Thursday, September 24, 2020

Click here to
sign up for our newsletter!

The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Aug 04, 2020

Murally We Roll Along Local Couple Beautifies Monmouth County

By Lori Draz

Oceanic Library mural

One of the most vivid memories of school is the walk down the hall and into the cafeteria. And for some, those memories are downright spectacular, thanks to the murals created by Broeck Steadman and his wife Marlis Schlegel. This husband and wife duo of artists has produced a lifetime of can’t-forget art in a wide array of styles, for numerous applications. Fascinating is only the beginning of the description of these two. They are genuinely warm, wildly talented and extremely accomplished.

Steadman had a long career as a commercial graphic artist, during which he created advertisements for many popular brands from soda cans to candy bars. Just when he thought he had done it all, fate called upon his sense of whimsy, which is still very much alive today. His childhood love of B-horror films and his playful imagination combined perfectly for his next role, designing the ghoulishly fun covers for young adult thrillers. He created more than 300 of them and creepy covers for other projects too.

Schlegel didn’t consider becoming a professional artist, but she moved fluidly from her career of doing faux finishes to becoming a muralist, alongside her husband. She is also a potter, paints in oils and has designed theatrical background sets.

“I never didn’t do something because I had never done it,” Steadman said. “Marlis and I are always up for a new challenge, and we got a big one when Deane-Porter [Elementary School] wanted to add a 60-foot mural of Africa.”

Steadman and Schlegel donated their service, even though they had not done an art project on that scale. They and three volunteers completed the first portion in a week’s time, however, the final project came in at 183 feet and took two years because the school expanded the cafeteria.

Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School mural

 

Cedar Drive Middle School mural

During a thank you assembly, Steadman offered to do a mural for Forrestdale School, provided he could choose a theme. He and his family drew on their experiences as scuba divers to create an underwater world that includes a sunken ship, a whale and a fish they met on their dives. When the school expanded the wall, they went back in and added more animals.

“Harbor seals were spotted in the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers, so it seemed ideal to include them,” he said.

Then-Principal Nancy Guthrie was so impressed that she asked him to paint a mural on the school’s three-story rock climbing wall. Steadman had several ideas for the 28-foot vertical space before transforming the plain cinderblock into a real mountain climbing adventure, complete with lizards, snakes, geckos, eaglets (painted by daughter Tilli) and ants.

“I hid 10 ants for the students to find as they avoided snake bites and becoming lunch for a mountain lion,” Steadman said.

It wasn’t long before Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School approached the couple about creating a mural that would allow the students to serve as volunteers. Since these students were more mature, Steadman and Schlegel designed a cultural scene with merged images of the classic works of Salvador Dali, Vincent van Gogh, Leonardo da Vinci, Henri Matisse and even a humorous take on American Gothic with Bulldog heads.

Next, the Oceanic Library requested a mural for the children’s section. Steadman combined beloved characters from “Stewart Little,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Where the Wild Things Are” and others. This time, he presented one condition. In exchange for his work, they agreed to never charge him a late fee for the rest of his life.

“I still think I came out ahead on that deal,” he laughed.

The couple did all this work for free but soon developed a booming business for private customers who had fallen in love with their art.

At Cedar Drive Middle School in Colts Neck, they created a parody of George Seurat’s “La Grande Jatte” (Sunday Afternoon in the Park). The 75-foot painting covered the two entry walls and greeted the students for about 15 years, until a recent renovation.

Every student has taken a field trip to the Monmouth Museum. Steadman and Schlegel first painted a permanent mural for the Wonder Wing children’s section. They also did a new mural every three years for the rotating exhibits. Their Egyptian creation allowed visitors to travel through a labyrinth lit by torches. Other works include murals for the Blast Off, the Dinosaurs, Westward Ho and Somebody, which was about the human anatomy.

Forrestdale School rock climbing wall

Monmouth Museum’s Wonder Wing

You can also see their murals around Red Bank, Rumson and a 130-foot one in a pocket park at Shrewsbury Avenue and Drs James Parker Boulevard that always gets stares, thanks to its realistic image of an artist at work on a ladder.

This couple has been together for more than 40 years, and they raised two creative kids. Son Evan is pursuing a career in nursing and daughter Otillia, “Tilli,” is a journalist for Buzzfeed.

Their incredible Rumson home is full of artwork of all kinds, and they even have a kitchen-centric fan base too. In addition to their honey, produced by the bees they keep in their backyard, people are always asking for Schlegel’s recipe for lime and lemon sherbet, which she received from her aunt, Kathleen Huemer. The couple is happy to share that too (see below). Just one more gesture from a husband and wife who have been sharing their talents their whole lives.

If you would like to see more of the art, visit etsteadman.com.

 

Aunt Kathleen’s Sherbet

Mix the juice and zest of six limes or lemons together with 1 ½ cups of sugar (more if you like it sweeter) until sugar is dissolved. Add four cups of milk. Whole milk makes it creamier but 2 percent works fine. Skip the skim on this one. Put the mixture in the freezer and stir every two hours until it turns into a slush then you can stir wonderful add-ins, like blueberries, raspberries, mint, basil, etc. for a colorful and refreshing treat.