BWW Reviews: Bruce Sherman Studio Visit - The Artist, the Ceramicist and the Man by Barry Kostrinsky

Bruce Sherman: Studio Visit

The Artist, the Ceramicist and the Man

By Barry Kostrinsky

Glazes stacked high, draped clay, Bruce Sherman and I contemplating an early clay cup.
Photographs by Linda Obuchoska

Upon entering MOMA's exhibit of Claus Oldenberg's "The Store" and "The Street" with Bruce Sherman I quickly caught an image of a grouping of drawings and called Bruce over. He looked and immediately saw the connection and thanked me; Earlier that day we were in his studio looking at a group of his drawings. Now it would be big of anyone to claim their work is like that of a modern master (and indeed it was I and not Bruce that pointed out the connection) but the similarities were obvious.

Photograph by Linda Obuchoska

Sherman's grouping of 9 drawings reveal a similar line and form to Calder's wire sculptures as well. As artists we drink and draw from the source of the river, from that elegant but singular pool of thoughts and ideas. We all try and expand the deck and add a Jacuzzi but the core of art is buried deep in this pool. Inevitably when we reemerge from our deep dive there will be overlap and restatements.

The group of drawings I had seen earlier at Bruce's revealed a light soft hand apparently guided by a dreamlike ethos open and free to what was notched and noted just before on the page. This was not the work of planned and prepared controlled art that you could hand off to an assistant to finish. These drawings are works that evolve organically from the source: an aspiring selfless self. They are reflective of the delicate and complex nature it takes in our barrage driven image world to be free and open to seeing without guiding, to making without declaring and to creating without pontificating.

Photographs by Linda Obuchoska, books photographed by BK

The creative hand, the man and the mind that layers the work. Picasso-"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." Gurdjieff says this dust hits your snooze button and we are mostly in a "Waking Sleep." "The Work" is often about braking this waking sleep.

Oldenberg's Blue Legs 1961- plaster and mixed media relief like constructions and Sherman's slab rolled constructions pieces pre bisque are visual aligned. Bruce draws in the mixed colored clays. He lays out a few lines to hint at form much as Claus's work does. This economy of form is one of the marks of a great artist. The ability to reduce form to its essential elements is not unlike a poet's efforts to distill the essence of thoughts and ideas in a frugal use of language so as not to detract the reader from the deeper real.

Photograph by Linda Obuchoska

Oldenburg's 1960 Flag to hold in your pocket and Sherman's 2012 Ceramic box with glaze.

A random constellation like effect and feel yields a serene and intriguing field of random minutia play in both works. The two works read well viewed both as if from afar as a Macro large scale portal to deep space and universes and as a Micro small scale close peer revealing a crackle like disordered kaos that smells of a deeper order. Bruce's recent drawings investigate visual similar themes developed on his ceramic surfaces.

Bruce's drawings on a black background photographed by Linda Obuchoska and two Aboriginal works. Bottom right-28,000 year old Aboriginal rock art.

The recent series of drawings Bruce has been working on involve fascinating constellation like dot and line dreamlike evoking images evolved from a meditative and free walking mind. Often Bruce works in the morning, when he is just up and not yet wearing his self-suit. He hopes to enter the work free, unbounded and open to the universe. Sherman appears to tap into a similar form Aboriginals reach in their inner trance-like search through art. Though they were penned over 10,000 Miles away and almost 30 millennia of time between the spaces, Sherman dove deeply to link with these distant brethren.

Photograph by Linda Obuchoska

Picasso's figures on the seashore 1931 and Sherman's recent series of small pink clay forms. Picasso's work devolves from the form and Sherman's work evolves toward. Though Bruce works on a small scale in his pink fired constructions they seem to read as maquettes, as studies for larger works and forecast a larger form. They are not studies and very much are just what they are, small works of compositional play.

Photographs by Linda Obuchoska

Sherman's clay work has an organic feel. The forms seem to be almost happening as if they were created softly, developed by a soft hand reaching for the form to reveal itself and not to be ordered and directed. The material is often slab left overs, remnant rogue clay not fashioned for play this way or that, a gap in the note, a space for the music. Bruce slips in and combines these forms to grow a piece of art and works with the space between the real, the space between the notes to get at a deeper meaning and a deeper sighting of the real. He is not adverse to functionality and enjoys making vases, bowls and plates; he likes the real usage, the utilitarian nature of the art object.

Paul Klee's "Comedian's Handbill" 1938 and Joan Miro's "The Poetess" 1940

Bruce see's Surrealism and Dada as the two most prominent influences on the young creative minds of today. Personally, he finds a kinship with Miro and Klee. Their dot and line play and conjured worlds bring to mind Sherman's drawings on black. Klee and Miro create a somewhat flat geometric pattern; Klee's recalls Egypthian hyroglipics and forehsadows Keith Haring. Both artistis use of flattened geometric compositional elements gives their work a quilt-like crafts feel. Craft is not a bad word even if you're a MAD Museum and got cut off the billboard.

Comment & Share

About Author

Subscribe to Author Alerts
Barry Kostrinsky Barry Kostrinsky is the founder of Haven Arts Gallery a large gallery and performance space that reinvigorated the South Bronx arts scene from 2004-2009. The Municipal Arts Society (MAS) awarded haven Arts a certificate of merit in 2006.

Barry has contributed to a variety of panels including a NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) Percent for art program, and a Bronx Museum symposium for the Artist in the Artists in Marketplace (AIM) program. Barry formed and moderated a talk for the Artists Talk on Art(ATOA) Series at The School of Visual arts (SVA) that discussed the history of contemporary arts in the Bronx.

Currently Barry serves as a member of the Arts in Public Places (AIPP) committee for Rockland County.

His past experiences managing a family run manufacturing company in the South Bronx for 20+ years gives him a uniquely balanced view of the art world.

He worked in finance and banking from 2010-2013 for a small independent company and then for Bank of America. As a result he sees the art world from both the aesthetic side and the financial market it is.

As an artist Barry has exhibited in group shows in NYC. He works in a variety of medium including oil paints, acrylics, watercolor,photography and mixed medium. Where as the oil paintings are mostly plein-air works not unlike the impressionists and post-impressionist, his acrylic work is quite contemporary and often on found objects including car parts, light bulbs, beds and more. His photographic work ranges from serene nature shots, to street detritus and include playing with simple I-Phone applications to manipulate photos taken with his phone. He shoots with old fashioned polaroids and enjoys the restrictions compelled by the lack of choices with the toy like cameras.

Barry special ability is to be able to see others artists work from the eyes of an artist and to dialogue with artists in a meaningful way about their art and where they are going.

As a youth Barry was a math major at Vassar College and graduated in 1982. His High School days at New Rochelle High enabled him to develop his artists talents, Mr. Blackburn was an inspiring teacher. He spent the summer before senior year at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and had a firm footing in the arts before college. By chance Vassar had one of the best art history departments in the US and he studied with Linda Nochlin, Susan Kuretsky and in is rookie year, Ken Silver.

He is a proud father of three grown kids ages 25,25 (twins is the way to start) and 20.

Like so many of us he is recently divorced.

Barry has a strong passion for all things arts related and his love for cooking and eating run a close second.

The Bush Dilemma Has The Art World's Panties in a BunchThe Bush Dilemma Has The Art World's Panties in a Bunch

Subscribe for News & Specials

The Bush Dilemma Has The Art World's Panties in a BunchThe Bush Dilemma Has The Art World's Panties in a Bunch
by Barry Kostrinsky