A look at what is happening at Jewish museums and other collections of Jewish art.

Art in DC -- a range of styles and quality

España, Barcelona, Montjuic : Fundación Joan Miró

España, Barcelona, Montjuic : Fundación Joan Miró (Photo credit: vincent ☆)

Over Memorial Day Weekend, I took the opportunity to visit the show of Juan Miro at the National Gallery's East Wing and took in 5 of the 8 floors at Artomatic in Crystal City.  I'm happy to say that "art" is alive and well in the Capitol.  While there was nothing particularly Jewish about any of the works, I found interesting the range of what art is expected to do for the artist and spectator as compared to the reactions is might actually elicit.  

Miro painted during some very turbulant times (WWI, the Spanish Civil War, and WWII).  As an ardant Catalan separtist, he used his art both to promote his politics and to escape to the imagination free from the realities around him but fraught with other (more poetic?) stresses of existence (e.g. male/female, sun/stars, bat spittle).  He used the image of a ladder as the connection between earth and the sublime -- the link connecting.  For one series of paintings, he unleashes the fury against the canvases themselves -- burning, stabbing, ripping -- as if art is not enough to depict the subjects he wrestles with.  It's a great show and I highly recommend it as a well-curated show to understanding both this artist and the need for but limitations of art.  Besides, hardly anyone was there (as compared to the Van Gogh show I went to see in Philly which was mobbed).  Which goes to show you, if they don't charge and make you get tickets in advance, no one bothers to see it.

Yet art seems to be unstoppable as demonstrated by the return of Artomatic -- bigger than ever (not sure if it's better).  It seems there must be 100's of wannabe artists who rush to show their works in this biannual event.  So what is the motivation?  Why are all these people making things they call art and eager to share their view of the world with the general public.  So much was horrible -- pure schlock -- or trite or decorative or boring or ambitious in concept but terrible in execution. It did seem to be more art therapy (individuals expressing their inner selves) rather than the creation of images that engage the viewer and elicits an aesthetic or meditative reaction. To me it demonstrated that art is an important outlet of our culture and that lots of people put lots of time into producing it and using as a method to discover meaning (or maybe deny the possibility of meaning). In any case, it provides another context from which to ask the question "What is Jewish art?"  Do Jewish artists have some different experience of the world which would somehow be expressed through their art?  Go and see what you think!



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Searching Facebook for Jewish Art and Jewish Museums

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Français : Logo de Facebook Tiếng Việt: Logo Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I received my Ph.D. in art history in 1997, before the possibility of doing my research on the Internet.  When I moved to Omaha, I had to rely on newspapers and magazines to find out about shows in New York City and around the US that sounded wonderful, but that I couldn't go see.

How times change!  I've been on Facebook since 2010, and I'm still amazed at all the gems that are no longer hidden away because I can search for "Jewish," "art," and "museum" to find groups and institutions that I didn't even know about.  I have "liked" a number of Jewish museums and groups recently, and now I know about their exhibitions, lectures and other educational opportunities.  Even though I still can't attend personally, I can click the link to their websites and look at many things that weren't available to me only a few years ago.

I decided to type "Jewish Art Education" into the Facebook search box to get to our wall.  What appeared before I completely typed in all three words?  Just with "Jew" I found The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and The Jewish Museum in New York City in "Places."  "Jewish Art" got pages for "Jewish Art Now" and "Jewish Art Salon," both of which I "liked."  

I'm amazed at the number of results there are now, which I've got to say I'm happy to see, especially that "Jewish Art Education" is in the top 2.  I haven't done research before this to find out about all the Jewish art museums or art centers that are out there in the real world, but in the cyber world of Facebook, I just found KFAR Jewish Arts Center in Chicago, Center for Jewish Art in Jerusalem, JAMM The Jewish Art Museum of Minnesota, Jewish Arts Festival Kansas City, and Emerging Jewish Artists.  I clicked on a few links, and now the Kansas City Jewish Museum of Contemporary Art is in the top 10 (I'm not the one to ask about the randomness of search engines).

I'm not the only one who has not searched around Facebook for Jewish art, because there aren't very many "likes" for these Jewish art pages.  JAE has, at this moment, 770 "likes."  Others in the top 10 average 400 some likes, except for the Jewish Museum in New York.

My point is, there is a world of information, just on Facebook, that allows me to follow quite easily what's going on in the world of Jewish art at this very moment.  That's what I like about these Facebook searches.  A search engine such as Google brings up an enormous amount of links, but may point you toward old and outdated information along with links to Jewish museums and organizations.  Facebook is a great way to stay up to date on what's current and new in the Jewish art education world.  (Just to be clear, I have no ties to Facebook except as one of the millions who use it to keep up with friends-and now organizations, too.)

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