SITTING in the turquoise-colored living room of his 19th-century Catskill farmhouse, Sean Scherer, 41, gives a guided tour of his tattooed arms, which provide a concise visual lexicon of his obsessions. Orchids cascade down his left shoulder and forearm, mirroring those he tends in the corner of his lemon-yellow back room. On his right wrist is a bold red five — his May 5-born boyfriend’s favorite number — as well as a nautilus shell from an 18th-century hand-colored print that was one of his first natural history purchases. Surrounded by botanical, zoological and anatomical artifacts, Mr. Scherer seems to blend into his artfully staged surroundings, the result of years of patient and passionate collecting.
Seven years ago, when he moved to this small farming community, Mr. Scherer was known as a painter who worked in a style inspired by Russian Suprematism and American Minimalism. Then 9/11 happened, and he reconsidered everything.
“I thought 9/11 was going to change the art world,” he said. “But the exact opposite happened. Instead of getting more serious, art got stupider and stupider.”
Traumatized by witnessing the events up close from his South Street Seaport apartment, he sought refuge upstate with his partner, Marc Mayer, who was then deputy director of the Brooklyn Museum. They eventually found an 1840s Cape-style farmhouse on 90 acres of rolling fields and woodland. Mr. Scherer, who decided he wanted to live in Walton year-round, bought the house in 2002, for $212,000; Mr. Mayer, 53, who is now the director of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, spends weekends and holidays there. Read More