At the top of my wish list this year is an Hermes scarf by artist Kermit Oliver. However, it will not be in stores until January and the wait list is long, with some wanting 4 or 5 scarves. This is his 16th scarf design and will be a tribute to the wildlife on the King Ranch of Texas.
Kermit Oliver is the ONLY American artist to ever design for Hermes ~ and what an interesting story he has. He was discovered in the 80’s by Lawrence Marcus, the founder of the Dallas department store, Neiman Marcus. Mr. Marcus heard Hermes was looking for an artist and he referred Oliver to them. The rest is history.
Here are some interesting facts about Kermit Oliver:
1. He lives in Waco, Texas
2. He works the night shift at the U.S. Postal service preferring the regularity of the paycheck and benefits, never believing he can make a living as a painter
3. He is over 70 years old, is slight in build and wears a neatly trimmed mustache
4. He is deeply humble, preferring to be anonymous although he is one of the most important living African-American artists
5. His designs are from the outside in ~ he designs the frame
6. His art is shown at only one gallery in Houston, Texas, the art gallery, Hooks & Epstein
7. Each scarf design takes him around 6 months to create
On a personal note, I ran into Kermit awhile back in the frozen foods section of the grocery store. Just to look at him, one realizes what a dear person he is. I spoke to him and asked if he was selling his paintings in Waco. His spirit is kind, calm and very peaceful, matching his appearance. He quietly replied, “Thank you for asking, but I prefer to remain reclusive and I only sell through the Hooks & Epstein Gallery in Houston or the Hermes stores for my scarves.” We talked a little longer and he told me of his show coming up and then said he needed to get home to his wife. He quickly pulled his ice cream out of the freezer and went on his way. As I watched him walk away I thought to myself, what an inspiration to be so extremely talented and yet so humble.