Family to hold sale of art from famed sculptor Izzy Sher

Backyard of 1312 Virginia Street.  Photo: John Storey.
Backyard of 1312 Virginia St. Photo: John Storey

On Saturday April 18 and Sunday April 19, Zalman Sher is opening his backyard at 1312 Virginia Street in Berkeley for a cash-and-carry sale of art created by his father, the late Emil “Izzy” Sher (1912-1999), a renowned sculptor who came to the United States from the Soviet Union. The Jewish refugee landed in Berkeley in the early 1950s. In 1954 he opened The Wire Shop on Bonita Street.

Izzy Sher.  Photo courtesy of Zalman Sher and Eric Sahlin photography.
Izzy Sher. Photo: courtesy Zalman Sher and Eric Sahlin Photography
The Wire Shop.  Photo courtesy of Zalman Sher and Eric Sahlin photography.
The Wire Shop. Photo: courtesy Zalman Sher and Eric Sahlin Photography

There, and at his home on Virginia Street, Sher created art. He worked primarily with steel and wire, but no one medium could keep his interest; he painted, worked with clay, and worked with concrete as well. His Virginia Street backyard became the outward and visible expression of a visionary outsider artist, with a steel jungle rising three stories.

Backyard at 1312 Virginia Street. Photo courtesy of Zalman Sher and Eric Sahlin photography.
Backyard at 1312 Virginia St. Photo: courtesy Zalman Sher and Eric Sahlin Photography

It no longer rises three stories above the garden, but many of its component pieces rest against the back fence.

Backyard of 1312 Virginia Street. Photo: John Storey.
Backyard of 1312 Virginia St. Photo: John Storey

Sher’s son Zalman lives in the family house and has curated his father’s art.


Zalman Sher in Izzy Sher's workshop at 1312 Virginia Street. Photo: John Storey.
Zalman Sher in Izzy Sher’s workshop at 1312 Virginia St. Photo: John Storey

Zalman Sher said it is with mixed emotions that he is selling off some of his father’s art. He has lived with, and touched and known, each piece since his father made it, yet the sheer volume of the work creates an imperative that some of it move on.

Work in the Sher yard includes abstract steel sculpture, wire art, furniture, clay, and concrete. Izzy Sher was a member of the Beth Israel congregation; menorahs were a staple of his steel and write sculpting. Some of Sher’s work is also part of the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at UC Berkeley.

Izzy Sher concrete art.. Photo: John Storey.
Izzy Sher concrete art.. Photo: John Storey
Zalman Sher holding clay face by Izzy Sher. Photo: John Storey.
Zalman Sher holding clay face by Izzy Sher. Photo: John Storey
Izzy Sher wire art. Photo: John Storey.
Izzy Sher wire art. Photo: John Storey
Izzy Sher rocking chair. Photo: John Storey.
Izzy Sher rocking chair. Photo: John Storey
Izzy Sher "Salad Bowl" chair. Photo: John Storey.
Izzy Sher “Salad Bowl” chair. Photo: John Storey
Menorah by Izzy Sher. Photo: John Storey.
Menorah by Izzy Sher. Photo: John Storey

The sale on April 18 and 19 is scheduled to run from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Hundreds of pieces of metal sculpture will be for sale on a “cash-and-carry” basis.

For a larger look at Izzy Sher’s art, see Izzysher.com or this Quirky Berkeley post.

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