What Does My Art Mean to You?
The Power of an Image
Recently, I asked a number of people who acquired, are in possession of or are somehow in contact with my work three specific questions:
How did you know my art was right for you?
What does it do for you now that you are living with it?
) What, if anything, has changed or happened in your life because of this art?
I did this because I wanted to find out whether my life’s mission to inspire joyful & thoughtful resilience (particularly in women) would manifest itself in the art I create. I wanted to find out if I was on target with being an encouraging and supportive force in the life of those who are in contact with my paintings.
The results have been humbling and mind-blowing at once, and I am so very grateful for the feedback I received. People’s comments validated my being on track with my mission more than I could have ever hoped for and led me to realize that I have a gift that can truly be of service to others.
In sum, this is what people pointed out in terms of the ongoing value my art has in their life. My art speaks to them …
because of its gentleness and serenity which creates a peaceful environment for them;
because my color palette brings them joy;
because it makes them smile every time, they pass it;
because it helps their ability to work in a concentrated fashion;
because it has become part of the fabric of their identity;
because it aligns with an artistic style that they love to begin with;
because it has been of support at some level in their survival while serving as a reminder not to despair;
because it takes them to a happy place whenever they look at it;
because it reminds them that life is not all about work;
because it touches their heart and their soul;
because it reminds them of (and lets them re-live) crucial experiences in their personal lives;
because it transcends culture and country and speaks to them on an emotional level;
because my paintings elicit feelings of connection with humanity;
because they have led to a profounder interest in humanity and how we are perceived by others;
because my use of colors and shapes are reminiscent of another time and place and provide a sense of mystery and whimsy at the same time;
because they manifest that I have found (and proudly express) my own voice;
because they serve as a daily reminder that I followed my passion as an artist (and as such encourage others to recognize their own gifts and bring them to fruition);
because the eyes of my painted subjects speak volumes.
Why am I sharing this? The reasons are simple (though won through a long process of practice and reflection): It serves no one to play small, and, at this point in my life, it’s time to turn up the dial to be even more expansive in my service.
It is in this spirit that I ask that you take a look at the work I present on my website and consider purchasing an existing (or commissioned) piece from me so I can continue and refine my art in sync with the needs of my collectors.
(European Art Studio, Artist & Owner)
"I am very drawn to your work, and it was a tough decision on which piece to choose. What draws me in general to your work is how expressive you create eyes and facial expressions. "Red Jane" to me personified a powerful image of a woman."
-- Shelley Welty
I am drawn to Gerburg Garmann’s art because it speaks to me. The Eyes Have It is the title I would choose to describe much of her work, in that the eyes in her art stand out and capture the viewer, impelling them to explore the canvas and the story that is presented there. The colors are vivid but highlight and contextualize the core idea of her paintings. One of my favorite pieces is The Other God, a blue headed portrait that she created more than a decade ago. I was struck by its resemblance to the Hindu god Krishna, but also by the play of deep color and expression that underlined the divinity of her subject.
-- Milind Thakar
"I first met Gerburg at a First Friday event. I was drawn into her gallery by the expressive portraits, vivid colors of her artwork and her enthusiasm for art and its ability to transform us. I later attended one of Gerburg's introductory acrylic painting classes. Lo and behold, I discovered I could paint and along with Gerburg's marvelous encouragement made me feel good about experimenting with color, brush strokes and that I could be creative on canvas. The class had all the benefits of good entertainment: I laughed, socialized with other participants, learned something new, felt motivated to finish what I started, and developed a passion for something good.
When I first visited Gerburg's gallery, I was immediately drawn to a portrait of a dark-haired girl. At that time, I did not purchase it; however, it was still for sale when I participated in the acrylic painting class. I purchased the portrait since it reminded me so much of my best friend. I have it hanging in a place where I can view the painting every day. That portrait speaks to me.
-- Gabi Hysong
Through her striking use of color, Gerburg’s works evoke an atmosphere of early 20th century Expressionism. I’m particularly drawn to her portraits that feature figures of indeterminate backgrounds, captured in moments of contemplation or seeming transition.
-- Karen Newman
I attended my first First Friday in Indianapolis in February 2020. It was the last event that I attended before the COVID-19 lock down. My now fiancé and I were on our third date and we were enjoying strolling through each studio, chatting with the artists, and taking in all of the thrilling pieces. As we walked through a hallway on the second floor, a small studio caught my eye. I grabbed my boyfriend’s arm and dragged him into the studio. It was filled from floor to ceiling with Picasso-esque paintings, but all of women. It felt warm, welcoming, familiar. Most importantly, it felt like a space of women unafraid to be themselves. My eyes trailed around the room and landed on The Egyptian. The neutral colors were the first thing that caught my attention (I’m a sucker for earth tones), but her eyes are what held me. It felt like she had a secret; some knowledge on how to dig deep into yourself and release the submerged, female power in a fierce and overwhelming way. I thought, “If I stare at her long enough, maybe she’ll share that secret with me”. I left feeling sad that I hadn’t taken her home. I thought about her all throughout the year-plus that followed. When I returned (vaccinated!) in July of 2021, I was floored that she was still there, in the same place. This time, I didn’t make the mistake of not taking her home. Now she lives on my bedroom wall, across from my bed so that she is the last thing I see when I go to bed and the first thing I see when I wake. I am still waiting for her to share her secret with me, but I am patient and open to the wisdom I know she will bestow.
-- Jessica Meister
A few years ago when I was a letter carrier in Crawfordsville, Indiana, I fell in love with Gerburg Garmann's "Girl with Green Box." Athens Arts Gallery was on my route, and I would usually take a few minutes to look at an object or chat with the artist working the front counter.
I noticed Gerburg's painting when a new hang put it near the counter. "Girl with Green Box" is an image of a young woman with long hair and almond eyes wearing a party dress. She is contemplating a green box sitting in her lap. The dark colors and downcast eyes of the woman give the work a somber feel that made me want to explore the mystery of the story told in in the picture.
I looked forward to seeing the painting every day, and one day, it must have been Christmastime, it was wrapped up with a note from Gerburg as a gift to me. I'm still touched by the gift of something I find so beautiful.
Over the course of a few years, I purchased a few of Gerburg's pieces when they went on sale or at charity auction. I especially enjoyed hearing my friends debate why they loved or didn't like her work.
A few years ago, I married again and Gerburg's art didn't fit our new decor, so I gave most of my paintings to my children. I ended up exchanging images of beautiful, interesting women for the real thing. "Girl with Green Box" is now living in Fort Worth.
-- Jerry Whipkey
I am the fortunate owner of four portraits by Gerburg Garmann. Each of them is striking and often elicits remarks by visitors to my home. Each of them depicts a strong and thoughtful woman, a theme too rarely found in art. Gerburg Garmann’s work is expressive, bold and beautifully rendered.
“Montmartre” 17 x 21, purchased at Athens Art Gallery in 2012. This work by Gerburg Garmann features a woman’s face, the eyes obscured by a tilted red hat. It is enticing. Wherever it is hung in a room, the portrait demands attention. The vibrant reds, blacks and warm browns of the painting are inviting and throbbing. These features drew me to the work.
“Dreaming Happily” 22 x 24, purchased directly from Gerburg Garmann in 2017. This portrait is airy and spring-like. The long, light brown hair of the woman depicted in the painting seems to blow gently in the wind. Flowers cascade behind her. Her expression is one of happiness and anticipation, it mixes joy with thoughtfulness. With Gerburg Garmann’s permission, I used a print of this portrait in cards to announce that a wonderful and intelligent young woman had joined my law practice. It provided a joyful and thoughtful way to announce the good news.
“The Drawing Room” 24x30, purchased directly from Gerburg Garmann in 2017. This portrait features a dark-haired, contemplative woman. She may be in pain, she may be suffering, or she may simply be deep in thought. Does she hate the drawing room? Is she listening to someone who is disagreeable? Is she planning her escape? Perhaps she is just worried about the state of the world. Some visitors have a strong negative reaction to this portrait because it is forceful and does not depict joy. Not all of life is joyful. It is powerfully rendered in reds and blues, showing the woman with very dark black hair wearing an ochre-yellow dress. Her hands are awkwardly positioned in her lap, perhaps indicating an uncomfortable situation or difficult thoughts. The dark features of the painting are relieved with light from the windows in the back of the portrait. This work benefits from the viewer’s continued gaze. One notices the intricate details that surround the subject of the painting. Is she sitting on a couch? Luminescent blue upholstery imprinted with gold designs shines behind her. Blue-black and white diagonals, outlined in gold, suggestive of floor tiles fill the bottom of the painting. The drama of the painting is appealing.
“Queen of Spades” 36 x 48, purchased directly from Gerburg Garmann in 2017. This portrait is imposing and queenly. It seems to me to depict a monarch, perhaps a fanciful version of Queen Elizabeth, the First. One senses that her attire is both part of her office and her strength, but not entirely of her choosing. The bright red hair is echoed in the multicolored, feathered, tight-fitting bodice and contrasts sharply with her pale, powdered skin. The large, upturned collar, and the richness of her garments indicate that she is wealthy and powerful. The sense of control of the woman in the portrait is compelling and the execution of the work is detailed and beautiful.
Elizabeth A. Justice
December 10, 2021