We had the good fortune of connecting with Brian Berman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brian, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
I consider myself an artist for peace. I create sculptures which add presence, stillness, and inspire peace and unity. In 2013, I created a sculpture that I titled HOLOS, which symbolized humanity’s Unity with all our diversities. I’ve deeply wanted a means to end conflict and separation. I’ve longed for bringing greater peace and love to relieve human suffering. I could see my design representing a three dimensional peace symbol with that potential. I had the vision of creating cities of peace with my design as a symbol for our One Humanity. I approached my friends here in Ojai and asked them if they would join me in this vision. We found out about International Cities of Peace, so we applied and were designated the 99th International City of Peace. April 2015, the Ojai City Council issued a proclamation Ojai International City of Peace. There are presently 304 International Cities of Peace. I mentor other friends in other cities to take up this vision and become ambassadors for peace. I designed signage to welcome people to our City of Peace, I produced Peace Events with my team mates throughout the year. This is the greatest joy for this chapter in my life. I learned about 3D metal printing and began producing this design as jewelry and small sculptures, so that most everyone could afford one. Back in 1990, when I first started stone carving, carving was a way to spent time with my teenage son. I had just gone through a long litigation over a failed business partnership. I was grieving and depressed, and my sculpting helped me through this dark time as I was able to release my anger. The refinement of the stone soothed my nerves and revealed my healing journey. Each stone I would carve, I would listen to what was calling within. I was creating what one therapist called, “Psychologic Alchemy”, turning my raw emotions into beautiful artworks. There was a an inner peace that emerged. My artwork resonated with patrons and my artwork began to sell. I became aware that I was sculpting archetypes and figurative spirit animals which brought my collectors healing and peace. In the year 2000, my sculpture designs took to geometric minimalism. I began what I called Art for Peace sculptures. I began an “I AM” series which was Internationally popular, I sculpted many in Berlin, Germany. Next came the “Genesis” series, which came out of my reconciliation peace work. Post 911, I started a Compassionate Listening Group, teaching community members to listen from the heart. I then co-facilitated a number of Jewish German Reconciliation Projects, and toured Germany and the US helping with the healing from WWII. Genesis led me to create a “ ortal” series, then a “Peace Portal” series. Each sculpture led me deeper into myself, as my sculpture medium included fabricated steel, bronze castings, and kiln cast glass. When we moved to Ojai in 2011, I was ready for my next purpose, and peace building was where my greatest passion lives. So it was no surprise when the HOLOS design showed up one morning in meditation, I knew that if I acted on that thought and created the sculpture I had envisioned, I would have a proof that “thoughts make manifest”. This was such a powerful recognition, that it became one of the teaching points in my peace building work. Weed out negative thinking! The more I listen within, I know that I’m just an instrument being played by a greater hand than my own. My artwork is my voice, and my designs deliver the message of peace to the world. Thank you.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My art came to me out of loss. As a stone sculptor, the medium is subtractive. What I discovered about my losses, is that I was carving away what is not the sculpture, and on a personal psychological level I was letting go of what is not me. I was releasing long held traumas, wounding of failed relationships, huge losses of wealth and property. These losses became golden treasures. I learned to take the blows of life, as the unseen hand of the great sculptor, shaping me into a useful contributor and the reason for being alive. I am here to love and support others, and to help each person I connect with to reach upwards towards self-realization. The obstacles in my adult life were like roadblocks on my path forward. Stone carving became the metaphor for me carving these roadblocks and turning them into artwork of beauty and peace. This is the gift of my artwork.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ojai is my home, and it is a special community often referred to as Shangrila. Here there are many special places to visit, to hike, and to eat. I would take my friend on a hike or bike ride to the Ventura River bottom, and on return, stop at Farmer and the Cook for some lunch. Then we would head to the east end of the Ojai Valley and visit the Krishnamurti Center. Then back to town for dinner at any of the fabulous eateries. I would choose Sakura for Sushi dinner. The next day we would ride bikes over to the Ojai Valley Inn for some walks around the beautiful grounds. Many options there for food, so I’d leave that up to my friend to choose. The next day, we would drive down the hill to Ventura and do a beach walk, watch the surfers, and then have lunch at “Rice Thai” food. A great location for art lovers to visit in Ventura is Art City Studios, where I worked producing many commissioned artworks. We would then visit with some local artist friends, Carlos Grasso, Ted Gall, Jeff Mann, Susan, Richard, and Wyatt Amend, and neighbor Pam Grau. The list of artists could take the full week, so I’d just suggest and see who my friend would want to meet with. The next day, we would drive up to upper Ojai and visit the property called Meher Mount. This beautiful hill top property has look outs to the ocean and is a spiritual meeting place for those the honor Avatar Meher Baba, the one who coined the phrase, Don’t Worry, Be Happy. If we got permission we would then drive to Meditation Mount, the location which brought my wife and I to Ojai, and revealed after walking through their Peace Portal, that Ojai was the community we wanted to live in. Since the Thomas Fire, Meditation Mount has mostly been closed. To visit the property you have to register on their website. After this long day, I would cook a meal and share the time in our home gallery, showing off my latest sculptures. Downtown Ojai, has many new shops to explore, and a wonderful park, Libbey Park, named about Edward Libbey founder of Libbey glass. From there we would visit the Ojai Valley Museum, where I presently have one of my sculptures on display. For dinner we would go to Pappa Lennons in Meiners Oaks for pizza, pasta, and great gelato ice cream. Before leaving town, we would go to Coffee Connection in Meiners Oaks for the best organic free trade coffee. It was a fun filled week spending time together.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My background as an Artist for Peace began in 1970 when I became a Yoga and Meditation teacher. I had the good fortune of the great peace builder and mentor, Swami Satchidananda, and also Swami Nitya Chaitanya Yati. Both were my greatest teachers that peace is within, and seeking it elsewhere would not bring about peace. I want to acknowledge Robert Lucas, my closest friend and art mentor. The first time I saw his home in Kitsap County, Washington, his sculptures and glass works, I knew I wanted to live like him. It was a couple years later, I carved my first stone sculpture. I want to also acknowledge, the Northwest Stone Sculptors Association, out of Seattle. In my earliest days, I was invited to an International Symposium. I worked with and learned from stone sculptors, masters from around the world. I attended this annual event for 20 years in a row. Other artist which inspired me, Benny Bufano in the San Francisco Bay area, James Washington Jr. who I spoke with and he encouraged me to give it stone sculpting my all. There are many more, who inspired me to be true to myself, and allow the artwork to come through me.
Website: https://www.bermansculpture.com/ https://www.holosamulets.com/
Instagram: 4holos, bermansculpture
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Bermansculpture/ , https://www.facebook.com/BermanArt4Peace, https://www.facebook.com/HOLOSamulets
Brian Berman Lisa Berman