Meir Panim’s Tiberias Free Restaurant not only provides warm meals, but the opportunity to socialize as well.
Just look at the expression on Yonah’s face. It combines fear and incomprehension at his terrible punishment of floating in the belly of the great fish. So too Noah peering out of the ark, perched on the edge of understanding that there might be a future for mankind. Both works point to the genius of Leonard Everett Fisher as an artist and interpreter of biblical narrative.
Leonard Everett Fisher is one of the master American illustrators of the last 50 years. His work is found in both adult and young adult publications, counting approximately 260 books since 1955 with at least 90 of those authored and illustrated by him alone. A native of the Bronx, in his youth he studied with Moses and Raphael Soyer in addition to Reginald Marsh at the Art Students League in New York. After a stint as a topographer during the Second World War he went on to Yale University for undergraduate and graduate degrees and then plunged into a successful commercial book illustration career. What is unique about his success is that he continued to make solely artistic works, simply driven by his own creative desire.
The current exhaustive exhibition at Hebrew Union College, beautifully curated by Laura Kruger, exploits both aspects of his 70-year career. In the spacious three interior exhibition rooms his mind-boggling exploits as a book illustrator and more recent creative works are explored. A sampling of his illustrated books of Jewish interest, many authored by Fisher himself, include: The Wailing Wall, The Dybbuk, To Bigotry No Sanction (Touro Synagogue), The Seven Days of Creation, Moses, The Wicked City (Sodom) and David and Goliath. Additionally we see some examples of his bestselling and masterful series “The Colonial American Craftsman.” These may be Fisher’s most successful work, a 19 volume series, published between 1964 and 1976, that is aimed at young adults and visually explores the material culture of our country’s foundation. The series includes volumes on glassmakers, architects, shipbuilders, blacksmiths, weavers, tanners, cabinetmakers; virtually every imaginable 18th century trade that was essential to building our new country.
Furthermore there is more recent artwork by this now 87-year-old artist. The Center Fielder (2010) is a large meticulous study of a baseball player about to catch a fly ball; poised between expectation and accomplishment. It is wonderfully odd in that the player’s baseball cap is pulled down so that he cannot actually see the ball he is about to catch. Added to this conundrum is the odd insignia of his uniform, Sigma Phi, which does not correspond to any known baseball team. It is mysteriously significant that these Greek letters represent the second oldest Greek secret fraternal organization in the United States, founded in 1827. Suddenly to expound upon the mysteries of baseball, here revealed in one enigmatic image, is yet another facet of Fisher’s creativity. The suspended ball flying towards the player’s mitt is an example of what Curator Laura Kruger identifies as a major motif in Fisher’s work. Again and again we see suspended objects and concentrated depictions of flat vertical surfaces; i.e. walls, that explores the tension between objects in motion and concrete backgrounds.
The cleverest painting in the exhibition is Noah. He stands inside the ark peering out its window at a dove in mid-flight bearing an olive branch in its beak. As we have observed before the bird in mid-air is a hallmark of Fisher’s style complemented by the solid wooden construction of the ark. But it is the play between Noah’s hands and facial expression that truly animates the painting. His hands tell us that he is about to do something – either to grasp the bird or to formulate a thought. The notion of being on the threshold of action is then concretized by the concentrated thought in his expression. Pursed lips and intense staring eyes tell us Noah has just realized the meaning of the dove returning with the olive branch. The fact that somewhere on dry land there is an olive tree tells him that soon he will be able to exit the ark with his family and all the animals and begin the process of recreating earthly life. Fisher’s focus on this moment of revelation narrates into Noah’s story, telling us he didn’t know exactly how God would conclude the destruction of the world. The artist has uncovered the narrative of hope and faith in Noah’s tale.
Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at email@example.com
About the Author: Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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This is the story of a Holocaust survivor who began her odyssey in Dej, Romania. Chanele Anne Grun Kempler was a teenager when she came to Auschwitz, almost 20 when she immigrated to Montreal and became a famous artist, and 64 when she passed away, alone in her bed, in 1994, on her chest a letter from Yad Vashem informing her that the painting she offered to the organization would be admitted and displayed.
It’s not that I think contractors, painters and tile guys are exclusively greedy, deceitful incompetent people – I think they are just poor businessmen or women!
I look into the flickering flames of the Shabbos candles and I am thankful for the warmth and light that emanates from them and illuminates our home.
Widow of world-famous nuclear scientist and human rights activist, Dr. Andre Sakharov, and an outstanding activist in her own right, Yelena Bonner was invited to speak of the suffering she endured in Stalinist Russia. Instead, the 86-year-old leader of the Russian human rights movement chose to speak about Israel and the Jews. Why?
I wonder why bullying exists in our community and in society at large? I was very surprised at a 30-year-old client’s explanation.
The rebbe had told Meir and Yehudah to take turns, but that wasn’t working out so well.
The sage Hillel summarized the entire Torah by saying, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn it.”
Sometimes it is hard to help people, and sometimes you can help people by just using whatever it is you have at the time – even an amazing fishing rod.
Musial told the taunted Jackie Robinson: “I want you to know that I’m not like many of the other guys on my team.”
Brooklyn resident David Siller, currently studying in Israel at Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah in Beit Shemesh, was awarded a trophy for finishing 3rd in his age group (14-18) in a 5-kilometer race for the benefit of the Benjamin Children’s Library of Beit Shemesh.
The fact that the Jewish Museum’s curator Susan Tumarkin Goodman presents these issues as the inescapable core of her exhibition demonstrates the courage to challenge her audience with deeply discomforting images and concepts.
Lynda Caspe’s current exhibition at the Derfner Museum is an extraordinary event. In this show of 12 bronze relief sculptures and 14 cityscape paintings we have the opportunity to see the full scope of her last six years of work that, as least with the sculptures, marked a radical change in subject matter and technique.
The philosopher Theodor Adorno famously wrote in 1949, “cultural criticism finds itself with the final stage of the dialectic of culture and barbarism. To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.” This statement posited that the Holocaust exposed the unredeemable rotten underbelly of Western culture and therefore the very notion of creating beauty and sensitivity was at an insurmountable impasse. Alas, as cultural history has shown, he was wrong. Strikingly, it might be said that one of the few ways still provocatively available to speak about the Holocaust is in fact through poetry.
“Hyman Bloom: Paintings and Drawings (1940 – 2005),” currently at White Box (the cutting edge international art space on Broome Street), is a rare opportunity to observe the creative process of one of the most important practitioners of 20th century Jewish Art in America.
The “book” is a mighty big place these days and the current exhibition at MOBIA, “As Subject and Object: Contemporary Book Artists Explore Sacred Hebrew Texts,” is no exception. Highly mobile ebooks compete with online publications and traditionally bound volumes, scrolls, accordion-style tomes and folios that present equally exciting options for contemporary artists to interact with image and text in one unifying medium.
At the Chassidic Art Institute one artist, Harry McCormick, has rather amazingly fathomed the authentic heartbeat of the individual Jewish life. This exhibition, running until July 25, shows a mere 16 paintings, but six of them reveal a deeply perceptive and sensitive chronicle of Yiddishkeit.
Judaica Auctions and the exhibition that precede them at Kestenbaum & Company are always a cornucopia of aesthetic delights. The sheer variety and overall quality of the ceremonial objects and works of art make the exhibition and catalogue a museum-like experience. The current exhibition is no exception.
Whether it is the disastrous report of the 12 spies or the furious condemnation that doomed an entire generation to die in the wilderness, the Torah narrative in Bamidbar turns terribly grim after the glorious inauguration of the Mishkan in the second year after leaving Egypt. With this in mind, just imagine my surprise at an encounter with two artists who address these (and other Biblical) themes right around the corner.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/leonard-everett-fishers-challenge-2/2011/10/16/
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