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The Art of Life

Howard Schoor

The Colts Neck home of Howard and Frances Schoor does not merely look as if it. was built for art—it was. Known locally as “the place with the dinosaur,” the California Contemporary house was designed by Santa Barbara California architect Barry Berkus, a major art collector himself, with the thought of its display potential for art. The fine fit of their varied collection of abstract and representational painting and sculpture is apparent to even the casual viewer. However, the Schoors feel the place would be incomplete if a familiar piece was moved, a reflection of a collecting ethic of displaying and living with their art. Howard also enjoys a varied professional and business career that his art patronage complements.

Howard Schoor, born and raised on Staten Island, graduated from Lafayette College with an engineering degree. 1-us early work on the approach roads to the Verrazano Bridge, one could say, almost literally paved the way for the subsequent westward migration of
Brooklyn and Staten Islanders to New Jersey. Later work for a northern New Jersey consulting engineer preceded his opening his own business in 1967 and the 1968 founding of the firm now known as Schoor De Palma Inc. Starting as a tiny organization working on subdivision development, Schoor De Palma became over the next 30 years, one of the largest engineering firms in the public sector, specializing in municipal engineering and infrastructure consulting.

Long experience with builder developers and delicate client-representations in the approval pn~cess stirred yearnings in Howard to, in effect, represent. himself, carrying through the development. piocess to completion. Seven years ago he undertook the exciting and challenging move of forming SGS Comnmiiities, a residential home builder. After five years as a j)rivate company, D.R. Horton, a public company headquartered in Arlington, Texas, bought the firm in December, 11)96. Howard serves as vice chairman of D.R. Horton Inc.-New Jersey, which builds about 300 homes per year in the state. The company targets two markets, the “move-up” buyer of his second home and the boomir age-restricted adult housing community. A number developments are built or planned in central Ne Jersey, their Horton provenance readily recognizab by the “Grande” in the name.

Howard is also chairman of the board of the new Community Bank of New Jersey, headquartere in Freehold. The bank handily exceeded capit; requirements, forming with the plan to provide loca centered financial service in a market with their CloS( involved participation.

Showplace Farms, Highway 33 in Millstone, i home to Howard’s equine pursuits. He has bred an raced trotters and pacers since 1969; Showplace i the largest standardbred training center in the Unite States. Floward has enjoyed the good fortune a the pinnacle of success in the field, his horse Day i~ a. Life having won the $1,000,000 Meadowlands pac this July.

The Schoors lived in Matawan for about 20 years raising three children. One, Debra, became so fon( of Atlanta during her college years that she relocatec there. Two remain local, James, an engineer. and Barbara, an architect for SGS. The Schoors buill their Colts Neck house in 1986. It is a large, threE story structure with rn~w surfaces of varied size am shape, all painted white, a veritable “canvas” for ar art, cot lection.

Howard has collected paintings and sculptur€ simultaneously, the latter make some of the boldem statements on their spacious, hill-swept grounds. H€ was the first patron of recently-deceased Middletown artist Sid Martin, four of whose large, blown-fiberglas~ sculptures grace the Schoors’ sculpture garden. The dinosaur is one of two works by Jim Gary, a Colts Neck-raised sculptor, in front of his house. Howard takes particular pleasure in the contrast of the ancient shape of the animal fashioned from recycled automobile parts, and the modern form of the house.

The grounds also portray a leisure pursuit, golf, in the presentation of a putting green and a practice hole of 100 yards. The latter reflects a sense of whimsy, also present in some of their art, by its downhill location and the presence next to the tee of a container marked “Divot Repair Mix.”

Respectful of the masters, Howard collects only contemporary works, understandable in one whose career has embraced current shaping of the landscape. He collects for display and enjoyment, rather than for forethought of their appreciation. Years of careful looking have developed a skilled eye. Howard enjoys recognizing the artist of previously unseen works l)y identifying often subtle stylistic statements of their creators

The integration of house and art can be seen in the placement of several key works. The Schoors face in their vestibule Too Buck Tim, an early acquisition by John Chamberlain, who made a career of crushed automobile sculpture. Jules Olitski’s large, non-representational Cleopatra fills a space, visible from the front door, between the first and third floors, which Howard now feels is unimaginable without it. A steel beam by Serge Spitzer, an artist whose current work is often of construction-site size, extends from a wall in the front hall. Rather than focus on meaning Howard passes it with endless fascination.

The whimsical is represented at the end of a first floor corridor by a two-piece trompe l’oeil of a partial figure at a sink. Its fool-the-eye quality has been demonstrated by some visitors thinking a sink was present! Red Grooms, better known for room-size installations, is present in a box construction of a west em desert scene titled Tont~o Condo. A group of horsemounted Indians can disappear with the movement of a lever which replaces them with a scene of model-n housing!

Howard takes pride in sharing, having lent. art to museums, and his charitable work. He assists a temple in Manalapari, but his most notable benefaction has been the founding and an 11 year tenure as president of the Collier Services Foundation. In his time, funding went from a modest four figure sum to $2,000,000.

Howard’s art of life is manifest in family, career, collecting and charity. He is also proud of his creative side, visible in his collage Home Depot in the Summer, made from packaging materials of various supplies. Its mounting in the garage lacks the presence of his collection, but Howard enjoys it coming and going daily.

by Randall Gabrielan

Copyright © 2011 Howard Schoor Comanies

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