Convivio: Jews, Hispanics & the Comics

Art exhibition celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month & special Music Havdalah.

Opening October 20, 2018, 6-9 pm at Repair The World, 808 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn.

Closing party December 8, 7:30-10:30 pm with performance by Frank London and Deep Singh.

October 20 – December 8, 2018. Tue-Fri. 9:00 AM to 5: 00 PM; Mon 1:00 to 5:00 PM.

Curated by Joel Silverstein, Ray Felix, Goldie Gross and Julian Voloj.

Convivio (Spanish for “coexist”) documents the ways in which Jews and Hispanics came to define the American comic book industry. Comics are a unique artistic medium, a paradigm of American assimilationist values and mainstream cultures. Paradoxically, they also demonstrate unique aspects of identity, narrative, ethnicity, religion, race, and the self from its very inception.  

Organized by Bechol Lashon, Jewish Art Salon, Bronx Heroes Comic Con & Repair The World. Supported by the UJA Federation NY.  


Claudia Ahlerling/Julian Voloj, Laura Alvarez, Chris Duckett, Will Eisner, Escobar, Ray Felix, Athena Finger, Max Gottfried, Goldie Gross, Miguel Guerra, N. Steven Harris, Paul Hoppe/ Julian Voloj, Jack Kirby, Lon Levin, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Alitha E. Martinez, Jezebel Martinez, Betty Palmer, Rodney Ramos, Archie Rand, Noaj Sauer, Joel Silverstein, Emily Steinberg, Mark Textiera, Miguel Trelles, Efraim Weunsch, Roberto Williams, Sara Wooley.

More about the exhibition:

During the 1930’s, Jews came to invent and define American comics books. They left their imprint on an industry and a popular culture fraught with segregation and prejudice, often hiding in plain sigh like the image of Clark Kent’s glasses masking Superman’s true identity beneath.

By the 1960’s and 70’s, Hispanic artists and writers also made their way into the business adding their own unique voice from an initial position as outsiders. During this period, Jews and Hispanics often shared the same New York neighborhoods: the Lower East Side, Harlem and the Bronx forming a convivial relationship that created bonds of influence and mutual respect.

The exhibition documents this relationship and presents many kinds of comics: mainstream publications that are generally accepted by the American public, but may be read in specific cultural ways regarding Jews and Hispanics, contemporary identity comics written and drawn by writers and artists no longer afraid to be different and “Fine Artists” who use comic book refences as a way to focus and define religious, cultural and personal authenticity.   There are artists in the exhibition who are both Hispanic and Jewish contradicting existing stereotypes. There are also Hispanic artists who revere and emulate the original Jewish comic book creators such as Jack Kirby, or Will Eisner, both native Jewish New Yorkers who exemplified powerful innovative personalities doing battle with  mainstream cultural norms and prejudicial constraints. In the process, they fashioned new worlds where artists of all origins could openly be themselves.

Convivio documents the development of these respective groups as they describe themselves in art, but also how they define themselves vis a vie each other. It is an 80-year history related to the comics and not often mentioned; a story of specific cultural differences mediated by the common factors of immigration, prejudice, difference and creativity. For Jews and Hispanics, comic book art and artists were an important part of the American scene and this changed everything, including themselves.

Artists’ Bios and Artwork:

Claudia Ahlering studied Art and Illustration in Muenster, Hamburg, and Paris. She is founder of the women artist collective “Spring.” Her work has been exhibited in Hamburg, Berlin, London and Tokyo. Her debut graphic novel “Ghetto Brother,” written by Julian Voloj, focuses on the life and legacy of Crypto-Jewish gang leader Benjamin Melendez and has been translated into German, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

Laura Alvarez was born in Valencia, Spain. She finished the Fine Arts Degree in 2001 in the Universitat Politecnica of Valencia. She also spent a semester on an Erasmus exchange at KIAD (Kent Institute of Art and Design). Artwork:  Illustrations that are visual diaries of Laura’s personal life living in Spain and immigrating to New York City.

Escobar Artforall’s art is semi-autobiographical.  She uses comic styled illustration to communicate her ideas on social politics, the self, and society through comic characters.  Escobar has worked as an arts educator for New York City for seventeen years.

William Erwin “Will” Eisner (1917–2005) was an American cartoonist, writer, and entrepreneur. He was one of the earliest cartoonists to work in the American comic book industry and his series The Spirit (1940–1952) was noted for its experiments in content and form. In 1978, he popularized the term “graphic novel” with the publication of his book A Contract with God. He was an early contributor to formal comics studies with his book Comics and Sequential Art (1985). The Eisner Award was named in his honor, and is given to recognize achievements each year in the comics medium; he was one of the three inaugural inductees to the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.

Chris Duckett is one of the original Cup O Java Studio/ Bronx Heroes Artists.  He designed the original character BX Man and was the artist for Super Hero Killers, a one shot  mini- comic. Currently, Chris working on Bronx Heroes King Size #1 World War Heroes and is drawing Enter: The Roach which will also feature art by Julian Tavaras.

Ray Felix is the founder of the community based organization, Bronx Heroes Comic Con®, and Co-Founder of Women in Comics Con™, which promotes literacy and education through the practice of reading and creating comics. Ray Felix’s work Enter: the Roach is inspired by Kafka’s Metamorphosis, with a superhero twist. It’s a personal story of Felix’s coming of age in the Bronx in the metaphor of a cockroach superhero.

Athena Finger legally fought for her grandfather, Bill Finger, to receive co-credit recognition for creating Batman and won in 2015.  Athena has been actively attending comic conventions to tell Bill’s story and showcase her artwork. Her current work has been focused on Golden Age comic cover recreations.

José Luis García-López is a Spanish comics artist, who works in the U.S. and had been engaged in a long-running professional relationship with DC Comics. His works include, The Justice League, Dead Man and Road to Perdition.

Max Gottfried has been a professor and educator for over 25 years. His paintings, prints and 3D constructions are the inspired result of a steady diet of comic books, film noir, 1960s garage music and vintage textiles. He is currently engaged in a series of paintings, drawing and prints highlighting Jewish Gangsters.

Goldie Gross is a Brooklyn-based artist, curator, and jewelry-maker from Crown Heights. She has curated The Invisible Jew, POW!!! Jewish Comic Art and Influence, and Natural Instincts for the Jewish Art Salon, in addition to the first annual Sukkahwood. She co-produced the Jewish Art Salon exhibition, Jerusalem Between Heaven And Earth at the Jerusalem Biennale 2017, curated by Ori Z. Soltes. She likes to play with blowtorches and semi-precious metals in her spare time.

Miguel Guerra is an artist, writer and comic book creator. He publishes comics and graphic novels, illustrates custom comic book covers for kids  Super Kid Heroes  and offers commissioned art such as covers, illustrations, avatars and  t-shirts.  Along with his co-creator and co-writer Suzy Dias, they began publishing their own short stories, comics and graphic novels in 2006. Miguel and Suzy’s short stories have been featured in Heavy Metal Magazine.

N.Steven Harris: In addition to co-creating and illustrating Brotherhood of The Fringe, and co- creating Ajala: A Series of Adventures, along with Robert Garrett, N. Steven Harris has had a career spanning 20 years in the comic book industry. His highlights include Aztek: The Ultimate Man, a character which he co-created with Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, Batman: Officer Down, (DC Comics), X-Force 101, Deadpool Annual, 98 (Marvel Entertainment), and a comic book called The Crush (Motown, Image Comics). Most recently, Mr. Harris collaborated with best-selling novelist L.A. Banks of The Vampire Huntress Legends series on a comic book adaptation of the 12th book in that series and Voltron, (Dynamite Entertainment).

Paul Hoppe is an illustrator and cartoonist whose clients include The New York Times, The New Yorker, American Express, BuzzFeed and IBM. He’s also an author and illustrator of picture books and graphic novels, including the upcoming NEYMAR – A Soccer Dream Come True, PEANUT, and THE WOODS which he also wrote, and an avid self-publisher of zines and comics. His current work Kurtzberg  was authored by Julian Voloj. During the summer, he teaches Sequential Art in the Illustration Residency at the School of Visual Arts. His work has been honored by the Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, and American Illustration, amongst others. Born in Poland and raised in Germany, he now works and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Jack Kirby (1917-1994) was an American comic book artist and writer, widely regarded as one of the medium’s greatest innovators and essential creators. In 1940, he and  partner Joe Simon produced the ground breaking superhero, Captain America for Timely Comics, the predecessor of Marvel. During the 1960’s, Kirby co-created the majority of  Marvel universe with Stan Lee including: Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, The Fantastic Four, The Avengers,The Inhumans, Black Panther, X- Men, The Silver Surfer and many others. By the 1970’s he had moved on to DC where he introduced a single narrative epic in a multi- magazine format for his Fourth World series, as well as the characters, The Demon, Kamandi, The Losers and his version of Sandman. Kirby’s influence has been extraordinary and continues to shape artists today.

Lon Levin is a graduate of UCLA Fine Arts and a graduate of Art Center College of Design in Advertising/Illustration. He started his career in the animation department of Hanna-Barbera, then worked as an art director, creative director and art department head for 25 years in the entertainment business. He worked for 20th Century Fox, Sony Entertainment, Saban Entertainment and Warner Bros Worldwide marketing on hundreds of Film, TV, Animation and Licensing campaigns including Stars Wars, Power Rangers, The West Wing, Will & Grace, Animaniacs, Batman, Superman among countless others. He has won many awards for his work including 7 Gold and Silver Promax awards for excellence in Television Advertising.

Alitha Martinez is an Eisner Award winning illustrator. Her work can be found in issues of  World of Wakanda, Black Panther, Iron Man, Voltron: Defender of the Universe, and NBC’s Heroes. She is also the illustrator of the author own works Foreigner and Yume and Ever. Alitha currently teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Alitha’s personal comics project are images from her series Yume and Ever, Foreigner, and is known for her work on Iron Man.

Betty Palmer began her career with a full scholarship to Parsons School of Design. However, before graduating she emigrated to Israel two years after the birth of the nation, where she painted and taught art. An exhibition of Moroccan, Egyptian, Yemenite, and Kurdistan children’s works from six Negev collectives was sent on tour throughout Israel and exhibited in NYC upon her return. Ms Palmer continued her career in NYC as an art director and graphic designer. Her paintings have been exhibited in several solo and group shows.

Rodney Ramos’ career spans 30 years in the comic book industry.  He has worked for Marvel, DC, Valiant Comics and many others. His noted works as an inker are Transmetropolitan, Green Lantern, and his pencilled works have featured in The Amazing Spider-Man, What if, Marvel Comics Presents and X-Men.  

Archie Rand received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Pratt Institute. His first exhibition was in 1966 at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York and has since had over 100 solo exhibitions. He is currently Presidential Professor of Art at Brooklyn College which granted him the Award for Excellence in Creative Achievement in 2016. He was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Foundation Fellowship in 1999 and was made a Laureate of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, awarding him the Achievement Medal for Contributions in the Visual Arts. In 1974 Rand received a commission from Congregation B’nai Yosef in Brooklyn. Rand was asked to paint thematic murals for the synagogue, totalling 13,000 square feet. The work took three years to complete and set a new standard for contemporary Jewish Art. His work again challenged standards with his book, The 613, Penguin Random House, 2015. By creating one painting for each of the Mitzvot (or Commandments) using  comic books and pulp magazines as inspiration, the artist calls new attention to Jewish text and cultural practice.

Israel Noaj Sauer is an Argentine curator and artist. Originally born Nicolas Barrientos, Sauer was raised in a culturally mixed Catholic and Jewish family in Buenos Aires. After becoming a religious Jew at his early twenties in Israel, he adopted a Hebrew first name and his mother’s maiden name. Since his youth, he has worked as a photographer and graphic designer for different rock bands. He became a painter, inspired in part by the many travels he has made after becoming a religious Jew. Although a self-taught artist, he considers his constant visits to museums and exhibitions with his father, Roberto Barrientos, also a self-taught artist, as important as attending college. 

Arlen Schumer is an award-winning comic book-style illustrator for the advertising and editorial markets; an author/designer of coffee table art books, including The Silver Age of Comic Book Art (Archway Publishing), which won the Independent Book Publishers Award for Best Popular Culture Book (for its original ’03 edition); and a recognized expert on American popular culture—especially the legendary television series The Twilight Zone and the music of Bruce Springsteen—presenting his VisuaLectures on these and other subjects at universities and cultural institutions across the country since 1988.

Joel Silverstein is an artist, critic and teacher. He studied at Pratt Institute and Brooklyn College and holds a BFA, a MFA and an MPS. He has shown work at the Van Leer Institute, The Mishkan Le’Omanut Museum, The Bronfman Center, the Derfner Museum of Judaica, Montclair University and NYU. The artist/critic is a founding and executive member of the Jewish Art Salon and has curated several exhibitions including: Through Compassionate Eyes;Artists call for Animal Rights, at Charter Oak in Hartford, CT, POW!!! Jewish Comic Art & Influence at Brooklyn Jewish Art Gallery, JOMIX- Jewish Comics; Art & Derivation, The Dura Europos Project.

Emily Steinberg’s images from her visual narrative Broken Eggs were featured in an exhibit titled Sick! Kranksein Im Comic: Reclaiming Illness Through Comics at the Berlin Museum of Medical History @ the Charité, Berlin, Germany. Her graphic novel memoir, Graphic Therapy, was published serially inSMITH Magazine, her short comic, Blogging Towards Oblivion, was included in The Moment(Harper/Collins 2012) and her visual narratives Berlin Story; Time, Memory, Place (2017), A Midsummer Soirée (2015), Broken Eggs (2014) and The Modernist Cabin (2013) have been published in Cleaver Magazine. She currently teaches painting, drawing, graphic novel, and the History of Comics at Penn State Abington College.

Mark Texeira was born and raised in New York City. He attended Manhattan’s High School of Art and Design and was granted a Presidential Scholarship at the School of Visual Arts, where he attended for two years before dropping out to pursue a freelance commercial art career. During this period, Texeira took classes at the Art Students League. His oil paintings soon won mentions at the Salmagundi Club and the Society of Illustrators.  

Miguel Trelles’ on-going Chino-Latino painting series encompasses both a contemporary Caribbean landscape idiom fraught with references culled from Chinese dynastic masterpieces, as well as narrative figurations that dwell on Chinese and Latin American visual sources. A “Borimix” (a Puerto Rican of Cuban descent with strong Dominican ties) Trelles began exhibiting in the early 1990’s.  Often shown in New York, New Haven and San Juan, his paintings and prints have traveled to Miami, Havana, Santo Domingo, Lima, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Paris. 

Roberto Williams is the author and producer of the play Fathers of the Dark Knight. He is also a Performing Arts Teaching Artist for New York City Department of Education and is the founder of Lion’s Roar Entertainment. Roberto is also a  voice-over performer for TV, Radio, Film, Animation and Video Games. He attended the School of Visual Arts, 1989 and majored in Film. Roberto’s latest projects are sculptor based, where he recreates the buildings and sets from the Batman comics to life in 1/8 scale.   

Sara Woolley is an award-winning illustrator and artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY.  Her work has been twice recognized by the New York Society of Illustrators, by the Los Angeles Society of Illustrators, and most recently by 3×3 Magazine of Contemporary Illustration. Of Colombian and American background, Sara’s exploration of cultural identity manifests itself in various forms throughout her work. 

Ephraim Wuensch’s bold and eclectic work is part social commentary and part contemporary art. His freestyle stream of consciousness pieces are a window into the creative mind of a contemporary self-taught artist straddling the worlds of Hasidic Jewish and secular  life within the greater setting of a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Influenced by an array of artists as diverse as Jean Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring to Ben Katchor and Saul Steinberg as well as others, it calls to mind the outsider Art Brut of Jean Dubuffet. 

6 responses to “Convivio: Jews, Hispanics & the Comics”

  1. […] is also the closing party for “Convivio,” an art exhibition, curated by Joel Silverstein, Goldie Gross, Ray Felix and Julian Voloj, […]

  2. […] In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Voloj, a Be’chol Lashon staffer, arranged Convivio, an art exhibition about Jews, Hispanics, and comics in partnership with Jewish Art Salon, Bronx […]

  3. Shoshannah Brombacher Avatar

    Unfortunately I will be in Holland during the pening but hope to see it later. Sounds great! Shoshannah Brombacher

  4. Betty Palmer Avatar

    Sad to say wrong name under my artwork The Other.
    Wrong: Linda Mason
    Correct: Betty Palmer