Jazz art: Trumpet legend Herb Alpert works in bronze, not brass

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The artist in his studio

Herb Alpert and one of his totems
Herb Alpert and one of his totems

The legendary trumpeter Herb Alpert is best known for his Tijuana Brass.  But all the while he’s been making music, he’s also been making fine art.

Tomorrow night, you can see a sampling of his paintings and sculptures on display at the Robert Berman Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica.

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Trumpeter as public artist

Coincidentally, you can walk around the corner (be careful!) to Olympic Boulevard and see three of Alpert’s large, bronze totems in the median near 26th street.

Set against the backdrop of the Expo Line construction, workers were putting the finishing touches on the installation this afternoon.  They’ll be there for the next year, thanks to the Santa Monica Arts Commission.

The artist in his studio

Alpert told me he didn’t start making art to display, necessarily.  He also stressed the importance of finding one’s own style.

Years ago on a visit to the Sistine Chapel, he found himself thinking:  Why bother painting, when there’s this?  Rather than imitating, he tapped into his right brain and began creating.

A totem in the gallery, and one at Alpert's coastal Malibu estate
A totem in the gallery, and one at Alpert’s coastal Malibu estate

Here’s our conversation from today at the press preview for the show: