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Monday, May 11, 2015

Personal Break

Please have a bit of patience for me while I am taking a break from blogging.  We have had a loss in the family and it may take me awhile to get back on track.

Thank you for your understanding.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Interview on TLV1 Radio for Cross Point Exhibition

Shadow Couple 20 x 30 cm oil on linen 2006 © by Heddy Abramowitz

Because we are in election season, the idea of a time being a crossing-point is ever more significant.  Cross Point is my current solo exhibit now being shown at the Artists' House in Tel Aviv.

The exhibit includes selected drawings and paintings spanning a 19-year period during which I explored the presence of rhythm in my work, curated by artist Shimon Pinto.

I think for myself, it was satisfying to see the long development over time come together to create a body of work, one that was interrupted many times and for long stretches during its creation, yet still was cohesive as a single body of work. The factor of time in the development of art is something that is less-valued in today's world, where instant everything is at our fingertips. Yet, in terms of development, time takes its own course, it cannot be rushed and will eventually, with great perseverance, factor into the art, in an almost subconscious way if we just let it. No amount of anxiousness will bring about that result.

The earliest piece shown, a graphite drawing of my violinist/composer friend, Temima Susskind, was one of many studies made while she was memorizing a set of Bach Partitas for performance. While she practiced I drew, drew, and drew.

The combination of her need for a live audience, even of one, and for me having the challenge of a model constantly in motion and absorbed in her own work was a particularly productive and mutually beneficial arrangement. The music served as a presence in the room which eventually worked its way into each drawing, though each time a different adjustment was made. Was the composition the key element, were the rapid movements of her hands the focus, was the rhythm the most important thing to convey? Each work resolved one facet of the challenge while the group of drawings overall saw a loosening up of my process and an attention to the particular dynamic contained within each sheet of paper.


Temima, Violinist Series graphite on Arches paper 37 x 45 cm 26.4.95 © 2015 by Heddy Abramowitz

During the making of the Violinist Series I moved studios. Though the Ha Neviim Street studio was only two blocks from the Davidka Square workplace, the change required an adjustment to my new conditions. Much like having a new roommate, every studio move takes some time to settle in and discover its special characteristics, whether it is the quality of the light or a new view or observing shifts in a room's mood at different times of day and year.

The Davidka Square studio was situated on a very busy intersection, where Jaffa Road and Ha Neviim Street converge and a confluence of traffic, both vehicular and human, is always present. Getting to know my new space included taking advantage of its location with three windows bringing the world in and my gaze out. The expanse of the urban landscape was laid out before me and I painted it repeatedly, each time finding something new in it. Eventually, it was not the large expanse that pulled me in, but the vignettes that took place on the street right beneath me.

Once I realized being positioned exactly over the intersection could be a subject in itself, it was the play of light and shadows on the zebra stripes that attracted my notice. The pedestrians were directly beneath me, recalling a playground joke: 3 concentric circles indicated seeing a fat lady or man wearing a hat as seen from above. That old visual memory clicked in and pulled me to translate that specific view with the drama of strong sunlight on the street markings. As I continued working,  the rhythm and composition of the stripes within a standard format became ever more interesting, the split-second interactions on the street created small narratives, and the overall situation of crossing on permitted paths leading from one safe zone to another all combined to make the crosswalk a subject that continued to challenge me.
Wet Crossing 2007 egg tempera 28 x 16 cm © 2015 by Heddy Abramowitz
Wet Crossing 2007 egg tempera 28 x 16 cm © 2015 by Heddy Abramowitz
I also found that the quick changes in foot traffic could best be conveyed in a medium that had more immediacy than the way I was using oil paints. My studies included quick graphite drawings which eventually I combined with working directly in sumi ink, reducing the strong graphics of the zebra stripes to their black and white simplicity. The rainy days of winter included the muted color of egg tempera.

The latest two sets of paintings were created during the past year, in which I used multiple panels to split the sets of stripes and further focus on the movement in another way. One panel is a triptych, called "On the Edge" while the most recent work completed is called "Coming and Going."
Coming and Going 2014 oil on linen 40 x 100 © 2015 by Heddy Abramowitz
Coming and Going 2014 oil on linen 40 x 100 © 2015 by Heddy Abramowitz
The influences for this series of works range as far afield as the Abbey Road album cover of the Beatles, to Corot who was present in my mind as I "followed the reds" of the street markings, to Mondrian's Broad Way Boogie Woogie for its graphic reduction of street movement. The significance of this group of drawings represented for me a cross point in another way as well, a turning point in my process, a loosening up of method.

I am pleased to share with you my interview with Ilene Prusher of TLV1 Radio, an on-line all English radio station broadcasting from Tel Aviv. We discuss the work in my current solo exhibition at the Tel Aviv Artists' House, what my original image resources were for these works and specifically discuss the oil painting "Shadow Couple." 

To listen to the radio program click here (replete with an example of our ubiquitous election advertisements):
http://tlv1.fm/full-show/2015/03/13/a-celebration-of-the-kafkaesque-weekend-edition/
The segment starts at 01:47:46 but if you want to hear the Beatles sing "Revolution" then you can listen from 01:43. Thank you for listening, and I would love to hear your thoughts.

This post was originally published on Times of Israel here or 
http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/reaching-a-cross-point-solo-exhibit-at-artists-house-tel-aviv/


Cross Point 
Artist House, 9 Alharizi Street, Tel Aviv
Hours are Monday - Thursday 10 am - 1 pm and 5 pm - 7 pm,
Fridays 10 am - 1 pm,
and Saturdays 11 am - 2 pm. tel. (03) 524-6685 www.artisthouse.co.il
through March 21, 2015.













Sunday, February 22, 2015

Invitation to Solo Exhibit at Artist House, Tel Aviv

"Wet Day" 2006 oil on linen 20 x 30 cm ©2015 by Heddy Abramowitz
I am very pleased to invite you to the opening of my solo exhibit at the Tel Aviv Artists House this coming Thursday, February 26 at 7:30 pm, curated by Shimon Pinto.


Hours are Monday - Thursday 10 am - 1 pm and 5 pm - 7 pm,
Fridays 10 am - 1 pm,
and Saturdays 11 am - 2 pm. tel. (03) 524-6685 www.artisthouse.co.il

Closing March 21, 2015.

Very much looking forward to seeing you there.

Heddy


Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Pen or the Sword?


Eugène Delacroix, "La Liberté Guidant le Peuple" 1830 Louvre Museum
Living where I do and being an artist, I cannot help but reflect on the reactions already rising in the art world and in the angst of the good-hearted people of the world. How can cartoons push one to murder in the name of religion? And, the corollary, could the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo have been irresponsible by printing images perceived as disrespectful to Islam in its pages? Did the victims bring this on themselves?

What I have noticed in the political context of Israel, is that it doesn't much matter what the 'trigger' is. If people's point is to strike terror, they will act, and the logical hook that is given, here cartoons, is only useful as a gut and mind-wrenching red herring for those who soul search and seek to understand these acts.

It is fairly clear by now that Ariel Sharon’s walk on the Temple Mount did not start the first intifada. Nor did suicide bombings have anything to do with complaints about resolving the peace process. Missiles from Gaza did not have very much to do with extending the area for fishing rights.There is no understanding, violence is the end point.

Blaming the victim is a useful tool and obfuscates the fact that the violent one is the one who chooses to be violent. The staffers of the Charlie Hebdo were as responsible for their murders as women in high heels are responsible for being raped.

Any accommodation to demands for curtailing the freedoms that are the foundation of democracies are the steps which will chip away, one small infringement at a time, to rendering those democracies unrecognizable. A case in point: Nazi Germany.

As a child of Holocaust survivors, I see pretty much everything through that prism. Can’t help it, that’s how I roll. The Nazi plans for the Jews did not happen in a single day, they took years to build up through the restrictive Nuremburg laws, see here or here. 

From the Nazi rise to power in 1933 until the militarily-enforced Anschluss annexing Austria in 1938, the general populations became conditioned to the changed climate.

This wasn’t accomplished through gently persuasive op-eds in the local papers. This was accomplished by violence, by thugs, by fear. And by law. By the time Austria (where my father was from) was annexed following a farcical plebiscite, it took months–not 5 years, for the population to accept those infringements as the new normal. Some willingly, some by quiet acquiescence.

The pogroms of Kristallnacht were pinned on the pretext of an assassination.

Insulting cartoons are a pretext too.

Terror does exactly what it is meant to do: terrorize. It forces anyone with a pen in their hand, everyone at a computer screen, all sharers of social media, to think twice, to adjust, to make the ever-so-slight accommodation as they pull up the mental picture of today’s storm troopers in the guise of supposedly devout Muslims before making the mark, choosing the word, selecting the image, or picking the story that runs.

And sowing fear and intimidation works. We already know that the news coming out of the war in Gaza was skewed. There was intimidation, threats on lives, and threats to journalists to lose access. Matti Friedman’s influential article covered the tip of that iceberg here.

It starts with violent intimidation against journalists. It won’t end there.

Understand this: It isn’t about cartoons, it isn’t about tolerance. It’s about fear.

Cartoons are the pretext. Destroying freedom is the goal.

Silence is the enemy.


This was originally published on the Times of Israel here or

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-pen-or-the-sword/

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Chanukah: Doing It in Public



Chanukah Candelabra in Arched Window © 2014 by Heddy Abramowitz
It was a revelation to me when I got to Israel that part of Chanukah celebrations was the public display of the miracle of the holiday. I grew up in a Jewish home, one of very few, in an overwhelmingly Christian southern Maryland suburb, close to the border of Washington, D.C. We just didn't do that.

Moreover, my parents were Holocaust survivors. We didn't place our Chanukah menora in the wide bay window on the street-side. We lit our candles on the formica kitchen table and never thought twice about it. If I would have given it any pause at all, I would probably think it was for the same reason that we used the fireplace only occasionally - we didn't want to go messing up the paint job with smoke. Drawing attention to our Jewishness was probably the last thing my parents would be interested in. And I get it. Now.

Blessings and Blossoms, © 2014 by Heddy Abramowitz
So it was something of a whole new world to observe my first Chanukah in Jerusalem, where lighting candles in the most street-facing window is the common practice. It is magniv (awesome) to see candles flickering in windows throughout the week wherever Jews live. But, I don't take it for granted.
Razel Family and Guests, Nachlaot © 2014 by Heddy Abramowitz


In my own neighborhood in the Jewish Quarter, we have throngs of groups that come to visit as soon as night descends to see the candles amongst the Jewish Quarter alleys, which I've written about here and here. It is a reminder to me how special it is to live where I do and that I did not always have this life.

Lights and Laundry © 2014 by Heddy Abramowitz

My studio is in another one of Jerusalem's many picturesque locations, Nachlaot. Very close to the thriving (and increasingly yuppified) outdoor market Mahane Yehuda, tour groups and individuals come from far and wide for the special charms of its own alleyways and eclectic residents. Here are some highlights from my wanderings during the last night of Chanukah a year ago in Nachlaot.
Collector's Chanukiot Display © 2014 by Heddy Abramowitz

It also reminds me that miracles happened then and do in our times as well. So join me in this virtual walk through Nachlaot celebrating Chanukah. Chanukah Sameach.

Family Lights © 2014 by Heddy Abramowitz
Chanukah Lights in the Alleyway © 2014 by Heddy Abramowitz

Chanukah Lamps Lit at Doorways © 2014 by Heddy Abramowitz

This was originally published on the Times of Israel here or:

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/chanukah-doing-it-in-public/

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Fusing Two Worlds in my Jerusalem Kitchen

"Butternut Squash Melange on Warmer, Sila'an Glazed Turkey in the Oven" photo  2014 © by Heddy Abramowitz



Since moving to Israel in my 20’s to Join My People in our Ancient Land, I find that come November each year I respond with another instinct from deep inside. My American surges to the surface and I have insatiable cravings for that most American holiday.
Some years I would just do a nod to Thanksgiving, the ever so casual replacement of the Friday night Shabbat chicken with a turkey breast, the joy of finding a can of Libby’s Pumpkin to turn into a home-made pie shell and served for dessert to my befuddled children, not to mention their Sabra friends (who did not have weird foreign-tongued parents at home).

I will even admit to one year of total lunacy making pumpkin pie from fresh dla’at (Israeli grown pumpkin style gourd). I was close to certifiable that year.

Then, when the appetites around the table could justify the bother, making a whole turkey, and as time passed and more American products hit the shelves in supermarket events called “Shavua Amerikai (America Week),” I could even add the can of cranberry sauce that made it officially Thanksgiving. Sometimes a kind relation would stick fresh cranberries in their suitcase that would stay frozen till the holiday preparations.

I find it odd that come November I feel that having left one diaspora I have entered another. I join ex-pats around the world who go to crazy efforts and expense to replicate on some level the ultimate holiday of their youth. From Paris to Tokyo to Jerusalem, we join together to sing “Over the River and Through the Woods (if our children let us).” Not quite the same without the Macy’s parade or football game droning away in the background, but such is life in the diaspora.

We Americans living in Israel have our own split identity. Those with a Moroccan heritage proudly celebrate Mimouna. The Ethiopian Jews celebrate Sigd. We can manage all year with chicken b'taam grill laced with cumin, but nothing this week will work except poultry season imbued with sage. Even my grocery store, stocked to bursting with chestnuts and cranberries must get creative to sell their overstock of canned pumpkin to the locals, who mostly (to their credit) use fresh produce.

"Pumpkin Filling for Stuffing Pastelim" (Middle East pastry appetizer) photo  2014 © by Heddy Abramowitz


Now I feel I have graduated to a new level of Thanksgiving celebration, a willingness to adapt to the ingredients that are local and maybe even better in some ways. So, it is with pleasure that I am sharing my newly created recipe that combines the best of all my worlds, a fusion of my heart’s delights.

Butternut Squash Mélange

2 peeled butternut squash, seeds and fibers removed, and cubed.  Ours are sometimes small, you may want to use one if they are really big.

3 or 4 shallots, peeled and quartered

1 leek, cleaned and sliced in half lengthwise, then in slices horizontally (white part)

olive oil (or other vegetable oil)

some maple syrup (or sila’an date honey if you prefer)

2 Tblsp. brown sugar (optional)

dried un-sugared cranberries (NOT Craisins), a handful, around 1/4 to 1/3 cup

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 tsp or more of quatre épices (a French spice mixture consisting of a powdered mix of cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg and cloves)

1.  Take a sauté pan, add olive oil to thinly coat the surface, then shallots on a medium heat till starting to get translucent, then leek till getting a bit brown, then the cubed squash.
2. Let squash brown a bit, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the brown sugar, spices, cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the maple syrup, to give it a shine but not enough to get liquidy, and toss through the pan till glazed, stir and cook another 3 or 4 minutes,
5. Add the dried cranberries, adjust seasonings, and cook through till the squash is soft but not mushy. If it is going on a hot plate, may want to have it slightly underdone to account for reheating. Can serve hot or room temperature.

With much to be thankful for, sending all a Happy Thanksgiving from Jerusalem. Enjoy!

This was partly published originally in Times of Israel here or
http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/fusing-two-worlds-in-my-jerusalem-kitchen/http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/fusing-two-worlds-in-my-jerusalem-kitchen/

Friday, October 24, 2014

Interview about Intersections Exhibit on Voice of Israel

Artspace Opening, photo by Judy Lash Balint

Very happy to share my interview conducted by journalist, author, and writer Judy Lash Balint, covering the Intersections Exhibit now being shown at Artspace Gallery, the wider Manofim Art Project, and the art scene of Jerusalem and Israel.

The podcast can be heard here or at
https://soundcloud.com/voiceofisrael/diaries-oct22-2014

Thank you for listening.  Would love to hear your thoughts.