Elusive Time

The journey to Taos for artists Lucy and Dirk Herrman always seemed to them a foregone conclusion.

By Dena Miller

“It was just an intuitive thing, that somehow I just knew we would live in New Mexico,” Lucy said, and Dirk concurred. “We moved a lot but on our first visit here we knew this was going to be ‘home.’ It was an immediate, powerful draw.”

‘Thunderhead 2,’ oil on canvas by Dirk Herrman

Speaking with them at their home and adjacent studio nestled on six acres of pristine forest, it is easy to fathom both their attachment to their land and its unmistakable influence on their art. “Elusive Juncture” is Lucy’s collection, and Dirk’s “Time Standing Still” will be the season’s featured exhibitions at magpie Gallery, where owner Georgia Gersh spotlights the work of local artists of renown.

“While I am primarily a studio painter, I am immersed in the nature just outside my windows,” Lucy said, her eyes sweeping across the majestic panorama outside their door. “Nature is my touchstone and my paintings are an investigation of patterns found in it.” In particular, she noted her decades-long fascination with trees. “Trees are an intuitive subject for me, as they symbolize our spiritual connection with the world, and bring so much joy and energy to our lives.”

Of her process, Lucy said, “Before beginning a painting, I cross-reference sources, from my own photographs to direct observation. Once I have selected a source, I abstract the image to its most fundamental structure and then bring it back. I choose colors inside and outside of the natural world to distance the image to its basic form, inviting a direct relationship to the form.”

‘Connect,’ oil on canvas by Lucy Herrman

Her canvases are brought to life with bold color and the textural interest provided by her expert use of palette knife and brush, and the result is a series of abstractive and playful paintings that delight the eye and the imagination.

“Elusive Juncture” will be available through the end of May, at which point “Time Standing Still” will be magpie’s featured exhibition until the end of July.

Since their move to Taos, Dirk’s artistic focus has shifted from figurative work to the exploration of local landscapes. Now, “My work investigates the great vistas of the land, sky and buildings of New Mexico\which, to me, have profound human character,” Dirk explained. “Their shapes are dramatic and organic; they have weight and density; they are uniquely New Mexico.

Like his wife, Dirk is inspired by the visual joy he experiences from their expansive property and which is reflected in his stylized, contemporary paintings. “The skies really are that blue. The clouds really are that unique. The mountains really do jump out of the flat land. And the round hills dotted with sagebrush bushes are everywhere,” the wonderment of which hasn’t left him despite their many years here.

“By looking for what is true and expressive — not necessarily what is ‘real’ — I hope to convey to the viewer a sense of New Mexico’s calming influence. A sense of time standing still: a time that has passed but is not yet gone.” 

‘Hills and Sky 6,’ oil on canvas by Dirk Herrman

After the long pause of the pandemic the Herrman’s are emerging with more passion for and engagement with their art. The past year, they agreed, was an unexpected joy: a no-excuses immersion into the creative and meditative practice of painting that was in many ways transformative and which culminated in their latest series of paintings.

“We even reinvented ourselves with a new creative venture,” Dirk laughed. “Lucy, who also had a career as a cooking teacher and is a food columnist for The Taos News, especially loves to cook for friends and family but, with the pandemic, it simply was not possible to gather. Our son, Nathaniel, a film maker in Los Angeles, suggested that we create a YouTube cooking channel so Lucy could share her love of food with others. Thus, ‘Lucy’s Kitchen’ was born.”

The couple is also looking forward to resuming their active lives in the community. “We found our place in the art community, certainly,” Lucy mused, “but also with so many others whose company we miss and who have grounded us here.”

Home, they say, is where the heart lives.  For Lucy and Dirk Herrman the heart connection with Taos is unequivocal, and it’s yours to share through their paintings.

Please visit their work at magpie, located at 218 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Unit B, Taos, N.M. 87571. For further information call (781) 248-0166, or visit magpietaos.com.

To learn more about the artists, visit dirkandlucy.com.