Meeting George Herms – The How and the Why

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George Herms selecting the final works for Body Language, Copyright by Natalie Park

Santa Ana/ California, March 3rd 2014 – Who is George Herms? According to the internet he was

born in 1935 and an American artist best known for making assemblages out of discarded, often rusty, dirty or broken every-day objects, and juxtaposing those objects so as to infuse them with poetry, humor and meaning. He is also known for his many different types of works on paper, including works with ink, collage, drawing, paint and poetry.

After meeting him today and sitting behind him for more than five painstaking hours in a dark room with only light coming from the computer screen, this is George Herms to me:
A person who is unbelievably calm and patient. A person who lives art and shows appreciation for art with his whole attitude and mindset.

I met George Herms this morning for our first meeting to select the final pieces for the Body Language show. A huge number of entries came in – probably also due to the famous juror of the show. When I first heard about the meeting, I instantly got curious about what the process of selecting (or elimination) by this juror would look like. Also to see on what type of criteria and standard he would choose and review the artworks seemed to be a rare experience. As soon as we met and introduced to each other, we sat down and OCCCA member Jeffrey Frisch and me helped him scrolling and clicking through more than 500 images. He started intuitively selecting the pieces. It seemed almost impossible to zoom in every image due to their large number and our planned time, but he was very keen on viewing every single image and devoting each of them the same amount of consideration and time. After he decided to turn off the lights in the office room, I had to leave the room several times just to grasp some natural light and to walk around because I felt dizzy being kept in the little dark room with only artificial screen light as the only light source. I felt embarrassed and bad because he did not move once. His concentration and appreciation for the artists and the works he was looking at were impressive. Later Jeffrey Frisch told me that they had to meet again and ended up spending 16 hours(!) for selecting the pieces. Unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of explanations about WHY certain works were selected, but HOW he did it made me speechless and learn a lot about how some artists devote their time and soul for other artist and art in general. As a curator and researcher it was a precious time to learn and realize that sonetimes explanation, theory , criteria and the why is secondary compared to the superiority of the how – the process itself, the intuition and embodiment of art by the artist him-/herself.

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