While attending Catlin Gable, a private school in his native Oregon, Schnitzer sought out opportunities to engage with the staff. On a weekly visit to see the school’s comptroller, Schnitzer noticed a check on his desk for $50,000.
“That’s a big check today,” Schnitzer said. “A much bigger check in 1968. And I saw it was from John and Betty Gray to the school. I asked, ‘Gee, what’s that?’”
He was told Gray, a leader in the redevelopment of Southwest Portland’s industrial riverfront, wrote a check every year to cover the school’s deficit.
“That really hit me that a man who was so respected in the business world could make a little more money than he needed, and he could help give back to the community. The Gray family support allowed the school to survive and flourish,” Schnitzer said. “In terms of my life, it was a very influential moment for me. The most important role models for me were my parents, Harold and Arlene Schnitzer, who always were working to help others.”
Schnitzer graduated from the University of Oregon in 1973 and in 1976 received his doctorate degree from Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College.
He went on to work for his family’s real estate company, Harsch Investment Properties, becoming president nearly 30 years ago. Founded in 1951, the company now owns and manages in excess of 25 million square feet of commercial properties in six western states. Two of the properties are signature shopping centers in the Coachella Valley; One Eleven Town Center in Palm Desert and Plaza La Quinta.
Schnitzer took his childhood memory of that day at school and became involved in civic and community activities with board memberships at the Japanese Garden Society of Oregon, the Citizens Crime Commission, and the Portland Art Museum. Since that time, he has served on over 30 nonprofit boards and organizations.
Andy Warhol's artwork expresses itself well beyond shape, color, or element.
Following his family’s commitment to support art and culture, Schnitzer has created one of the largest contemporary print and multiple collections of post-World War II American artists, which he shares with the public. Jordan and his family’s foundation have funded and organized over 100 exhibitions from his collection, which has traveled to more than 100 museums.
One of those collections, Andy Warhol: Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation, spotlight the work of iconic pop culture artist and coincides with another exhibition, Michael Childers: Having a Ball, running through May 28. This retrospective encompasses over 250 works on loan from Schnitzer and his family foundation, and establishes Warhol’s graphic production as it evolved over four decades.
Schnitzer is particularly pleased to extend the invitation to view the artwork to all audiences. “The joy that I have of seeing the art is only exceeded by the joy of sharing the art,” he said.
The message art carries goes well beyond its, shape, color, or element. “Artists have always been chroniclers of our time,” Schnitzer said. “Their job is to force us to deal with the issues of our time, often ones that are unpleasant and difficult.”
Warhol, he notes, had that key ingredient that an artist at a high level needs to have — “a burning desire inside to get some message out and he better than any other artist of his time, continues to challenge us to examine our values.”
VIDEO: Jordan D. Schnitzer talks about his passion for art, and sharing it with the public.