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  • CRA/LA’S commitment to public art began over 40 years ago.
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 \\Commonspot\internet-site\images\bullet1 Art Projects

George Herms
Portals to Poetry

Project Area: CBD/Financial Core
Project: Citicorp Plaza Phase I
Project Location: Ernst & Young Plaza, 725 S. Figueroa Street
Project Type: Developer


"Portals to Poetry" was a collaborative project between artist George Herms and poet Charles Simic, one of seven sculptural projects by artists and poets at Citicorp Plaza. Four 7' h rusted steel door frames were assembled into a sculpture that mimics the rotating door in the nearby office tower. A rusted 2' d steel buoy crowns the sculpture. Two bronze plaques on each door are engraved with Charles Simic's poems.  Steel cogs embedded in the cement mark the four corners of the door. The piece is installed in a quiet area near a knoll along the south edge of the plaza.

The eight poems  can be read in any order, or they can be read in the following sequence as verses of a single poem  titled "The Doors":

1. Step up to the door
Softly, softly
As if approaching
A house of cards.

2. Bare feet allowed.
Dogs allowed.
The sun and the moon and the evening
Wind allowed.

3. In the shadow of this door
You'll play in the smallest theaters
With a bit of dark gravel
And a solitary white bread crumb

4. The door that thinks
With your eyes
Thinks and thinks
Even while you're away.

5. If you can find a doorstep
Carry your bride over it
And leave your shoes behind
Alone with the night falling.

6. If you see a keyhole in this door,
Put your ear against it
And listen to the sounds of love
On the other side.

7. Don't try to open the door.
The child you were once
Will come out with eyes blindfolded
And lose itself in the crowd.

8. The door opens by itself
While you sleep.
All the keys you ever lost,
All the rusty keys
Lie behind it unused.
The door opens by itself.

Portals to Poetry
Portals to Poetry detail

Artist Profile

Born in 1935, George Herms is one of the founding members of the California Assemblage movement of the late 1950s.  Herms credits poetry as a major influence in helping him express his artistic vision to create a visual dance with found objects.  Herms has been exhibiting his work across the country since 1957 at institutions such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Santa Monica Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Art; Pasadena Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Dallas Museum of Contemporary Art; Walker Art Center; and the Smithsonian Institution.  The artist lives in Los Angeles.