San Diego's Ocean Beach

Artist, Wayne Scherer

San Diego Artist, Wayne SchererThe Log, 2004
by Jim Kelly

When Wayne Scherer's grandfather, William (Willie) Scherer, jumped ship in San Diego at the turn of the Nineteenth Century, he probably didn't know he would be spawning a dynasty of skilled sailors, artists and craftsmen in the Southern California port city.

Willie Scherer served on the last of the US Navyís square riggers and deployed with the Great White Fleet when it was sent around the world in 1907 by President Theodore Roosevelt who wanted to display Americaís might.

The fleet was aptly named because its 16 new battleships were all painted white with guided scrollwork on their bows.

They traveled 43,000 miles and made 20 port calls on six continents.

Schererís father, William, also went to sea. He was a well-known sailor in San Diego who captained the Poseidon, a 70-foot yacht owned by Solar Dynamics, and ran the Boathouse for the Hotel Del Coronado.

So, it appears Scherer had little choice but to follow in his familyís footsteps. After catching tuna for two years in South American and African waters, he took off for 18 months to travel through Central and South America.

Scherer spent all his savings and lost his heart to a Colombian girl, Ruby (who he later married), before returning to the States and signed on as a deck hand with the yacht, Miss Travel Lodge.

By 1976, Scherer had enough experience at sea to apply for and earn his captainís license.

During this time he found out he could do something other than piloting a boat. Scherer discovered he could paint.

Soon others discovered it, too. Encouraged by Jorge Imana, a painter from Bolivia, Scherer was accepted as a member by the La Jolla Art Association in 1977. He was the youngest member ever to be accepted by the prestigious art association.

In the same year, Imana, who ran an art gallery in Point Loma and was also a member of the La Jolla Art Association, held a public showing of Schererís paintings.

10 of them were sold on the evening of the showing, the most paintings ever sold in one day by the gallery. The most common comment heard that evening, according to Wayne, was, "My goodness. He doesn't paint like an Irish artist."
Most of Schererís career as a sea captain has been spent in Mexican waters.

He typically leaves San Diego after the hurricane season is over in Central America and stays in Ensenada until October, when he moves south to Cabo San Lucas.

Scherer loves the diving and fishing off the islands around Cabo and in the Gulf of California.

He said thereís a decompression chamber in Cabo now and itís made diving much safer. "But you donít really even need to scuba dive," he said. "Thereís plenty to see just by snorkeling."

Scherer said heís seen whale sharks in the gulf and has caught 60 pound squid. "Would you believe some people dive there at night?" he remarked. "Those things have hooks in their tentacles that can tear you apart!"

As he works his way down the Baja California coastline, Scherer constantly searches for new inspiration for his paintings. He likes to capture the culture in his art, not the scenery and he finds the Seri Indians fascinating.

"There were only about 300 of them left in the 1930ís," he explained. These Indians were once nomadic fishermen and they are now making baskets and carvings for a living.

Schererís latest painting shows a Seri Indian holding strings of beads in one hand and a seed growing a beautiful plant in another. "Iím trying to express the contrast between the beauty they once possessed and the life they have been forced to adopt," he said.

In his other paintings, Scherer distills patterns and colors from his imagination and experiences to create fluid and exciting beauty in a variety of mediums.

He has painted with acrylics, graphite, water colors and, most recently, oils.

"I like oil the best," he said. "I find I can do more with it and it holds up better than other mediums."

Scherer said his father used to have an oil painting on his boat and he would hose it off with water once in awhile. "You couldnít wreck the darn thing," he said.
Regardless of what medium he uses, Scherer consistently portrays the essence of the many cultures he observes in his travels.

Much of his work has a strong South American feeling.

His art is also difficult to categorize, with some of his paintings pulling their inspiration from the Impressionistic movement and others more inclined toward the Modern period.

An out-of-focus stand of tropical trees beside a quiet inlet could easily have been painted by Pissarro while a sweep of staircases and arches between two palm trees looks very much like an Escher.

Picasso also seems to have had some influence on many of the faces of the women Scherer paints.

Because of the nature of his work, Scherer doesnít paint while at sea.

During this time he spends his leisure hours sculpting masks from polymer clay and putting glass, fish bone, mother of pearl and shell inlays on them before adorning them with gold or silver leaf and pearls.

In December Scherer leaves Cabo and moves south to the mainland of Mexico to get beyond the gray band of weather that moves in and stretches from Abreojos to San Diego.

He stays there until the hurricane season begins in May or June when he returns to Cabo and begins working his way home again.

Scherer, who holds a 500 ton ocean operators license, is the captain of a 70 foot Power Cat built last year by Knight and Carver.

Although his boat is currently in San Diego for refitting, Scherer is hopeful work can be completed by early next summer so he can get underway again.

Meanwhile, Scherer continues to paint beautiful works of art.

You can contact Wayne at