In 2010, Alison Klayman sat in a car in Chengdu, China, with her camera rolling as the internationally renowned conceptual artist and dissident Ai Weiwei scuffled with police, who were pushing and pulling at him and his entourage. The melee had erupted as Ai was attempting to file a lawsuit against the policeman who had beaten him so severely a year earlier that he had suffered a life-threatening cranial hemorrhage, requiring surgery to remove the blood from his brain.
An artist’s angst over personal demons and the vicissitudes of the marketplace is depicted with a mixture of humor and pathos in the upcoming revival of “Modigliani” at the Open Fist Theatre in Hollywood.
Lucian Freud, one of Britain's most noted artists, has died at the age of 88.
From the small religious village of Beit Yatir, just south of Jerusalem, to the far more secular beach city of Santa Monica, Judith Margolis made quite a journey to become Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's artist-in-residence.
There's a 1,000-year-old haggadah, there's an Internet haggadah, and now there is a new $15,000 Arthur Szyk Haggadah.
"Walter Goldfarb: D+Lirium," on view at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach through May 18, should reassure viewers that our art-jaded world still provides the occasional joy of discovery. The mid-career view of this talented Brazilian artist is also his first solo exhibition in the U.S., and the work is much more interesting than the show's somewhat precious title suggests.
R.B. Kitaj -- an appreciation
For most of his 92 years, artist Sam Fink has been obsessed with the pursuit of freedom and the beauty of language. Even though he is a painter, he calls language "the highest form of art, higher even than painting and music."
So we return, with the inevitability of quarrels in a shul, to the question posed at the outset: what makes a Jewish writer? I promised to avoid it, but there is a Wittgensteinian way out (and by the way, was he a Jewish philosopher?) A Jewish writer is someone whom we choose to call a "Jewish" writer. Would we rather have a clear category or fecundity and individuality of expression? Uniformity of commitment or divergence? The dilemma of modern Jewish writing is the same as that which bedevils modern Judaism: Where one can be everything, how likely is it that in the end, bristling with talent and showered with opportunity, one will come to nothing?
Kirshenblatt's canvasses, together with a stunningly vivid text -- the product of four decades' worth of interviews with his daughter, noted New York University folklorist Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett -- have now been reproduced in a handsome volume by the University of California Press, and the result is a marvel: With his scrupulously recalled images, Kirshenblatt has managed to do no less than create a new visual language for describing pre-war Eastern European life. In stark contrast to the black-and-white record that has made up our vision heretofore, Kirshenblatt's paintings are untainted by the horrors to come. They offer a picture not of Polish Jewish life as it was before tragedy struck, but simply as it was. If Chagall was the shtetl's mythmaker, then Kirshenblatt is his antithesis: a shtetl anthropologist.
Charlotte Salomon perished in Auschwitz at the age of 26, but the astonishing legacy she left behind will be celebrated this month in an exhibition and on stage.
In a gallery carved into a stone wall amid the ancient ruins of Caesarea, Eran Grebler sits at a potter's wheel shaping clay dreidels.Grebler's dreidels are not your typical spinning tops. They don't have four sides, and they're not necessarily for Chanukah.
For Israeli violinist Miri Ben-Ari, doing the unexpected is standard fodder; so it should come as no surprise that her new single, "Symphony of Brotherhood" (featuring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech weaving in and out of an extended string solo) topped the charts just one month after its radio release.
Nassi has spent more than 10 years making a name for herself in the art world who has shown themes ranging from women's rights and marriage to societal issues.
"It's like a temple," the painter says of his artist's studio.
A lonely temple, that is.
"I'm the rabbi and congregation all in one," he says with a laugh.
Throughout his life, until his death at 57 in 1951, Szyk always returned to his Jewish themes, from argumentative shtetl figures and paintings of Jewish craftsmen and merchants to Jewish refugees and fighters.
"I have a warped idea about my worth, my abilities as an artist, my intelligence," Jessica Shokrian says in her video installation at the Skirball Cultural Center. "For much of my life, I've been extremely concerned with how I look and how I think I look to other people. It's definitely been a sad obsession."
Following the Communist party line, Heartfield could lampoon the Social Democratic leaders of the Weimar Republic as viciously as he did the Nazis, sharpening the enmity between the two left-wing parties that paved the way for the Nazi takeover.
When he was 6 years old, Los Angeles artist Ted Meyer had two life-changing experiences. He won his first art show prize after copying a flamingo drawn by an older friend. Secondly, he was diagnosed as suffering from Gaucher Disease after intensive bouts of pain in his knees and hip bones.
The Kinkster is nothing if not irreverent. But this Texas cowboy, who has morphed from recording artist to postmodern mystery writer, may have redefined chutzpah with his current campaign to become governor of Texas.
7 Days in the Arts
Museums, like movie studios, prefer to open big.
The high cost of museum management, from health care to advertising, has forced institutions to reach for blockbuster exhibits -- Tutmania! -- market them like summer movies, and pray for long lines and lasting buzz on opening day.
Then there's Max Liebermann.
Skirball Cultural Center founder and director Uri Herscher was in Jerusalem several years ago, visiting a friend's small, art-filled apartment. His eye caught an attractive painting, a Liebermann, his friend said, and Herscher responded, "Who?"
Virtually unknown today, Max Liebermann was the most famous German painter of his time. He died at age 87 in 1935, just as Adolf Hitler rose to power. As he watched the Nazis march through the Brandenburg Gate celebrating the takeover of Hitler, Liebermann famously remarked, "One cannot eat as much as one would like to vomit."
7 Days in the Arts
Who says chicks can't be funny?
There is something raw about the rough brush strokes in the work of native Israeli artist Rhea Carmi, and about her textured materials, such as sand and stone. But then, there also was a rawness to the tragedy that originally informed and inspired her work.
"The black-and-white snapshots revealed little worlds and scenes I wanted to bring alive in color," said Shelley Adler, whose "Shades of Time: The Extended Family of Shelley Adler" runs through July 1 at the Workmen's Circle.
If you're planning a visit to Jerusalem, it's a must to visit the model of the Second Temple at the Holyland Hotel in Bayit Vegan. Occupying one-quarter of an acre and at a scale of 1:50, the model is an impressive sight.
But if you can't make it to the Holy Land anytime soon, then the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Midtown Los Angeles offers the next best thing. Tucked away on the second floor in a self-contained room stands a replica of the Second Temple, painstakingly built on a 1:100 scale by Jerusalem artist Rabbi Shalom Ifergan.
Three female artists who see no trace of irony in the notion of drawing sculptures display their takes on the theme in Bank's new exhibition, aptly titled, "Sculpture." Bari Ziperstein paints images of stacked crates and cardboard boxes, Sherin Guiguis creates "wall sculptures" and Carrie Ungerman builds site-specific installations out of organic and everyday materials.
7 Days In The Arts
The dancing rabbis returned Sept. 12 at the 24th annual Chabad L'Chaim -- To Life! Telethon. The program was beamed into homes in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas and on the Dish Network.
"I avoid cliches," artist Mark Podwal said of his "A Sweet Year" exhibit. His witty, poetic new show at the Skirball Cultural Center, subtitled "A Taste of the Jewish Holidays," instead offers food for thought.
In contemporary artist Gottfried Helnwein's painting, "Epiphany I," an Aryan Madonna-like figure sits holding a naked, uncircumcised new born boy, while some SS officers stand around her, critically sizing up mother and child. The painting is a reproduction of a Nazi propaganda photograph in which Hitler was the central figure; here in the painting, the mother is.
"Epiphany I: Adoration of the Magi," one of five works by Helnwein currently on exhibit at the Schmeidler-Goetz gallery in West Hollywood, is not the first work of art to explore an uncomfortable subject like the Holocaust.
Block's father owned the lithograph collection, because he was a childhood friend of Abraham Rattner's publisher, New York art dealer Bill Haber.
While Israeli artist Avner Moriah was creating "Haggadat Moriah" (Moriah Haggadah), his wife, Andy, was undergoing chemotherapy treatments for leukemia.
"I sat next to her when the chemicals were dripping in," said the 50-year-old artist, in Los Angeles this week for an exhibit opening of his work at the University of Judaism. "In Israel everyone davens and says 'Tehillim' when someone is sick, but I came up with images for the haggadah. When I started, the images were really small but as she got healthier, they became more colorful and more lively. When I finished [and Andy recovered] I realized that I had painted my own journey from Egypt."
Five years ago, veteran comic book artist Joe Kubert visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. He expected to be moved, but since he and his parents had escaped from Poland before the Nazi genocide began, he assumed his emotional reaction would be relatively contained. Then, he saw something that struck him profoundly: "Yzeran," the name of the shtetl where he had been born, etched on a wall filled with names of towns that had been completely obliterated in World War II.
This one word began a creative odyssey that found its completion this month, with the publication of "Yossel -- April 19, 1943," Kubert's graphic novel about Jewish resistance during the Holocaust -- artistic, as well as physical -- with the date in the subtitle referring to the start of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
Are we the luckiest people in the world to live in Los Angeles, leading the lives others only dream about? Or is this the most unfair city in the nation, where the few are insulated from the harsh realities of the many? And what, you may wonder, does any of this have to do with Randy Newman?
When she was 18 years old, Desy Safán-Gerard conducted an a cappella choir in her native Chile and won a yearlong scholarship to study musical composition in Jerusalem.
Today, the Venice-based artist has long since left music, but not her love of it. Now an abstract painter and psychoanalyst, Safán-Gerard insists the fields are not mutually exclusive, saying that her interests in music, in painting and in psychology are thematically linked.
Feathery palm trees, swaying dancers, and butting rams are untraditional focal points in the contemporary Jewish papercuts of artist Deborah Heyman.
In reinterpreting this nearly lost, venerable Jewish folk art tradition, Heyman, of Irvine, finds inspiration and content for her own creations in the personal upheavals and simple pleasures of a modern life.
For local artist Rebecca Levy, building a body of work literally begins with the building. "Each one is different and has a charm of its own,"
The Los Angeles recording artist and producer composes and reinterprets Jewish melodies with accessible, contemporary riffs. Taubman's popularity shifted to high gear since debuting a joyful "Friday Night Live" Shabbat service in 1998 at Los Angeles' Sinai Temple, which he performed in June in Orange County.
He was the guy with all the good lines. The late Saul Steinberg helped establish The New Yorker magazine as a purveyor of visual excellence. "Art of the Spirit," an exhibit at The Jewish Federation running through Dec. 15, is a welcome reminder of the late illustrator's visual wit.
R.B. Kitaj's show in Venice includes more than 20 works, paintings, drawings, even a few abstracts. Clearly, Kitaj's time in Los Angeles has been productive. But can a self-proclaimed "Diasporist" ever be truly at home?
When Boris Eifman's ballet, "Tchaikovsky: The Mystery of Life and Death," premiered in Moscow in 1993, angry picketers surrounded the concert hall.
When most people think of a spiritual awakening, they don't necessarily think of such a thing taking place at the GAP. But then again, artist Orit Arfa isn't really into conventionality.
While walking down the streets of Manhattan seven years ago, dressed in her ankle-length skirt and modest Orthodox clothing, Arfa caught a reflection of herself in a revolving door.
"I felt I looked really shleppy, and it didn't really reflect who I was inside and what I was feeling," she said.
Arfa immediately marched straight to the GAP and into a new pair of jeans. "I was jumping up and down! There was this freedom. This spiritual freedom. It seemed like the whole world opened up for me."
For Arfa, the experience was not only religiously liberating, it was creatively liberating.
"I knew that part of my challenge was to break the stereotypes of the ideal Jewish woman, both for myself, and I wanted to paint the foremothers as sexual, sensual, beautiful, vibrant women," Arfa said.
Decades after Sigmund Freud probed unconscious human drives in his case histories, his grandson, Lucian, appeared to do the same on canvas. The 110 works in his retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art reveal his subjects in unflinching, microscopic detail -- enough to make grandpa blush.
This show gathers Lucian Freud's work over six decades -- paintings, watercolors, drawings, as well as new works for this exhibition -- a powerful testament to one painter's life's work. It is a demanding and challenging show. As I walked through the exhibit last week, I wondered, why L.A.? Why now?
The UPS man brought an envelope containing a beautiful ray of hope, an exceptional picture book by Jane Breskin Zalben titled "Let There Be Light: Poems and Prayers for Repairing the World" (Dutton Books, $15.99).
7 Days in Arts
There was a time when the holidays meant choosing between a traditional stamp, like Madonna and child, or a modern stamp, like snowmen. But that all changed in 1996.
7 Days in the Arts
7 Day in the Arts
At the entrance to "The Danube Exodus: The Rippling Currents of the River" at the Getty Center's Research Institute is an observation by the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus: "Everything is in constant flux and movement, nothing is abiding.... We cannot step twice into the same river. When I step into a river for the second time, neither I nor the river are the same."
Surviving a near-fatal auto accident deepened the realism in the work of Buena Park artist Carol Goldmark. Her renderings of flowers, previously painted in full bloom as a metaphor for beauty, now are depicted across the floral lifespan -- newly formed clenched buds to withering limp petals. "The accident lifted the veil," says Goldmark, whose work is part of "Art Heals, Art Works," an exhibit that begins Aug. 4 at the Fullerton Museum Center, 301 N. Pomona Ave.