Vera Berdich Spoke To Me

Julia and I went to the Art Institute Saturday. I think we’ll be spending a lot of time there this summer. I was excited to see an exhibit of the ‘See America First‘ prints by HC Westermann. Years ago Lara took me to the MCA and introduced me to Westermann’s work whereupon I had an aesthetic epiphany and wrote a poem about it and everything. When we were in the print collections, we stumbled across the work of one Vera Berdich whose prints were absolutely stunning. Here’s her obituary which serves as a biography and here’s another collection of her works. Her unique technique and the results achieved intrigue me.

I sat in the central hall and drew a sculpture of Vishnu and his consorts while Julia wandered through the galleries for a few hours. When she returned I had just about filled the page and had collected a small gallery of admirers. A woman in her early sixties and a group of boys were already thoroughly charmed by my pen but their jaws collectively dropped when Julia kissed my cheek. The lady said she was beautiful and I was lucky and I said, yes, yes, I am a damned lucky bastard and I meant it.

Since I’m whispering in the dark I will confess that I took great pleasure from the encounter. The kids looked like they had never been in a museum before and were there because someone was exposing them to some culture. They asked me primal questions and I had the opportunity to hold forth on aesthetics to an audience that regarded my words as authoritative; they were hypnotized by my pen while my mouth worked their ears. When the lady walked by she asked if she could attend the lecture; I held forth on aesthetics and philosophical opinions but will only repeat what I said on the subject of talent.

One of the young men by the name of Andre said that he wished he had talent like I had; I told him that he did, he just had to start practicing and stick with it for a few decades. I said that what most people wished for was what I was getting, which was earning the flattery and admiration of strangers. Most people desire what they think ‘talented’ people have, but what talented people have is a love for their art that drives them to practice, hone and pursue it; no one is born knowing how to play the cello.

I could say more, but it’s late and I’m tired. Besides, if you’re interested, you’ll ask to hear it. Here’s the drawing I did. My scanner still isn’t hooked up so this is just a shot from my sketchbook from Julia’s phone.

Vishnu and his consorts, pen on paper.

6 Responses to “Vera Berdich Spoke To Me”

  1. I’m stunned. Oh how your art has grown. I don’t want to say improved because that would imply your earlier work needed improvement. It didn’t. But it was young and this most definitely isn’t. Beautiful.

  2. Wow. I am truly impressed. What a serendipitous moment, to garner the attention of onlookers of different ages. I imagine that you left there feeling quite a sense of satisfaction. I agree with the comment about earning flattery and admiration of strangers. Isn’t that why we do the things that we do, for some kind of confirmation, validation?

    That is a moment in time that you will never forget.

  3. Vishnu’s face, in your artwork, looks buddha-esque. I like that, it adds a personal touch to it.

    My desire for recognition comes and goes in spurts. One thing I’ve noticed is that when I seek approval the least, I perform the best. As artists we get glimpses of our souls through the mirrors of our craft. When I aim to please the mirror is foggy at best.

    It still kicks ass when a crowd of people sing along with you, or gawk at your art, or cry during an applause. It’s very fulfilling to a different aspect of your artistry.

  4. Aw, shucks. Thank you. Lily, your comment is a confirmation of what I told Andre; I know what you mean and thank you for it.

    P&H: I try to praise generously and receive it graciously. However, validation can be tricky. I don’t care to hear empty praise nor do I think that it’s good for anyone’s ear. Our culture has elevated exaggeration to hyperbolic heights of precarious elevation while somehow simultaneously obliterating the poetry of our communication. Sound and fury abound, idiot tales are everywhere to be found, and very few people have their feet on the ground…
    I totally went and had dinner and forgotten how I was going to finish that. In any case, thank you both for your very kind comments…

  5. Furious Buddha, when I was younger I was lucky to study etching with Vera. She was a advid reader who collected articles/artifacts relating to issues and ideas of the time she lived in. She was also very gracious in sharing knowledge and educational ideas regarding her perspective on situations resulting from technology. Which was awesome in a literal sence. She was a collector,inventor, feminist,teacher,historian the list goes on…… The good old days. You already know these things I’m sure. What I really wanted to comment on was the notion of maturity in a artist life and the notion of beauty/pretty/easy…… being acceptable and works that are unacceptable usually are ugly? We are in a time of pretty wins reality loses ? I hope you have continued your research drawing and your relationship with Julia is constant like Art, never ending always giving. Thankyou for sharing your drawing of Buddha to me and the children. The applause factor you should be careful of because it is a reaction that is temporary it does not sustain. It is a common reaction to ammusement not education especially with children you can wittness this at the picture shows ie. the cotton candy effect.

    • Donnie- I don’t know how I missed this comment. Thank you so much for sharing your memories of Vera. I have continued my research and Julia and I continue to walk in the glow of each other’s majestic presence.
      You reminded me of a quote which may have been Lou Reed or Andy Warhol-‘Is there beauty in ugliness or is it playing in the dirt?’
      Again, thank you, and I’m sorry it has taken such a ridiculous amount of time to reply to you.

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