The Union features Allan Berman

allan berman with forever marilyn
Photo by Kael Newton at The Union

by Kael Newton, Intern with The Union

Allan Berman’s life flashed before his eyes, and what he saw would become his greatest work.

Berman, who has lived in the Penn Valley area since retiring in 1998, had been driving up to Grass Valley in January 2015 with his wife Janie to have dinner, when an oncoming driver swerved into their lane, colliding with the car head-on. The collision, which had been caused by a deer entering the roadway, was horrific.

Berman and his wife suffered significant, though non-life threatening, injuries. The other driver, a 69-year-old woman, sustained injuries that would keep her in the hospital for several weeks, although she would eventually recover.

“It was almost like slow motion, and I remember thinking to myself, ‘Is this it?’” Berman said of the crash.

Although initially he felt no significant signs of outward injury, Berman soon developed severe pain in his neck that would keep him in physical therapy for six months. For Berman, this was far more than merely a physical trauma; the inability to create art was emotionally debilitating as well.

The trauma of the crash ended up being the trigger that launched Berman to the greatest heights of his career. Following his recovery, Berman would go on to paint portraits of John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe that represent the greatest of his already impressive portfolio.

Berman is a lifelong artist, since his first visit to the DeYoung Museum when he was 10 years old. But family life, raising four daughters in the Bay Area, made it difficult to support himself and his family solely through his art. Thus, for most of his life, despite extensive training in oil and pastel painting from a master painter, Berman did not pursue art professionally.

It wasn’t until 1997 that everything changed. Berman’s father, mentor Roberto Lupetti and a close friend all passed away, and a change had to be made. Despite heading a highly successful business, without art in his life Berman said he lacked joy and creativity.

“I wasn’t painting, I was just working, working, working; I lost all my creativity,” he said.

It was this malaise, as well as urging from both his father and mentor, that led Berman to relocate to Penn Valley and take up painting full time.

allan berman in studio
Photo by Kael Newton at The Union

In the years that followed, Berman won numerous awards and becoming a renowned pastel painter in classical realism. He has been described as the “better-than-life” artist for his incredibly realistic depictions, and yet even with the accolades he never felt that he had achieved his life goal of creating his absolute best work.

“I wanted to be the very best that I possibly could,” said Berman in reflecting on the period leading up to his discovery of a JFK photograph that inspired his portrait of the iconic figure. The photograph depicts Kennedy appearing to pray; Berman said that the emotion in the piece “really spoke to me.”

Berman, now 74, said after the devastation of the car crash nearly 18 months ago, and the painful stretch that followed, he crafted “Forever Marilyn,” a portrait of the famous actress and cultural icon.

The striking visage of Monroe, after a protracted struggle to acquire the rights to do so, is set to be released for sale to the public in the quantity of 250 copies, more than 40 of which have already been purchased.

“After (the crash) happened,” he said, “it just kind of brought me to the next level in my art.”

Read full article at TheUnion.com

Celebration – Spooner Summit

Cover of the Tahoe Quarterly Fall 2007

Allan Berman’s photograph “Celebration – Spooner Summit” was chosen as the cover of the Fall 2007 edition of the Tahoe Quarterly Magazine.

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Buddy Holly Still Rockin’

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Lake Wildwood artist Allan Berman stands with his pastel painting commemorating rock ‘n’ roll star Buddy Holly. His work has been embraced by Holly’s widow, who plans to help him market and distribute prints of the painting.

Lake Wildwood artist and singer Allan Berman isn’t afraid to stretch himself.

“Everything I’ve ever gone after, I’ve gotten,” he noted.

Case in point is his most recent painting, two years in the making, which Berman calls his “best ever.” Titled “True Love Ways,” the painting is a tribute to rock ‘n’ roll legend Buddy Holly.

Berman never dreamed, however, that the finished product would be endorsed by his idol’s widow, Maria Elena Holly. It took Berman a year of negotiations with her lawyers before she called Berman.

The title “True Love Ways” refers to the song Holly wrote for his wife.

“‘True Love Ways’ was the song that when Buddy performed, he always dedicated to me,” said Maria Elena Holly by phone Monday from her home in Dallas.

“Allan’s painting deeply touched me. It brought back so many memories. When I saw the red roses in the painting, it brought back the memory of when Buddy presented me with red roses and proposed to me,” Maria Elena Holly added. “I am so happy that Allan produced this beautiful painting. He is so multitalented. I know it is from his heart and soul.”

In conjunction with the painting, Berman also produced a CD of 10 Buddy Holly songs, covered by Berman.

Berman and Maria Elena Holly will market and distribute 100 hand-embellished canvas prints, signed by both of them. The prints are currently displayed in an art gallery in the Palm Springs area and at the Buddy Holly Museum in Lubbock, Texas.

A certificate of authenticity, copies of Maria Elena Holly’s letter to Berman, a photograph of her signing the print, and Berman’s tribute CD will accompany the print.

All the Buddy Holly items featured in Berman’s painting – from the Fender guitar to Holly’s original record of the song – were purchased by the Lake Wildwood resident for several hundred dollars.

“Before I could even start painting, I had to get on the Internet and find all of the items I wanted to use. I spent seven months researching before I ever touched the canvas,” Berman said.

To Berman, though, that was research time well spent.

“Buddy Holly has been a huge idol of mine ever since I was 14 years old. I watched him on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ and bought all of his albums,” Berman said.

“He was unique in that he wrote his own music and defied what the music industry required. He is one of the founders of rock ‘n’ roll and has influenced some of the greatest artists of all time, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.”

It wasn’t until Berman retired in 1998 that he began painting full time. Since then, Berman has achieved significant recognition for his art. His paintings have been exhibited throughout the United States and Canada.

“Allan Berman is one of the finest pastel artists in the world,” said Kay Swena, director of the Water’s Edge Gallery in Rancho Mirage, where Berman’s works have been displayed since October.

Berman has received awards of excellence from the Pastel Society of America, the Pastel Society of the West Coast, and the Pastel Society of the Sierras, among others. He has also received the Nevada County Fair “Best of Show” award three years in a row.

In addition to painting his idols, Berman for the last 20 years-plus has also impersonated them. Other idols are Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson and Neil Diamond. He won second place in a Bay Area Star Search competition in the early 1980s for his Elvis and Holly covers and has performed all over, including at former President Bill Clinton’s televised 50th birthday party.

Berman hopes to open his own gallery in the Palm Springs area, where he lives half the year.

“I would display my work during the day, and then on nights and weekends I would perform,” Berman said.

For now, though, Berman is excited about meeting Maria Elena Holly in person.

Berman, who has only spoken to her on the phone, will visit Buddy Holly’s widow when he donates a print to Texas Tech University Aug. 28.

“I’m going to give her a big hug,” Berman said. “I’d like to sing to her ‘True Love Ways’ if I can get through this without crying.”

Read full article at TheUnion.com

“True Love Ways” opens the door to a collaboration with Maria Elena Holly

After creating the painting “True Love Ways”, honoring the late, great Buddy Holly, I sent a copy of the painting to his widow, Maria Elena Holly. She loved the painting so much, that we formed a collaboration to market the reproductions. She invited us to the Annual Buddy Holly Symposium in Lubbock, Texas, where we met for the first time. Over the years we became close friends, and keep in touch often.

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Better than life

Pastel Artist – January/February 2002

Total realism is Allan Berman’s favorite form of expression. Discover how he uses pastel pencils to put the finishing touches on his life-like still lifes.

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A Long Path to the Big Splash

InformArt Winter 2001

“In some people’s view, still life artist Allan Berman is an overnight success. It was just two years ago he began to follow his long-held dream of being a full-time artist, and, during that very first year, began gathering awards, such as the Pastel Society of America’s much sought-after Signature Status.

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