The Music Behind Herb Alpert’s Sculptures and Richard Mayhew’s Immersive Landscapes
In addition to his musical accomplishments, Herb Alpert has spent more than half his life as a respected abstract expressionist painter and sculptor, whose work has been exhibited all over the world, from New York to Berlin. Since he began painting in 1969, Alpert has experimented with a number of different styles and materials, perhaps none more unusual than his current medium of choice: organic coffee. Alpert's sculptures, particularly his towering Black Totems series, continue to draw interest with their freedom of form and massive size, with some pieces reaching 18 feet in height. The totems were inspired by indigenous sculptural forms from the Pacific Northwest. What begin as hand-sized forms are scaled up and cast as ten to 18 foot high monoliths. Acknowledging totemic explorations by fellow sculptors Henry Moore, Augusts Rodin, Constantin Brancusi and others, Alpert's soaring forms appear as frozen smoke, or jazz given physical form.
Just as the origins of Herb Alpert's music with the Tijuana Brass can be traced back to a Tijuana bullfight, his start as a painter likewise began with a trip south of the border. Though Alpert's work as an abstract expressionist painter has been inspired by a number of different sources over the years, he cites his single greatest influence as artist Rufino Tamayo, whose work first sparked his interest in painting in 1963.
Alpert’s paintings and sculptures have been exhibited at numerous galleries and museums: including the Tennessee State Museum, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Art Cologne, Art Fair Basel, Molly Barnes Gallery, Santa Monica and Ace Gallery Beverly Hills.
Herb Alpert’s philosophy as an artist has generally been to create from a purely internal place; “the feel,” as he calls it. External considerations, such as social or political commentary, rarely factor into the work. “For art to appear,” Alpert likes to say, “the artist must disappear.”
Creativity is Alpert's staff of life, his daily bread. Whether its music, or painting, or sculpture, he launches in headfirst, like a soloist coming out of the chorus, rolling to a rhythm he feels inside, searching for a sound that gets at that feeling, that mysterious thing. "When I paint or sculpt," he says, "I don't have anything in mind. I don't have a goal in mind other than form. I'm looking for that form that touches me and when I find it I stop."
American, b. 1935, Los Angeles, California