I met Charles Sherman at VIVA Gallery during the opening of the Southern California Open Regional Exhibition.
Charles is an internationally-known, award-winning artist who has worked in the media of painting, printmaking and sculpture. His work has been shown in more than 50 museum, gallery, and art fair exhibitions.
An active member of the Los Angeles art community for over 25 years, Mr. Sherman has served on the board of the Visual Artist Guild, the Graphic Arts Council at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and was president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Artists Equity Association, an organization dedicated to artists’ rights and equity in artist/dealer relationships.
Charles is also an expert witness in fine art litigation and has worked for galleries and numerous insurance companies as an art consultant. He is a fine art appraiser and was a pawnbroker in Beverly Hills, specializing in fine art loans. A specialist in the history of twentieth century and old master artists, Mr. Sherman has uncovered art frauds and recovered stolen art, garnering a reputation as an art sleuth. Mr. Sherman has lectured on various topics from art law to the business of art to the spiritual in art.
Why are you an artist?
I always wanted to be an artist but thought when I retire from business I will be an artist. When I was 34, I realized I was a failure and was never going to be rich enough to retire from business. So, I turned my life inside-out and instantly committed myself to a life of art. It is the most natural work and lifestyle for me.
How separate are you from your art?
Part of my philosophy is that I don’t separate myself from my art. I am primarily interested in two things in life. One, becoming a better human being and two, becoming a better artist. They overlap. However, sometimes it is important to separate the art from the artist. Picasso was a misogynist but we overlook that because he was a great artist. Richard Wagner was a rabid anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic and anti-Gypsy but his music rose above his bigotry. I believe that art, not politics or religion, is the universal language of healing.
What are you trying to do to people with your art?
Ideally I want my artwork to elevate the soul of the viewer. I want my artwork to inspire chills up and down the back. I want my artwork to make people laugh and cry. I want the viewer to look at it and say, “Wow.”
How would your creativity express itself if you couldn’t work with clay?
Painting. I am also a painter. Sculpture is a very physical activity and the body can not sling thousands of pounds of clay around the studio forever. Creatively, I also invent wonderfully strange foods and strange exercise habits. Yesterday I put anchovies in pasta with pesto sauce. Try it!
Do you believe artistic creativity is innate, generally and personally?
Although a person can be creative in anything they do, artistic creativity is not part of everybody’s persona. Some people are right brained and some people are left brained. Some people’s brain hemispheres are perfectly balanced. Being an artist is a curse and a blessing. Bi-polarism, narcissism, ego-mania, and the like are some of the curses. The ability to create beauty is one of the blessings. I am both cursed and blessed and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Where do your ideas come from?
My greatest ideas are inspired by the work of other artists. I look at art and it hits me like a brick how I can improve what I see and make it my own. I am also inspired by nature, love, music and my own silent creative process. Silence creates a vacuum from which an explosion of creative ideas erupt. But it doesn’t matter where creative ideas come from, what matters is that they do come…and they do come!
Favorite artist in another medium? Why?
Marcel Duchamp because he changed the consciousness of art from that of a noun, to art as a thought process, and thinking outside the box and into the urinal.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue a career in the arts?
Fully understand that the essence of art is that it is a verb. Most artists fail because they think that they are making art for the market place. If that’s the case, you may as well be selling soap. The number one priority for an artist should be to want to become a better artist and work at it.
A deep understanding of art history is fundamental to creating the future of art. Go for spiritual depth, not career heights. Career heights will take care of themselves.
How important is “craftsmanship” in your work?
It’s equally as important as creativity in my work. Many artists are high on creativity and low on craftsmanship. Many are high on craftsmanship and lack creativity. I am inspired by great art that has a perfect balance of craftsmanship and creativity.
If you could have a one-on-one apprenticeship with an artist (living or not) for a week, who would that be and why?
I never met him, but it would be Paul Soldner because he is contemporary and I think I can learn more from him than anybody else.