Life of Jewish Art

Comments and discussion about the role of Jewish visual arts in Jewish civilization.

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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Where the Jewish Things Are

In the Night Kitchen

In the Night Kitchen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maurice Sendak, author of the children's book,...

Maurice Sendak, author of the children's book, Where the Wild Things Are. Sendak was instrumental in the creation of Sesame Street, and attended Lesser's curriculum seminars in 1968. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My girls were always a lot more fond of "Goodnight, Moon" than "Where the Wild Things Are," but it still was regular bedtime reading. And, even if it came in second, that doesn't make me appreciate any less the artistry of Maurice Sendak, or the influence of his Jewishness on his work. There is little doubt that Sendak's work reflected his Jewish heritage. He said so himself.

In a series of interviews with NPR, Sendak, who passed away at 83 on May 8, related the impact of the Holocaust on his youth, as the child of Polish immigrants. "If I came up late for dinner, I'd hear about Leo and Benjamin and the other children who were my age who could never come home for supper and were good to their mothers but now they were dead, and I was lucky," he said in a 2003 NPR interview.

Asked about who was the inspiration for the famous monsters in "Wild Things," Sendak said, "I went back into my head as to who were the monsters in my life," he reflected. "Well, they were my uncles and aunts." He said the spikes in the hair of his monsters came from the memories of his relatives.

Though he was upfront about his Jewishness, he said, "I am not a religious person, nor do I have any regrets... the war took care of that for me. You know, I was brought up strictly kosher, but I -- it made sense to me what was happening. So nothing of it means anything to me. Nothing. Except these few little trivial things that are related to being Jewish... You know who my gods are, who I believe in fervently? Herman Milville, Emily Dickinson -- she's probably the top -- Mozart, Shakespeare, Keats. These are wonderful gods who have gotten me through the narrow straits of life."

Taken by itself, Sendak was a beloved artist, whose work has fascinated children for generations and will continue to entertain and delight them for generations to come, long after others have forgotten the artistic importance of his Jewish identity. Still, his work was enriched by that identity and, in turn, he enriched the lives of all of us, regardless of our ethnic heritage.

 

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