VU art museum vying for Gurfinkel collection
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent March 30, 2013 10:38PM
Hermann Gurfinkel with one of his pieces, photographed June 18, 1997, at his Valparaiso home. | File Photo~Sun-Times Media
The Brauer Museum of Art at Valparaiso University wants to know what works and jewelry by Hermann Gurfinkel remain in the local community that could be borrowed for the exhibit planned for the summer of 2015.
Contact Gregg Hertzlieb, the museum’s director and curator at 464-5365 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated: May 1, 2013 1:40PM
The Brauer Museum of Art at Valparaiso University is turning to the public to gather artwork and jewelry created by the late Hermann Gurfinkel for an exhibit of his work scheduled for the summer of 2015.
Gurfinkel, a native of Germany who ultimately settled in Valparaiso in the 1970s, died in 2004 at the age of 87.
His artwork dots the region’s landscape, from the “Man of Steel” sculpture in Harrison Park in Hammond, to “The Reader” at the Lake County Public Library in Merrillville, to Temple Israel in Valparaiso. There, his works include candelabra, or menorah, on the exterior of the building, as well as artwork inside, including a small version of his “Lion of Judah” sculpture. Gurfinkel’s “Mother and Child” sculpture can be found at LaPorte Hospital.
Gurfinkel, who was Jewish, escaped Hitler’s Germany and made a new life for himself in the United States, according to Trent Pendley, past president of the Indiana Jewish Historical Society. He was a jeweler on Oak Street in Chicago before settling in Valparaiso.
Gurfinkel received Germany’s highest civilian award in 2000, the Cross of Merit, during a ceremony on the VU campus.
Pendley is the impetus behind the exhibit of Gurfinkel’s work.
“There’s still people in the community who remember him and knew him,” Pendley said, adding he’s concerned that those people will move from the area and the opportunity to borrow Gurfinkel’s works for an art show will be lost.
The museum is “beating the bushes” to find Gurfinkel’s work for the exhibit, said Gregg Hertzlieb, the museum’s director and curator.
“That two years is going to go by quick,” he said, adding he was familiar with Gurfinkel’s work in Hammond and at the library. “I just thought of them as fixtures in the community, but never went the next step.”
Hertzlieb already has some contacts in the community who are willing to loan their pieces of Gurfinkel’s work for the museum’s exhibit, but he is looking for more.
“It really connects. It brings the past and traditional heritage to light, and they’re terrific pieces,” Hertzlieb said.