Artist Spotlight Series: Kurt Hermann

I love color and my latest Artist Spotlight Series feature certainly speaks my love language.  

This talent was introduced to me by a local gallery that is currently featuring his work.

Enjoy getting to know this international acclaimed artist

Kurt Hermann

Central Pennsylvania 

What is your training? 

I graduated from Lock Haven University which is a small liberal arts school in the mountains of Pennsylvania.  But my mentor, professor, and dear friend, Bill Foster, went to school at Columbia University in NYC in the late 1950’s and was a world class artist and teacher.  He was invaluable because to him there was only one standard and if he gave a compliment or a critique he meant it and you actually believed him.  

What inspires you and your designs?

Without a doubt it’s the seasons and landscape where I live – or wherever I happen to be when I’m painting.  One of the ways I describe my Color Bomb series is that I feel like I’m mentally taking millions of pictures of what is happening outside and I’m trying to distill those images into absolute color.  Like zooming in with a camera and plucking out pure colors and then riffing on them until they ring true.

What is your favorite piece?

Ha! – That’s a tough one.  That changes by the minute.  But right now I’m really excited by two new pieces that I just sent to Sozo Gallery in Charlotte  called “Koko”, and ” Dogwood Echo “.  I love vibrancy and how colors vibrate and speak.  When a color is just right it almost has a sound to me.  These two pieces are more subtle at first because they have a lot of whites and creams that draw you in.  But when I’m in the presence of these works longer they start to hum and the brighter colors begin to show themselves.  I’m interested in how color makes you feel.  It’s universal but always personal.

How has the your area influenced your work?

It’s a tremendous influence.  I live and work on 10 acres on the side of a mountain in the Appalachian mountains.  Other than our house there is nothing but the mountains and sky.  And this landscape and all of the colors, sounds, and endless changes are deeply rooted in me because I was born here.  Wherever I go I paint and what is around me impacts me, but working here with all my connections and history makes it a very rich experience.  Many people wouldn’t like it because they leave where they grew up and don’t want to be reminded of that, but I don’t feel that way.

What is your favorite restaurant in (your city)?

A couple valleys south of here in Millheim is Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks.  It’s just a gem of a place.  They  have a fantastic chef, consistently present world class musicians ( local and international ) , and the beers they create are out of this world.  It’s pretty awesome seeing an experimental jazz quartet or the band Marah perform while drinking an amazing ale and looking out the window and seeing Amish buggies rumble by.  And I’ve done the labels/artwork for 6 of their beers  and each one was a cool project.

What is your favorite cocktail? 

Well for me the best drink on the planet is a shot ( or three ) of chilled Siberian vodka chased with salmon and lemon.  To be more specific :  in January – in Siberia – during a snowstorm – in a warm kitchen – when it’s 39 degrees below zero.   In 1994 when I was a student at Lock Haven University I went to Siberia ostensibly to study but really I just wanted to paint and be alone.  Of course after a month I ended up meeting my wife.  Things were harsh in Russia in the early 90’s and there just wasn’t much of anything anywhere.  But somehow we’d always find a bottle of vodka ( if it wasn’t counterfeit ) and if we had a bottle you always had to have something to eat.  I can vividly remember my wife’s parents turning an eggplant, an orange,and half a loaf of bread into a feast where each drink and bite had a toast and was deeply savored.  So whenever I have a shot of good vodka I always remember that.


How do you balance personal life and work?

It’s all rolled up together and luckily I have a family that is flexible, supportive and understanding.  I don’t turn off or turn on one or the other.  It’s pretty much all on all the time.

Dream trip?

If it’s remote and I can swim I’m good to go.   I live in the mountains so seeing the horizon and the palette of colors that comes with the ocean is always welcomed.

Dream commission?

Large public interior spaces.  I’ve done a few and I love how color can envelope a space without taking it over.  A painting is almost reborn when it is placed in the right spot – a spot I could have never envisioned.

Your favorite host / hostess gift to give?

A small bottle of Siberian vodka ( I know , I know )

Who is your style icon?

My six year old daughter.  She knows what’s what and always has.

What is your most treasured possession?

If we’re talking strictly material possessions then it would have to be my paints and my brushes.  I don’t love them per se, but they allow me to do what I love.

What are you reading?

William Faulkner – “The Snopes Trilogy”

I’ve read all three before but there’s so much in there.  And I also just re-read Hemmingway – “The Old Man and the Sea”, and Kurt Vonnegut ” Slaughterhouse Five”.  

What are you listening to?

This week:  Ornette Coleman,

R.L. Burnside, Patsy Cline, Zappa, Duke Ellington, Stravinsky, Charles Mingus.

What are your favorite blogs / publications?

I’ll be honest after my daughter was born 6 years ago I cancelled my subscriptions and focused more on novels, but I do read the NY Times and BBC.

Follow Kurt on Instagram, Facebook and his website


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