- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
More than 52 years ago, John and Luray Schaffner came together through art.
The St. Leonard couple is now inviting the public to see what has happened ever since.
To celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, the Schaffners are holding an open house at their studio, which houses all of their artwork, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. this Sunday, Aug. 26.
They are calling the event “50 Years of Love and Art.”
The couple met in 1960 when they were each studying at The Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio; John was studying industrial design and Luray was studying advertising design.
They were married July 6, 1962, and had two sons: Shawn, 47, and Jorn, 43, both of whom currently live in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
“Our kids are our best collaboration,” said Luray, 73, who specializes in abstract collages, while John, 74, specializes in wood sculptures, some of which he said he made from found objects like pizza paddles and chandelier pieces.
The couple also designed their St. Leonard home, which they had built 13 years ago with one structural requirement.
“We had many different ideas — all of them round,” John said.
“It always seemed natural to have a round house,” Luray said. “The earth is round, everything is round. It never made sense to have a square house.”
Prior to their move to St. Leonard, the couple lived in Springfield, Va., and St. Louis.
While living in Springfield, they said, they were part of the “dirty dozen” to help start the Torpedo Factory Art Center, which opened in 1976.
They said the idea to start the center came from former Virginia delegate Marian Van Landingham, who received funding from the city of Alexandria to clean up the factory and build walls for the studios.
The center currently houses 82 artists' studios, six galleries and two workshops.
“It was a lot of fun back when we first started,” John said.
John’s job designing department stores for the former Hecht Co. brought the couple and their sons to the company’s corporate office in St. Louis in 1982, and John explained that the company moved him back and forth for about 15 years.
“St. Louis was fine, but we didn’t like the muddy Mississippi [River]; we like the Chesapeake better,” he said.
During that time, Luray said she kept busy working at an advertising agency, doing freelance projects and raising their sons.
“I’ve been very fortunate in selling work and being able to be an artist,” she said.
The couple has competed in several juried and outdoor art shows and traveled as far as Florida, Wisconsin and Colorado.
Now, they said they prefer to keep their work closer to home and they frequently compete and exhibit at Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Dowell.
“As we got older, that got to be more of a chore,” John explained of the traveling with artwork.
They said they had the idea to move to Calvert after spending several summers visiting a friend who lived in Chesapeake Beach.
“We fell in love with the idea,” John said, explaining that when the piece of property where they now live went up for sale, they jumped at the chance to make Calvert their permanent home.
Now concentrating on their artwork full time, the couple does not consider themselves in a traditional “retirement.”
“If you’re artists, you never have to retire if you’re still upright and ambulatory,” Luray said.
They said they currently do the majority of their sales through their home through word of mouth.
When asked if there were any challenges to having two artists in one house, Luray chuckled, “Staying out of each other’s studios.”
When it comes to critiquing each other’s work, she said “we don’t criticize each other’s work unless we ask.
“If he wants my opinion, I tell him,” Luray said.
They said they also differ as to when they each consider their work complete.
For Luray, she said “work is never finished until it’s gone.”
John said while there are some exceptions, once he’s satisfied with something, “most of the time they’re left alone.”
To contact the Schaffners or to find out more information about Sunday’s open house, go to www.johnaschaffner.com or www.jlurayschaffner.com, or email email@example.com.