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? Sunday, November 19, 2017


North American Immigrants to Northern Israel Display Unique Art Exhibit

The North American and English aliyah organization Nefesh B’Nefesh, the Jewish Agency, and the Jewish National Fund have teamed up with the Ort Braude Academic College of Engineering in Karmiel to feature the artwork of immigrants from English-speaking countries to northern Israel.

Matisyahu’s Interview with CNN

Formerly Hasidic reggae star Matisyahu participated in a candid interview with CNN, discussing his departure from observant Jewish life and his connection to his religion.

The Color of Prophecy

The rather large grasshoppers all have different human faces. The trees have human bodies with branches sprouting out of their heads. The animals in the Peaceable Kingdom garden seated at Isaiah’s feet are painted purple, pink, blue and red. Welcome to the visionary world of Nahum HaLevi’s Latter Prophets.

Sotheby’s Chanukah Auction: December 19, 2012

Silence. There is an overwhelming silence that dominates the Isidor Kaufmann masterpiece, Rabbi with Young Student (catalogue #93) offered for sale at the Sotheby’s December 19th auction. Kaufmann’s most engaging paintings for me are the deeply psychological portraits, usually of Hasidic men, young women and youths. It is noteworthy that Kaufmann (1853 – 1921) and Freud (1856 – 1939) were contemporaries and both lived in Vienna during the same period.

Heeb Magazine Gets Serious

Heeb Magazine Publisher is looking to promote his tribute to his late brother and his fight with cancer.

Borders: The Eruv In Contemporary Jewish Art – Shaping Community: Poetics and Politics of...

For most observant Jews, the eruv is invisible. Each week we prepare for Shabbos: ready our food, conclude our mundane affairs, shower, dress and put the house keys in our pocket and check the web that the local eruv is up. Unless there has been a storm or other physical disaster, we can assume everything is okay. Just like the Shabbos calm that descends for 25 hours, the eruv operates for us in the background: essential but unnoticed.

Fractured Epics: Joel Silverstein Paintings

Joel Silverstein is a comrade-in-arms. We share many ideas about the creation and nature of contemporary Jewish Art, as well as a commitment to the growing Jewish Art community, exemplified by the Jewish Art Salon of which we are both founding members and curators. This exhibition of his recent work at the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life at Columbia/Barnard gives us the crucial opportunity to examine the complex richness of his artwork.

Reading Szyk’s Cards

Arthur Szyk (1894; Lodz, Poland – 1951; New Canaan, USA) was a driven man determined to serve his people through his art. A passionate supporter of Jabotinsky’s Revisionist Zionists from at least the mid-1930’s, Szyk’s art almost always had a political edge. As we noted on these pages arch 12 & 19 2010, the Szyk Haggadah (1934 -1936) was originally an explicitly anti-Fascist creation. Therefore the recent publication by Historicana of “Heroes of Ancient Israel: Playing Card Art of Arthur Szyk” is notable for its lack of overt political content. Indeed, its strength lies in a subtler affirmation of Jewish sovereignty and wisdom.

Crossing Borders: Masterpieces from the Bodleian Library

In the eyes of the ram lies the artist’s commentary on the Rosh Hashanah piyyut “The King Girded with Strength.” From the Tripartite Mahzor (German 14th century), this illumination simultaneously echoes the piyyut’s praise of God’s awesome power and expresses the terror of actually being a sacrifice to God. The ram is but a reflection of Isaac. It is all in the eyes.

Crossing Borders: Masterpieces from the Bodleian Library

In the eyes of the ram lies the artist’s commentary on the Rosh Hashanah piyyut “The King Girded with Strength.” From the Tripartite Mahzor (German 14th century), this illumination simultaneously echoes the piyyut’s praise of God’s awesome power and expresses the terror of actually being a sacrifice to God. The ram is but a reflection of Isaac. It is all in the eyes.

Chabad Women Rocking in ‘Bulletproof Stockings’ (Video)

Rocking custom sheitels and opaque tights, and walking the sidewalks of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Dalia Shusterman and Perl Wolfe have the Hasidic world talking – and singing along to the tunes of their Hasidic alternative rock girl band, Bulletproof Stockings.

Chagall Redux

Chagall’s reputation needs no burnishing and yet refinements are always welcome. Indeed the Nassau County Museum of Art has mounted a wonderfully extensive survey of Chagall’s works with a unique emphasis on his 1957 Bible series of hand-colored etchings that significantly casts many aspects of his work as uniquely Jewish. Amid the complexity of Chagall’s entire oeuvre, this is deeply significant in the exhibition history of non-Jewish institutions.

Rosa Katzenelson: Paintings Beyond Hasidic Expressionism

Passion of belief can certainly lead to passion of expression, especially for an artist. Rosa Katzenelson’s paintings and digital artwork, currently at the Hadas Gallery in Brooklyn, could easily define the very essence of religious expressionism. As a Chabad devotee, every aspect of her work exudes a passion for both the chassidic subjects she depicts and the visceral act of making a painting. Nonetheless, upon closer inspection her work yields considerably more complexity.

Jacqueline Nicholls: New Works

Jacqueline Nicholls, a Jewish artist from England, presents us with a formidable challenge. Namely, what is the role of a contemporary Jewish Woman artist and how does one confront patriarchal dominance? She presents her response to both queries in her current exhibition at the JCC Manhattan, beautifully curated by Tobi Kahn and organized by Tisch Gallery director Megan Whitman. The results are breathtakingly forceful, subtle and insightful.

Finding Moses (Part I)

As the year draws to a close we have the book of Deuteronomy before us week after week, reviewing many of the halachos and reminding us of our harrowing trek through the wilderness. Moshe Rabbeinu is the stern narrator, guiding us to the very edge of the Promised Land, a final step he will never take. He pleads with God to let him enter the Land to no avail. Finally, “Moses, servant of Hashem, died there, in the land of Moab, by the mouth of Hashem. And He buried him in the depression, in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, and no one knows his burial place to this day. (Deut. 34: 5).” We complete our reading of the Torah with tears in our eyes for our faithful teacher, prophet and leader, whose life seems to end in angst and frustration. What was the inner life of our brave and tenacious leader?

Red Hot Chili Peppers Rock Tel Aviv

The “Red Hot Chili Peppers” performed in Tel Aviv on Monday night, a decade after they canceled their show due to security issues. It was the group’s first visit to Israel, and to make the most of it, the members went to the Western Wall in Jerusalem straight from the airport. The band talked about Hillel Slovak, one of their founding members, who died from a drug overdose in the early 1990s.

Bill Aron’s Time Machines: Forever Young, Forever Old

Photographs seems like cruel slices from the past, frozen images of what will never be again. Since we assume the photographic image is, by and large, a factual view of some reality, it is inherently believed and trusted. But now be forewarned. It ain’t necessarily so. Bill Aron’s new images at the 92nd Street Y betray and beguile so as to force us to reassess the meaning of what we see.

Portraits Of Remembrance: Paintings By Diana Kurz

Reaching back in time to reclaim a family for herself and, in a yahrzeit moment, to rekindle lives snuffed out, Diana Kurz’s paintings stand as testaments to victims of the Holocaust. After a successful 20 year career as an artist and teacher, (with a strong feminist bent), in 1989 Kurz happened upon a few surviving photos of her own relatives “who disappeared during the war.” Suddenly her past opened up and possessed her. This spring (April 4 – May 2, 2012) a series of these paintings was shown at the Art Gallery at Kingsborough Community College, CUNY.

Rylands Haggadah: Medieval Jewish Art in Context

The Rylands Haggadah, created in Catalonia Spain sometime around 1330, is a towering masterpiece of Jewish Art. In addition to pages of piyutim surrounded by ornate decorative and figurative micrography, richly decorated Haggadah text and blessings, there is a 13 page miniature cycle depicting the Exodus story from Moses at the Burning Bush to the Crossing of the Red Sea.

Podwal’s Lamentations

In 1974 Mark Podwal, noted author, illustrator and physician created a spare, illustrated Book of Lamentations. This complete English translation is graced with 28 black and white illustrations, or more correctly, reflections, on the tragic text. Podwal maintains Jeremiah’s alphabetical acrostic of each chapter containing 22 sets of lines, reflecting aleph to tav, denoting each English set with the appropriate Hebrew letter.

Itshak Holtz Drawings

Examining a choice selection of drawings done by Itshak Holtz over 30 years ago is a rare pleasure that allows for the appreciation of his unique sensitivity and insights. I was afforded that pleasure at the inaugural exhibition of the Betzalel Gallery in Crown Heights this past May. Although this modest selection of 25 drawings and watercolors of this paradigmatic frum artist ranges from 1963 to 1999, the majority of the works is from the 1970s and reveals a special aspect of his inner artistic soul. The selection of images could easily narrate the fabric of ordinary Jewish life.

Holzman’s Torah For The Eyes

Earlier this year I was presenting my survey of Jewish art, “A Jewish Art Primer,” in a West Hartford, Connecticut synagogue and during the intermission a local artist, David Holzman, introduced himself to me. He relayed his rich and fascinating artistic background and then produced a portfolio of 8 black and white prints that he generously gave to me as a gift. As a tantalizing glimpse into recent work, they are truly amazing and I would like to share them with you.

Winston Churchill’s Granddaughter on Art and Israel

Edwina Sandys' planned sculpture for Israel will be comprised of a circle of upright stones, in black and white, cast in the shapes of women, connected by a lintel across the top. Sandys explains that Israel is one of the most suitable places in the world for such a sculpture. “Israel is at the forefront of women being treated equally, relative to other areas of the world.”

Equus Opportunity

Now, only months after the artist’s death, is no time to be coy. Moshe Givati’s work is a revelation: dynamic, throbbing with life, pulsating with meaning. The exhibition “Equus Ambiguity – The Emergence of Maturity,” is up for only a few more days but I urge you to hurry to the Jadite Gallery and familiarize yourself with this under-recognized artist.

Schatz’s Gambit

Boris Schatz (1866 – 1932) had a revolutionary vision. He believed that the creation of a new modern Jewish visual culture would become a major force to both articulate a Jewish national identity and sustain the Zionist enterprise. In 1904 he approached Zionist leader Theodor Herzl with the proposal to establish a national arts and crafts school in Palestine and got his blessing. Tragically Herzl died later that year, but the Zionist leadership in Vienna assumed responsibility for the project and its funding.

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