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City Manager's Office
Press Contact: Mary Ann Merker, Civic Arts Coordinator, (510) 981-7533


Berkeley, California (Monday, July 30, 2007) - Berkeley resident Ervin Somogyi is best known as a guitar maker; indeed, he is one of the most prominent contemporary American luthiers, a maker of stringed instruments. But he also produces art in wood. The carved artwork is done entirely by hand, with chisels and surgical scalpels, and takes many hours.
The 1947 Center Street Gallery is a public space located in the lobby of the 1930s era building at 1947 Center Street, between Milvia Street and Martin Luther King.  This gallery space is a City of Berkeley building and is part of the Civic Arts Public Art Program.

Somogyi's work is inspired by the techniques, tools and traditions of the musical instrument making, which Somogyi has now done professionally for some forty years. The inlay work derives from the most commonly used technique of decorating Spanish guitar soundholes: this is in the form of inlaid micromosaic rings -- each of which will be made up of some 4,000 pieces of dyed wood. The work is time consuming.

While Somogyi has traveled extensively, he has read even more widely than he has traveled. By these means he has gotten an appreciation for the art of many cultures, and he has brought them into his work. He has borrowed from Japanese designs, Islamic and Celtic aesthetics, European Renaissance ornamental work, prehistoric petroglyphs, Judaica, nature, church windows, architecture of many periods, manhole covers, automobile hubcaps, and anything else that his eye might have landed on and found interesting.

He believes that besides the awful, the ordinary, and the trivial, there is much beauty in the world; one has only to look.

The City of Berkeley Public Arts Program is pleased to present this exhibition in the Lobby Gallery of the City building at 1947 Center Street. The artwork will be on view during the regular building hours:  9 to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, August 10 - November 10.  For additional information about the exhibition please contact Mary Ann Merker, Civic Arts Coordinator at (510) 981-7533.


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