Schmidt first learned to weld and sculpt at age 8 from his father, Fred Schmidt, an internationally renowned sculptor. Schmidt fondly remembers watching his father in their garage during his childhood near the Mentor Headlands. Schmidt continued learning from his father on weekends after his parents split up and his dad moved to the Little Italy/Murray Hill neighborhood. The two eventually began working together on Fred Schmidt’s commissions, including the Columbus One Building, the Ohio Savings building on East 9th and Chester and the Ireland Cancer Building in Mentor. However, Schmidt didn’t begin selling his own work until after his father’s death in 2001. After his father’s passing, Schmidt quit his full time job as a union iron welder to pursue fine art full time.
Schmidt’s first studio on Waterloo was located in the former Collinwood Bakery building (most recently known as Gallery One Sixty). He moved to his current location just a few years ago. Over the years, he’s created a prolific body of work. In order to make room for his two current commissions for the upcoming Downtown Hilton Hotel, Schmidt is holding a special liquidation sale at Waterloo 7 during this week’s Walk All Over Waterloo from 5 to 10 p.m. this Friday, March 4.
“These commissions are very special for me, because it feels like where my father left off,” Schmidt explains. "He left a number of large, public commissions unfinished when he passed away. We’d been working on a number together.”
The Schmidt family legacy continues through Jerry Schmidt’s son Tyler and young grandson Nathan, both of whom can regularly be found welding at Waterloo 7. Tyler has been helping his father since his childhood, and Nathan has already won an award for a welded metal sculpture in a previous National Arts Program exhibition.
Visitors will also have an opportunity to preview Schmidt’s in-progress commissions before they’re installed in the hotel’s main lobby. When it opens later this year, the new Hilton will include about $1.5 million in artwork; more than three-quarters of which will be by local artists. The 600-room hotel next to the Cleveland Convention Center is estimated to cost more than $275 million.
Waterloo 7 is located just steps from the Slovenian Workman’s Home, where voting for Collinwood’s Ballot Box Project will be taking place Friday evening. Additionally, the Democracy on the Move parade will culminate at the Slovenian Workman’s Home. Stop by Waterloo 7 while you’re in the neighborhood and explore Jerry Schmidt’s abstract, metallic wilderness.
(Waterloo 7 Studio/Gallery) 15315 Waterloo Rd., 239-293-9548, schmidtsculpture.com
Jerry Schmidt first started working on Waterloo Road in Collinwood in 2002, making his Waterloo 7 Studio/Gallery the longest running artist studio in the Waterloo Arts District. Located between the new Packy Malley’s pub and Praxis Fiber Workshop (and just across the street from Article Gallery), Waterloo 7 can’t be missed, thanks to a plethora of Schmidt’s sculptures in front of the building. The inside of the building is even more densely packed with these eclectic, abstract sculptures.