Herb Alpert- Art Scene (March 2010)
The totemic language of sculpture has informed Herb Alpert’s art practice for the past 20 years. Totemism refers to kinship as well as a belief system associated with shamistic religions where the totem guides one through life in the physical and spiritual worlds. The artist handcrafts the works in Black Totem first by creating vertical forms in wet clay of human and animal forms morphing into each other. Because Alpert works with his hands to create the shapes and not with tools, the surface qualities of the totems are organic and mystical. After the clay is set the totems are molded and cast in bronze with a black patina ranging in size from 8’’ to 20 feet in height. It is impossible not to feel like a human chess piece weaving in and out of a dozen mammoth totems, wherein the viewer is dwarfed by Alpert’s handmade creations that are as lucid as his own musical compositions. The vertical forms rise like smoke from the ashes, and the play of positive and negative space between the forms creates an undulating rhythm inspires the eye as its mystery unfolds.