For much of the 20th century the Borscht Belt was a thriving vacation destination, home to hundreds of hotels and motels, from famed high-end resorts such as Grossinger’s and the Concord to modest bungalow colonies. In its heyday, the area was known especially for its nightlife, with top comedians and other performers appearing regularly there.
By the time Scheinfeld was growing up there in the 1980s and ‘90s, however, economic and other factors had sent the region into rapid decline, leading many of the hotels and clubs to close. For the past five years, Scheinfeld has documented that decline through a series of evocative, sometimes ghostly large-scale images of dozens of empty hotels. On April 26, an exhibit of that work, Echoes from the Borscht Belt: Contemporary Photographs by Marisa Scheinfeld, will open at the Yiddish Book Center’s Brechner Gallery. The exhibit, which was developed and curated by Yeshiva University Museum, will be at the Center through November 22.
Some of the images in the exhibit highlight the stark contrast between the past and present: a row of mint-green stools lined up before a phantom lunch counter that was removed long ago; a formerly grand dining room that local kids have commandeered for paint-gun battles, its tables and bright-pink chairs overturned and streaked with paint. In other images, it’s nature that has assumed control: the moss climbing the walls of a once well-appointed guest room, the ferns growing through the cracked floor of a long-abandoned indoor pool.
This traveling exhibition’s next stop will be at the Madron Gallery in Chicago opening on February 1, 2016. By then, Scheinfeld anticipates having an official book release date from Cornell.
NYC-based Jewish Art Salon is a 501.c.3 non-profit; an international artists & scholars organization for contemporary Jewish visual art. It provides exhibitions, important resources and programs, and develops lasting partnerships with artists, curators and the general public.