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July 2, 2016 / 26 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘paint’

Haman’s ‘Family Tree’

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

This Purim centerpiece is sure to keep all your guests “hanging around” until dessert. This project can be put together on any level, from simple backyard branches with plain gingerbread man cookies dangling, to curly willow branches with elaborately decorated royal iced gingerbread man cookies – and everything in between! Before you can say all of Haman’s 10 sons in one breath – the cookies will be gone.

 

Here is a basic cookie recipe to get you started:

Ingredients

4 cups flour 1 cup margarine 1-1/4 cups sugar 2 eggs 1/2 T. lemon juice 1 tsp. baking powder 1 T. vanilla sugar 1/4 c. orange juice

Directions

Mix flour and margarine in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar and eggs; mix. Add remaining dough ingredients; mix until well-combined. Roll dough out on parchment paper or cookie sheet.

Preparing Cookies For Tree

Supplies:

Cookie dough Gingerbread man cookie cutter You may use any of the following supplies to decorate your cookies (or keep them plain): Edible markers, colored sugar, rolled fondant or royal icing Hamentash chocolate mold 3 oz baking chocolate 5 oz yellow baking chocolate 4 yards and 1/8”of ribbon (cut into 12” pieces)

Directions

1. Roll out dough. 2. Using you cookie cutter, cut out 11 cookies (if you like you can make “Haman” larger) 3. Using a drinking straw, make a hole towards the top of the gingerbread man’s head. Bake according to recipe directions. (If using the recipe above: Bake at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes.) 4. Decorate cookies as desired 5. Thead ribbon through hole. Join ends of ribbon to form a tight knot. 6. Melt baking chocolate in double boiler or microwave. 7. Using a toothpick,” paint” the chocolate in the center of the hamantash mold. Allow to dry (approx 5 minutes) 8. Next, add the yellow chocolate to the bowl and remelt until the chocolate is well combined 9. Using a small spoon, fill the hamentash mold with the chocolate. 10. Place chocolate mold in freezer till solid. 11. Remove hamentash from molds. 12. Repeat process till each gingerbread man has a hat 13. Using the chocolate as your” glue” attach hamentash to cookie

 

Haman’s Tree

Supplies

Curly Willow branches (available at florists) or you can use backyard branches Large vase to fit branches 3-4 yards of 5/8 “ wide ribbon for bows 1 yard of 1-1/2“ wide ribbon 11 gingerbread cookies

Assembly

Arrange branches in vase Hang cookies from branches Cut 5/8” ribbon into 12” pieces-randomly tie bows around branches Wrap the 1-1/2” ribbon around vase and form bow. TIP: Instead of using a vase and branches, you can hang cookies from your chandelier over your dining table.

Cut out desired shapes with cookie cuttters and remove extra dough. Reroll extra dough and cut out additional cookies, continuing until all dough has been used.

Esther Ottensoser

Israeli Company Develops New Riot Control Vehicle

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Beit Alfa Technologies, an Israeli defense company, has developed an advanced model of a riot-control vehicle that allows for the dispersion of the Skunk substance, as well as tear gas, paint, foam, and water.

The vehicle includes a special foam fire extinguisher that allows it to operate while under attack from molotov cocktails and other volatile substances.

Jewish Press Staff

Literacy Illuminated (Part II)

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Like most first grade classrooms, the one I was observing had students with multiple reading levels. Accordingly, the head teacher had divided the students into different groups so that they could practice skills that were relevant to all members of the small group. First, I sat in the “high level” group. The students, even though they were only in first grade, were beginning to read Richard and Florence Atwater’s whimsical novel Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

Shmuel, a freckled redhead, began to read aloud to his classmates as they looked on in their own copies of the book,

“It was an afternoon in late September. In the pleasant little city of Stillwater, Mr. Popper, the house painter, was going home from work. He was carrying his buckets, his ladders, and his boards so that he had a rather hard time moving along. He was spattered here and there with paint and calcimine, and there were bits of wallpaper clinging to his hair and whiskers, for he was a rather untidy man.”

Shmuel read the piece flawlessly, even pronouncing “calcimine” with ease. However, his voice was monotonous, he barely paused at the periods, and his intonations reflected no understanding of the text he was reading. His groupmates followed along silently, but they too seemed unaffected by the humorous portrayal of the messy Mr. Popper. What was going on with these “high level readers?” They seem to have mastered reading the words off of the page, but have little appreciation or understanding of the literature they are reading.

In my last article, I explored the merits of phonics and sight-reading in fostering reading skills. Regardless of the method used, the goal of both phonics and sight-reading is to allow readers to progress to the next level. After they have learned how to decode words, children can move on to comprehension and fluency. Shmuel and his groupmates seem to be adept at decoding the words on the page, but have little or no understanding of the text they are reading. Are these truly high level readers?

Reading Without Comprehension – An Exercise in Frustration

Many children who learn to read the words before they understand the meaning behind them will lack comprehension even as they mature as readers. Scholastic Press, an expert teaching source, explains that comprehension is not simply in the text, but rather that “reading is a ‘transaction’ in which the reader brings purposes and life experiences to bear to converse with the text. This meeting of the reader and the text results in the meaning that is comprehension. Comprehension always attends to what is coded or written in the text, but it also depends upon the reader’s background experiences, purposes, feelings, and needs of the moment. That’s why we can read the same book or story twice and it will have very different meanings for us.” Therefore, students need to actively engage in comprehension strategies in order to understand and ultimately enjoy what they read.

Research has shown that very early readers who have little or no comprehension of what they are reading derive trivial pleasure from reading. As they develop, if comprehension does not improve, these “advanced” readers will grow to dislike reading, as it is simply a repetition of hollow and meaningless words.

What are some strategies that aid comprehension?

Making connections: Children can make connections with the text by using their own background information. Creating these connections helps the student understand where this book falls in the knowledge that they have already mastered. There are three main types of connections that children can make:

Text to self: connections between the text and the reader’s personal experience.

Text to text: connections between the text and another text the reader has read.

Text to world: connections made between the text and something that occurs in the world.

Questioning: Questions help students clarify and deepen their understanding of the text they are reading. There are many different types of questions: vocabulary words, predictions (what will happen next), compare and contrast, and cause and effect.

Visualizing: Visualizing occurs when readers create mental pictures of the text they are reading. Visualization helps students engage in the text in a personal and memorable manner. As they continue to read, the pictures continue to change with the changing personality traits of the different characters.

Remember, expert readers automatically employ these reading strategies without even realizing it. Once students are taught to use these strategies, they will become second nature.

Fluency: When Speed Matters

Once students begin to master the skill of comprehension, fluency becomes the next key indicator of a child’s reading ability. Fluency is the ability to read aloud expressively and with understanding. When fluent readers read aloud, the text flows in a regular and clear manner, rather than sounding choppy and halting. Without fluency, the world of imagination, humor, and drama contained in the finest books is no more than a tangle of words.

Rifka Schonfeld

What My Dog Taught Me About God

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Upon request, I am sharing the following story from my friend, Mrs. S.

Two years ago Mrs. S. was divorced after an unhappy, childless marriage. Now in her mid-60s, she has no interest in finding a new husband. At this time, she told me, she is just beginning to discover herself as an independent adult, and she is reveling in the opportunity to make her own choices on everything from what to cook for dinner to what color to paint the bedroom. The road to independence has been difficult. Using imagery from Psalm 23, she told me that she has come through the dark valley and is now walking in sunlight. However, she still wasn’t feeling that God was with her.

Indeed, where was God during the dark years of her marriage? Why hadn’t she had children? Why was she alone and struggling financially at this time of her life? Why wasn’t God taking care of her? She told me that all these thoughts had been eating at her for a long time – to be honest, since before her divorce.

Another, simpler thing that bothered her after her husband moved away was loneliness. Being alone in the house was scary, but she was unable to sell it due to the poor housing market. Finally she decided to get a dog. She went to the local animal shelter and found a small poodle mix to adopt. Soon she and the dog had become great companions. He followed her around when she was busy, slept quietly at her feet when she read, and sat in the kitchen doorway brimming with hopeful anticipation when she cooked. After she had a “dog door” installed he was able to go out to the fenced yard when he needed to, so she could leave him alone when she went to work.

“About once a week I take him to the dog park,” she related. “There he can run around freely and play with other dogs. He loves it. He makes friends with the other dog owners and roughhouses with the other dogs. The one thing he doesn’t do is pay any attention to me. Some dogs huddle near their owners. Not mine. Once I let him off his leash, he doesn’t come near me until I call him to go home. I used to think he was so busy he just didn’t even remember I was there.

“Then one day he was playing with some other dogs about 80 feet from me. A French Bulldog, about twice my dog’s weight, started barking aggressively at me. Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, my dog streaked up to me. He didn’t attack the other dog; he didn’t even act aggressively. He just dashed up to me and jumped on me, his whole rear end wagging to beat the band. The other dog took one look and wandered off to find someone else to bully. As soon as the “danger” was gone, my dog ran back to his friends and resumed his game.”

She paused thoughtfully before continuing her story. “I thought about this for a long time. We had been in the park for about half an hour, and during that time he hadn’t come near me, although I was keeping my eye on him. I was sure he had totally forgotten about me and didn’t have a clue where I was. However, the minute I was threatened, he was there protecting me.

“That night, when we were taking our evening walk, I was thinking of how protective he had been when suddenly he crossed from my left to my right. Sometimes he walks in a proper ‘heel’ position, just behind me and to the left, and sometimes he lags behind. Usually, however, he walks in front of me – not dragging on the leash, just keeping a few paces ahead of me. That evening when he changed position I looked around and saw that someone had gotten into a car across the street just ahead of us. My dog had placed himself between this possible danger and me.  After that, I noticed that he changes position whenever he perceives a danger. Whenever he sees another person, a moving car, or something out of the ordinary like a pile of rubbish by the curb, or if he hears something behind us, he gets between it and me. He is doing his 14-pound best to keep me safe.

Hanna Geshelin

Kinderish Kunst: Naïve Art

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a


Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust


Through October 1, 2009


The Jewish Museum


1109 5th Ave at 92nd St, New York



 

 


As a matter of principle, I must begin this column by stating bluntly that in my opinion the column’s subject, Mayer Kirshenblatt, though he is a very talented storyteller, is not a very good painter by any means. Normally, that would present the end of the story. There are more than enough great artists who grapple with Jewish subject matter and themes that this column does not need to address work that is anything but first rate. That The Jewish Museum’s curatorial staff’s gave Kirshenblatt, the so-called Mayer July (which involves a Yiddish version of the nickname “Crazy Mayer”), his own exhibit is hardly enough of a credential, either. Yet, there is something unique about Kirshenblatt’s body of work, which merits further inspection.

 

Though he is an amateur, Kirshenblatt’s work features absolutely everything he saw in the shtetl. He might not have made art per se, but he was an artist. His work resembles Chagall’s, if one used a strainer that allowed the art to flow away and just the shtetl to remain. But most importantly, Kirshenblatt’s paintings – or illustrations-in-paint might be a better term – carry the same appeal as genre paintings like van Gogh’s “The Potato Eaters” (1885), or even the works depicting peasants by the 16th century Netherlandish artist, Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Kirshenblatt’s repertoire includes works like: “Boy with a Herring” (1992), “Water-Carriers at Harshl Kishke’s Well” (1992), “The Bagel-Seller” (2002), “Chimney Sweep”  (1999), “The Wigmaker” (1994), “The Only Jew in the Volunteer Fire Brigade” (1994), “Tombstone Carver” (1995), and “The Rope Maker” (1994).

 

 


Mayer Kirshenblatt. “Potato Harvest, Iłża” (2001). Acrylic on canvas.

 

 

All of the 381 illustrations in the exhibit catalog date from the past 20 years. But calling Kirshenblatt prolific of late would only get at part of the story. The artist, born in 1916 in Apt (Opatów in Polish), moved to Canada at age 17. He first started painting at age 73 upon the recommendations of his daughter and wife.

 

The young Kirshenblatt was a bit of a rebel, who got into trouble in school, and the older painter’s best asset might be his remarkable ability to retain his youthful perspective (though his paintings lack perspective in the technical sense of the word). “I consider myself a storehouse of memories. My project is to paint prewar life in a small town in Poland. That’s what really interests me,” he writes in the catalog. “The way I paint is important, of course, but the most important thing is to get a subject the subjects I decide to paint are those that have a story to tell.”

 

“Regrettably,” Kirshenblatt continues, “I have very little imagination. I don’t dream or, if I do, the dream is nothing I can paint. I can only paint what I lived through. I can only paint what is in my memory and in my head.” But he is being modest. His works, though presumably historical and sociological (viewers must take his word for it, ultimately), also reveal a tremendous imagination.

 

 


Mayer Kirshenblatt. “Boy with Herring” (1992). Acrylic on canvas. All works, collection of the artist. Courtesy of Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. © 2009 Mayer Kirshenblatt.

 

 

“Boy with Herring” is a self-portrait, in which the young Kirshenblatt carries the fish in his right hand as he walks down the cobbled street. Kirshenblatt’s sense of detail is impressive. Two women watch from the side of the street, and all the windows, doors, chairs and porches are carefully rendered, as is the lettering on a sign affixed to the building. In his own words, Kirshenblatt describes his attire as “the unofficial uniform for boys from non-Orthodox homes who attended the Polish public school,” including a four-cornered, leather cap that religious Jews avoided wearing “because the seams on the top of the hat formed a cross.”

 

Kirshenblatt also wears a navy blue jacket, the Slowacki collar (named for a 19th century Polish poet), gray “plus fours,” which resembled skirts, and “red ski boots with brass eyes and wide yellow shoelaces,” which he and his peers considered sporty. “We looked pretty smart with those nice shoes and knee high socks,” he writes.

 

Since paper was expensive, Kirshenblatt carries the herring with only enough newspaper to cover the part of the fish his hand touches, while the head and tail remains exposed. (Kirshenblatt would lick the drops of brine from the head and tail.) Not only does the artist present an image of the herring-carrying episode, but he also provides a shopping list of the herring’s culinary prospects. Male herrings were ideal, the fish could be turned into sauce, the head was a delicacy for the head of the family, and one herring could feed a family of four or five.

 

 


Mayer Kirshenblatt. “The Black Wedding in the Cemetery, c. 1892” (1996). Acrylic on canvas.

 

 

“The Black Wedding in the Cemetery” depicts an unusual scene: a group of people dance in a cemetery; in the foreground are tombstones, which contain inscriptions identifying some belonging to Leviim and others to Kohanim. The wedding, it turns out, was a community-sponsored celebration for a young orphan and a young bachelor, both penniless, after a holy rabbi recommended a cemetery wedding to put an end to a cholera outbreak. “Perhaps the dearly departed will intervene with the Holy One to help,” was the rabbi’s reasoning.

 

 


Mayer Kirshenblatt. “Boy in the White Pajamas” (1992). Acrylic on canvas.

 

 

Another magical intervention surfaces in “Boy in the White Pajamas.” The boy, standing on the right side of the painting, was born to parents who had seven daughters and no sons. His father, who was called Der Shvartser Khiel (Khiel the Brunet, who was incidentally a redhead), was a poor cobbler, who implored his friends to buy low when the tax collector confiscated his tools (he hid the valuables) and auctioned them off outside his shop when he failed to pay. The scheme worked, and the friends purchased the tools for cheap and re-sold them to Khiel for much less than the taxes would have cost him.

 

But, as Kirshenblatt explains, every man wants a son to recite the Kaddish for him after he dies, so the man went to the rabbi and asked him how he could have a son. He had lost all his male children in childbirth, and could hardly afford to keep having daughters whose dowries exceeded his means. The rabbi recommended dressing the next male baby in all white (to confuse the Angel of Death and make it think the child was already dead) and giving him an amulet to wear constantly. Apparently, the plot worked.

 

If there were a Jewish museum like the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Md., it would be the perfect venue for works like Kirshenblatt’s. It reminds me (at least some of the acrobat scenes do) of Michael Gleizer’s paintings of Chassidim (reviewed in this column December 24, 2008), and perhaps would do well at The Chassidic Art Institute. But it also makes sense at The Jewish Museum, because Kirshenblatt was so persistent in his naïve approach that he may have earned himself a different sort of nickname than Mayer July: the Yiddishe Henri Rousseau.


 


Menachem Wecker welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com. He is a painter and writer, residing in Washington, D.C.

Menachem Wecker

Kinderish Kunst: Na?ve Art

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a

Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust

Through October 1, 2009

The Jewish Museum

1109 5th Ave at 92nd St, New York

www.thejewishmuseum.org 

 

 

As a matter of principle, I must begin this column by stating bluntly that in my opinion the column’s subject, Mayer Kirshenblatt, though he is a very talented storyteller, is not a very good painter by any means. Normally, that would present the end of the story. There are more than enough great artists who grapple with Jewish subject matter and themes that this column does not need to address work that is anything but first rate. That The Jewish Museum’s curatorial staff’s gave Kirshenblatt, the so-called Mayer July (which involves a Yiddish version of the nickname “Crazy Mayer”), his own exhibit is hardly enough of a credential, either. Yet, there is something unique about Kirshenblatt’s body of work, which merits further inspection.

 

Though he is an amateur, Kirshenblatt’s work features absolutely everything he saw in the shtetl. He might not have made art per se, but he was an artist. His work resembles Chagall’s, if one used a strainer that allowed the art to flow away and just the shtetl to remain. But most importantly, Kirshenblatt’s paintings – or illustrations-in-paint might be a better term – carry the same appeal as genre paintings like van Gogh’s “The Potato Eaters” (1885), or even the works depicting peasants by the 16th century Netherlandish artist, Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Kirshenblatt’s repertoire includes works like: “Boy with a Herring” (1992), “Water-Carriers at Harshl Kishke’s Well” (1992), “The Bagel-Seller” (2002), “Chimney Sweep”  (1999), “The Wigmaker” (1994), “The Only Jew in the Volunteer Fire Brigade” (1994), “Tombstone Carver” (1995), and “The Rope Maker” (1994).

 

 

Mayer Kirshenblatt. “Potato Harvest, Iłża” (2001). Acrylic on canvas.

 

 

All of the 381 illustrations in the exhibit catalog date from the past 20 years. But calling Kirshenblatt prolific of late would only get at part of the story. The artist, born in 1916 in Apt (Opat?w in Polish), moved to Canada at age 17. He first started painting at age 73 upon the recommendations of his daughter and wife.

 

The young Kirshenblatt was a bit of a rebel, who got into trouble in school, and the older painter’s best asset might be his remarkable ability to retain his youthful perspective (though his paintings lack perspective in the technical sense of the word). “I consider myself a storehouse of memories. My project is to paint prewar life in a small town in Poland. That’s what really interests me,” he writes in the catalog. “The way I paint is important, of course, but the most important thing is to get a subject the subjects I decide to paint are those that have a story to tell.”

 

“Regrettably,” Kirshenblatt continues, “I have very little imagination. I don’t dream or, if I do, the dream is nothing I can paint. I can only paint what I lived through. I can only paint what is in my memory and in my head.” But he is being modest. His works, though presumably historical and sociological (viewers must take his word for it, ultimately), also reveal a tremendous imagination.

 

 

Mayer Kirshenblatt. “Boy with Herring” (1992). Acrylic on canvas. All works, collection of the artist. Courtesy of Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett.

Menachem Wecker

Listening To The Paint’s Music: Marilyn Banner’s Encaustics

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

My Space on 7th, Non-juried,


Group Exhibition, 50 Local Artists


Touchstone Gallery


406 7th Street NW 2nd Floor, Washington, DC


http://www.touchstonegallery.com


 


Marilyn Banner’s encaustic painting “Listening” (2008) at first appears to be ironically titled. One would expect a painting with that name to be calm and pretty, with pastel colors and an aura that would be compatible with a hospital’s waiting room. Instead, “Listening” is a very dramatic work, with thick paint, bold strokes, and text that seems cut violently into the surface in some areas, and smeared elsewhere almost to erasure.


 


The square painting could be interpreted as a flag or a landscape with deep-blue mountains and a body of water, but if it does depict a natural setting, a storm has already begun to overcome the landscape. What relevance could the term “listening have to such a loud and overbearing piece?

 

 



“Listening” 2008. Encaustic on wood, 12×12.” Courtesy of Marilyn Banner.


 

                     


As Banner describes it, she created the work while listening to a “beautiful” tune, “In the Garden of Shechina” by songwriter Hannah Tiferet Siegel. Then, in residence at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts for the eighth time, Banner wrote the text of the first two verses of Siegel’s song onto “Listening,” which is one of 24 pieces of hers that recently hung at the Touchstone Gallery in Washington. Siegel’s verses read as follows:


 


Born from the earth


Breathed by the air


Healed in the water


Kindled with prayer,


I walk through the fiery sword of truth


And listen


With all my heart.


 


I am the Tree of Life


In the Garden of Shechina


Singing a psalm of wonder and love


Ki hi m’kor habracha [because it is the source of blessing].


 


After examining the text, viewers can begin to approach the work with a different sort of listening – perhaps the kind the prophet Elijah came to practice.


 


In the Book of Kings I (Chapter 19), just after he defeated the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel when a divine fire came down to consume his sacrifice and just after he prophesized that rain would finally come to the famine-struck region, Elijah found himself fleeing for his life from Ahab and his wife Jezebel. In the desert, Elijah grew so hungry that he was ready to give up his life, much as Jonah had desired when the sun bore down too heavily on him outside Nineveh. But an angel directed Elijah to eat, and he then encountered the Divine Presence on a mountain.


 


Like much of the prophetic experience, Elijah’s encounter with G-d carried a strong aesthetic component. First a powerful wind struck the mountains and decimated the rocks. Then, an earthquake struck, after which a fire appeared and scorched whatever had survived the wind and the quake. But, the Torah explains, G-d was not in the wind, the rocks, or the fire. Instead, G-d’s voice came in a form that was not pretentious and dramatic: a “kol d’mamah dakah,” a thin, soft voice.


 


Elijah came to see that divinity and greatness were not necessarily embedded in loud noise (neither rock concerts nor construction workers’ drilling seem to have a monopoly on theology). It is possible to “listen” to Banner’s painting and hear a soft, beautiful song emerge even from the expressionistic and stormy surface.


 


In fact, even Banner’s materials involve a complicated process that is both bold and soft.


Encaustic paintings are very different from standard oil paintings, in which the artist simply puts brush to canvas and adds marks. Encaustic, which is an ancient technique that has often been employed in a religious context, essentially involves taking wax, often beeswax, with pigments mixed into it and layering it on the canvas.


 


The painter also uses damar (sometimes called dammar gum), a resin binding agent that hardens the materials and holds them together. The wax, the brushes, the paint, and the surface must remain warm throughout the process, and the layers of paint must be close to 200 degrees to “stick” to the other layers. Given the elaborate technique, Banner not only included the song text in her work, she actually wrote it into wax.


 


The 24-piece series at Touchstone is called “I Listen with All My Heart.” In her artist’s statement, Banner says the entire series is “based on my response to being in nature and listening to music.” The series is hung together on one wall as an installation in the far corner of the gallery.

 

 



“Serious”  Encaustic on wood, 12×12.” Courtesy of Marilyn Banner.


 

 


Over e-mail, Banner elaborated on the series. “It is about connection to the earth and spirituality, as you can probably tell,” she said. “I may have written out the whole poem in there, but as I work kind of in a trance, I don’t really remember. Whatever came out of my hand is what’s in there, some buried, some visible. It was as if my heart was singing it and the words just went into the paint.” She added that “it’s one of those things that when a group sings together, you’re on another plane.”


 


Banner is not just an artist who paints music. She is also co-founder and co-director of Washington “Musica Viva,” a musical, poetic, and visual art performance series, which she began in her studio in Kensington, Maryland. She was also the regional coordinator of the national organization, No Limits for Women in the Arts, as well as a board member of the DC board of the Women’s Caucus for Art.


 


The pieces in “I Listen with All My Heart” relate to these other experiences through the inclusion of texts and references to Banner’s life, early music experience, and poetry. “Serious,” “Dance of Joy,” and “Blue Sound” all reference music directly. In “Serious,” a young girl playing a violin is so immersed in her music that she closes her eyes. The background is a mixture of cool blues and greens, and except for a few carefully placed black outline marks, it is difficult to tell where the girl ends and the background begins. Banner has also added a G-clef and musical notes in black, so the girl’s left side and left arm merge with the lines of music. Both performer and music have become one within the painting, just as they are literally fused together in wax.

 

 



“Blue Sound” 2005. Encaustic on panel, 11×14.” Courtesy of Marilyn Banner.


 

 


“Blue Sound” swaps the performer for four cellos (one in relief). Banner has “written” the words “The Sound” over two of the instruments, and about 10 scores of sheet music are visible in the background. The forms of the scores mirror the strings on the cellos, and the entire surface of the paintings seems like it could yield a sound if it were plucked or played.


 


In “Dance of Joy,” viewers can discern two musical scores, but the piece is much less literal than “Serious” or “Blue Sound.” The painting reads as a landscape, perhaps a jungle scene, with thick tree trunks and thick foliage. In the right side of the work, an outlined figure dances with head thrown back and arms raised. The figure wearing a dress, has a musical score vertically written across her body, and is perhaps a self-portrait or even a personification of music herself. As in “Serious” and “Blue Sound,” Banner’s composition in “Dance of Joy” defies conventional approaches to foreground and background. The figure encroaches on the setting, and the setting engulfs the figure.

 

 



“Dance of Joy” 2006. Encaustic on wood, 9×11.” Courtesy of Marilyn Banner.




Although Banner probably had neither Elijah nor the prophetic experience in mind when she created the series, the model of the soft voice emerging from the storm proves a good model for engaging her work, even her more “realistic” works like her other series on angels and messengers (including several versions of the burning bush), the “Song of Songs,” “The Presence of Spirit,” and “Soul Ladders.” Banner’s uses the medium to her advantage to not only metaphorically show connections between the physical and the spiritual, but also to literally bond the two together in hot wax.

 


For more information on Marilyn Banner and her work, visit her website, http://marilynbanner.com/.


 


MENACHEM WECKER welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com. He is a painter and writer, residing in Washington, DC.

Menachem Wecker

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/listening-to-the-paints-music-marilyn-banners-encaustics/2008/08/06/

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