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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Shoshana Greenwald’

Equus Opportunity

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

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.

Givati was born in 1934 in Hadera to Romanian speaking parents months after his father’s death—a traumatic event that his mother never talked to him about and about which he died knowing almost nothing. Although Givati was associated with several Israeli, European and American artistic movements such as New Horizons and its successor, Tazpit, in Israel and associated with Lyrical Abstract painters in France, Givati resisted such categorization and was even hostile to names and labels. To that end, he did not title his works or publicly interpret them, claiming in an interview, “If art lovers find ideas in the paintings, they are experiencing their own discovery. My touch on the canvas is my story.” Promotional material, as well as the exhibition catalogue from his 2006 retrospective in Tel Aviv note Givati’s insecurity and desire for acceptance. I suspect, however, that Givati, a lifetime manic-depressive, craved recognition more than acceptance and by this I mean recognition in the true sense—instead of accolades, Givati wanted people to recognize and validate the journey laid bare on his diptychs.

Givati provided clues. His final exhibit is named for the 1974 play in which a psychotic boy blinds six horses in a work that explores themes of religion, sacrifice and mental illness—themes Givati was intimately acquainted with. He was not, however, that boy. In the second half of the exhibition’s title, Givati claimed a banner, an “emergence” of maturity. A term that often evokes equanimity and serenity, maturity is just as much a meditation on loss. Growing into an identity involves peeling and discarding other identities. Only once you reach maturity do you realize that you cannot be a fireman, a world leader and an artist.

Givati’s career was long and uneven. While at times Givati associated with collectives—he spent many of his early years on a Kibbutz—he never felt fully integrated into collectives, whether an artistic, religious or a nationalistic movement. Givati was both celebrated as an up and coming artist and fell into homelessness. He associated for a time with the Lubavitch community in Crown Heights and even met with the Lubavitcher Rebbe a few times. Givati spent years living outside of Israel, feeling at home nowhere but always with a drive to create, to search, to explore. His was a journey, an odyssey even, and despite reaching maturity, Givati was not able to shake off the pathos of Equus, the torture of ambiguity. Givati was like the man who longs for the security of belonging to a group but is unable to cling to a group to which he feels anything less than complete solidarity for. Givati was a journeyman and, while still at the kibbutz in name, left for long periods of time to travel in Europe—Rome, Toledo and especially Paris. In 1974, Givati moved to New York City, lived in the Chelsea Hotel—famous for its artist residents at the time, and operated a screen-printing workshop.

In the beautifully displayed exhibition, Givati’s history is all but transcribed on the walls. As the title informs, the theme is Equus—based on the 1973 play by Peter Schaffer, and almost every work in the exhibit features horses, usually lightly rendered on a deeply saturated and colored canvas. Givati’s background in screen-printing, for example, is apparent in a delicately rendered textile of the image of a horse, or more precisely, a model of a horse. In the painting, the horse seems more like a mannequin, there to hold a textile of some sort that reads like a Native American blanket. Underneath the blanket is another black and white covering on the horse. It could be a tallit. Or it could be a shroud.

We the viewers, the reviewers, the curators and the collectors are left to sort through the material remains of that process. We are left to draw comparisons between Givati and New York artists, especially Givati’s fellow residents at the Chelsea Hotel of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s: Larry Rivers, whose influence was acknowledged by Givati and other artists who played with the role of narrative in art such as Jean Michel Basquiat, Donald Baechler and even Francis Bacon who used triptychs the way Givati uses diptychs, investigating the fragmentations, the dichotomies of the soul while referencing religious imagery. Givati recalls in his memoirs that when he visited in the early sixties, he “found London inundated with Francis Bacon’s works. Nouvelle figuration had already infiltrated the world of abstract, and later influenced my work as well, which in essence was not lyrical abstract at all, as it was often described.”1  It wouldn’t be the only time that Givati borrowed imagery from a religion that was not his own.

Keep it Healthful – Make it Up

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

We’re in a recession. Nobody informed my twin daughters, who go through about 40 diapers a week or my son, in his first year of day school. Fortunately, we’ve found ways to save money while giving our children a great head start.


            The most obvious way to save money with a newborn is to breastfeed. I guess cloth diapers would save money and the environment, but I imagine most of us would employ a diaper service, wiping out any savings incurred.


            Almost as valuable as breastfeeding, to my mind, is making our own baby food. While at first intimidating, I’ve found that the satisfaction far outweighs the hour or so a week I spend steaming, pureeing and freezing. 


            But why do it? Since I started with the recession, here are some financial omparisons. According to the website and all around great resource www.wholesomebabyfood.com, a 2.5 oz. jar of banana baby food costs 59 cents while 2.5 oz of mashed banana comes out to about 3 cents. As a health conscious mother, I try to buy organic when I can. But organic baby food can cost a dollar or more a jar. I’ve calculated that making my own food saves an average of about $5 a day (for twins). Those savings allow us to buy the more expensive organic fruits and vegetables at the supermarket.


            Another reason for making my own food is that I know exactly what goes in it. There are no preservatives or fillers in the bananas that I mash and freeze. Furthermore, I have more variety. After getting the okay from my pediatrician, I actually gave my girls avocado before cereal. Although I gave them cereal soon after, I also introduced them to sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini, apples and any number of creative mixes I could come up with. Sometimes, I’d stir in cinnamon or wheat germ, and generally try to keep mealtime a creative and bonding ritual.


            There is also the future to think about. As the mother of an extremely picky four- year-old, I vowed to try as hard as I could to introduce, and keep my children exposed, to a wide range of foods. A few months into solid eating, my daughters eat kiwi, chopped liver, pumpkin and papaya. I know that it’s way too early to give myself a pat on the back. Books and experience tell me that children, toddlers especially, can turn on a dime. Children who tried asparagus and peas when younger, close their mouths to anything but fish sticks and macaroni later. Still, I’ll try to do what I can now.


            I can almost hear the screaming – “who has time for pureeing baby food?” You’d be surprised at how effortless it can become, especially when integrated into a routine. Some foods, of course, don’t need to be cooked or pureed by any utensils other than a fork. Avocados and bananas fall into that category, as do pears (after 6 months only). Papayas need to be pureed but not cooked.


            An immersion blender is salvation with homemade baby food. Other important tools include a collapsible steamer and an ice cube tray. Of course, there are as many ways to prepare the food as there are babies to cook for, so a food processor and Ziploc bags work just as well.


There are several ways to prepare the fruits and vegetables. Most can be boiled, steamed or roasted. Steaming, however, is fairly simple and retains the most nutrients. To steam, simply fill a pot with about an inch of water. Put in a steaming basket and then the sliced fruit or vegetable.


Here’s what I do: I steam or roast the fruits and vegetables. After they’ve cooled, I blend them with an immersion blender. I’ve found great baby food storage jars from the website www.OneStepAhead.com. They are freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe, and come with trays that can be labeled with erasable markers. To use the ice cube tray method, just spoon the purees into the tray and freeze. Once frozen, pop the cubes out into a sandwich bag labeled with the food and the date. In the beginning, a serving consists of one cube, and later on you can serve more as necessary.


A few recipes: As I said before, the quickest foods are the ones that require opening and spooning out, such as an avocado or a banana. After a few months, there are more fruits and vegetables that don’t need to be cooked or pureed, but both avocados and bananas are healthful choices. Obviously, you should consult with your pediatrician, but I actually gave my daughters avocados as a first food, even before rice cereal.


Papaya also does not need to be cooked and can be introduced quite young. Simply cut it open, scoop out the seeds, and puree. You can always add breast milk or a little formula.


            Zucchini should be sliced and steamed in about an inch of water for 15 minutes. When you puree it, add a little bit of the cooking water.


Butternut Squash is made the same way, but the vegetable must be peeled first.


You can make homemade rice cereal, but this is the one I left to the pros. I made it once and found it tedious and of course, it doesn’t freeze. The other advantage to store-bought rice cereal is that it can be mixed into fruit and vegetable soups and purees as a thickener.


Potatoes need to be washed well and steamed for about half an hour. After it’s cooled, peel the potatoes and mash. Potatoes are one vegetable I would use a fork to mash with some liquid. As with the others baby milk is fine, but I like to mash it with Imagine Organic Vegetable Soup. It adds flavor and doesn’t have the preservatives that many other types have.


Babies also enjoy mixes-you can be creative. I’ve served bananas with avocadoes (bananacado) as well as zucchini, and plums with applesauce (homemade applesauce is one of the all time joys in homemade baby food, and I challenge you to prepare applesauce without stealing half of it for yourself). Your imagination is the limit.


            Again, wholesomebabyfood.com is a fantastic resource with instructions, recipes and food charts. Although it is imperative to check and keep in contact with your pediatrician, the website does have a chart of what foods can be introduced at what age. Another resource is an English lady named Annabel Karmel. She’s written The Healthy Baby Meal Planner and my own copy is dog-eared. The book is divided by age, and Karmel also includes advice in an easy-to-read and non-preachy manner.


            This is such a small window in your child’s life. After about eight months all fruits may be served raw; including apples, peaches, plums and mangos. Soon you will introduce cheeses, raisins, berries (but not strawberries) and pasta. For me, homemade baby food is second only to nursing. I’ve long felt that nursing is one of the few choices I have to make for my child that is all good. So often, the choices we make for our children are ambiguous or full of trade-offs. For instance, do you send your daughter to the school with the good education that lacks the warmth, or a school with a welcoming, cozy environment but a less-than-stellar education? Do you buy her the new toy that has all the bells and whistles but leaves no room for imagination, or provide simple toys that are less flashy but offer more stimulation?


            Breastfeeding, on the other hand, is great for mother-child bonding, is the most nutritious food for her, saves the parents money and even benefits the mother’s health. So why end it there? Homemade baby food is a great, simple and inexpensive way to prolong the closeness and the health benefits before you’ll be forced to cede a little more control. It is a wonderful way to send a child into the world fortified with the best food and closest feeling possible.


Shoshana Greenwald is the mother of one extremely picky 4-year-old, and two daughters who will eat anything in sight.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/food/recipes/keep-it-healthful-make-it-up/2009/01/07/

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