November 12, 2010
Chanukiyah on its way
School artists collaborate for Sol Zim concert.
Unite2nite is less than a week away. New York cantor and performer Sol Zim is ready to entertain the community, Gordon Cherry and his 10-piece orchestra are tuning their instruments and the Vancouver Talmud Torah, Richmond Jewish Day School, King David High School and Vancouver Jewish Men’s choirs are warming up their voices. Last but not least, artists from Vancouver Hebrew Academy, VTT, RJDS and KDHS are putting the final touches on the chanukiyah that will grace the concert stage.
Leading the design crew is Jeff Coen.
“I’ve had my own graphic design company, JDC Design (jdc-design.com), for more than 17 years, servicing clients all over North America,” Coen told the Independent about his background. “I create everything from logos, brochures and package design, to illustration, websites, advertisements and murals, just to name a few things. I have two daughters at RJDS, where my wife, Rebecca, is the head of school. I volunteer my time for all of the graphic design needed at RJDS, as well as designing and building the set of last year’s theatrical production of Lagooned!”
About how he became involved with the Unite2nite pre-Chanukah concert, Coen said, “As a very proud parent with kids at RJDS and the head of school’s husband, I was asked to be a part of the committee, initially by Dvori Balshine and then by Marie Doduck, as a personal favor. Marie saw a mural I created for my girls’ bedroom and she decided, after seeing it, that I should be the art director of this project.”
Doduck is chair of the concert planning committee and Balshine is director of development at the Louis Brier Jewish Aged Foundation, which is co-hosting the event with the Jewish Seniors Alliance. Coen is coordinating the artwork with teachers Colette Leisen at VTT, Devorah Brody and Melinda Mendes at VHA, Bat-Sheva Michaeli and Freddy Somers at RJDS, and Wendy Oberlander at KDHS. Each school is responsible for making two of the chanukiyah’s candles.
“The idea behind this project was to bring the initial chanukiyah design, used in all of the marketing materials, ‘to life,’” Coen explained. “To accomplish this ‘larger-than-life’ task, I created an instructional packet for the schools involved, on how they should create each of their two or three candles. Some of the schools took liberties, altering the initial designs into something that expressed their creativity and enthusiasm for this project. I was thrilled to know that the children were so excited about creating these candles. To every school, I dropped off cardboard form tubes, eight inches in diameter and eight feet in height, these tubes to be the candles. I explained that they were free to use any type of medium – paint, construction paper, felt, etc.”
The candles will be nine feet tall by eight inches in diameter, said Coen, making the final chanukiyah approximately 13 feet tall and 12 feet wide.
“I will pick up the finished candles from each of the schools and assemble them, along with the flames and base of each candle that I will create, on a platform that I am building specifically for this collaborative project,” he explained about how the chanukiyah will get on to the River Rock Casino Resort Theatre stage.
“I understand that this completed chanukiyah will be shared by all of the participating organizations, on a rotating basis, for years to come,” he added. “I believe that it will be stored at the Louis Brier for continued use year after year.”
Coen said, “It is an honor to be a part of a collaborative event that brings together people from every corner of our community. The fact that a celebration of this magnitude is possible illustrates that there is unity within the diversity of our community.”
Unite2nite takes place at the River Rock Casino Resort Theatre in Richmond on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m. For tickets, call 604-261-5550 or 604-280-4444.