HALIFAX — More than 100 people attended the July 8 premiere of Jewish Artists in Atlantic Canada, a magnificent, first-ever, display of the works of Jewish artists from the Atlantic provinces.
The Halifax exhibit runs until July 31 at the Nova Scotia Archives Chase Gallery. It featured more than 60 pieces by 20 regional artists who work in several media.
“Who would have thought we had this number of wonderful artists doing Judaica work!” said an impressed Darrell Pink of Halifax, one of many observers praising organizer and artist Lynn Rotin of Sambro, N.S., near Halifax. Toronto-born and raised, Rotin has lived in the Halifax area for 26 years.
“People don’t know who we are as artists,” she said. “Judaism is more than religion. It’s a culture, and this show enables people to see how we express our values through art.”
She emphasized that the show gives exposure to “top quality people – instructors at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design [NSCAD]; award winners; regular folk who show a broad range of work, from sculpture and photography to work in oil and many other media to print making. I’m totally encouraged by the number and quality of works on display.”
The show, co-ordinated with Edna Levine, director of community engagement for the Atlantic Jewish Council, was officially opened by Michael Argand, board chair of the Atlantic Jewish Council, which lent its support to the event.
“We’re so proud to promote this exhibit of the creativity of our Atlantic Canadian artists,” Argand said. “The works are for sale, and I hope people will welcome this art into their homes and offices.”
Photo-based artist Adrian Fish, associate professor in media arts at NSCAD, came to Halifax 11 years ago. He has a master of fine arts from York University, and his work has been shown in galleries across the continent and in Japan.
He showed three pieces at this exhibit, photographic portraits of chassidic Jews of Crown Heights, N.Y., and Montreal.
“I spent time there, collected dozens of images and enabled people to see I was genuinely interested in their community, not just an outsider,” he says. “I selected three for here because of the intensity of their look.”
He says this project is an examination of his transition from a childhood in a conservative, middle-class, suburban Jewish environment in Toronto to living as a proud secular Jew in Halifax.
Lisa-Beth Glassman lives in Murray River, P.E.I., far from her Toronto roots where, until six years ago, she was a professional caterer. Moving to very rural Prince Edward Island, “in a place practically devoid of ethnic content, I still identify and often qualify my existence in terms of my Jewish heritage.
“I am struck by remembered Hebrew phrases and biblical passages, the melodies of prayers, the memory of sitting with my grandparents in shul on countless Shabbats, all possibly remnants of a parochial day school education.”
I started painting seriously about seven years ago,” she recalled. She attended a weeklong workshop in encaustic (wax and oil pigment) and most frequently uses “found materials” for her substrates.
“Though I never imagined it would manifest as significant subject matter for my art, it has none the less managed to do just that. Perhaps it is a function of age to become increasingly nostalgic.”
Sculptor Miro Davis was born in Vancouver, B.C., but formally trained at NSCAD. In her mixed media practice, her artistic work brings together individuals and groups through visual art as she guides people through mental and physical struggles through the creative practice.
As a social sculptor, Davis’ collaborative sculptural murals have garnered critical and popular acclaim in the United States and Canada and are permanently installed throughout an extensive collection of organizations and institutions.
Halifax-born and raised Craig Fox is a self-taught artist who served in the Israel Defence Forces as a lone soldier (one whose parents are not in Israel). Suffering post-traumatic stress disorder after being shot in Gaza and now working as a paramedic in Halifax, Fox paints animals in oil on canvas as stress relief.
“Some of the art that I create, has obvious influence from my time in Israel, as well as honouring the soldiers I fought with,” Fox said.