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'Man for all seasons' ready for another winter

9/4/2013

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

He doesn't always to get to see his sculptures this up close, or this often.

So Tim Chapman was more than glad to offer to take on maintenance duties of his latest work, the statue of St. Thomas More, who often is referred to as "a man for all seasons."

Now, the patron saint who watches over the campus bearing his name, is being watched over by Chapman, a local sculptor.

Chapman had completed the statue for Thomas More Prep-Marian Junior-Senior High School just in time for homecoming 2012 -- and Steve Schmeidler's 30th class reunion.

Schmeidler, a 1977 graduate of TMP, had died in a vehicle accident in June 2011, and soon afterward, his family commissioned Chapman to make a sculpture for the school.

Chapman, who knew Schmeidler personally, said he thought it was an honor to be asked, and the Schmeidler family picked St. Thomas More as the subject.

However, Chapman soon learned "you see a lot of pieces of (St. Thomas More) that are a little stiff."

"My style is a little looser, want some emotional content," he said.

Most images of St. Thomas More are of a man either standing or sitting tall and stately, looking straight ahead with a serious look on his face.

Chapman's rendition has him genuflecting, with one hand grasping a Bible and his head tilted as if to welcome visitors to the building.

"Everybody just loved it," he said.

"And," he added, "Steve would have appreciated humanizing Thomas."

Chapman lives just a few blocks from the TMP campus, and he and his wife, Mona, frequently take that route on their nightly walks.

"We come by many times to say 'Hi' to Tom," Mona Chapman said.

Tim Chapman said he always advises the new owners of his sculptures to wipe down their statue with paste wax yearly.

"It's nice to treat the piece once a year," he explained recently while holding a can of Johnson paste wax in his hand and wiping the excess off St. Thomas More, giving him a clear sheen.

"It helps protect the patina on the work," he said of the coating formed on the surface during exposure to the weather. "It brings those colors back out in the iron. That's the neat thing about bronze. It will change colors over time."