Featuring Prolific Local Favorite Watercolor Artist
Sherman Groenke began drawing and painting in hight school, under the inspiration of his art teacher, the late Helen Sawyer. After high school he attended the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee, currently known as MIAD, and continued to pursue his interest in watercolors, receiving his first award at the 1936 WIsconsin Painters and Sculptures Annual Exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Institute. Groenke's work has been strongly influenced and inspired by Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth, who are concidered to be fathers of American illustration, and the famed Brandywine School of Illustrators. Sherman's paintings have been compared to the works of the famed American artist Andrew Wyeth, creating images with a similar neutral palette, executing a command of light and shadow that draws the viewer into introspection, and with a focus on local rural and urban landscapes and landmarks.
Groenke, a World War 2 veteran, enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1941 and was assigned to the graphic unit in New York, creating recruiting posters, training charts, and port security signs and posters. In August of 1944, he served in the Pacific Theatre of Operations as a combat artist, which he concidered to be a powerful and influential learning experience, painting and sketching on locations amid the distraction and discomfort of combat situations. Groenke's military experience included missions to many Pacific Islands, traveling aboard army and navy aircraft.
Following his discharge from the Coast Guard, Groenke was employed in advertising art studios and advertising agencies in Milwaukee and Chicago until he retired in 1981. Throughout those years, he continued to paint for his own artistic pleasure and expression, concidering himself a "Sunday Painter", working in the studio and outdoors, using quick sketches and photos as references.
Groenke has participated in numerous group and solo shows throughout his career including representation annually in Watercolor Wisconsin from 1966 through the present. He is an award winning painter and has works represented in many private and corporate collections, including the US Coast Guard.