Thursday, July 10, 2014

In Memoriam

Sterz Imrie

Several years ago I met Sterz Imrie for the first time - he was looking at a work space in my loft building in Rochester, and it wasn't long before he moved in with his young son, Calder.  I think Sterz moved up from Brooklyn as I had done, and it was obvious from this first encounter that he was an unusual sort, - he was recovering from an operation that left him partly disabled, and I later found out that he had been exposed to a toxic pesticide and had suffered from a brain tumor.  We shared our stories, and he looked around my studio and became my next-door-neighbor.  Bringing up his young son in this rough workspace, while trying to develop artworks, and stabilize his condition was more than a full-time occupation, and he needed help.

I once had to lift him up because he collapsed on top of his son, and there were some other incidents, but basically Sterz had courage and strength and wasn't shy.  Sterz also had some real world experience in fine art though he said that he was self-taught.  He made serious - thought provoking installations and videos which still stay with me.  Sterz also spent some time as an artist-in-residence here at the Cobblestone School.

I once interviewed him for a book I was writing and I went to see his art when he had shows in our area.  He made an installation once in the Hungerford Building that consisted of suspended chunks of ice in plastic sleeves that steadily dripped down into big circular pans that caught each drop and amplified the sound for anyone who came to view what was happening.  This was a solemn, profound, and moving experience to witness this piece of art.  There were other shows including one at The Rochester Contemporary Art Center, and many others in Miami and in Europe.

Sterz was a sculptor who made videos, and he explored the use of the computer as a tool when it suited him - but he could just as easily use a fan blowing on a sheet of plastic and make something out of that.

The important thing for me was his character - this was a person of great courage and conviction, and through his ordeal ( several operations ) he never wavered in taking care of his son who was growing up, and also he was engaged with the world as a thoughtful, and respectful person as you will ever meet.  He will be missed, passing away on July 4th; he leaves behind many indelible memories, and we are stronger for having known this man and shared this space and time.