Anthony Scheffler has always had an affinity for sculpting for as long as he can remember. Growing up in New Orleans, he quickly gravitated to the diverse and contrasting flavors of this captivating city steeped in a culture expressed so uniquely through its visual and performing arts. Inspired by the rich patinas and unique grain patterns of wood, the artist developed an interest in fashioning together pieces of materials into forms that are in his words “interpretations of familiar objects—or rather, abstract expressions of what might be.” Using a curious mix of exotic woods and distressed metals, he crafts shapely and striking teapots, vessels and three-dimensional wall hangings that often wind up in nationally recognized private or international collections. Currently living in St. Louis and maintaining an art studio in the vibrant neighborhood of Soulard, Anthony has drawn the conclusion that the area offers much of the same cultural appeal as the famed Crescent City and limitless promise as a thriving arts destination.
“I am fortunate to have lived in several different places and have had stints in a variety of jobs including working off-shore, in an automotive body shop and an old-style filling station,” he says. “When I first moved to St. Louis almost three years ago, I spent a lot of time trying to find studio space. It was simply by chance that a friend mentioned she had an acquaintance who worked in renowned sculptor Abraham Mohler’s studio complex in Soulard. I contacted Abraham, and the rest is history. While I kind of do my own thing, I truly enjoy being around him and the other artists, watching their creative processes and witnessing the amazing results. It is an inspiring environment that I value—and one from which I have greatly benefited,” he sums.
Largely self-taught, with the occasional class at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Anthony became intrigued with the contrast of wood against weathered metals and was driven to use both materials in combination. Doing so became a bit of an obsession for him over time until, at one point not too many years ago, he decided to walk away from his day job in a university administrative position. He moved to a small town in Georgia, where he enjoyed the next seven years working as a full-time artist. He eventually returned to higher education, now serving as a Dean at Lindenwood University, but has never stopped sculpting. Never one to focus narrowly on a single form of expression, Anthony reimagines familiar objects yet also explores feelings or impressions in the form of abstract presentations.
“It is hard to say exactly what inspires me to do either,” he admits. “It could be as simple as the figure in a piece of wood or some misshapen piece of metal I find lying around. I think these things are catalysts and, at times, vehicles for the expression of ideas that have been percolating over time. Once I start, I typically don’t use any patterns or sketches. I proceed to fit and shape as I go, ending with a finished piece that may be far different from my original concept. I kind of just let it emerge—I don’t force it. If I do otherwise, it never seems to end well,” he jokes. “That’s probably why I have shied away from doing commissions for other people.”
Previously showing regularly in Philadelphia, Chicago, and various California galleries, Anthony notes that, unfortunately, the gallery scene has waned over the past few years. He has recently displayed works at Art St. Louis, the Lindenwood Boyle Gallery and the Lucas Schoolhouse Gallery in Soulard. The pandemic’s impact has dramatically limited the number of in-person art venues, and today the artist shows his work almost exclusively online.
“As time allows, I hope to test different venues and continue to explore new forms of expression incorporating more diverse materials into my work,” he says. “But mostly, I just want to enjoy making art.” To view an extensive gallery of Anthony’s work, visit anthonyscheffler.com.