About Cliff Bernie
I was born in Brooklyn in 1948. An upright piano in our Queens Blvd. apartment was the
for my head, hands, and heart...at the age of three.
The move to California in 1955 was preceded by a visit to Juilliard, where I was run through a battery of tests with other unsuspecting kids to determine our so-called potential. Determined to raise "normal" children, my folks politely refused Juilliard's offer to keep me in New York, and I continued my classical piano studies(including six years of oboe)with private teachers, growing up on the San Francisco Peninsula. The desire to become a professional musician was extinguished after a summer's stay at Sun Valley Music Camp(Idaho), a kind of Juilliardesque experience where very serious classically-trained instrumentalists, vocalists, and dancers were treated to the most intense daily regimen of music theory and practice.
Striking out on a completely new path in 1966 at the fledgling Santa Cruz campus of the
California, I was exposed to an equally intense regimen of sex, drugs, and rock and roll,
Vietnam War as a sobering backdrop. Staying on after graduating with college honors. I
avoid the draft by performing alternate service as a conscientious objector; I married,
became a union
carpenter (to develop the needed skills to help build the commune in southwest Oregon a
bunch of us
had purchased), a general building contractor, then, most wonderfully, the father of two
children. And from the construction business I moved to the textile business in the early
'80's, when I
bought my father's decorative fabric company and he went to work for me.
For years I had experimented with a variety of two-dimensional mediums -- painting,
I n 1989, I took a stone-carving class at the Art School of Santa Cruz which, ha ha, "rocked" my world; it's been marble and alabaster(with some bronze editions) ever since. As far as meanings are concerned, I prefer the sculptures speak for themselves; they resonate differently for each viewer. My interest is relationships, and creating the illusion of hot, soft figures born of cold, hard stone.
A Daughter's View
Early on, Cliff Bernie's artistic inclinations were apparent: At two, he completed his first abstract erotic painting, titled, "Lipstick Smeared On Daddy's Napping Ass," and soon after began his study of the piano. He attended the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he found his talents showcased in the dining hall of Stevenson College after being caught stealing food.
His creativity has manifested itself in building large Lego towers for his children to stampede into, Whitewing paper airplanes, and houses; dressing up in women's clothing (and receiving fourth place at the Good Times Ball in 1997); baking award-winning breads; and sculpture in stone.
Notable pieces include, "Breastplate," eight breasts with different colored nipples on a rotating plate, and "Consumed by Lust," a life-sized pink portuguese marble sculpture of a woman's lower body with a hand protruding from her vagina, wherein the rest of him has been sucked (conveniently showcased in the family dining room as a diet aid and abstinence tool for years). Cliffie divides his time between Sherman Street in Santa Cruz, and anywhere else he might be.