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Artistic Challenges

March 30, 2015

Houston-based artist Howard Sherman knows that, at first glance, his paintings seem “bombastic” and “loud,” but he asks that people take a second and third look.

“Everything is very purposeful in the work, even if it seems very haphazard or slapdash,” he said during an ASU gallery talk on March 12. “I’m interested in making work that is really emotive and powerful.”

Howard ShermanHoward ShermanSherman, an internationally known abstract expressionist artist, was the featured guest for ASU’s second Henry Edwards Distinguished Lectureship in Art. The lectureship, which includes an exhibition of the artist’s works, a public lecture and the gallery talk, was launched in 2013, thanks to the Edwards Family Trust. Established in 1992 by Joseph Henry Edwards and Winona Edwards of San Angelo, the trust provides funding for the lectureship and scholarships for ASU’s art program in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts.

Randy Hall, interim department chair and associate professor of art, said a committee selected Sherman for the lectureship.

“The mission of the gallery and the lectureship is to expose students and the community to works of art that may be challenging and not available in our local community,” Hall said. “In the case of Howard Sherman, many of our students are interested in graphics, animation and cartooning. He is an artist who combines cartoon images with the abstract expressionist style that makes his work very contemporary. It is post-modern work, and we thought the students would respond to that work and also be challenged by it.”



The large, 5-foot by 6-foot paintings combine many elements of modernism and pop art with historical references to other art styles and movements, particularly the movements of Dada and surrealism. Electric yellow shapes and hot pink splashes tangle with squiggles and smudges of black, gray and paper bag brown. Small framed works in paper feature elements of collage and cut paper and help illustrate the artist’s progress toward the large works.

“Ideally, you walk around the room and your eye flows from one to the other,” Sherman said. “A starting point of the work is my interest in color combinations and theory. The palette is playful, funny, lighthearted, even feminine, to offset the masculine aspects. You use different parts of yourself to create different parts of a single artwork. There’s a real challenge there.”

Sherman’s work is featured in several museum collections and is on permanent display at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. His art was selected for the cover of a recently published book, “Texas Abstract: Modern + Contemporary” by Michael Paglia and Jim Edwards.

“The work may appear very spontaneous and arbitrary,” Hall said, “but there are very strong historical elements. The scale of these works, the physicality, the materials that are used, the opportunity to view these works first hand, these are very important aspects of the exhibition and the lectureship.”

“It’s important that we continue to create these opportunities for our students,” he added, “because it’s difficult for some to visit the galleries and museums in other cities, states and countries.”

Sherman, for his part, enjoyed sharing his process and his thinking with the art students.

“I’m not making art for art academics,” he told them. “I’m making art for people, and I think if they spend more time in front of it, they would see that. There’s a lot to unpack, but sometimes you can come up with something that transcends language.”

More information on Sherman’s art and career is on his website.

For more information on the Edwards Distinguished Lectureship, contact the ASU Department of Visual and Performing Arts at 325-942-2085.