Copper in the Arts

May 2007

Sculptor Jonathan Hertzel Debuts Rooted Family in Atlanta

By Donna Dvorak

Jonathan Hertzel's Roots Jonathan Hertzel's Rooted Family

Photo by Jonathan Hertzel

Sculptor Jonathan Hertzel recently had his Rooted Family, a 15-foot bronze sculpture that weighs approximately two tons, installed in the luxurious, French inspired residential community, Le Jardin, in suburban Atlanta, Georgia. The community is basing its core on sophisticated art, lush gardens and dramatic sculpture while collaborating with the Claude Monte estate to reproduce water lily ponds and drawing inspiration from Giverny, the renowned home and gardens of Monet's estate. Seven internationally known sculptors from the United States, France and Peru, will be represented.

Hertzel, who recently exhibited The Gathering at the James A. Michener Art Museum, in Doylestown, PA, describes his newest bronze sculpture as a family unit.

"It appears like a tree trunk where two parental type figures arise," says the Bucks County, PA based artist. "Within the figures, two children are depicted as small tornadoes swirling in and around the roots of their parents and all emerge from a rooted base. It's like peering into the interior of a family unit where the parent's labor of love harnesses and directs the unbounded energy generated from their children."

Hertzel's primary medium is bronze. He uses the Considine Foundry, in Lansdale, PA, that procures its bronze from the Atlas Metal Supply Co., in Denver, Colorado, and H. Kramer & Co., in Chicago, Illinois.

"Bronze is a wonderful material," he says. "Visually, it's beautiful with a gold colored patina, and a sculptor can derive beautiful tones from it. It's extremely durable for both inside and outside. If you think of Greek sculptures that were created centuries ago, you realize that they're still around because of the bronze. And, actually, bronze is 95% copper. I love the material and it works well for the type of imagery that I create, which involves lots of cantilevered pieces. I deal with many interior spaces, which is ideally suited for bronze pieces."

Hertzel is familiar with the labor intensive process and amount of work involved in casting a piece, but the foundries he deals with are helpful in obtaining the magnificence of the finished product.

"Bronze is very flexible because it takes an array of different colors that can be applied," he explains. "You can create traditional hues like reds and browns by applying the chemical ferric nitrate. Depending on what chemical is applied to the surface, different hues can be obtained. Plus, dyes are available, so it's flexible with different approaches. I build one-of-a-kind pieces in the lost wax process and my models are built directly in wax. The wax is melted from the mold and then the bronze is poured into it. Rooted Family was 44 pieces all cast separately and then welded together."

Currently, Hertzel has another project sitting in his studio and he's been exhibiting at the Lowe Gallery, in Atlanta, Georgia and Santa Monica, California, at the Woodmere Art Museum and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, in Philadelphia, and the Ellerslie Museum in Trenton, New Jersey.


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