The PjCC is proud to be a part of the Initiative on Jewish Peoplehood presenting educational and cultural programs that explore Jewish heritage, identity, and community. This initiative is co-funded by the Koret Foundation, Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture and other Bay Area funders.
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Cultural Arts Coordinator
PJCC Art Gallery Exhibits
The Art Gallery at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center is committed to showcasing the works of talented Jewish artists as well as presenting exhibits that explore Jewish values, themes and ideas. It is our hope that along with adorning our walls, the exhibits will serve to stimulate personal thought and lively conversations among our members and guests.
During your next visit to the PJCC stop by our gallery located in our lobby and in the Koret Learning Center hall. Exhibits are free and open to the public!
The PJCC Art Gallery presents
The Torah Series
Oil on Canvas
By Scott Switzer
July 8 - October 6, 2015
About The Torah Series
Scott Switzer’s Torah Series is an imaginative evocation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, in an epic series of fifty-four paintings. Each of the highly expressive canvases represents a portion read weekly in a Jewish synagogue, focusing on the Torah’s significant characters and dramatic events.
Like the Torah itself, the series is perpetual, universal, and nuanced by human connection. The paintings start with the mystery of creation and the development of humanity, and proceed through the worldly and spiritual trials it encountered.
About the Artist
Switzer was born in 1960 in Billings, Montana, and as a child his interest in art was encouraged by his parents. The loss of both his brother and his father by the time he was eighteen shaped the artist’s tumultuous adolescence, which was resolved through recovery, faith, and a new-found devotion to painting. He attended the Otis Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles, and later studied with the painter Clyde Aspevig, an important mentor.
Switzer returned to Billings, married the daughter of his high school art teacher, and established a studio there. He and his wife adopted the daughter of a Native American friend, and subsequently adopted the girl’s brother. These additions to their family immersed the Switzers in Native American culture, and the need to honor its traditions.
The family moved to Costa Rica, where a visit with the native Wimea people in 2009 became a turning point for Switzer, with his resolving to follow his own expressive path as painter. His work began to reflect his interest in modern, post-modern, and neo-expressionist painting, particularly the works of Chagall, Picasso, Nolde, Soutine, Auerbach, and Basquiat.
Switzer initiated the Torah Series in Costa Rica, and in his words found a way “to reconcile the redemptive and destructive results of religion, truths found in native belief, and my own sustaining faith.” As a non-Jew reading and painting the Bible from a Hebrew perspective, “…gave (the stories) new life, and changed my consciousness. The paintings are like post-modern icons, a conversation, or even a prayer.” Switzer continued to paint the Torah Series in Montana, and completed it on Shelter Island, NY in 2012. He presented the first works from the series to The Jerusalem Great Synagogue in Israel. The artist is currently working on the Related Paintings, larger canvases of iconic biblical images that accompany the Torah Series. Three of these works are currently on display in the PJCC lobby and eleven others are in a companion exhibition at the Addis on Penzak JCC is Los Gatos.
Excerpted from statements written by John Mendelsohn, a New York-based freelance art writer and critic. Mendelsohn teaches in the Studio Art Program at Fairfield University.
Meet the artist on Wednesday, August 19. Switzer will offer a workshop in the morning and free gallery tour at the evening member mixer. Registration for both programs is available at the Welcome Center.
Art with the Artist: Visual Midrash with Scott Switzer
Switzer's Torah Series, on display in the PJCC Art Gallery through October 6, captures an image-laden scene from each of the 54 weekly Torah readings. Participants will begin the workshop with a brief study of this week's Torah portion led by Rabbi Lavey Derby. Then, with guidance from Mr. Switzer, students will complete a painting of their personal interpretation of the passage. No prior religious study or artistic experience necessary. Materials included.
Return in the evening for a free reception and tour of the exhibition by Mr. Switzer. 5:30 - 7:00 pm.