by David Charles – 7/12/2006
The road to creation
“If I could make one statement about art, it’s that the essence of art is that it’s a verb, not a noun,” says Charles Sherman. “It’s a process. And when you fully understand that it’s a process, you let the art take its own course. Even the clay has a life of its own and knows where it wants to go and I try to facilitate that.”
Things have changed a lot for Charles since he was growing up in the ’50s and ’60s in New Jersey. “I have always wanted to be an artist since I was a little kid,” he recalls. He won awards in the subject when at high school. However, instead of going into art when he finished school, he went into business, thinking that one day he would retire and then be a full time artist. His first job was as a high diver in Atlantic City.
Time went on and when he was 34, having tried various jobs and business ventures (professional athlete, stock exchange, street peddling, etc.) without huge success or satisfaction, it dawned on Charles that he never was going to retire and become an artist. “I thought I might as well do what I wanted to do in life,” he recalls. So he started going to watercolor classes and turned out beautiful little paintings and received great encouragement from his friends. “It turned my life completely inside out,” he says. “I started joining all the arts organizations, reading every article I could, subscribing to all the trade magazines, attending drawing workshops four times a week and just completely immersing myself in this world of art.”
From flat art he moved into sculpture by way of that ubiquitous symbol of creativity and beauty, the egg. “I was studying early mythologies and I fell in love with the egg form,” Charles recalls. The beginnings of figurative sculpture coincided with stumbling across the Genesis creation myth in his mythology studies and soon Charles found himself making sculptures of Bible stories. The Bible series went on for about 10 years. Charles was very successful, exhibiting at a gallery on Rodeo Drive and selling all he could make and for very respectable prices.
An artist’s dream, you would think. But Charles was not satisfied. His two driving purposes in life that govern everything he does are 1) to become a better person and 2) to become a better artist. “The work was really good,” he explains. “It was figurative. And it ran its course and I realized one day this isn’t really art, it isn’t who I am, other people could be doing this. I need to dig deeper and try to find a deeper core of my creative soul. What’s underneath all of this? Then one day a mysterious voice came over me and it said. ‘Charles, just chill out. Nobody cares about your ideas, political and philosophical statements. Let’s just make the art. Just make something beautiful and stop trying to explain ideas and philosophy. Let’s just create beauty.’ Since that point I’ve just been going in that direction, starting with abstract sculptures, and since about 1999 they’ve been getting simpler and simpler and purer and purer.”
Charles’ current work has centered on what he calls infinity rings. He worked out how to do what no one else in the world has been able to do: make a mobius ring, 3-dimensional, out of hollow clay. The problem is that the clay tends to collapse and implode when formed and fired. “So I figured this out and now I’m trying to develop those and make them more beautiful and put text on them and just experiment and try to create something with these rings. I call them infinity rings because a person can experience infinity by moving their finger around any plane. You always come back to where you started.”
Having gone through a period of political and religious or mythological art and come out the other end, Charles believes that the job of the artist is not to say who is right or who is wrong. “The job of the artist is to express feeling or emotion or to search into the mystery of the unknown.”
“I have no desire to make social, political, religious or ideological statements,” he says. “There is no desire for my work to be visionary or spiritual. In addition, I have no desire to make art or beauty. My process of creativity is an act of love as one slab of clay is built upon another. Art and beauty happen to be a by-product, not the goal.
“I make art because I love making it, and find joy in the moment of creativity. I aspire in work and in life to deeper levels of truth through art.
“There is no fear of the unknown. Obstacles, challenges and mysteries are taken on with excitement and enthusiasm.
“’Create with passion’, is my statement of the excitement of creativity. The only thing that matters is that the art is being created in the moment. I love watching the subtlety in the clay. The most wonderful part is feeling the lushness of the clay, merging into other pieces of clay and being a witness to its unfolding.”
Art in general, Fine Art Registry in particular
Charles is not only a successful and accomplished artist and sculptor. He is very thoroughly versed in the history of art and has worked as a creative coach, art consultant, art dealer and is also a respected art appraiser with a reputation as an art sleuth. As an artist he also has to contend with the administration involved in producing and selling art and would love to turn this part of his work over to someone else so that he can get on with what he loves the most: creating.
So the Fine Art Registry and everything it is working to achieve came as a very welcome addition to his life. Charles stumbled upon FAR somewhat by accident when he was asked to do an appraisal on someone who was registering a number of works of art in the Fine Art Registry. Now he has begun to tag and register his own pieces as he sells them.
“The Fine Art Registry to me is a back-up drive,” Charles explains. “You sell a piece of art and you’ve registered it, you don’t have to worry about it. It’s registered forever. My record keeping isn’t the best. It’s good to know that there’s something out there that’s going to take care of that for me. That’s the main value I see for me and for my collectors. I expect the sculptures to be around for a very long time so when I’m not here, the Fine Art Registry will be.” Already with the first registration process, FAR has brought a bit of discipline into Charles’ life: “This is especially good because it forces me to document these properly even for myself,” he wrote to FAR’s CEO, by way of a “thank you” letter. “Last week I sold another sculpture but did not even photograph it. Now I am forced to photograph.”
It helps him get on, undistracted, with what he really loves to do in life: create art…as a verb, not as a noun.
— David Charles | July 12, 2006