piezoelectric microphones and people “playing” the glass discs with felt-covered mallets. “We had intense spotlights we purchased especially for this, so there were cast shadows of the deconstructed text and the circles,” Zane recalled. “These pieces moved, and the microphones picked up the vibrations on the wires. They played the wires, and they used the mallets to play the glass like a steel drum. It was eerie and primitive, the deep bass and the high-pitched sounds of the wire. The performance was just under an hour, and we had 60 or 70 people, who were also invited to play the discs.”
The common thread through most of these works — and hundreds more created over three decades — was Löhr’s “visual poetry.” But what was his motivation? “I think for one thing he believed that there was no language to express that which is inexpressible, and he believed in silence,” Bart said. “I think it was a conceptual, philosphical, and spiritual quest for meaning. I know he believed in silence, so there’s something about deconstructing the text that dissolved all that meaning into a philosophical quest.”
Zane said, “When he did the deconstructed text he spoke about Everyman’s story, and this was his way of giving people some place to start, but bringing their own emotions and experiences and backgrounds into the piece itself, and producing meaning out of their own personalities.”
She had visited Löhr’s studio in Rowe. Asked about it, she said, “Oh,” and looked up as if enraptured. “This man lived his entire life, it seemed, as close to anyone that I’ve ever met in a way that he was entirely true to himself. His whole house was like an installation. His work was there. His brushes were on a work table. Everything was pristine and organized. It was just an incredible experience for me to be there.”
Zane brought out another aspect of Löhr’s life when she said, “He was always interested in all things natural. He was doing a lot of individual research into the effects of light on the human body and the effects of music.”
Löhr grew his own organic vegetables in Rowe. And he was concerned about global warming. “Much of his life was about healing and people who had been affected by all sorts of technological suffering, the radiation and effects of cellphone energy,” Conn said. “This was really a career of his, reversing those sorts of energy cycles in people’s bodies. He traveled around the world consulting on that, and he made devices he would bury on the land trying to reverse electromagnetic energy flows that affect people negatively. He installed a lot of those at Zane Bennett Gallery when he exhibited there.”
“We have five of them that are buried, and we take one that is portable to our art fairs,” said Amanda Olesen, gallery administrator at Zane Bennett. “We think of them as proton collectors. They’re just little capsules that you plug into the wall and based on the energy that Helmut was able to consciously collect, as he put it, they transform the vibe. It’s sort of like a feng shui idea, but on a more elemental level.
“We have had people tell us when they come in, even at art fairs, ‘Wow, you know, there’s a really great vibe here,’ and we always attribute it to the little collector.”
Zane said a memorial service is being held this month in Düsseldorf, and his artist collaborators — including Bart, Davis, and painter Alexandra Eldridge — have arranged a memorial service in Santa Fe. That will be held at 2 p.m. on May 15, at Zane Bennett Contemporary Art Gallery, 435 S. Guadalupe St., 982-8111.
Diptych With Deconstructed Text, 2003, lead, wood, and vinyl, 9.25 x 12 inches Below, Cobalt Blue Diptych With Scroll (detail), 2007, 24 x 41 inches Bottom, Untitled II, 1993, iron dust on vintage photograph, 6.25 x 4.25 inches