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Play of Imagination


Shea Stanfield
Arts Columnist

Carl Jung wrote, “The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable.” Imagination, from the shadow self, inspires subtle images, muted colors, and peaceful forms on local artist Tess Mosko Scherer’s colorful surfaces. Tess strives to connect to the universal themes of our humanness. Her most recent work explores the shadow aspect of self: the layers of shame that are painful to break through, the duality that resides within us, and that inner tug of yin and yang, masculine and feminine, shame and vulnerability.

Tess reflects, “As far back as I can remember, I knew I was an artist.” Growing up in Middletown, NJ, the youngest of seven children, Tess recalls being inspired by the natural world, constantly drawing to create art. She pursued her “calling” into college, where she graduated from Georgian Court College, in Lakewood, NJ with her B.A. in Fine Arts and Elementary Education. While working her way through school, Tess secured a staff position with Scherer Gallery in Marlboro, NJ, where she learned the business of art. In 1991, she married the gallery’s owner, Marty Scherer, and in 1997, Tess and Marty relocated the gallery and her studio space to Sedona.

Always fascinated with papers, colors, and communicating through her art, Tess began studying the art of book binding in 2001. Her journey of formal study and discovery into this ancient art form would open fascinating new worlds for her artistic expressions.   During the process of making over a thousand books, Tess mastered historical techniques of binding timeless materials into exquisitely one-of- a kind personal volumes. She describes bookbinding as, “A beautiful choreography of paper, leather, book board, and linen thread. It can be gentle: sewing, drawing, folding, or violent: drilling, cutting, and tearing.” She loves bringing each book to life from the flat, blank, basic materials into a three dimensional treasure to be held and treasured. There is nothing as enchanting as the luscious hand crafted book cradling a personal story and illustrated from the soul. Over the years, Tess has made hundreds of “books with memories” for her family and friends.

The year 2006 found Tess taking the gallery business from a physical space across the threshold into cyberspace, moving all sales online. She and Marty embarked on a three-year odyssey traveling the United States exploring National Parks, wilderness areas, small towns, and huge, bustling cities. Illustrations and prose flowed onto the pages of dozens of Tess’s handmade books, chronicling her discoveries both inside and out of their journey. By the time she came ashore in the Phoenix area in 2009, Tess found she had emerged to meet her calling as a full-time artist. Her background in art history and the study of human psychology aids her quest in finding balance between inner personal worlds and the outer world of the greater universe.

Today, Tess continues the quest helping others find their creative centers and the courage to share those spaces.  =Her work takes her into the lives of tireless and devoted caregivers, those encountering transitions from life, and the culminating work of the grieving process.  Tess gives back to the community as the artistic director of the Shemer Art Center and Museum in Phoenix, as well as serving as president of the Arizona Artists Guild. She also assists others as a mentor and Life Coach, helping individuals through transitional times in their lives to find and maintain balance in the process.

Currently, Tess Mosko Scherer is represented by Van Gogh’s Ear Gallery in Prescott. She has work in Five15 Gallery’s annual 12x12 exhibition that is running through August 2016.  Five15 Gallery is located in the Roosevelt Arts District of Phoenix. In November 2016, Tess will be a guest artist at Gold Dust Studio (#19) during the annual Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour. For a full schedule, to make an appointment to visit her home studio, or to view her work, visit her Web site at, her blog at, call her at (928) 300-7185, or e-mail

Contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield at