Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 24
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
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It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton

PLACE OF JOY: “We want to make the gallery very alive, very exciting and a real part of the community. We want it to be a place with a program to involve the community, including the school children. We want to keep it fresh and new, a hub of energy. Above all, it should be a place of joy.” Founder and owner Herman Silverman and director Joan Perkes of The Silverman Gallery of Bucks County Impressionist Art, are shown at the gallery’s opening.

New Silverman Art Gallery in Bucks County Exhibits Work of Award-Winning Artists

“Things happen if you are available for them to happen.”

That statement is a true reflection of Herman Silverman’s view of life, and it has certainly characterized his own willingness to reach out to new opportunities, both in his career as an entrepreneur and in his long-time role as a patron of the arts.

Now 91, Mr. Silverman has plunged into a new adventure with his typical enthusiasm and energy. “My thought was ‘Why can’t we give the new emerging artists a place to exhibit?’ I knew a lot of these artists, and I asked them what they needed. They said ‘We need wall space and publicity.’ So, I said, ‘why not, just do it.’”

With the concept of affordable, investment-quality original art as the foundation, Mr. Silverman opened The Silverman Gallery of Bucks County Impressionist Art in March of this year. Located at Buckingham Green, 4920 York Road (Route 202) in Buckingham, Pa., the gallery focuses on the creations of four recognized, award-winning artists whose work reflects the early school of Pennsylvania Impressionism.

“Core Four”

The “Core Four”, as they are known at the gallery, are Alan Fetterman, Joseph Barrett, Jennifer Hansen Rolli, and Myles Cavanaugh. Collectively, they have exhibited extensively, and won numerous awards.

“I have bought art, and am a real collector, but this is my first gallery,” says Mr. Silverman. “It’s an experiment. I hope to prove that if it’s the right kind of environment and artists, people will buy art, even at a time when galleries are closing, and there are questions about whether people will buy art. I want to do all I can to help the artists.”

Consequently, he has established a gallery with specific guidelines and stipulations. “I wanted to have the best-looking gallery I could,” he explains. “I believe this is what a gallery should look like — the space, the lighting, the atmosphere. We also have a contract with the artists. They will work with us exclusively for one year, and we exhibit their work exclusively. We have 30 to 40 paintings from each of them. This way I can provide the artists with on-going wall space and publicity.”

Mr. Silverman clearly has struck a chord, both with the artists and the buying public. In the first six weeks of the gallery’s existence, 42 paintings were sold.

“Certain Magic”

“Many of our clients are collectors,” observes Mr. Silverman. “A woman came in and bought three paintings at once, then came back the next day and bought another. We appeal to people who like fine things, including those who are new to art and just learning about it. We offer the art, which will appreciate, at reasonable prices.”

“I think there is a certain magic here,” adds Joan Perkes, director of the gal-lery, who has a strong background in the field of art. “Herman’s concept is original. And we can make it doable for the artists and the clients. We can arrange a payment schedule for people so they can pay over time, if necessary. When you collect art, you are investing, but not just financially. I think buying art is an annuity for the soul.”

Upon entering the gallery, the visitor is dazzled by the extraordinary spectacle of colors. It is inviting and entertaining. One excellent painting after another captures the eye — and the interest.

The artists’ work offers a variety of techniques, use of color, and style, with all, however, focusing on the beauty of Bucks County. Landscapes, houses, farms, and waterscapes are on display. Some feature vibrant colors and heavy impasto; others are hushed, with muted snow scenes or misty fields.

The viewer can sometimes “hear” as well as see what the artist has created, notes Ms. Perkes. “There is a sound to a painting. The viewer should listen for the sound; if you listen carefully, you will hear it.”

These artists have created works of art that can stir the senses on many levels.

Many Years

Mr. Silverman is pleased that the response has been so favorable so soon. “I enjoy the reaction I am getting from the people who come in. They love the way the gallery looks and the atmosphere, and they love the paintings. I am so happy that I can help the artists in this way and give them this opportunity.”

A long-time resident of Bucks County, Mr. Silverman has been helping artists for many years. He first became interested in art as a boy in Philadelphia, when he visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rodin Museum,

His career took many turns, including farming, real estate, and ultimately, he founded, owned, and operated the highly successful Sylvan Pools company. Along the way, he never forgot his love of the arts.

After serving in the army in World War II, he came home to Bucks County, and a chance meeting forged a long friendship with author James Michener. Mr. Silverman was largely responsible for the establishment of the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, serving as founding member and now as chairman emeritus, board of trustees of the museum. He is also author of the book Michener and Me.

Michener Museum

Mr. Silverman was a member of The Bucks County Arts Council, and founded the Bucks County Artmobile. “Forty years ago, I was on the Arts Council, and came up with the idea of the Artmobile. I urged the Council to get a trailer, turn it into a museum, and travel to all the schools. It’s still operating.”

Regarding the Michener Museum, Mr. Silverman was equally instrumental in making something happen. “I said to the county officials, ‘Why can’t we have a good museum in Doylestown?’ So, the county gave us an old jail, and Michener gave us his name. Now the museum is 20 years old.”

He has high hopes for The Silverman Gallery, and looks forward to seeing it expand to other areas. “If this works, we’d like to take it to new places to show Bucks County artists’ paintings. My hope is that the creation of The Silverman Gallery will be a catalyst to inspire other people to collect the quality original work of today’s emerging artists at affordable prices.”

All four artists’ work is on exhibit at all times, and in addition, special exhibitions are held. “Alluvial Days” featuring the work of Joseph Barrett, is currently offered through June 30. Mr. Barrett not only paints, he designs, hand-carves, and signs many of his frames as well.

The gallery is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday by appointment. (215) 794-4300. Website:

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