Herman Silverman, patron of the arts, relishes his latest career as gallery owner
by Peter Croatto for the Bucks Co. Herald, February 27, 2014 - Used by Permission
"I want to show you something," says Herman Silverman in an excited tone, like a best friend about to share a secret.
He makes his way to a painting. "This is John Kane," Silverman says. "I want you to see this under the light. You look at that and you say to yourself, 'Look at how he got this light that comes out of this window and that window.' You see how much paint is on there? I mean this is not just splashing, he's really working hard to get those kinds of strokes. That's only $1,900 - that's cheap."
Silverman, the 94-year-old owner of the Silverman Gallery at Buckingham Green in Buckingham Township, wants to sell you some art. The renowned and retired Bucks County businessman, best known for founding Sylvan Pools, is just the one to do it.
Buyers also need help. And there's this: the gallery offers an interest-free payment plan. Just put 25% down on a painting and pay it off over three months. . This payment plan, Silverman explains, is about welcoming more people into the intimidating world of art - specifically the one inhabited by the Bucks County Impressionists Silverman so adores, who capture the county's bucolic charm. He talks about offering "investment-quality" paintings, which often include handmade frames. Paintings are big-ticket items, so why can't they be sold like a car or a living room set? "Nobody does that, so we started it," Silverman said
Yet if you're looking to make money, an art gallery is not exactly a lucrative investment. The retired Silverman, who opened his gallery in 2011, knows this. "I'm trying to help the living artists," he says. "They need wall space and publicity and marketing." The founder and chairman emeritus of Doylestown's James A. Michener Art Museum and legendary patron of the arts can do that.
I'm not selling concrete," Silverman said, referring to his past business endeavor. "I'm not selling a painting, I'm selling the person who's making it. That's the whole thing I look for."
The artists he seeks out, to whom he devotes cherished real estate stir something inside Silverman. The gallery is both sacrosanct and casual, a hangout filled with beautiful work from friends that set him laughing in wonder.
Silverman's right at home here, which is a nice change of pace from a lifetime of work. You can find him here most afternoons, selling the passion.
"This," Silverman says, "is fun."