Gazette Ceases Publication: Donates Archives to LHS

In 2010, the Larchmont Gazette ceased publication. In 2011 the publishers donated all contents to the Larchmont Historical Society, which will continue to make the Gazette archives available online.

All inquiries should be addressed to the Larchmont Historical Society.

32 comments - (Comments closed)

Larchmont Artist’s Work to Hang in National Portrait Gallery

Larchmont artist Patricia Horing is to have a painting shown at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Her work is one of 49 finalists, out of 3,300 entries, in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2009. The subject of the portrait: local plumber Herman Elvy.


Art of the Service Call

How did Mr. Elvy, 55, owner of Jacan Plumbing, Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Inc., in New Rochelle, come to strike a pose? With his Jamaican accent, Mr. Elvy explains, “Patty had a shower she needed me to fix and while I was doing that she asked me, ‘Herman, can I paint you?’ and I said, ‘Well…’  and after a pause I said, ‘Go for it!’”

“He’s right,” affirms Chicago-born Ms. Horing, 44. “Herman just dropped his equipment, said, ‘Where do you want me?’ and posed.”

High Water Marks

Judges who scored Ms. Horing’s painting as a winner include Wanda M. Corn, professor emerita in art history at Stanford University, and Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker art critic.

The portrait is part of the artist’s “Omnicient Narrator” series, explained on her website as: “Portraiture merges with text, as artist becomes author, gossip, and commentator.”

A 12″ x 16″ close-up  (oil, collage, and pencil on panel) of Mr Elvy’s face, the portrait’s large text confides, “HERMAN OOZED CHARM LIKE A LEAKY PIPE DRIPS WATER.”

How does Mr. Elvy feel about a less than gushing remark soon to go global? “Patty called me and said, ‘Herman, come look at your portrait.’  And I did. And I said, ‘Oh my God.’ And she said, ‘Do you like it?’ And I said, ‘Yeah! That’s me!”

Still Waters Run Deep

In her top-floor studio, Ms. Horing pulls out works that reveal her thinking as a portraitist, a process she describes as seeming to spring from her almost overnight. She has never studied portraiture per se. She married in 1990, and for the next eight years was a partner in a Manhattan public relations firm. “After I had kids,” says the mother of two, “I stopped working eventually. And then about eight years ago I started painting.”  She quickly settled on painting people. “I seem able to capture a likeness, and it’s something I really enjoy doing.”

Patricia Horing experiments with her newest series.

Patricia Horing experiments with her newest series.

Steady Course of Enthusiasm

People in her series were family and friends, and then in early 2007, she called for the shower repair. Though she usually takes a number of photos of a subject, Ms. Horing took one of Mr. Elvy. “I had a feeling about him that I wanted to express, and it kind of came out easily. “

“Herman was around a lot because we were doing construction, so he saw me painting,” she remembers. “He’s always so supportive and great. He’d be like, ‘You can do it! Just keep at it! Don’t worry what anybody says to you!’ “

“True!” proclaims Mr. Elvy. “You’ve got to get up every morning and give thanks and get going and keep at what you’re doing. Every moment something wonderful can happen. Just keep your energy and focus.  And don’t let anything get you down.”

The portrait was complete in several weeks.

Mr. Elvy did not know that earlier, Ms. Horing had been passed over for a spot in a coveted artists program.

A Plan Takes Form

It was a director from the artists program who forwarded Ms. Horing information on the Smithsonian competition.  “The criteria talked about what defines a contemporary portrait in America,” says the artist.

“And I started thinking that Herman in a lot of ways embodies the American Dream. He came here as an immigrant, he’s tireless, he’s inspiring, and he’s got four kids who are all accomplished and successful and lovely people.”

In Mount Vernon, Mr. Elvy and wife Sybil ‘s children, ages 26 to 37, include an architectural engineer, and graduates from Fordham University and Harvard Law School.

Her Early Critics: At Chatsworth Elementary

Momentum picked up last year when Ms. Horing participated in Chatsworth Elementary School’s program demonstrating what parents did professionally. She showed fifteen portraits, but one captivated. “So many parents and kids came up to me and said, ‘Is that Herman? We know him! He’s our plumber!”

Recalls Mr. Elvy, “I’d go into someone’s house and all the kids would yell, ‘I saw you at school! You’re a painting!’ It knocked me out.”

Hope Springs Eternal

Once Ms. Horing decided to enter the competition, submitting Mr. Elvy’s portrait by email in July 2008  “took two seconds,” she says. “It was kind of a lark. I didn’t give it much thought after that.”

In January this year, Ms. Horing learned she was among 102 semi-finalists. Two art handlers arrived in April. “They wrapped up Herman’s portrait and treated it like it was a precious relic and drove it to Washington, D.C.”

A few weeks ago came news that Ms. Horing’s painting goes on exhibit October 23, 2009, to August 22, 2010.

Reflections of a Winner

“It was a good lesson for me,” reflects Ms. Horing about her decision to enter the contest, and sounding vaguely familiar. “It made me realize that it’s important to be open to things. You know, you are going to get rejected–that’s part of putting yourself out there, but you never know where something could lead.”

Katherine Ann Samon lives in Larchmont  and is author of “Ranch House Style” by Clarkson Potter. She writes articles on design and general interest, and has appeared in The New York Times.

PrintFriendlyTwitterGoogle GmailYahoo MailShare

Related Articles:

  • No Related Articles Found

32 comments to Larchmont Artist’s Work to Hang in National Portrait Gallery

  • Congratulations to Patti and her excellent subject, Herman! Well done!
    Jean Young

  • SCM

    What a terrific philosophy about being open to things, both the artist and Mr. Elvy. The painting is pretty terrific, too.

  • Janet Robinson

    Congratulations Patty on a great painting. we were thrilled to see Herman’s face on the painting, we have know Herman for 20 years and he is the most positive human being we know and I know he is thrilled that a painting of him is going to be hung in a museum. What a great story.

  • Elaine Pilat

    It is a wonderful painting of an incredible man and a great father

  • Elaine Pilat

    it is a marvelous portrait of a wonderful man,who with is wife raised an incredible family. hats off to you Herman

  • June Fox

    Mr. Elvy’s words are words to live by. And the portrait and artist are both terific. Congratulations on a thrilling accomplishment.

    Great story, LG – we all need more positive stories like this one!

  • Great job,

    You couldn’t have chosen a better subject. Herman is terrific, his energy and passion for life couldn’t be more evident.


  • George Schweitzer

    Herman is indeed the personification of the American Dream. More than that, he’s inspirational to us all. Good going Patti and congrats Herman… we will see you in Washington!
    George and Kate

  • Herman is the great American success story. He and his family exemplify all that America stands for. He’s a great plumber, a great dad, and a great human being…
    Kate Kelly

  • Linda Falk

    Patti – Herman is standing next to me – and soooo proud to be going to D.C., Between Herman and Jim M., Larchmont will really be famous in Washington!

  • Congratulations Patty!
    Your portrait brilliantly captures Herman’s exuberant, optimistic, indomitable spirit! He is truly one in a million and it’s wonderful to see him being celebrated in this way. No doubt, this is a huge affirmation for you as an artist. I have a feeling big things are in store for you both. This is just the beginning!

    Best wishes, Palmer and Mary Davis

  • Eileen Gerspach

    Congratulations to you Patty for your ability to so perfectly capture Herman’s infectious enthusiasm for life. Hope you both enjoy all the celebrations to come! Best, Eileen



  • Mark Uzzo

    Herman is one of the happiest hard working men you’ll ever meet. He’s a fantastic plumber and a great friend to have. A well deserved portrait and a very accurate portrayal of the man.

  • Paula

    I am thrilled that the artist was able to capture the true spirit of Herman, in this portrait.

    This hard working, honest man of great character,represents the ideal man. Ask any member of his family or friends and they will agree.

    For those of us who know him, we are indeed blessed. For those who don’t know him, you are missing out!!!!

    Congrats Patty and Herman!!!!

  • Burnett & Pauline Preddie

    Herman is the most positive person you could ever meet
    he is always smiling his smile could make a cloudy day
    turns to sunshine, great portrait congratulation.

  • David Carlyon

    Herman! Your plumbing is art, and now you are too! Congrats to Patty and you.

  • Marian Stolman

    Herman is the great philosopher/plumber of our area and always a pleasure to be around. Patty did an amazing job on the portait – Congratulations to both of them!

  • beth and kevin mullaney

    Congratulations to both Patty and Herman. Patty, you truly captured the essence of Herman…..his positive attitude is infectious! So happy for both of you…what an honor!

  • Alan Ginsberg

    Ms. Horing has captured Mr. Elvy’s joie de vivre. The American Dream whispers from heart to heart. Washington D.C. is an appropriate place to display this portrait. Joe the Plumber is out; Herman is in!!

  • glad to see the Mr Herman Fan Club is thriving…remember when he stayed with our nanny until we got home to be sure that the house was warm for the baby and that we knew how to manually operate the heating system until it was repaired…and Patty captured him so perfectly…maybe the portrait could be a poster for a fundraiser or something…it’s wonderful!

  • Chetna Bhattacharyya

    Herman is working on a job in my house right now. My husband and I have found him to be extremely jolly, patient, and conscientious. He has been a pleasure to work with.

    …I have never known a “famous” person before and now I can say I know Herman, Larchmont’s most charming plumber.

    Congrats to the artist for an incredible likeness.

  • francine gingras

    Patti has done a masterful job of capturing the American dream. He has become a family member for so many. Providing inspiration, hope and skilled no nonsense work ethics. He not only belongs in Washington, he deserves to have a beer with the President to help him resolve some of the problems in this country. Francine

  • Wow, we have known Herman for more than 20 years. He built a beautiful bathroom for us so our nanny would have a great space. He knew us even before our college age son was born. He danced at our son’s Bar Mitzvah and you would have been hysterical to see him with a wacky Dr. Seuss hat on! Herman has an amazing story and all of us are joined by having been touched by his uniqueness…we all have “Herman stories” including the time he came to our house at 2:00 A.M. with a smile on his face to fix a backed up sewer! We’ll wager he gets to meet President Obama in Washington. Kudos to Ms.Horing for capturing his spirit on canvas!

  • Katherine Schenkius

    Who knew that a plumber could be an ambassador? I’ve only known Herman a year but, as everyone here knows, he’s one of those ‘old’ souls- full of life and love. I’m happy to know him, and more happy that this beautiful painting is bringing Herman out to the rest of the world. We all need some more Hermans out there.

  • Congratulations to Herman and to the artist for capturing the essence of her subject. Herman’s joie de vivre and his work excellence have made knowing him for more than 10 years a real privilege. Now Washington will take notice!
    Lina and Gustavo

  • Marsha D

    A wonderful work of art and a very deserving subject. Herman truly epitomizes the “American Dream” and is a friend to many of us in Larchmont. He is a great dad, plumber and human being!

  • ddsuite

    Well, He was already at the top and has risen even higher! what a great story and portrait of a great man who understands hard work and taking care of family and people! Congrats!
    Doc and DSuite

  • sophia roth



  • Marjorie sharpe

    Hey Herman to the world!!!!I am so proud of this artist and of Herman,he’s made us proud to be Jamaican.I know Herman ,he’s my sisters neighbour(Sonia Brown).Go Herman. Patricia,yu gone abroad to de world!!

  • Lou Belchou

    I just had the pleasure of meeting Herman, and I must say, that he is larger than life itself. Patricia’s portrayal of Herman is perfect! His pure honest soul shines through his smile. Congrats Patricia!! ….. and Herman keep the positive vibes flowing ….. we certainly need more of it:)

  • Marley & Me

    Wowie, I wanna meet this guy Herman!! Don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone so popular since Santa Claus hit the stage! Perhaps he should be called St. Herman :)

    Nice story. Glad to hear kind & generous people are still appreciated and respected in our world today.