By Shelley Werner
(AJNews) – In this time of cautious emergence from the shadow of the pandemic, a new initiative is born at Temple B’nai Tikvah in Calgary. The last few years have seen a retreat from public engagement in all aspects of social life, especially the communal enjoyment of the arts. The Temple is taking this opportunity to open an art gallery that will become a showcase for local Jewish artists. Using the public spaces of the Temple, the art will provide an explosion of colour and texture for those transitioning through the environment.
The “TBT Gallery” will be a home for a revolving series of art installations, with each show appearing for several months before a new exhibit appears.
Rabbi Mark Glickman of the Temple commented, “I am so excited about the TBT Gallery! Not only will it help to beautify the public spaces at our wonderful synagogue, but, more profoundly, it will allow our congregation yet another way of honouring the great Jewish tradition of creating art. Ever since biblical times, Jews have put their passion and energy into creating beautiful things. This new gallery at our temple will allow us to see how our community is continuing to do just that”
“Reconstructing” is a series of 15 works by artist Vivian Herman. The concept is particularly apt given that we are all in the process of building a new reality as the pandemic shifts. Emerging from isolation we can relate to this experience of “newly becoming.”
“I was absolutely delighted to know that things would be coming back to life. Given the opportunity to do something with Temple is a great way to show off the process. Especially the last two years I’ve been doing my artwork, but wondering how I will show it,” said Vivian. She feels the pandemic became a good time for creativity. “My work has not changed in the main, but definitely there has been impact. One of my most recent pieces is called “Holding On” reflecting this crazy time of lockdowns.”
Her working process includes deconstructing the pieces she has created and then bringing them back together in an altered way. The works are made from one large piece and then cut up. She sometimes goes back to older pieces and retrieves elements from them to add to the finished assembly. She rotates them, reshuffles them and sees what works to her eye. It is a combination of collage and mixed media, using paint, fabric or pen, even added after the work is assembled.
Each piece consists of 12 individual small rectangles all held together on a backing to form one complete work. “Sometimes I have an idea I want to bring forward, a scene or a landscape, and other times I say ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do but I’m going to begin. I try not to overthink it. It’s sometimes easier to see what comes as I start to explore.”
She is always drawn to some kind of imagery, as she tries to keep the work loose to achieve spontaneity. Image based work is something she latches onto, for the viewer as well. Not overly message based, she wants to create joy for the viewer, as she experiences joy in creating the work.
The pieces are effective on a number of levels: on the grand scale of viewing the panels overall, as well as the micro level as one comes up close and examines the intricate aspects. This introduces the element of time, as one has to experience the piece in more than a quick “walk by.”
Curator Jennifer Eiserman expressed, “Cultures evolve and grow through their art forms. The arts help us to explore who we are, what we believe, what we value, and where we want to be. By bringing the work of Calgary and area’s Jewish artists to Temple B’nai Tikvah, we provide a space for our Jewish community to build our identity.”
The art shows that will evolve throughout the gallery will underscore the rich and diverse life that is part of Temple B’nai Tikvah culture. From social action, environmental issues and book clubs, the Temple creates a vibrant place to participate in the depth of Jewish life.
Membership Chair Peter Driftmier commented, “the TBT Gallery will not only beautify the Temple public spaces, and show Temple support for the arts, but bring in non-members to view the exhibit and attend events associated with an opening, such as an artist talk as well as senior and youth engagement.”
“Reconstructing,” by Vivian Herman opens on Sunday April 24, 2022 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The show can be seen from April 24 to June 24, 2022. www.vivanhernan.com
Shelley Werner is the host of Art and Scroll Studio zoom series that celebrates the makers and creators of Judaica Art. Their upcoming episode is April 20, 2022 at 7 pm MDT featuring Mosaic Artist Joshua Winer. Register for free tickets at firstname.lastname@example.org