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.
Inner East: Illuminated Blessings and Poems
by Marcia Falk
PJCC Art Gallery
October 16 - December 27, 2015
The illuminations in Marcia Falk’s Inner East are inspired by the centuries-old Jewish art form known as the mizrach, a decorative plaque hung on an eastern wall of the home, indicating the direction to face in prayer. Marcia Falk’s new version of the mizrach guides us not to a geographical place but toward an inner east, providing a focus for meditation, contemplation, and the prayer of the heart.
The blessings and poems that are illuminated in these fine-art prints are from Marcia’s groundbreaking volumes of new Hebrew and English prayers, The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, the Sabbath, and the New Moon Festival and The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season. The original mediums of the paintings are oil pastel, soft pastel, and colored pencil. Each illumination is printed under the supervision of the artist, using museum-quality papers and archival pigments.
Marcia Falk writes, “Although I have been writing and painting since childhood, the exigencies of life led me to pursue only one of these arts professionally, while maintaining the other as a private passion. When, after decades of work in both realms, the idea of re-envisioning the mizrach came to me, I realized that I had found a way to unite the two disciplines.
“The mizrach has enabled me to convey, more completely than I had previously been able, my sense of the natural world as the grounding of the inner life. The metaphors and images in The Book of Blessings and The Days Between, which are drawn largely from nature, derive from the same source as the landscapes, seascapes, and cloudscapes of the paintings. It is my hope that the melding of the two arts yields a whole greater than the sum of its parts.”
Marcia Falk is renowned as a pioneer of new Jewish liturgy. Her blessings and poetic meditations have been in use for two decades by individuals and congregations in North America as well as Israel, Europe, and South America. The Book of Blessings and The Days Between have been praised by writers, poets, rabbis, and scholars. Author Cynthia Ozick wrote of The Book of Blessings, “It is as beautiful as it is innovative; and it is innovative in the sweetest, most nourishing sense.”
Marcia Falk is also the author of several books of poetry and translations of modern women poets writing in Hebrew and in Yiddish. Her version of the biblical Song of Songs is widely considered a classic in the art of translation. Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer said of it, "I thought until now that the Song of Songs could not be translated better than the King James Version. Marcia Falk has done an exceptional poetic job. She has great power in her language."
Falk studied painting with Jean Liberté and Will Barnet at the Art Students League of New York, where she is a Life Member. Her mizrachs are the latest development in her evolving career as a creator of contemporary Jewish cultural forms.