The Arts

Tender Music, Across The Years

04/13/2010

If Mayer Davis needed proof that music can fill in the spaces between the words in our lives, he found it one Shabbat morning when, after leading the services as cantor at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on the Upper East Side, he visited his ailing mother.

Esther Frankel Davis, whose husband, Avrum, is a well-known cantor, was by then seriously ill and no longer able to speak or recognize family members. But she loved when her son sang to her, and sometimes she would hum along, with eyes closed.

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A New Medium For Holocaust Stories

Part graphic novel, part documentary, ‘motion comics’
help attract viewers to difficult topics.

04/13/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

The creators of “They Spoke Out: American Voices Against the Holocaust,” a new series of motion comics, can each talk about why that relatively new medium is best suited for telling the stories they chose — those of Americans who helped rescue Jews in the 1930s and ‘40s.

But perhaps no explanation is more compelling than the one offered by Neal Adams, a legend in the comic-book industry and the illustrator of the new series.

New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia’s forceful stance against Nazi Germany is told in “LaGuardia’s War Against Hitler.”

A Veteran Klezmer Bassist Steps Out Front

04/08/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Jim Guttmann was there at the beginning.

In 1980 he ran into Hankus Netsky, who was looking for a bass player for a new venture. Guttmann, a bassist, was "working at Rosie's Bakery" in Cambridge, Mass., so when Netsky asked if he was interested in playing Jewish music, he quickly replied in the affirmative although, he admits today, "I didn't know what he was talking about." He found out soon enough; the band had a concert two weeks later, at which Guttmann played.

Jim Guttmann will be performing music from his first CD as a leader, "Bessarabian Breakdown," at Joe's Pub next week.

The Pursuits of Maira Kalman

From Obama to Tel Aviv to the New Yorker’s legendary ‘New Yorkistan’ cover,
the brainy Israeli-born painter/writer/blogger explores modern life.

04/07/2010
Staff Writer

When Barack Obama won the presidency, Maira Kalman was thrilled. It was not only a fresh start for America, she thought, but one for her own work as well: The New York Times was looking for another assignment for Kalman after her wildly successful illustrated blog, “The Principles of Uncertainty,” which documented her own life, debuted in 2006.

An gouache painting by Maira Kalman, titled  “Israel Bed” (2008).

Chess Men: Pulling Out The Biopic Tropes

‘Who Do You Love,’ about the Jewish brothers behind
a legendary R&B label, is pleasant but inconsequential.

04/07/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Is there any genre of film that is as hidebound, as resistant to change as the biopic? Even the good ones stick pretty closely to formula: he/she had a terrible/wonderful childhood, learned a trade/craft/art, wrote/painted/fought many masterpieces and died happy/unfulfilled, but leaving the world a rich legacy of something or other. Add in a struggle for love or acceptance for his/her innovation or a battle with substance abuse and you’ve got a film about the Ritz Brothers or the inventor of Ritz Crackers.
 

Robert Randolph as Bo Diddley in the biopic about record producer Leonard Chess.

‘Bobbie’And ‘Zaide’s’ Triumph, On Canvas

04/07/2010

Young Julie Mauskop first heard stories from “Bobbie” and “Zaide” about their wartime experiences in the Holocaust when she was about 10.
 
Mostly, Toba and Marton Mauskop, who survived Auschwitz, moved to the Ukraine after World War II and immigrated to the United States in 1979, talked about growing up before the Nazis came.
 
“It was really hard for them to talk about” what happened to them during the Shoah, says Mauskop, now 23, living and teaching in Tel Aviv. “They got very upset.”

Artist Julie Mauskop shows her Holocaust survivor grandparents in a series of paintings. Port-Shoah images.

Passover Form And Function

For Israeli photographer Galia Gur Zeev, the seder table suggests multiple meanings.

04/01/2010
Staff Writer

 A few things immediately come to mind when you think, “Passover seder”: matzah, maror, charoset, four glasses of wine.  But in “Seder.Table,” a cool, stark and fascinating new photography exhibit at the 92nd Street Y, none of that matters. In fact, the artist, Galia Gur Zeev, while showing several plates, people around them, and a large wooden table, doesn’t even show a crumb of food.

“Seder” (1998), below, shows Gur Zeev’s family, but she says the work transcends her own tribe.

Tsuris In Tulsa

Tim Blake Nelson’s quirky version of
a hard-won tikkun olam on view in ‘Leaves of Grass.’

04/01/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Tim Blake Nelson’s new film has a title, “Leaves of Grass,” that has two meanings for its protagonists — it explicitly references both the Walt Whitman magnum opus and marijuana. That’s only appropriate for a film that is structured around doubling, doppelgangers, secret lives and identities.

Richard Dreyfuss in high dudgeon as the Oklahoma drug kingpin Pug Rothbaum.

Passover Form And Function

For Israeli photographer Galia Gur Zeev, the seder table suggests multiple meanings.

03/29/2010
Staff Writer

 A few things immediately come to mind when you think, "Passover seder": matzah, maror, charoset, four glasses of wine. But in "Seder.Table," a cool, stark and fascinating new photography exhibit at the 92nd Street Y, none of that matters. In fact, the artist, Galia Gur Zeev, while showing several plates, people around them, and a large wooden table, doesn't even show a crumb of food.

"Seder.Table": a body of work that is notably domestic yet still richly varied

Remembering The Forgotten

New Holocaust documentary
highlights the experiences of those
in lesser-known transports.

03/23/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Lukas Pribyl was looking for his grandfather. He knew the old man had been deported from Czechoslovakia in October 1939. He knew his grandfather had been taken to a camp whose name was all but forgotten, not one of the infamous extermination camps of Poland or the concentration camps for political prisoners like Dachau or Mauthausen. Just a small way station in the hell that was Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, a siding to oblivion where his grandfather died.
 

Young Polish Jews in happier times: An image from Lukas Pribyl’s “Forgotten Transports: To Poland.”
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