Meir Panim’s Tiberias Free Restaurant not only provides warm meals, but the opportunity to socialize as well.
The illustrator stands in an oft-denigrated position, scorned by modernists and traditional purists alike. For both schools of thought the sublime of art cannot be rendered literal. On the other hand, illustrators are curiously accepted if not celebrated by those in a postmodern disposition. In the last twenty years or so a creative relationship to text, narrative or non-visual motifs has gained legitimacy if not primacy in the visual arts. Under the watchful guidance of director Jean Bloch Rosensaft and the curatorial skill of Laura Kruger, the Hebrew Union College Museum casts one of its current exhibitions into this ideational fray. “Isaac Bashevis Singer and his Artists”is in its curious way an exposition on the illustrational as a contemporary motif.
Irene Lieblich (1923 – 2008) was a survivor who took up painting at the age of 48 and, through an exhibition of her work, became friends with Singer after which she illustrated two of his books, A Tale of Three Wishes (1976) and The Power of Light: Eight Stories for Hanukkah (1980). All of her 13 illustrations shown exhibit a folk-art charm that reflects both Singer’s and her roots in Eastern European pictorial traditions. Three shtetl children witnessing an angel driving a chariot through the sky before a chorus of angels, can be summoned by her as easily as a young boy and girl emerging from a manhole in war-torn Warsaw. Her “Partisans in the Forest” is especially affecting. In a wintery scene a group of Jews huddle around a makeshift menorah while two play with a dreidel on a tree stump, surrounded by armed partisans anxiously guarding the evening ceremony. The simple composition slowly reveals first courageous piety, then childish playfulness and finally the deadly seriousness of their guards. Jewish faith at work.
The roster of artists who illustrated Singer’s books is extremely diverse. Some shared his Jewish Eastern European background and most are professional illustrators. Yet among these are well-known artists in their own right: Roman Vishniac (1897-1990), noted documentary photographer of Eastern European Jews in A Vanished World (1947) became friends with Singer and permitted the use of his works in Singer’s A Day of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing Up in Warsaw (1969). Raphael Soyer (1899-1987) was a close friend known internationally as an American Social Realist painter from 1930 – 1950. His illustrations here of flying demons, nudes and fantastic figures are especially revealing exceptions to his normally dour painting style. Another international artist, Larry Rivers, illustrated a deluxe edition of Singer’s The Magician of Lublin with a signature drawing of a contemporary man donning tefillin - simple, modern and disarmingly convincing.
“Isaac Bashevis Singer and his Artists” similarly sweeps us up in the creativity and passion of the master Yiddish writer’s texts. Curator Laura Kruger is careful to always provide the textual references, either summaries or the short stories themselves, so that the images live and breathe within the very texts they emanate from. Once joined together they nurture and complement each other like an old married couple; one starts a sentence and the other finishes it. By doing so she insists that at least in this framework, text and image are inseparable and that like all good commentary next to its source, make both even more a joy to behold.
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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Unfortunately, a map of the Middle East with no mention of Israel is nothing new… It is surprising however, that the world’s largest publisher of children’s literature, Scholastic Books, has joined in this trend.
About six months ago my parents and I started discussing ideas for a mitzvah project in honor of my bat mitzvah. I wanted to do something unique that would be meaningful to me and also do something that my friends could participate in. Immediately I thought of an organization called Sharsheret.
“I’m disappointed that the agreement reached with Iran leaves our unfulfilled our ultimate objective: a complete dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program and related activities.
Southern NCSY will be holding a leadership training Shabbaton at the Young Israel of Bal Harbour December 6 and December 7. Rabbi Steven Weil, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, will be the special guest speaker.
Is there a beginning and an end to the universe? What role can medical breakthroughs play in conception or genetic engineering? Can science help us pinpoint the end of human life? Does the soul emanate from the brain or vice-versa?
Last month’s column sketched the myriad of social programs in which the Orthodox American communal worker and leader Adolphus S. Solomons (1826-1910) was involved. Adolphus married Rachel Seixas Phillips (1828-1881), a descendant of colonial patriot families and together they had eight daughters and a son.
This year’s parade, the 87th annual extravaganza of marching bands, floats, and giant balloons, featured something really unique and different: a balloon/float of a large blue dreidel.
He strengthened his resolve
Knew his life he would lose,
But when the king uttered the words
With great pride he refused.
Just like you
I too have a soul
A soul that is G-dly
Just like you.
Now my friend
I ask you,
Am I different from you?
It’s not Chanukah without latkes! That’s true; but don’t make the same boring latkes this year. Go for something healthier, more vibrant, and flavorful.
Each year at our family Chanukah party, we try to introduce a new activity, to keep things fun and exciting for the children and adults alike. Last year’s addition – a huge hit – was a menorah-making contest.
Prof. Malka Schaps was born Mary Kramer, a Protestant, in Cleveland, Ohio. When she was sixteen, she started questioning the rationale of moral conduct: Why be good?
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/singers-artists/2009/12/02/
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