“At Rest” by Dov Glock, mixed media. Glock is one of several Jewish artists participating in this year’s West of Main Art Walk. (from artistsinourmidst.com)
The West of Main Art Walk Preview Exhibition and Sale kicks off at the Roundhouse Community Centre May 18-19. The West of Main Art Walk itself welcomes guests into artists’ studios May 28-29. Among the artists participating are many from the Jewish community, including Michael Abelman, Olga Campbell, Dov Glock, Pnina Granirer and Lauren Morris.
The preview – which is open for visitors 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. both days – features a reception at the Roundhouse on May 19, 7-9 p.m. Preview visitors will be able to buy the work of some of the 80 local artists taking part. There will be paintings, ceramics, jewelry, textiles and photography, as well as free art demos.
Artwork will also be for sale on the walk, which includes studios from Point Grey to Main Street, and from Granville Island to 41st Avenue over the May 28-29 weekend. Dozens more artists are showing their works all under one roof in larger hubs like Aberthau Mansion, Art at Knox and Pacific Arts Market. There, you’ll also find art demonstrations and more. At Lord Byng Mini School for the Arts, you’ll discover young emerging artists.
Also part of the month’s events is the annual (since 2018) Art for All Fundraiser. More than 70 artworks have been donated – and all are on sale for $50 each. Proceeds will go to the art program at Coast Mental Health. Its resource centre’s art room opened in 2000, and is a place where clients discover their creative potential while developing new ways of expressing emotions, healing pain and growing their self-esteem and self-awareness. Supported by volunteers – including clients and professional artists and art instructors – who give their time, feedback and encouragement, clients are able to work in a number of media, including paint and sculpture; supplies are provided. An annual art show brings together the artists, other resource centre members and Coast clients, family and friends and the general public to celebrate their work and their journey towards recovery.
Granirer, who was a co-founder of the very first open studios walk in Vancouver in 1993, is doing something a little different from the main event. On May 18, 7 p.m., at the Roundhouse, she is launching her poetry-art memoir, Garden of Words. (For more on the book, see jewishindependent.ca/poetry-and-painting-flourish.) Some of the paintings featured in the book will be exhibited and the books will be available during the whole time of the preview and at Granirer’s studio during the walk weekend.
During the walk, Granirer is inviting people to her studio, where she will be offering her works for 50% off, with proceeds being donated to Stand up for Mental Health, which has helped people suffering from mental health issues to do away with stigma all over Canada, the United States and Australia.
Artists will be opening their studios from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 28 and 29. This is a unique opportunity to meet the artists, enjoy the art and ask questions. More information and the interactive online map can be found at artistsinourmidst.com.
– Courtesy Artists in Our Midst and Pnina Granirer
Ande Axelrod has developed a partnership with artisans in the village of Sosote, Ecuador, as her source for tagua beads. (photo from Zack Gallery)
The current show at the Zack Gallery, Affordable, opened on Nov. 17. It delivers on its name’s promise. Every item on display is less than $250 and thus in the realm of affordability for many people, not just art connoisseurs.
“That’s what I wanted for the Zack Gallery from the beginning,” said gallery director Hope Forstenzer. “I wanted to deepen the involvement of the JCC community in the gallery, wanted the art within people’s reach.”
Accordingly, this show looks more like a holiday craft fair than a high art exhibition.
“I don’t believe in the separation of art versus craft,” said Forstenzer. “For me, craft is another word for art, but art that is functional and affordable, designed for enhancing your life and your home rather than a wall of a museum. I hope we can make such a show an annual event.”
To achieve the artisan market feel, Forstenzer invited 10 artists in different media to participate. “They are all local B.C. artists,” she said. “Some Jewish, some not. I wanted to cater to different tastes, to represent different artistic fields. I wanted the show to be fun.”
The atmosphere of the show is jazzy and welcoming. The giclée prints of well-known Vancouver artist Linda Frimer glow with greens and blues. The glass and jewelry twinkle. The ceramics by Hitomi McKenzie stand proud and bright. Mariana Frochtengarten’s colourful shawls in Shibori patterns add a touch of elegance.
Frochtengarten teaches textile art at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver. “This is a great opportunity for me to show the community my personal work,” she said. “My work is based on the principles of Shibori – a Japanese manual tie-dye technique. I combine the ancient Japanese tradition with a contemporary approach.”
She works with natural fibres, mostly cotton and linen, and has been working as a textile artist for more than 25 years. “My way into textile art was a bit accidental,” she told the Independent. “I was born in Brazil. When I was in high school, I took a batik class for a hobby, but I fell in love with it.”
After graduating from high school, she studied at Fine Arts and Education University in Brazil and later completed her master’s in fine arts (textiles) at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, in Halifax. “For 17 years, I worked with batik,” she said. “I had a business in Brazil and sold my works in stores, galleries, shows and fairs. I also experimented with some Shibori. I slowly moved on to my own form and interpretation of Japanese Shibori after moving to Canada in 2006. I love the elements of surprise involved in the process of Shibori and I am fascinated by the idea of creating different designs by blocking areas of the fabric before dyeing it.”
Another artist who works with an unusual material and technique is Ande Axelrod. Her company, Treats Designs, produces whimsical and sophisticated tagua jewelry: necklaces, earrings, pendants, and bracelets. Axelrod is very enthusiastic about her artistic creations. “Tagua is known as ‘vegetable ivory,’” she explained. “The tagua palms are native to the rainforests of Ecuador and other South American countries. The nuts grow and harden inside their seedpods. Some tagua nuts can grow up to six centimetres. Once the seedpods are ripe, they’re picked, and the seeds are dried in the sun, peeled and polished.”
The creamy white substance of the nuts is incredibly hard, similar to elephant ivory, hence the name. According to Wikipedia, a mature tagua palm can produce up to 20 pounds of vegetable ivory a year.
“Tagua nuts have been used as a substitute for ivory since the early 20th century,” Axelrod said. “The local masters carve the nuts into a variety of beads and buttons and dye them using bright natural colours.”
She is thrilled to use tagua nuts as the base for her jewelry. “I worked as a graphic designer for more than 25 years. In 2011, a friend and I took some jewelry making classes and I explored a variety of media and techniques. The next year, I discovered tagua while traveling in South America. I was dazzled by the colours, and I loved how light and comfortable the pieces were. You could wear a bigger statement necklace or a pair of earrings and not have a sore neck or headache at the end of the day.”
The sustainability and eco-friendliness of tagua sealed the deal for her. “I wanted to save elephants and I was truly inspired by the vast creative potential of this versatile natural material. It also provides an economic incentive for the local communities to protect the rainforests,” she said.
Since then, Axelrod has developed a partnership with artisans in the village of Sosote, Ecuador, as her source for tagua beads. “Before COVID, I’d made annual visits to Ecuador each February. It gave me the opportunity to work with tagua throughout the process, from seed to bead. Of course, like everyone else, I’ve had to improvise these past two years. Zoom, WhatsApp, FedEx and Western Union have enabled me to stay in touch with my South American partners and get tagua here for me to create my jewelry.”
While Shibori scarves and tagua jewelry may more easily be thought of as unique artwork in the Vancouver context than photography perhaps, Michael Shevloff proves that he is an unquestionable master of the camera, producing his own singular creations. His images, both in colour and in black and white, are statements of his love for British Columbia: its forests, its mountains, its waterways, its streets.
“I do predominantly nature photography,” he said. “However, I also shoot street photography, portraits, and many other genres, both digital and film.”
For this show, Shevloff offers framed and matted photos and photo coasters. “In the past, I also produced books of my photos, collages, cushions and more. I even put one of my images on my phone cover. The choices are many, and there are online firms, as well as local places, that specialize in putting images on almost any surface.”
He has been taking photographs since he was a teenager. “That was a long time ago,” he joked. “I have albums filled with photographs from places I have worked and traveled throughout the years.”
For Shevloff, photography has always been a hobby, while he worked in information technology. It remains a hobby in his retirement, although he obviously has more time now to immerse in his artistic endeavours.
“I have taken classes with professional photographers to hone my craft. And I belong to two photo clubs in Vancouver,” he said. “Vancouver PhotoClub is a well-organized group with monthly meetings and outings. I enjoy being a part of that club because they have assignments, which gives me a challenge and focus each month. They also organize exhibits, which gives me an opportunity to show my work.”
He belongs to the West End Photographic Society, as well. “That one is dedicated to film work and darkroom processing,” he explained. “They also organize exhibits. I enjoy the challenge of working with film and working with prints.”
The 10 artists of this show incorporate different art forms, different artistic philosophies, different ethnic roots and different price ranges. But one fact unites them all – every piece of art in the gallery for the next month is affordable.
The exhibit continues until Dec. 31.
Olga Livshinis a Vancouver freelance writer. She can be reached at [email protected].
Esther Rausenberg, Eastside Arts Society’s artistic and executive director. (photo by Adam P.W. Smith)
The Eastside Arts Society welcomes art enthusiasts to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Eastside Culture Crawl Visual Art, Design & Craft Festival in-person and online over two consecutive weekends, Nov. 12-14 (preview by appointment) and Nov. 18-21. The event’s landmark edition will offer arts patrons an enhanced opportunity to fully customize their experience and visit the studios of 400+ artists.
“As we look back on the past 25 years of the Eastside Culture Crawl, we are incredibly proud of the strong, resilient and inspiring visual arts community we have helped to support,” said Esther Rausenberg, artistic and executive director of the Eastside Arts Society, who is a member of the Jewish community.
“Through our annual Culture Crawl celebration,” she said, “we have not only boosted the careers and livelihoods of countless artists who enrich our city through creative vitality, but we have provided an essential outlet for the public to experience artistic expression and creative connection. The 25th annual Culture Crawl presents a special opportunity to acknowledge, pay tribute to and showcase the extraordinary talents and accomplishments of the visual arts community, while looking forward to an even brighter future ahead with the development of the Eastside Arts District.”
To maximize the Crawl experience and open accessibility for all patrons in Metro Vancouver and beyond, the Eastside Arts Society has created further improvements to its digital presence, including a newly designed and user-friendly website, an artist livestream schedule, appointment booking software and increased access to artists through 360° virtual studio tours.
For those visitors who wish to attend in-person, the Culture Crawl features two options. Based on overwhelmingly positive feedback from 2020, when studio appointment bookings were created for the first time, this year’s event will once again provide a preview weekend Nov. 12-14, reserved for appointments only, cultivating an intimate, interactive experience for both artists and guests. For those Culture Crawl enthusiasts wishing for a more traditional event experience, open studios will return for the event’s main weekend Nov. 18-21.
The Eastside Culture Crawl presents unparalleled access to visual artists practising a variety of different art forms, including painting, sculpture, pottery, photography, jewelry, glass art, furniture, and more. Visit culturecrawl.ca for all the festival details.
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.