Hel­mut Löhr,

Pasatiempo - - Lis­ten Up -

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

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