Oklahoma City, OK – Popularized in Los Angeles during the 1970s, Pop Surrealism as an arts movement continued to develop through the 1990s as freelance illustrators and designers searched for new markets created by the evolution and proliferation of the personal computer. Often influenced by pop culture, the genre is marked by a refined technique in illustration combined with a witty sense of humor or sarcasm.

Oklahoma City artist, Nick Hermes’ new exhibit in the State Capitol’s East Gallery reflects the whimsical, sometimes humorous and often “cartoony” nature of Pop Surrealism. Titled, Realistic Cartooning and Imagination of Memory, Hermes’ exhibit is on display now through December 19. The East Gallery is located on the Capitol’s first floor and is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

From a young age, Hermes admired the narrative illustrations of Norman Rockwell, and Charles Schultz, creator of Peanuts. As a student, he studied under Georganne Deen, who studied under native Oklahoman Gary Panter. Hermes’ style is influenced by realistic artists such as John Singer Sargent, Jan Vermeer, and Edward Hopper among others. He takes cues on color theory from works by Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Wilson Hurley, another Oklahoman. The results of Hermes’ thorough education and meticulous observation of the world around him are nostalgic illustrations of a different world, like windows through which to look into dreams.

According to Hermes, illustrating odd situations or dream-like subjects allows him to experience a fun, child-like way of thinking. For example, in Hermes’ painting, Dreams I Walk with You, the artist illustrates the often incomplete understanding of science in a child’s mind.

Explaining why many of his images look like snapshots of the way a child's mind might work, Hermes cited Ben Franklin in stating, 'The golden years are only golden in our memories...I had more fun as a naïve kid than I do as a curmudgeonly adult. As a kid, I was less encumbered by external judgment on my creativity.”

Hermes graduated from Otis College of Art and Design and Whittier College in Los Angeles. He has worked as a freelance illustrator, graphic designer, muralist, cartoonist, and portrait artist over the years. In 2007, he made the decision to devote his time fully to the production of fine art. Hermes is a member of the Individual Arts of Oklahoma and has participated in exhibits at the Invited Artist Gallery in downtown Oklahoma City as well as the Fred Jones Jr. Museum in Norman.

For more information contact Alyson Atchison at (405) 521-2931 or alyson.atchison@arts.ok.gov

Joel Gavin
Director of Marketing and Communications
Oklahoma Arts Council
(405) 521-2931