Artist Don Hershman is set to exhibit his latest collection of original pieces, as part of a retrospective series inspired by the late Victor Arimondi. In the spring show, "Donald and Victor: Under The Influence," the inventive artist will embody his visceral need to pursue interests and creative expressions as he pays loving tribute to his former partner who succumbed to AIDS in 2001. Hershman’s paintings will recognize the unique attributes of Arimondi’s work, featuring a display that is compassionate and reflective of our modern times, as we emerge from yet another pandemic. An opening reception will take place at Salomon Arts Gallery in Tribeca on May 13, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Space is limited, and the event will be carried out in strict adherence to all NY State COVID protocols. The exhibit runs May 14 through June 3, 2021, viewing on Wednesdays through Saturdays 2 p.m. – 6 p.m., or by appointment.
Arimondi was a famed Italian-American model and art photographer whose unique eye and sensuous style captivated the world. At the time of his death, Hershman inherited his estate, including his vast collection of photography and art.
“During our 17 years together Victor steadfastly guided and molded me, and after his sudden death in 2001, I became solidly dedicated to my art, his presence more powerful than ever - a driving force to create something that is no longer a choice for me, but a necessity,” says Hershman. “Today, I’m an active part of the art community in San Francisco, a patron of ART SPAN and mission artists.” In 2020 one of Hershman’s paintings won a jury selection at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco. “This show at the Salomon Gallery brings mine and Victor’s work full circle with 20 new selected paintings from 2019 to 2021, along with a carefully curated selection of 38 photographs, taken between 1972 and 2001, four of which I interpreted into my own paintings, called the D & V Series.”
The upcoming exhibit will serve as a love letter to a luminary who graced the pages of fashion magazines including Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Esquire, and appeared on the runway for many top designers, predominantly Valentino and Cerruti. Arimondi’s determination to turn the camera lens from his face onto the world he saw before him led to famously shooting the likes of Grace Jones, Liv Ullman, and Norman Mailer as well as several portraits of male nudes captured during the pre-AIDS culture of the early 1980s. He also notably focused imagery of the plight of the homeless of San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood suffering during the height of the AIDS epidemic. In his words, "Since I posed in front of the camera for so many years, my experience with talented photographers made me realize a way to express my inner world."
In addition, on May 22, 2021 at 4 p.m. – 6pm, there will be an Art Talk with guest speaker Adam Stoltman, a former New York Times and Time, Inc., photography editor, will be in conversation with Hershman and share remarks on the legacy of Arimondi’s work.
“I first met Don around 2005 or 2006, a few years after Victor’s passing. One of the things which struck me the most was the degree to which Don was motivated, as if carrying a sacred trust, to preserve Victor’s work and legacy, a challenge for any surviving spouse of an artist, and also how tender the wound still was from losing a companion, life partner, and creative force,” states Stoltman. “It is fitting that Don and Victor are showing their work together through this exhibit. United as artists, continuing to hold that space, special energy and love.”
Driven by a desire to continually improve the state of the world, Don Hershman lives out a fascinating dual life in grand succession that inspires his own artwork. He holds unique combined positions as both an illustrious artist and a renowned podiatric surgeon. Equal satisfaction is found when he paints and produces photos, as well as when he performs surgery on patients.
With a keen sensibility to interpret any subject into a more vibrant dimension, Hershman draws inspiration from other creators like David Hockney and photographer Victor Arimondi. Processing references of photographic images he creates freestyle pencil drawings. Then applications of several layers of color help finalize the process. While these become the fundamental building blocks of his work, the final vision always remains a mystery until completion. Hershman’s artwork ranges from stylized portraits of people he knows, to still life paintings with flowers, to animal portraits and occasional abstract work.
Born in 1954 and raised in New York City, he received his BA in Pre-Med with Psychology from State University of New York at Buffalo, and trained in Podiatry at the College of Podiatric Medicine in San Francisco before establishing his own private practice there in the early 1980s. As the painter was building his medical practice, he was also evolving a body of artwork, exploring various media in the form of drawings and paintings, and finding his voice as an artist.
In 1992, Hershman was personally invited by the Spectrum Gallery in San Francisco to participate in a group show. Selling all of his displayed collection, confidence was gained and sequentially inspired his future creative endeavors. He went on to great accolades including the accomplishment of having a painting win in competition at the 2019 Jury Selection at the DeYoung Museum.
Vittorio Maria Arimondi was born in a convent in Bologna, Italy in November of 1942. Later in life while in art school, Arimondi was discovered by an ambitious modeling agent, began fashion modeling to make a living, and soon became a notable member of the international fashion world – first in front of the camera, then behind it.
Arimondi was a genuine artist and ahead of his time. It is impossible to look at many of his photographs and know when they were made. His artistic integrity remained evident throughout his commercial work, and although he occasionally reverted to modeling for a living, he did so only out of financial necessity. More important to Victor than the fame acquired throughout his modeling career was recognition for the singularity of his vision. From a tumultuous childhood haunted by war and abandonment, growing up in the sexual revolution, and experience of the ravages of the AIDS epidemic, Arimondi distilled graceful images reflecting his art, his life, his passions and aspects of the society of which he was a part.
While living in Stockholm during the mid 1970s, Victor and his photography, keenly exploring the male form, were discovered and utilized by Editor William Como, who was creating a new genre of magazines as After Dark arrived on the scene. Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine, to which Victor often contributed photography, quickly followed. Subsequently, Victor relocated to New York, and in 1979 he was commissioned to provide images for a book of male nudes reflecting the emancipation of America’s sexual revolution – The Look of Men, published by Color Library Int., in 1980. Victor had arrived in San Francisco to shoot the book during a time of new growth and exploration in the gay community, and he became well known, both in his community and worldwide. This prompted increased demand for his photography from magazines, such as ongoing contributions and covers for The Advocate.
After devoting much of his creative energy to the male figure, Victor shifted his focus to the streets, where he photographed workers, homeless and other struggling people in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, and his approach to this work belied his inherent gift for social commentary.
About Salomon Arts Gallery: In 2003, Salomon Arts Gallery was created to showcase the works of emerging artists. The center hosts talented artists in many fields including painting, sculpture, drawing, and printmaking. They also serve as a venue for dance, music, poetry, and film. Salomon Arts Gallery has supported the creative arts industry and those who have been living and working in Tribeca for over 40 years (since 1975). Instagram: @salomonartsgallery, Facebook: salomonartsgallery.
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