Words Too Small For A Life So Large
By Tom Wachunas
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. – Psalm 16: 11 -
“…art deepens my person, indeed it is the color of my emotional exuberance.” – Martin Bertman -
Goodnight, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. – Shakespeare (Hamlet) –
His son, Chaim, told those gathered at the July 3 funeral service that words were too small a container for his father’s life. And yet the son’s profoundly moving words made the father live ever larger in my consciousness. Hearing them fully affirmed what I think I had already sensed, but never completely articulated, about Dr. Martin A. Bertman – Mich’l (his Hebrew name) - prior to this bittersweet occasion.
The several long sessions we spent looking at and discussing many dozens of his paintings in our final selection process for his Canton Museum show (which ran from December 2011 to March 2012) will forever remain among my most cherished memories. I was privileged to have been touched by a deeply human essence. Throughout our discussions he often spoke of what he had once called the “striving of selfhood” in reference to his passion for connecting art and philosophy. It occurred to me then that his selfhood was as much an outward as it was an inward- looking practice. Which is to say that when you spoke to Martin, you felt him really listening, as well as his genuine gratitude for the experience. I think he had an uncanny way of making whomever he was engaging feel significant in the moment. In that, he was eminently generous - a champion of personhood.
In fielding my admittedly complicated questions about the lavish and often mystical inner narrative that colors so many of his exquisite paintings, Martin was himself a picture of patience and disarming graciousness. He was neither imperious nor condescending. It was his humility, not hubris, that imbued his answers – indeed his life - with real meaning and relevance, and made our short journey together all the more delicious.
Dr. Martin A. Bertman, gone too soon. I thank God for blessing my life with Mich’l, a true mensch.
Link to review of Martin’s last solo exhibit: