Ruth Grotenrath's can be found at forty-nine institutions, including the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Milwaukee Art Museum, Racine Art Museum, Chazen Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Ballet Company, and many colleges and universities throughout Wisconsin.
Schomer Lichtner and Ruth Grotenrath's work has recently been shown at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, WI; the Elaine Erickson Gallery in Milwaukee, WI; High Touch Galleries at Quad Graphics in Sussex, WI; The Milwaukee Public Library; and the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend, WI. A solo retrospective of Ruth's paintings spanning 50 years opened in December 2003 at the Charles Allis Art Museum as part of their "Wisconsin Master's Series." Over the years, their work has been shown at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Rahr-West Art Museum, Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Wisconsin Union Galleries, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
During the summer of 2005, a mural (c.1955, 10’ by 35’) painted by Schomer Lichtner was saved from a remodeling project. The mural, depicting the industry of Milwaukee’s great northwest side, was generously donated by M&I Bank to Kohler Foundation. PARMA Conservation of Chicago undertook removal of the mural from the bank’s West Fond du Lac Avenue location during a major remodeling project. The mural was cleaned, carefully removed, the verso cleaned, and then rolled and archived. The mural has been gifted to the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend, WI.