"Intersections,"a solo exhibition focusing on Jerusalem's many facets, featured as part of the Manofim art project.
At Artspace Gallery in Jerusalem's German Colony, 5 Ha Tzefira Street. After November 23, viewing is by appointment.

To book an appointment please contact: Phone: 972-546371100 or 972-2-5639567

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

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

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

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Invitation to INTERSECTIONS Exhibit at Artspace

Opening Thursday October 23 at 7:00 pm
Oil paintings by Heddy Abramowitz

5 Hazefira Street

as part of Manofim events

The exhibit will continue through 23.11.14

The gallery will be open
Tuesdays and Thursdays 5-7 pm


Intersection oil on linen 90 x 110 cm © by Heddy Abramowitz
תיחת התערוכה יום חמישי 23/10 
19:00 - 24:00


ציורים של הדי אברמוביץ

גלריית ארטספייס

5 הצפירה
מושבה הגרמנית ירושלים

חלק מאירועי "מנופים

התערוכה תתקיים עד ל-23/11/14

הגלריה פתוחה
ימי ג' וה' 17:00-19:00

Monday, October 13, 2014

Shimon Pinto at Artists' House

 Israeliness, 2012, Oil on canvas, 75 x 65 cm by Shimon Pinto
Is the child’s view essential to the artist? Does this benefit the painting?

These and other questions arise from the exhibit “Vayehi Hayom” at the Jerusalem Artists’ House. Arad-born Shimon Pinto shows oil paintings winding from childhood memories, through identity questions, and ending with complex references in deceptively simple settings, often punctuated with humor. It was Pablo Picasso who said:
Every child is an artist.The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
It is with eyes open in wonder that Pinto approaches the world.

In Israeliness we see the optimism of early harbingers of spring, Cyclamen (rakefet) flowers, uncharacteristically yellow, reaching skyward from a summit topped with a pita-shaped vase or pot, in the simple hues easily found in a crayon box. Is this the joy of mundane pleasures or an understated stab at political criticism? Curator Ilan Wizgan suggests both are possible in his statement:
Whether idealistic and ideological as in the works of early artists in Eretz Yisrael, or critical and political as in those of contemporary Israeli artists, the characteristic they have in common is the attempt to adopt the perspective of the child, the untouched gaze, unspoiled and free of mannerism and excess.
In today’s climate of charged codes, can pita merely be bread or is it part of the turf war of local imagery in the wider political conflict? Is it a simple childhood pleasure or is it a visual statement asking whose fertile ground gives rise to nature’s annual renewal? And, given the naiveté used, can we be over-thinking this – or, in Freudian parlance, is a banana just a banana?

This exhibition assumes familiarity with certain symbols and connotations in the paintings from Israeli art history and from Jewish traditions. Itzhak Danziger’s iconic sculpture Nimrod, considered so central in Israeli art that it is displayed at the juncture of the Israel Museum’s three main wings, is seen by many as the quintessential expression of angst over Jewish/Israeli identity (religious references can be found here, artistic ones here). Nimrod is pivotal in Israeli art - an exhibition at this same venue was devoted to a gathering of contemporary responses to it.

White Crow, 2010, Oil on canvas, 150 x 130 cm by Shimon Pinto
White Crow, 2010, Oil on canvas, 150 x 130 cm by Shimon Pinto

Pinto continues the long line of artists who have wrestled with Nimrod. Danziger's sculpture, which harkens to a pre-Jewish age, is apparently uncircumcised, bears a falcon on his shoulder as a reference to ancient Egypt and is, indeed, an unlikely visitor to a tiled Jewish ritual bath (mikveh). His companion is perched while he immerses, witness to a ritual change, an unusual mikveh attendant. A complex chain of references are subsumed in Pinto’s pared-down setting. The viewer is left to ponder the implications.

Tel Aviv, 2011, Oil on canvas, 150 X 130 cm by Shimon Pinto
Tel Aviv, 2011, Oil on canvas, 150 X 130 cm by Shimon Pinto
In Tel Aviv, we see the vision of a white donkey, which Jewish tradition says will bear the Messiah to redeem the world at the site of the Temple Mount. Instead of that site vital to Judaism and Islam with its highly-charged atmosphere, we see a riderless donkey incongruously wandering the entrance plaza of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, a very different sort of pinnacle in the Israeli art world. Despite its relaxed exterior, Pinto may be suggesting, tongue-in-cheek, that its inner workings could also be highly-charged and controversial in other ways, or that the donkey is tarrying in secular Tel Aviv while the Jewish people wait. Pinto leaves the question open.

As an artist from Beer Sheva it would seem likely that he would draw his influences from local Israeli culture. As Wizgan mentions, Pinto is a double outsider in the Israeli art world, neither running with the Bezalel School crowd, nor, being religiously observant, is he an easy fit in Israel's decidedly secular art world. Ori Reisman's  paintings of flat simple shapes comes close as an antecedent to Pinto's works.

A graduate of the Visual Art Center of Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Pinto was as peripheral to the art scene as one could be in those formative years. This, perhaps, may have contributed to the clarity of his personal voice.

The question of influence was once a relatively simple matter for the curator: could the artists have crossed paths, could they have visited each other, known about each other, seen one another’s exhibits, owned each other’s works? Pity the poor curators who will write of artists and their influences in the internet age, with social media a given in terms of cross-fertilization.

One can make a case that Philip Guston – whose painterly cartoon-like masterful works pack a strong visual punch and are laced with humor and charm -- could have been an influence. There are others, notably Katherine Bradford, who, though working in NY a world away, share a closely-related approach, though not identical.
Swimmer, oil on canvas, 19 x 20 cm by Shimon Pinto
Swimmer, oil on canvas, 19 x 20 cm by Shimon Pinto
Pinto’s boy, swimming amidst strokes of blue-is-for-water-blue, embodies a memory of pleasure, while Bradford’s Man Under Water, also done with a child-like approach, evidences more tension and fore-boding in the subject matter and displays greater sophistication in color choice and execution, with well-integrated happy accidents of drips in her paint handling. If Pinto is not already familiar with these artists, he will find an affinity in their works.

Man Under Water, oil on canvas, 8" x 6 " 2010 c. by Katherine Bradford
Man Under Water, oil on canvas, 8" x 6 " 2010 © by Katherine Bradford

Regardless of influences absorbed, it is not the universality of his work that stands out, for these paths are already fairly well-beaten. It is rather the individuality of the voice, as one who is very close to local  experiences in his outlook, and who draws both from his upbringing as a Jew and as an Israeli as resources for his work without apology.

Like a child and yet not.

Artists’ House (Images courtesy of the Artists' House, Jerusalem and of artist Katherine Bradford).

Till October 18, 2014.

This was originally published on Times of Israel here or: