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There’s Plenty of Significant Contemporary Jewish Art Hiding in Plain Sight

You won’t find much of it at the Jewish Museum, but a vibrant Jewish art culture does exist—and needs support.

Richard McBee, in a response to recent articles in Mosaic about New York’s Jewish Museum, poses the question: what would an ideal New York Jewish Museum look like?

… “But, I can hear readers asking: where is this contemporary Jewish art you’re talking about, and where especially are the artists? My answer: hundreds are hiding in plain sight in America, Israel, and elsewhere. Indeed, over the last decade, many of them have banded together to organize a vibrant community. To name but the two largest organizations in the U.S., the Jewish Artists Initiative, based in Los Angeles, was founded in 2004 by Ruth Weisberg and currently has 125 members; in New York, the more loosely organized Jewish Art Salon, created in 2008 by Yona Verwer, has approximately 300 artists located mainly in the United States and Israel.

Both of these organizations participated in the 2015 and 2017 Jerusalem Biennale. Each is self-funded and totally independent of the other, and the two also differ markedly in scope and focus; but both bear witness to the fact that contemporary Jewish visual artists are a developing movement.

In order to survive and thrive, these artists need a forum and a basis of support in museums. Significantly, the Conney Project on Jewish Arts at the University of Wisconsin has provided one such platform for formal interaction among organizations as well as among individual artists. Since 2007 the project, created by Douglas Rosenberg, has encouraged new Jewish initiatives in all of the arts, with special emphasis on dance and visual arts. Just this past March, it hosted both the Jewish Artists Initiative and the Jewish Art Salon at the 92nd Street Y in New York. The resulting dialogue, and the artworks exhibited over the course of more than 30 sessions, strongly conveyed the breadth, complexity, and quality of contemporary Jewish art”….

Continue McBee’s response here


From Avner Sher’s Alternative Topographies exhibit at the 2017 Jerusalem Biennale


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