Herb Alpert brews unique coffee paintings for online exhibit

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Photo by Dewey Nicks

Herb Alpert is a fearless creator.

During times in which the arts have been stunted by a worldwide pandemic, the renowned Grammy Award-winning artist and philanthropist has continued to sculpt, paint and record original music and share it with the world.

When his organic conscious daughter was moving into her new home, Alpert created a housewarming painting made with real organic coffee. This inspired a series of paintings by Alpert that feature beautiful swirls of coffee swept across the canvas — now on display at Heather James Fine Art as an exclusive online exhibition through June 30.

In addition, Alpert and his wife, singer Lani Hall, have continued to give back to the arts and to those in need through the Herb Alpert Foundation. The couple have spent the Covid-19 lockdown relaxing, cooking, and recording music together in their Malibu home.

What is the process of creating your unique coffee paintings?

HA: Well, it’s like everything else. It’s like making music, sculpting, or painting with acrylics. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to be doing until I do it. And then it kind of starts giving me answers as I’m going along, then it kind of paints itself.

And your daughter inspired these creations?

HA: Well, she didn’t know it at the time, but yeah, she was moving into a new facility and she’s an organic person and I thought I’d do something that would be kind of off the wall and different. I first started painting with organic coffee and I realized I was having fun doing it. And I came up with a nice conclusion for the first painting. Then little by little, I started just doing other paintings and finally got off of the organic coffee, ‘cause there’s no difference in the way the regular coffee seeps into a canvas. So, the coffee paintings are not organic anymore

They’re beautiful. You’ve obviously always been a creator, but it seems throughout this pandemic, you’ve really made a lot of new art and creations.

HA: Yeah, I have over a thousand paintings. I just paint and sculpt and make music just to stay healthy. Cause it’s my way of feeling like I’m a part of something. I’m an introvert, so it’s easy for me to be at home and do those things.

Does anything intimidate you when it comes to art?

HA: Hmm I don’t know if intimidation would be the word. I think people that are not kind to others intimidates me. That’s about it.

Will you be releasing new music any time soon?

HA: I have over 20 things that I’ve recorded since the pandemic actually. So I’m going to weed those out and, you know, do whatever I can to make the music that makes me feel good because when I do that, I feel I’m alive.

I heard that you and Lani have been making dinners together throughout the lockdown.

HA: Oh she’s been cooking. She’s really turned in to a really good chef. She also sings, so we did a couple of songs together. One song I actually arranged to help her to record. It’s one of the songs from ‘Rent’ that she always likes. So I surprised her with a track and then she put her voice on. She had a great time and that’s what I was hoping for.

Wow. Will you be releasing that?

HA: It’ll probably be released. Yeah.

So, what’s on the horizon besides your current virtual coffee painting exhibit?

HA: Well, we had to cancel all our concerts. We were scheduled to do 50 concerts in 2020. We had to cancel everything. We were going through Canada and the UK. We were playing at a famous jazz club in London and places around the United States. So we had to cancel all that and postpone it to the year 2021. And even with that, I’m a little reluctant, because we’re not going anyplace, unless the virus is totally under control.

I know that you and I have talked about the ups and downs of the arts since the pandemic started. The last time we talked was in the summer, and you had doubled your foundation’s awards for artists. What are your plans this year?

HA: Next awards is going to be a little different because we’re not going to double it. We’re going to take the monies that would have been doubled and share it around organizations that are helping people that are less fortunate.

Any specific organizations?

HA: Well, the food banks for sure. LA Food Bank here is really helping a lot of people. And then there’s this other organization called Chrysalis and they help wayward people find new jobs and dress them up and give them an opportunity to fend for themselves.

That’s so wonderful. You seem to always be on this continuous mission to contribute good things to our world.

HA: I think we all should do that. I think that’s part of the deal of being a human being. I don’t know. It doesn’t sound unusual to me. It just sounds like something we all should be doing.

What would you like to tell the world right now?

HA: Let’s all be kind to each other. Kindness is contagious.

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall. Photo by Dewey Nicks.

For more info on the Herb Alpert Coffee Paintings online exhibition, visit: https://www.heatherjames.com/exhibitions/herb-alpert-the-coffee-paintings/

Or visit: herbalpertart.com

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