Statue street Jodenstraat
Frans Boermans – Ann Hermans
The statue of Frans Boermans (8 June 1917- 11 March 1999), which was installed in 2018, is a tribute to one of the best-known and best Limburg word artists. He wrote almost 500 texts, mostly vastelaoves-songs, but also songs for various plays and theatre shows in Venlo. One of his best-known songs is ‘Och waas ik maar’ (‘Oh, if only I had stayed at home with my mother’), sung by Dutch singer Johnny Hoes.
Boermans wrote many of his songs together with Thuur Luxembourg and Giel Aerts. Three of the songs that Frans Boermans wrote with Giel Aerts were voted best Limburg carnival song. In 1988 it was ‘Minse wie weej’, in 1989 ‘De Knappe(rikke)’ and in 1992 ‘Waat hebbe we ‘t toch good’. He also received numerous other awards for his work. In 1980, Boermans, who himself had played in Sef Cornet’s theatre shows after the war, was largely responsible for breathing new life into the Venlo theatre show tradition. When he received the Jo Hansen Prize in 1997, however, Boermans was humble about his work and felt that he had to be careful not become arrogant when praise was showered on him.
Besides the statue in Jodenstraat, Boermans is also honoured with a theatre hall named after him in Theater de Maaspoort and the popular theatre group that is named after him.
The artist – Ann Hermans
In the work of Ann Hermans (Maasbree) man and all his feelings are always central. She makes sculptures – of clay, bronze or wax – in which the process always begins with looking. With her work she wants to make a simple and clear statement, in which content and form are experienced as pure and sincere. However, she began her career as a fashion designer, and made haute couture for many years.
Her thematic approach caused a tipping point moment in her life. For the development of a new clothing line, she immersed herself in the work of Shinkichi Tajiri, more specifically the ‘Knots’, after which she made the switch to the world of visual arts. From a classical schooling, she resumed her quest at various academies, hungry for new experiences with teachers and techniques. This is how she developed her own style.
The commission to make a sculpture of Frans Boermans was very special to her, because of his great significance for Venlo and its culture. This process also began with just looking. By looking at photos and films of Boermans and by immersing herself in his character. In this way, she allows both the outward and inward appearance of the Venlo songwriter to recur in the sculpture she has created.
The Jodenstraat (the Jews’ street)
The Jodenstraat is located in one of the oldest parts of Venlo’s city centre. Traces from Roman times have been found here, dating back to the first century AD. According to the legend about the origins of Venlo, Valuas or Flujas, chieftain of the Bructeren, founded a castle called the Vrijburg near the Jodenstraat and Oude Markt in or around the year 96. The name of the street refers to the presence of Jews, who had already settled in Venlo in the 14th century.
For centuries, there used to be monastery on the corner of Jodenstraat and Heilige Geeststraat.
Unfortunately, you will not find a lot of the old buildings; the area was almost completely destroyed during the bombing raids at the end of 1944, which were intended to destroy Venlo’s city bridge in order to stop the Germans.
Only the Romer House from 1490 was saved and preserved. It is a patrician house built in the late Gothic style. Behind the Romerhuis and the present Jodenstraat (Jews’ Street) and in southern direction around the harbour area, there was a working-class neighbourhood called ‘t Hetje. Nowadays, this would be called a deprived area, with prostitution and much alcohol abuse. Many inhabitants of ‘t Hetje worked in the harbour. The neighbourhood consisted largely of slum dwellings and was therefore cleaned up just before the Second World War. The air raids at the end of 1944 did the rest.
One of the most famous shops in Venlo, Versierhoes van der Veer, is located in the Jodenstraat.
From left to right Frans Boermans and Thuur Luxemburg, renowned songwriters from Venlo (Photo: Venlo municipal archive)