George Herms “Pipe Dreams” at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art
By Patrick Quinn
George Herms has been creating Assemblage Art longer them most of the people reading this article have been alive. He’s been a part of the Beat Generation, the Cool School, and is a founding member of Bruce Connor’s Rat Bastard Protective Association. His work has been shown in museums across the world and he has received fellowships from the NEA, the Guggenheim, and the Getty Research Institute. So when he suggests you go out and open your own art gallery, that’s what you do.
In 1980, George Herms was a Visiting Artist and Professor at Cal State Fullerton. Some of his students were frustrated at the lack of galleries showing contemporary art in Orange County. “Don’t wait around for museums and galleries to give you an exhibit,” he told them. “Take matters into your own hands.” That was how the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art first began. Later that year, OCCCA held its inaugural show which featured work by Slator Barron, Dustin Shuler and George Herms. Thirty-six years later, OCCCA has come full circle with a gallery-wide solo show featuring fifty of Herms’ work.
As defined by Merriam-Webster, assemblage sculpture is an artistic composition made from scraps, junk, and odds and ends. When created by lesser hands, assemblage can fall victim to tired clichés and forced irony. This however, is found object art in its purest form. There are no porcelain doll heads, bird skulls, or Star Wars Pez dispensers on display in this show. More importantly, this is not a retrospective. The majority of the work was made over the past two years and has not been previously displayed. For anyone who has followed the artist’s career, these pieces will feel familiar, but in the best sense possible. OCCCA is a large space and there is art on the floor, on the walls, and hanging from the ceiling. The work is playful, intelligent, and deceptively simple.
The materials used in these pieces are rusty, broken, cracked, and bent, discarded junk found on the side of the road. Herms has spent a lifetime re-imagining these abandoned objects into art. In his words, “any object, even a mundane cast-off, could be of great interest if contextualized properly.” Music CDs warped in the sun like potato chips are now delicate mirrors. Blue plastic caps could be onyx stones. And as he has done for decades, each piece is stamped with the letters L-O-V-E, his way of signing each piece. It’s a strong show and clear evidence that George Herms has no interest in slowing down or focusing on glories of the past.
In conjunction with the exhibit, there will be a Benefit concert on October 22 featuring the Bobby Bradford Motet. A souvenir George Herms sculpture will be in included in the ticket price for the first 35 prepaid ticket holders.
Follow this link for more information- http://occca.org/EXHIBITIONS.html#pipedreams
Pipe Dreams: George Herms Salutes OCCCA runs to October 29th. OCCCA is located in the Historic Downtown Santa Ana Artist’s Village at 117 N. Sycamore Street. The Gallery is open Thursday – Sunday 12pm to 5pm.
For more info: call (714) 667-1517 or email at Info.firstname.lastname@example.org