A Lesson From Herb

We’re looking forward to our Kickstarter launch next Wednesday, September 7, and hope to share stories from behind-the-scenes at Team HERB & DOROTHY.  The article below was written by Associate Producer Kiki Murai, who writes about a moment of insight in conversation with Director/Producer Megumi Sasaki.

By Kiki Murai

Do you lead a passive or active life?

Sitting at the large wooden table in the center of the room of “Herb & Dorothy” headquarters in Brooklyn, the Director of HERB & DOROTHY, Megumi, and I were discussing her inspirations for the new film HERB & DOROTHY 50X50 (see a sneak peak here!  Don’t worry, we’ll wait right here until you return), when she shared a valuable piece of advice given by Herb Vogel himself.

First, as a quick intro, and in the name of authenticity I must admit, I’m not an expert on Minimal and Conceptual Art.  Meaning, I don’t exactly know what I’m looking at…yet.  It’s like trying that first sip of black coffee (sans the milk and sugar) and not understanding exactly what tastes good about the stripped-down coffee itself.

In my conversation with Megumi, I found myself searching the universe for ways to phrase the question without sounding too silly.  So this Minimal and Conceptual art…um…what is it? 

I wasn’t alone.

In the follow-up film to HERB & DOROTHY, aptly named HERB & DOROTHY 50X50, one (very honest) man takes a tour of the Vogel Collection and says, “You can’t take just anything, put a frame around it and call it ‘art’.” 

To Megumi, this opinion is an important one to express in the film.

When you’re thrust in front of a Monet or Manet, she says, you know instantly and instinctively that it is “beautiful”.  But when the piece is more abstract, and there’s no universal definition of “beautiful” or “good”, there’s just one thing to do.

According to Herb, you “look and look and look and look.”

And then you look some more.  And you keep looking, because you can’t find anything.

There’s no answer.  You don’t see it.  You’re accessing a different world, and your internal computers need to sync up.  Just let your senses do the work.

Until finally, you make a connection.  (Or maybe you don’t.  And that’s okay too.)

In a vivid illustration of this point, a cameramen on crew told Megumi before starting the shoot that he knows “nothing about art”.  Several weeks later during a lunch break, the same camera operator spoke up, “I don’t know what it is about that piece, but I like it.”

He liked it.  Peering through the camera everyday, he actively sought out the best angles, in the right light, at the right moment.  He looked and looked.  Until one day, he realized he enjoyed the piece of art he was looking at.

No one knows the answer, why one piece moves you to the core and another doesn’t budge a single cell inside of you.  One day, the synapses in the mind connect and you find your way.  A lightbulb flashes on.  Shines brightly just for you.

So the next time you have the opportunity, open up your mind, or your soul, if you prefer.  Imagine what’s going through that mind and heart of yours when you’re gazing at this work.  And this work.  And this work.  (These works can be viewed at the Akron Art Museum, where you can also hear Megumi give a free lecture next Thursday, September 8th.)  And more.

Art is accessible to everyone, as Herb and Dorothy believe.

So, now it’s your turn.  Do you have an experience you can share about a piece of art that moved you?  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

*Photo Credit: From “HERB & DOROTHY 50×50″

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3 Responses to A Lesson From Herb

  1. Much appreciated for the information and share!

  2. Pingback: How To Find A Composer For Your Film. You’ll Never Guess. | Herb & Dorothy

  3. Nora Ohme says:

    “There is more pleasure in loving than in being beloved.” ~ Thomas Fuller

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