The new show at Zack Gallery, #SeasonsAtZack features Instagram artists. A fundraiser for the gallery, the exhibit is extremely eclectic.
“The theme of the show is based on the theme of Festival Ha’Rikud, ‘Seasons of Israel,’” said Daniel Wajsman, marketing coordinator at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver. “Every year, the gallery has a group show to coincide with the festival and the artists submit their paintings to the gallery. This year, we thought: why don’t we do social media instead? These days, everyone has a camera…. We all take pictures with our phones and share them with friends and family. This is one step further. Why can’t we share our photos with everyone? That’s what Instagram does – it is a site where we share our images with the world. That’s what we aimed for in this show at the Zack. We wanted to change the concept of what art is.”
The gallery started with the idea that only artists who have an Instagram account would be featured in the exhibit, but later opened the submission process to everyone, said Wajsman. All of the images from the show will be on the JCC’s Instagram page and prints will be available for purchase in different sizes and formats.
About a third of the photos in the exhibit come from a select group of people: staff members of several Jewish organizations, who went to Israel in April for a professional seminar. The organizations participating in the seminar were the JCC, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, Jewish Family Services, Louis Brier Home and Hospital, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre and Nava Creative Kosher Cuisine.
“We work closely together, but we don’t all know each other,” said Wajsman. “Some of us are Jewish, and some are not. The seminar had a double goal: to teach us about Israel and Jewish history and to connect us with each other.”
Regular visitors to the Zack Gallery will be familiar with many of the photographers in the exhibit. Some of the photos are by artists who have exhibited previously at the gallery – like Lauren Morris, Michael Abelman and others – and submitted photographs of their paintings for the show.
Another set of participants includes local masters of photography, such as Jocelyne Hallé, Judy Angel and Ivor Levin. Each one has more than one of their images on display.
Halle’s “Sunflowers” photo was taken recently. The bright sunny heads of the large flowers contrast sharply with the heavy stormy clouds overhead, and the juxtaposition evokes strong emotions. “It wasn’t Photoshopped at all,” said Hallé. “It’s just the way I took it.”
In contrast, Angel’s airy images glow and shimmer with transparent sunlight. They are so light, they seem translucent, able to fly off the wall like magical butterflies.
Beside them, Levin’s photos look like drawings, their colour schemes and compositions inspired by the rains and umbrellas of the autumn season in Vancouver.
New artists also have a strong presence in this show. For them, having their names under their art on the gallery walls is a fascinating experience. One of this crowd is Linda Lando, the Zack Gallery director. “I’m not an artist,” she said. “I’ve never displayed anything before.”
One of her photos, the colourful “Ein Gedi Night,” was taken on her trip to Israel, as a member of the seminar. “We visited Kibbutz Ein Gedi late at night,” she said. “It is a beautiful floral oasis in the desert. They have amazing flowers, and this blooming tree was near the entrance.”
Robert Johnson, also part of the seminar and a longtime JCC employee, has a couple of his photos in the show. One of them is particularly memorable: a photo of a camel with a sad expression, lying under a tree. The title of the photograph is “This is Not a Camel.”
“He talked to me,” Johnson said with a smile. “People were riding him all day, and he didn’t want to be a riding camel anymore.”
The variety of the images in the show is mind-blowing: from Israeli landscapes to mud bathers on the shore of the Dead Sea to abstract composition. #SeasonsAtZack continues until June 9.
Olga Livshin is a Vancouver freelance writer. She can be reached at [email protected].
Shira Gold’s photographs seem to create a break in the space-time continuum. For a moment, the busyness and noise of the world fades away, and the viewer is standing on a beach watching the light and shadows of the clouds over the ocean, or in a snowy field, inhaling the crisp, cool air. A quiet contentment, a sombre joy.
Gold is one of some 30 artists joining the West of Main Art Walk for the first time this year. More than 60 artists will open their homes or studios to the public over the Mother’s Day weekend, May 11-12. Several other Jewish community members are also participating, including Michael Abelman, Olga Campbell, Pnina Granirer, Lauren Morris and Rae Maté, some of whom have been involved from the beginning in what used to be called Artists in Our Midst – Granirer co-founded the walk with Anne Adams in 1993.
“Crissy Arseneau and I were invited to join in by our All Together Collective partner painter Amy Stewart,” Gold told the Independent. “We are reuniting at Amy’s studio on Granville Island for the weekend of the walk. I chose to participate because showing locally is something that is important to me. The walk is a unique way to see the immense talent of creators that live in our city. The types of work being shown will be so diverse, crossing many mediums, and the artists vary from emerging to seasoned Vancouver talent. I also love the idea of being able to visit artists in the spaces they create their work in.”
While there is a preview exhibit and sale on May 9 at the Roundhouse Community Centre, with donated artwork being sold to raise money for Coast Mental Health’s art programs, some artists are raising money for other projects over the weekend. Granirer, for example, is offering her works at 50% off as a fundraiser for Stand Up for Mental Health, which was started by her son, David Granirer, to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, among other things. Gold will be selling her fabric-based prints May 11-12, with proceeds going to the Children’s Arts Umbrella Foundation in honour of her mother, Melanie, z’l, “paying tribute to her work in helping shape the school in its early years.”
Growing up, Gold took classes in various visual and performing arts at Arts Umbrella. “I was introduced to photography at Arts Umbrella in my early teens, when they began courses in film photography and darkroom,” she said. “As a child, words and pencils often failed me. Capturing and making images was a way for me to express my view of the world. Having a camera in hand changed the trajectory of my life.”
However, Gold said, “I pushed pause on photography for several years and turned my attention towards fashion design. I worked in design and manufacturing in Montreal, which ended abruptly when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I took on the role as her caregiver for three years, until her passing. During that time, she and I began to recognize the immense need for patients and caregivers to learn how to engender support around their illnesses, learn advocating strategies and engage in mind/body medical tools to help support a positive mindset through health challenges. We began to develop offerings to meet these needs.
“My mom passed away before this was fully realized. Along with my husband, I gleaned the knowledge through personal experience, as well as course work at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard’s continuing medical classes … to write and complete a workbook/guidebook entitled Choosing Joy’s Empowerment Index. Not long after completing the book, I became pregnant with my first child. It was a time of great introspection. I began to recognize that the pursuit of Choosing Joy was a way for me to keep my mom’s memory alive and not a personal pursuit and decided to change paths. We chose to donate the books created to nonprofits that could share them with people in need.”
About her choice of a new path, Gold said, “Care-giving, grief, new motherhood – those collective experiences reshaped my outlook on how I chose to spend my days and I was ready to begin to deconstruct and share my experiences with others in the hopes of creative dialogue around common issues of struggle and transition. I started my first major body of work – ‘Reflect, Transform, Become’ – as I was preparing to welcome my second child.
“Shot over several years, taking a handful more to complete, the series of 18 women documents the trials and metamorphoses that come with new motherhood, as well as the challenges of experiencing new life without my mother in it,” she said. “This reclaiming of my visual voice shaped my identity as I settled into motherhood. The release of this work was a turning point in my life.”
“Reflect, Transform, Become” has been recognized with honourable mentions from the International Photography Awards and the Julia Margaret Cameron Awards. Her series “Good Grief,” which she describes as “a visual dissertation of my grief journey,” has had selections shown in Italy, Greece, the United States and here in Vancouver. Locals will recognize many of the places Gold has photographed.
“In fact,” she said, “the majority of my work is shot within 10 minutes from my children’s school. Some may perceive the limitations of time and spaces as prohibitive to their creative process, but I like to look at it as an advantage. My reality creates parameters which have enabled me to hone my eye and find moments that are meaningful to me, often minute and fleeting.”
As for the ways in which Judaism or Jewish community influence her approach, Gold said, “I think our culture, our religion, encourages reflection – personal reflection, reflection of our people and their struggles. There are built-in meditative moments in our prayers, in our holidays, in our services, to give us space to look inward. To learn and to digest our past and what has been is a large component of my work. As Jewish people, we actively choose in our times of joy to remember our hardships and, in our times of hardship, to find joy – I am mindful of this as I work and in life.”
In her artist’s statement, Gold writes, “I create portraits rich with emotion, conveying moments saturated by our struggles with grief, identity and change.” But what about the quiet joy that those portraits also convey?
“You are absolutely right,” she acknowledged, “there is pause (stillness) and calm in my imagery. It is intentional; as one who lives my days with a busy mind, there are few things that create pause and reflection. I also have found that, in my grief journey, my mind had made space for pause, for reflection and my world felt very desaturated and vacuous. Those moments were translated in my imagery through the various series documenting my pathways through this terribly difficult process of loss.
“I have been largely directed over the last decade by lyrics of a song by the band Frou Frou – ‘There’s Beauty in the Breakdown.’ Here is a little selection from the song: ‘So let go / And jump in / Oh well whatcha waiting for / It’s all right / ’Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown / (So let go) yeah let go / And just get in / Oh it’s so amazing here / It’s all right / ’Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown.’
“Sometimes, in the deep struggles and darkest moments, beauty abounds. It may shake us and break us down,” she said, “but, if open to it, there is an incredible opportunity to witness the heights of compassion, love, expectance, transformation, connectedness and joy.”
Ian Penn is not a new name for regular visitors to the Zack Gallery, which has exhibited his work before. “I like this gallery,” Penn told the Independent. “It’s like a public marketplace. It’s transparent and open. Children come in. Older people. People on the way from their lunch or the gym. The gallery is accessible, the way art should be. I could show at a traditional gallery, but I don’t want to.”
Penn makes one exception to this statement – for his homeland, Australia. “I have a gallery in Australia that represents me, and I exhibit there frequently, once or twice a year,” he said. “Last year, I was an artist-in-residence at that gallery. I gave artistic workshops to high school children. It was fun.”
His current exhibition at the Zack, From the Deck: View and ReView, is dedicated to landscapes, specifically the scenery he sees from the deck of his house: trees and mountains, water and clouds. Penn has painted these landmarks in different lights and different seasons. “I tried to capture different moods,” he said. “Some are grand, panoramic. Others are smaller, more intimate.”
He explained his idea behind the show. “View and re-view are two parts of the process. I look at the view from my house deck, have been looking at it for years. I enjoy the landscape from a single view. I take photographs. I sketch it multiple times. It’s my immediate response to the landscape. I’m part of it. I’m mapping it. This is ‘View,’ but it is not the territory, just a map. It is my understanding of the place.”
Penn’s View paintings are more abstract, sometimes just splashes of colour. What is important to the artist is that every element appears in the right size and shape in relation to the other elements. “I measure all the distances at this stage and mark the proportions. How far is this treetop from that ship passing through? How large are these bushes compared to that shoreline? I make lots of drawings.”
The second part of the process, the review, is done in the studio, later. “This is the second part of my response,” he explained. “I’d think: what is important in that idea? A ‘ReView’ is my emotional and physical answer to the ‘View’ and the landscape. It’s all about the place itself, the place and the painting. At this stage, I’m recreating the territory.”
Unlike the bold brush strokes of his Views, most of his ReViews are more detailed, while still exploring the same landscape. And the ratio of abstract versus figurative slants towards the figurative. “I’m interested where representation and abstraction interact,” he admitted.
In his ReViews, a tree becomes a more detailed tree, not just a blob of yellow, even while maintaining its impressionistic abstract profile. A ship becomes more identifiable as a ship, not simply a dark squiggle. And a cloud can’t be mistaken for anything else.
In fact, clouds play a huge role in most of the paintings on display: light and fluffy in one image, heavy and menacing in another. “Clouds change constantly; that’s why they interest me. I’m fascinated by change, by periods of transition,” said Penn. “That’s why most of these paintings are done in spring or autumn. Those are the seasons of change. In summer, the landscape is full and the sky is clear, but, with autumn, comes change. The colours of the leaves change. When the leaves fall, the shapes of the trees change. The bones of the landscapes are transformed. The weather changes. Same in spring. By exploring those changes, I’m addressing the changes in our lives.”
By the juxtaposition of constant change within the same view – from one location – Penn follows in the footsteps of one of his favourite artists, Paul Cezanne. “I studied Cezanne. He painted Mont Sainte-Victoire countless times, all different,” Penn said. “He changed the landscape genre forever, took it apart and re-created it.”
Penn’s investigation of the landscape as an art form goes further. “A traditional landscape is horizontal, with certain set dimensions,” he explained. “I’m challenging those dimensions, trying landscapes of different formats. A portrait shape. A diptych, which is much wider than a traditional landscape. I’m playing with different geometry. What if the two parts of a diptych are of different widths: one square, another a wider rectangle? What if both parts are off-squares?”
Penn’s experiments with the shapes of his paintings, with the changing of weather and seasons, makes the show diverse. The exhibition demonstrates the richness of landscape as an art form.
“Landscape as we know it is relatively new in the modern Western art,” he said. “Before the Renaissance, landscape was mostly a background for figures in the composition. It only became a separate art form in the 16th and 17th centuries, after the paint tubes became small enough that artists could take them out of the studios, to paint on locations. That was what the Group of Seven did. That is what I do.”
Penn’s show runs until April 28 at the Zack. For more information about his work, visit ianpenn.com.
Temple Sholom’s Dreamers and Builders gala is not only a time to celebrate, but to raise funds for the synagogue. In addition to honouring Jack Lutsky and Susan Mendelson, this year’s sold-out event on May 5 will include a silent art auction at the dinner and a raffle, the bidding for which has already started.
“We have art donations for the silent auction from members of the synagogue, Ian Penn and Ivan Gasoi, as well as from Dina Goldstein and Gordon Smith, and a tapestry by Barbara Heller for the raffle,” said Karen Gelmon, gala co-chair, in an interview with the Independent. “Barbara is a member of Temple Sholom and an internationally known tapestry artist. Her works are very valuable, unique and truly remarkable.”
Gelmon noted that the synagogue has several tapestries by Heller on its walls. “There are two magnificent pieces that are on either side of the ark at the front of the sanctuary,” she said. “They are wonderful and loved by the congregation. She has donated two other works that are in another room and are also very appreciated. All these pieces have been there for more than 20 years and are fixtures at the synagogue.”
The raffle features the tapestry “Stones 22 – Stonefall,” the 22nd in Heller’s Stonefall series.
“I have been weaving these tapestries of stone walls and stones on the ground every few years for decades, between more difficult pieces,” Heller told the Independent. “I love these stone walls, built by man without mortar or cutting the stones to fit. If these walls fell down, the stones would return to the earth and no one would be the wiser. Yet, I see the spirits of the people who built the walls. Their energy remains in the stones.”
Heller also likes that the tapestries are abstract. “I get to immerse myself in the act of weaving as I transform them from stone into wool,” she explained. “I play with the handspun and hand-dyed yarns, the textures and the colours, without worrying about the underlying message.”
“Stones 22” was woven in 2013. “It was based on the photos I took in Caesarea on the Mediterranean in Israel,” said Heller. “The site has been home to invader after invader for millennia. It has been an archeological dig since a farmer plowing the meagre soil first uncovered a large stone block and called the scientists. Here, there are definitely ghosts of the people who came before.”
About why she chose to offer one of her artworks for the raffle, she said, “When I was asked to donate a tapestry by Susan [Mendelson] and the organizing committee for Dreamers and Builders, I was happy to say yes. Susan and Jack have supported my art and own a few tapestries. Temple Sholom is my synagogue and has also supported me. It has several of my tapestries, some as donations and two on loan. The bimah is flanked by two of my tapestries that were commissioned at the time of my son’s bar mitzvah, and the library has a tapestry that my mother willed to the Temple on her death. Now, it was my turn to support them.”
The decision of which tapestry to donate was a practical one. “I felt it had to be mid-size, large enough to have a presence but not so large that it would not find a new home in a modern condo,” she said. “And the reference to Israel was also important to me.”
As an artist who makes a living by her art, Heller has given much thought over the years to the concept of donating work.
“It has been awhile since I donated artwork,” she shared. “There was a time a few years ago when art auctions were all the rage for fundraising, to the detriment of the artists. The fundraisers always stressed that the auctions would be good publicity for the artists, but I don’t think so. People always wanted a bargain when they bid at auctions, and I don’t think that the fundraisers were aware of the lost income for the artists.”
An artist must look at a donation as just that, said Heller, as a donation to raise funds for a charity they believe in. “I now do it only on occasion. I am reminded of what my friend, a pianist, does. When approached to play for free, she says, ‘You pay me what my normal fee would be, and then I will decide how much to give back to you as my donation.’ This makes the fundraisers aware of what they are actually asking.”
Gelmon and the organizing committee were well aware of what they were asking. “I think different artists may have different motivations to donate their art,” said Gelmon. “For Barbara, I think she saw this as a worthy cause. It is raising money for her synagogue, where she and her family have been members for years, and it probably gives her great pleasure to contribute.”
“Sydney Beach Cliff” (Australia) by Talin Wayrynen.
Art Vancouver’s dictum is “Connect. Inspire. Educate.” This year’s fair brings together almost 100 exhibitors from around the world to Vancouver Convention Centre East April 25-28, and features art classes, guided tours, speakers, panel discussions and a café art crawl. Both veteran and emerging artists participate, and the Jewish Independent spoke with a few artists in the Jewish community who are newcomers to the exhibition world: Matthew Weinstein, Talin Wayrynen and Tara Lupovici.
“I had a chance to volunteer at last year’s show,” Weinstein told the Independent. “Seeing the great professionalism demonstrated by the Wayrynen family inspired me to submit a formal application to this year’s exhibition.”
Art Vancouver was launched in 2015 by Lisa Wolfin Wayrynen. It has become somewhat of a family affair, with this year’s exhibitors including her daughters, Taisha Teal Wayrynen and Skyla Wayrynen; her son, Talin Wayrynen; and her sister, LeeAnn Wolfin.
“We just exhibited in Korea last November, and were invited to participate in another show in Seoul in June, and another show in Taiwan in December,” said Lisa Wolfin Wayrynen, referring to her and her children. “The family act is on the move!”
The 2019 Art Vancouver will be Talin Wayrynen’s second time exhibiting at the fair. An aerial photographer, among other things, he will be exhibiting photos from Australia and New Zealand, and possibly Indonesia. Last year, he said, he displayed photos of British Columbia and Mexico.
Weinstein said he will be bringing a select number of pieces to the show. Describing his art as “abstract and minimal in nature,” he said, “The purpose is to bring peace and tranquility to contemporary rooms…. My passion is to make large multi-coloured pieces that are not just pleasant to look at, but also provoke questioning and inspiration.”
About his creative process, Weinstein said, “The numbers and letters may appear as if they are there to provide meaning when in fact they are just as nonrepresentational as the rest of the shapes. One might ask, ‘Why did you add the number 7 at the bottom right corner of this piece?’ My answer would be, ‘There is no concrete reason behind that decision. It is as random as the rest of shapes, colours and signs you’re seeing. If you’re asking this question then I’ve accomplished my goal to generate interest and promote inspiration.’”
Lupovici, whose artist signature is LUPO, said, “My art is a psychedelic, abstract combination of organic and fluid lines with colour combinations that are inspired by the colours I feel.”
This year’s fair will be Lupovici’s first Art Vancouver, but she has a previous connection to the Wayrynen family. “I went to camp with Taisha and Skyla, Lisa’s daughters,” she said.
A graduate of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s fashion marketing program, Lupovici said fashion was her main focus, and she has worked in various places, including with her father (Irwin Lupovici), at Bong Wear. “Then, one day,” she said, “I was making dinner and cut a red cabbage in half and boom! My passion for painting was back in my life.”
She has dedicated the last year or so to painting. “Eventually,” she said, “I will mesh my art and fashion design together and have my LUPO label.”
Half-Jewish and half-Chinese – she also speaks Cantonese – Lupovici said, “I definitely would not be the person I am without all the Jewish culture and community that I have been surrounded by. Jewish summer camp was one of the most memorable, loveliest times of my childhood and I am, to this day, close with many of the people I went to camp with. I would not say it has influenced me in design and art, but I do feel being Jewish and meeting other people in the community is inspiring in itself.”
Weinstein also said his being Jewish has had little influence on his work. However, he said, “Having grown up in a suburb of Tel Aviv, I feel connected to my Jewish identity…. The last time I visited Israel was in 2011 and I am very excited to visit again in May…. My upcoming trip is something I look forward to, as it provides a rare chance to explore my roots and reinforces my personal connection to Judaism.”
More travel is also in Wayrynen’s plans, having recently been to Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand.
“I started using drones just for fun in 2016 and then, in 2017, started using them for film and photography,” he said.
While he couldn’t describe the exact elements of a “perfect” shot, he said, “I like to have stuff that’s unique and can’t really be replicated – like a wave crashing, shots of wild animals or something along those lines.”
As an example, last summer, in Horseshoe Bay, he filmed a group of killer whales, which was later featured by CBC.
Not just anyone is allowed to use drones, of course, and Wayrynen said permission currently depends “on where and for what reason you fly, but it’s soon to be just a licence no matter what.”
In British Columbia, he said, “[I]t’s unlikely to get a permit to fly anywhere remotely populated and even some parks have issues with it. The states are pretty similar and, as for Mexico, I was working on a TV show that did all the paperwork for it, all I provided was the licence and insurance. We were able to film basically anywhere there during the few weeks our permits lasted.”
Weinstein summed up well the importance of venues like Art Vancouver. “If you’re reading this,” he said, “please feel free to come by my booth at the upcoming show and let me know what you think of my art. I enjoy listening to all criticism (both good and bad) and, if you have other suggestions, I’ll be happy to discuss in person.”
For more information on and tickets to Art Vancouver, visit artvancouver.net.
Olga Campbell’s acrylic painting “Remembering,” above, and bronze sculpture “Twins II” are just two of many artworks she includes in A Whisper Across Time.
Grief is many-faceted. Sometimes, we’re not even aware for what we’re grieving. One of the most beautiful passages in Olga Campbell’s A Whisper Across Time: My Family’s Story of the Holocaust Told Through Art and Poetry (Jujabi Press, 2018) is the following poem:
“I was born with a very deep sadness / a sadness and an anger / as a child I didn’t question this / it was the way it was / when I got older my mother had cancer / she died when I was twenty-two / I thought that my sadness was caused by her death / I had no idea that it was caused by her life.”
“A Whisper Across Time is a heart-warming, emotional journey that reminds us of the suffering and pain that war, intolerance and persecutions create, not only for those who had to endure atrocities but also for the children of the survivors,” notes Dr. David Lee Sheng Tin, author of two books on spiritual health and growth, in the foreword.
In A Whisper Across Time, Campbell gives clear voice to the whispers in her ear, “whispers across time.”
“This is the story of one family out of millions of families who went through the Holocaust,” writes the artist, whose mother lost all of her family during the Second World War. It is “the story of survival and death,” “of how trauma of such magnitude is passed from one generation to another to another….” It is also an ardent call for readers to remember Rwanda, Rohingya, Bosnia, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq, Cambodia…. “[O]ne of every 113 people on the planet is a refugee,” writes Campbell, noting, “by the end of 2016, there were 65.6 million refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people in the world” and that “racism, antisemitism and ultra-nationalism are on the rise.” She pleads, “eighty years ago, the world looked away / we must not look away now.”
In an interview with the Jewish Independent last November about the exhibit of the same name that helped launch the book, Campbell updated that statistic. “Our world is a chaotic place right now, somewhat reminiscent of the period before the war,” she told writer Olga Livshin. “There are over 68 million people around the world that are refugees or displaced. My book is not only about my family. It is a cautionary tale. It is about intergenerational trauma and its repercussions across time.” (See jewishindependent.ca/whisper-across-time.)
In 2005, Campbell mounted the exhibit Whispers Across Time. “This art show dealt with memories and losses,” she writes in the book. “Many of the pieces in the show were fragmented, partial in appearance, reflecting both a presence and an absence.”
The exhibit featured masks, rusted metal figures, ceramic sculptures, photographs, mixed media and texts that, explains Campbell, “echoed the same theme of loss and regeneration – a life spirit which emerged from the devastation of the past.” Even reduced in size to fit on the pages of a book and taken out of a gallery setting, this artwork is powerful.
In A Whisper Across Time, Campbell shares some of what she has discovered about her mother, Tania, and father, Klimek Dekler, as well as about her maternal grandmother, Ola Akselrod, and her mother’s identical twin sister, Mania, and brother-in-law, who was also an identical twin, but Campbell hasn’t been able to determine which brother – Manasze or Efraim Seidenbeutel – her aunt married. Campbell recounts how her parents met, the atmosphere leading up to the war, and how her parents survived. Her father’s family also survived. There are no records, says Campbell, of what happened to her grandparents or her aunt during the Holocaust; the Seidenbeutel brothers were murdered at Stutthof concentration camp, a few days before it was liberated.
“My mother must have been completely traumatized by her experiences and her losses,” writes Campbell. “She lived and worked and loved, she still danced … sometimes. But the joy in her heart was not so big. The light inside was dim. And, at night, when she was alone in her room, she cried.”
In A Whisper Across Time, Campbell also talks about preparing for the 2005 exhibition, and some of the strange happenings that occurred, such as how multiple attempts to photograph the art failed – a broken camera, saved images that wouldn’t open on the computer. Her use of language, both in poetry and prose, is emotive without being overly sentimental. And her artwork evokes an emotional reaction, often involving some sadness and always demanding contemplation.
For more on Campbell and to purchase A Whisper Across Time, visit olgacampbell.com.
Linda MacCannell’s photograph of John T’Seleie. (photo from Drew Ann Wake)
The new show at the Zack Gallery, Crossed Paths – which explores the connection between the Jewish and the Dene peoples – has its roots in the federal Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry.
“In the 1970s, I was a CBC reporter in the Northwest Territories,” show curator Drew Ann Wake told the Independent. “When the government proposed a pipeline through the area, they sent Justice Thomas Berger to investigate the impact of the proposed pipeline [in 1974]. He talked to over 30 native communities to get their input. When he was finished, he issued a report recommending the government settle all the claims on land that the pipeline would pass through before construction started…. They are still settling those claims. The pipeline hasn’t been built yet.”
As a journalist, Wake accompanied Berger and his team on that historic trip. She taped numerous interviews with the local people participating in the inquiry.
“Ten years ago, I found those old tapes,” she recalled. “Only audio tapes; it was so long ago. I thought it would be interesting to go back and talk to all of them again. And let their children and grandchildren listen to their elders’ voices.”
She invited a friend, photographer Linda MacCannell, to create portraits of some of the participants of the Mackenzie Valley negotiations. Over several years, they traveled to the villages Wake had visited with Berger. MacCannell took photos and Wake filmed her interviews. “We created a show of Linda’s portraits and the stories I collected and went on the road. By now, we’ve exhibited this show in 50 galleries across North America,” said Wake.
MacCannell’s large-scale portraits of various members of the Dene First Nations, who live along the Mackenzie River, constitute the heart of the exhibit at the Zack.
“Two years ago, we gave a presentation at the grunt gallery, an artist-run centre in Vancouver,” Wake explained. “We showed the films. After the presentation, a man approached me. He introduced himself as Michael Shumiatcher, a local artist and educator. He said he knew Justice Berger at the time of the inquiry. Michael was a high school student then, and Berger was his best friend’s father.”
Shumiatcher suggested they work together and present the exhibit to schools around the province. Wake liked the idea, and invited him to join her on her next trip north. Also joining the summer 2018 trip were artist Melenie Fleischer and her husband, cellist Eric Wilson, as well as composer Daniel Séguin.
“Daniel saw the video I made of the drummers the previous year,” Wake explained. “He wanted to write new music to incorporate the traditional drums.”
The group traveled to Fort Simpson, N.W.T., to study the drumming culture of the Dene in more depth.
“Séguin wrote a piece of music, called Dehcho, for cello and the drums,” Wake said. “That is how the local nations call the Mackenzie River – Dehcho. Wilson performed it at the local gallery presentation of our show. The gallery was packed. People sat in the hall and stood on the stairs. He had to repeat his performance for all who wanted to hear it.”
As well, Fleischer and Shumiatcher produced several paintings.
One of Fleischer’s, a herd of bison, is suffused with wild, tumultuous energy. “They were huge,” she said of the animals. “They looked up casually and continued grazing and drinking water in the shallow puddles. We were cautious and maybe even scared as we huddled close in the van to take our photographs. Thrilled at our first encounter with the ancestors of the ancient bison depicted on the cave walls of Altamira, Lascaux and others, I knew then that I was going to paint bison.”
A painting by Shumiatcher depicts Wilson blowing a shofar on the shore of the Mackenzie River. Fleischer and Wilson brought the shofar on the trip as a gift.
“Once we got our invitation from Chief Gerry Antoine to come to Fort Simpson and collaborate with Liidlii Kue First Nation on our cultural exploration of music – cello and drums – we were very excited. We were in New York at the time, and I wanted to bring Chief Antoine something special,” said Fleischer. “All I could think of was that our nation was thousands of years old, as were the indigenous people. With that in mind, we went looking for a ram’s horn from Israel, a shofar.”
They visited several Judaica stores in New York. “It was funny,” said Fleischer, “my husband Eric blowing shofars outside the stores, on the sidewalk. He is a cellist and very particular about sound.”
The next step for the group was to approach the Zack Gallery for a joint show. The Jewish artists’ paintings complement MacCannell’s photography, showing another facet of the northern experience. Just as power and serenity dominate the portraits and the photographer’s triptych of the river landscape, the paintings add a touch of awe at nature and its symbiotic relationship with humankind.
The Zack exhibit also includes traditional clothing made by several Dene artists. “Last year, we won a grant from the Canada Council [for the Arts] to commission northern artists,” Wake said. Of the pieces on display, each has a story. In some cases, the stories are real; they happened to the artists’ family members. For others, the stories are purely imaginary or are based on local folklore. Regardless, every story has a link to the tapes Wake collected in the 1970s and the people she interviewed.
Linda Wolki, known for her needlework, created a traditional yellow coat after she listened to the recording of her mother telling Wake how she hunted seals when she was young. “The woman’s story was amazing,” Wake said. “She was out hunting in the snow and cold, and four polar bears decided to chase her. She laughed.”
A pair of embroidered moccasins, made by Agnes Mitchell, is displayed in a plexiglass case next to the pair her father wore for years. The embroidery on the old moccasins – made by Mitchell’s mother – and the new ones is equally elaborate.
“One story I asked an artist to illustrate was an ancient northern legend about an abandoned woman,” Wake said. “The tribe abandoned that woman in the forest because of her sharp tongue. She only had a few coals for her fire, but she survived. She made herself two cloaks – one of raven feathers and another of rabbit fur – and many more objects.”
Artist Jeneen Frei Njootli has brought the cloaks to life. Her creations, a black cloak of raven feathers and another of white rabbit fur, hang in a corner of the Zack, one above another, as a tribute to her people’s tenacity and their drive to survive in the harshest conditions.
“We were very proud to learn that recently Jeneen Frei Njootli was chosen as one of the five finalists for the Sobey Art Award, an annual prize given to the most promising Canadian artist under 40,” said Wake, who then pointed to a blue coat on display. Smiling, she said, “And that coat belongs to Michael Jackson. But not the Michael Jackson of pop music. Our own Michael Jackson, a Vancouver lawyer who, in the 1970s, was part of Justice Berger’s team.”
When Wake started working on this show, one of the new interviews she conducted was with Jackson. “He worked with many First Nation people,” she said, “and I asked him how come he was so empathetic to their plight. He said it was because he was Jewish. When he grew up in London, England, he experienced antisemitism. He knew hunger as a child in post-World War Two Britain. It made him sensitive to others suffering from discrimination. Made him want to help.”
During the Berger inquiry, Jackson befriended one of the local men, John T’Seleie, who organized his community to meet with the inquiry’s lawyers.
“Their friendship has lasted for decades. They’re still friends,” Wake said. “As a child, T’Seleie was a student at a residential school. Like many others at residential schools, he suffered. As an adult, he became an advocate for his people.”
The portraits of these two friends hang side by side on the gallery walls, and the film Wake made of her interviews with them is also part of the exhibit.
“That’s how our entire show started, so many years ago,” she said, “with those two and their friendship: a Jew and a Dene.”
Crossed Paths is at the Zack until April 7.
Olga Livshin is a Vancouver freelance writer. She can be reached at [email protected].
An image of drones filling the sky from Reva Stone’s Falling. (photo from Reva Stone)
Multi-awarding-winning Winnipeg artist Reva Stone researched drones for three years and then began creating art to share some of what she had learned about how the technology affects our lives. The exhibit erasure, which comes from that research, features three works – Falling, Atomic Bomb and Erase. It is on display at the University of Manitoba’s School of Art Gallery until April 26.
“I’m very much an observer of what’s going on with new technologies, so when I saw the impact that UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] were starting to have – especially with war and changing the nature of war – I applied for and got a Canada Council [for the Arts] grant to do a lot of research and reading about what actually is happening,” Stone told the Independent.
She went so far as to get two quadcopters, to understand what they really sounded like, and hoping to use them in her art, which she has.
“I was working on this, and then I started thinking about our skies filling up with these commercial and militarized drones and how they were basically machines … that could fall out of the sky … that could crash into each other, that could bring down an aircraft. We were filling up our skies,” she said. “And then, about two years ago, I was reading and realized that we were now targeting not other countries, but targeting humans.”
Stone ended up making five or six individual pieces that deal with different aspects of the use of drones, but relate to one another. Depending on the exhibition venue, she decides which ones will work best together in a particular space.
Originally, drones were developed for spying purposes for the military. Later versions were outfitted with weapons for protection and assault. More recently, commercial drones have been developed. Now, anyone can buy a drone for as little as $20. This easy accessibility is challenging our society, contends Stone, causing hazards to planes in airports, affecting people at parks and disrupting the peace.
“Drones are becoming these things that fly in the air that have no human controllers … that are almost autonomous,” she said.
Stone often uses computers, movies, motors and speakers to help fully immerse visitors in her art pieces.
The work Falling, she said, “is an animated video that I made that has to do with what I see as a very new future, wherein UAVs are ubiquitous, because of civilian, military, commercial and private use.
“It’s almost slow motion or balletic on a massive screen,” she said. “There’s constant falling out of the skies, sometimes flipping as they fall. Sometimes, there’s a drone that has exploded in the sky … sometimes, small and far away and, sometimes, they’re so big when they fall through the sky that they look almost life-size and you’ll have to back away from the screen … that will be the feeling you get. Then, sometimes, there are these little windows that open up and you look through, into another world, and that world is more about what we’re fighting about – the fact that we are actually using these to make war. Other than that, some of them are commercial, some are cute, some are scary looking … and it’s like a continuous rain coming down.”
Atomic Bomb is also a film.
“I started with an early atomic bomb explosion,” said Stone. “It was a 30-second film and I made it into an almost 20-minute video. I really slowed it down and altered the time to give the impression that the person in the exhibition space is looking at a still image caught in time. I show this video together with texts that I found speak to the history of the use of radio-controlled airplanes and UAVs, and to longheld ideas about collateral damage – the relationship between … the use of atomic bombs and the use of drones and collateral damage, which, to me, is a huge issue with the use of drones as military.”
The first text is from Harry Truman, the American president who made the decision in the Second World War to use the bomb, and it reads: “The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished, in this first attack, to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.”
The next one is from John Brennan, Central Intelligence Agency director from 2013 to 2017: “There hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we’ve been able to develop.”
According to Stone, “This is just bullshit. But this is part of the cleaning up of the media presentation of all these ideas and all these things I’ve been researching, that I’ve been noticing going on over time. And, it has actually made me change the name of the work. I was going to call all three of them a totally different name. Recently, maybe a month ago, I changed it to erasure because of the erasure of people, the erasure of a lot of critical dialogue that’s been happening since I started researching in 2015 … how we are mediated, what we are presented with as a culture. The info is so mediated by how it’s reported, and if it’s reported.”
Stone wants “her audience to consider how the capabilities of such technology may be turned against citizens and how governments might, and do, get away with employing them in the name of patriotism in ways that ultimately test the ethical and moral values of its citizenry,” notes the exhibit description. “With news cycles moving so rapidly, the reports of deadly events quickly fall from memory, seemingly erased from public consciousness.”
The third piece, Erase, is interactive. Stone said it is based on what, in her view, the Obama administration practised – the targeting of individuals based on algorithms, mostly guilt by association.
“With this one, I’m actually replicating the procedure,” she said. “I have my two quadcopters that are doing the surveillance and capturing people in the exhibition space, unbeknownst to them. Then, they get captured and saved.
“Then, it’s a process that goes on, that they get played back. And you begin to realize that you’re under surveillance, the people in the space. And, every so often, a target comes up over one of them, one of the captured images. It’s really intense and an explosion occurs, and that person actually comes out of my captured list. That person will never show again. They’ve been erased.”
The exhibit erasure opened Feb. 7. For more information about Stone and her work, visit revastone.ca.
This necklace uses snap fasteners instead of clasps [see below]. (photo from Deborah Rubin Fields)
Diane von Furstenberg is attributed with saying: “Jewelry is like the perfect spice – it always complements what’s already there.” Some of us would say that’s all well and good, until you have to ask for help in closing a necklace.
Maybe you can release the spring, which opens the lobster clasp’s arm, but you can’t hold it long enough to actually close the clasp. Or perhaps your hands just can’t negotiate the T into a toggle clasp’s circle. Whatever your exact manoeuvrability problem, one thing is sure, putting on jewelry can be a frustrating experience. And the frustration seems to increase with age.
In The Journals of Gerontology, academics Eli Carmeli, associate professor at Haifa University, the late Hagar Patish and Prof. Raymond Coleman of the Technion state, “Hand function decreases with age in both men and women, especially after the age of 65 years. Deterioration in hand function … is, to a large degree, secondary to age-related degenerative changes in the musculoskeletal, vascular and nervous systems.
“Prehension is defined as the act of seizing or grasping. Aging hands and fingers are especially prone to osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is clear that common tasks involving precision dexterity, two-hand coordination, such as are needed to thread needles, open buttons on clothing or fine-grip tasks, as in holding a pen or cutlery, become increasingly difficult with aging. This is also true with regard to simple handgrip tasks requiring strength, such as opening bottles. The difficulty of performing such tasks may be in part due to declining vision.”
So what are the different kinds of jewelry clasps or closures and how easy are they to use? Today, eight clasps are usually added to necklaces.
The lobster clasp and spring ring clasp have a spring-loaded mechanism. Both operate by fitting one end into the opened spring side, then releasing the spring mechanism to shut.
The fishhook clasp is so named because part of the closure resembles the hook used in fishing: one end is a metal hook, while the other is an oval-shaped case. The hook slides into and locks inside the case.
Somewhat similar in shape to the fishhook, the S hook works by sliding the S-shaped hook onto a ring at the other end.
In a toggle bar clasp, one end is a long bar or T shape and the other is an open shape, usually a circle. The bar slips through the centre of the shape and locks in place.
The barrel clasp is so named because, when closed, it looks like a barrel. This clasp consists of two metal pieces, one on each end of the necklace, which close by screwing together. Likewise, in the slide-lock clasp, one tube slides inside the other and locks in place.
Finally, both ends of a magnet clasp contain magnets, which attract each another and snap together, locking the piece of jewelry in place. While not always particularly attractive, the newer magnet closures can actually look quite pleasing.
While all these clasps are relatively secure, if you have dexterity issues, six of the eight might be difficult to manipulate. So, if you’d like to continue wearing certain pieces of jewelry, to what clasps should you switch? For people with handgrip problems, two necklace closures are usually recommended: the slide-lock and the magnet clasps.
Israeli Keren Doron, who has designed and produced gold necklaces, however, is skeptical about a magnet clasp staying closed when the necklace is really heavy. She also warns that it is possible to damage a necklace when switching its existing clasp. There are many ways to do so, although it depends on the different kinds of jewelry. For example, Doron said not all necklaces with stones can withstand the heat of burner re-soldering.
Occupational therapists at Jerusalem’s Shaare Tzedek Hospital suggest that people with dexterity problems switch to necklaces that are long enough to simply slip over the head.
If you enjoy wearing costume jewelry, a new Israeli company offers another solution. Snaps (snaps.co.il) makes attractive necklaces and earrings that completely do away with clasps. Instead, designers Lilach Bar Noy and Inbar Ariav glue snap fasteners to the back of their pendants (using either a single or double set of snaps) and to each end of the necklace chain. Without having to apply much pressure, the male and female parts of the snap attach.
Wearing pierced earrings may also be a problem for people with hand issues. One solution is to wear omega-back earrings with a hinged back that simply flips closed; there are no tiny posts or backs to manipulate.
Neta ben Bassatt’s fashion jewelry addresses the problem of closures in a different manner. As a student at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, she won a prize for her coat pins designed especially for people who have visual impairments. Her wood and brass pins may be used with heavier clothes, such as cotton, wool, linen, etc. Two of her pins have a kind of clasp that can fasten best to a shirt collar or the lapel of a suit, where it is easier to get to the other side of the fabric. Her other designs feature a long, open needle pin, which can be attached anywhere on the fabric. Importantly, the wearer does not need to touch the pin itself, thus eliminating the chance of sticking oneself.
Is jewelry important? The answer depends on whom you ask. One thing is clear: jewelry has been around a long time. As early as Chapter 24 of the Book of Genesis, Abraham’s chief servant (Eliezer) is giving jewelry to Rebecca’s family. And, with people living longer, more and more adaptability and accessibility issues will arise, so we are likely to be talking about jewelry for a long time to come.
Deborah Rubin Fieldsis an Israel-based features writer. She is also the author of Take a Peek Inside: A Child’s Guide to Radiology Exams, published in English, Hebrew and Arabic.
Gaby Aghion started the fashion line Chloé in 1952. (photo from Chloé Archive)
Antisemitism was increasing in Egypt in 1945. Among the 80,000 Jews forced to leave their homes was Gabrielle (Gaby) Hanoka. Her birth name may not be recognizable to most, but the fashion house she created – Chloé – unquestionably is.
The youngest of seven children, born in 1921 in Alexandria, Egypt, Hanoka derived her distinct combination of business and creative style from her parents. Her father was an affluent cigarette manufacturer and her mother’s passion for fashion resulted in demanding copies sewn of all the latest Parisian couture. Hanoka was given a French education and, with that, embraced an ample affection for everything French.
Fittingly, Hanoka, together with Raymond Aghion, her elementary school sweetheart and subsequent husband, moved to Paris, making it home, with their son Philippe, until her passing at 93 in 2014. Befriending the upper stratum of European artists, such as Picasso and French poet Paul Éluard, earned them popularity within the art scene. Coming from a prosperous family enabled Aghion the luxury of opening a modern art gallery. The couple evolved into avid art collectors over the years.
Living a comfortable lifestyle was not enough for Gabrielle Aghion. In 1952, she resolved to flourish. “I’ve got to work … it’s not enough to eat lunch,” she is said to have informed her husband. Fashion was her choice.
She named Chloé after a friend who believed she lacked allure. Turning an extra room in her apartment into an atelier, she created six dresses, which set her success in motion. The styles corresponded with her socialist and free-spirited values, embodying youth and femininity using the finest fabrics. She wanted her designs to be accessible to regular people, without compromising on quality, coining the term prêt-à-porter, ready-to-wear.
Wanting to focus strictly on design, she partnered with Jacques Lenoir, who steered Chloé into a label. From 1956, Chloé’s fashion collection was shown twice a year at the grand Café de Flor on the Boulevard Saint Germain. These events became a fashion highlight for Parisian women. Aghion not only demonstrated an eye for fashion, but she also had a great sense for talent. In 1966, she hired the aspiring Karl Lagerfeld, who remained head designer until the mid-1980s. (Lagerfeld passed away just last month, at age 85.)
Chloé became the choice of some of the world’s most fashionable and beautiful women – Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy, to name a few. The first flagship boutique opened in 1971, followed by hundreds more worldwide. In 1975, Chloé perfume was launched, and also became an ongoing success.
In 1985, Aghion sold her company to the Richemont group. She remained active throughout the years, never missing a fashion show. The spirited Aghion continued to express her opinions before each collection and head designers took her insights into consideration.
A year before her passing, Aghion was awarded the highest merit in France, the Legion of Honour, for her contribution to the country’s fashion industry. Recollecting her starting point, she said, “The world was opening up before my eyes and I believed I could do anything. I felt I had wings.”
Her flight continues to shape the next generations of fashion enthusiasts.
Ariella Stein is a mother, wife and fashion maven. A Vancouverite, she has lived in both Turkey and Israel for the past 25 years.