Artist of the day: Herb Ascherman

Submitted by Phillip Williams on Fri, 07/07/2006 - 09:43.

A few days ago I took my children to meet one of Cleveland's finest artists, Herb Ascherman. While many parents have taken their children to photographers to get a few photos taken for use in holiday cards, or to hang on the wall. Herb Ascherman will not only take a photo, he will truly deliver to you a piece of art. My children, 7 and 8 years old, sat for the their photos with a clear sense of their purpose, to allow me have a memory of their visit of the 2006 summer.

Like so many unfortunate marriages, my marriage to their mother failed. My children's mother lives in Tennessee now and that means that I only get to see my little ones a few times a year at best. Having a piece of art will not only bring a smile to my face, it will allow me to know that my kids will always be with me no matter where they are.

For those who know me, know all to well I love to take pictures. I have thousands of snap shots of my children. All of them, I cherish and make sure to have copies of on CD and hard drives. But there is something very different about having a photograph done for you by a artist of Herb Aschermans' caliber. My digital library of snap shots will continue to grow with memories, some of them even making their way onto my desk or wall. It will be, however, the art that Herb Asherman created that will be so highly praised. Not only because it was done by an artist, but because my children gave to me their very best to make those photos so memorable.

To see work done by Herb Ascherman check out:

Cleveland, America!

Saturday July 8th.

5 to 7 PM

at the

Western Reserve Historical Society

University Circle,

Cleveland, Ohio.

There was a great article on Herb in the plain dealer. Please click here to read.

Art, family connection and artists

Really thoughtful espressions of why art is important, how it makes connections in your family and community, and the role of the artist - in this case, doing what many would not realize is art, bu artists (although nobody would dare question that about Herb). Especially since the digital revolution, photography can be viewed as a commodity - especially portraits - so many shopping mall hacks are in KMarts and shooting weedings and give fine photography a bad name... it won't be long before most artists won't know their way around a darkroom or have experience with large format. On the other hand, to take good protraits or capture a wedding is a great challenge. To find the right art and artist for your interest is very exciting - I have a painting of Evelyn and our son she commissioned from Arabella Proffer-Vendetta (Arabella's website), who Evelyn happened to feature last night as artist of the day (not to plug Arabella) and the whole experience of having the artist come to the house and "capture" the subject, and then have the finished work is beyond any arts experience I've had - I can share your excitement for the experience you had with Herb. How about posting some of the photos?!?!

herb photographed my family, too

When I moved to Cleveland In 1979, Herb was among my first few acquaintances. Now I count him among my most longstanding friendships. He gave me part-time work as a preparator in his Coventry Road Gallery as I made my way in the dance world in Cleveland and became settled. He photographed me for many years and then photographed my family.

The most memorable shoot was when my son was two. Herb and I looked at the clothes I had brought for the shoot, and then he asked what my two year old would wear for the pics. I told him to wait a while and we would know. Shortly thereafter, my son had stripped down to his birthday suit--his favorite suit of clothes in his second year. Hence we have a triptych of wonderful nudes of our young son. Herb really liked those photos, too. He wanted to put them up in his salon/studio/gallery, but they were taken and printed during the time that Dennis Barrie was jailed in Cincinnati for the Robert Mapplethorpe photos and there was an ongoing case of an Oberlin woman who had been accused of pornography for photos taken of her daughter. He thought better of exposing his business to such ridiculous claims at the time. But in our home, we see them everyday. They remind us of our son’s unabashed curiosity, ponderousness and complete delight with life. Herb has captured this for all time. Thanks Herb!

Also because of our long friendship, our house has many other Ascherman photos. One was stored during an extended remodeling of our second floor. After a while, I began to feel uncomfortable as I reached the place where my eyes would ordinarily meet this image. After it was back up, I relaxed and then realized that Herb's photo "Sadie" had long been a visual anchor for me. Somehow my space was undone without her there.

See also Herb bring to our attention other photographers in the region by visiting HeightsArts Gallery on Lee Road next to the Cedar Lee Theater.  This is not a new selflessness that Herb has recently acquired in case you're wondering. Herb has long supported area, national and international photographers in any way possible. He has sponsored shows of many photographers in his own galleries and has oft collaborated with others. Herb is a people person. It is why you wind up with a great photo when you invest in a portrait with him.