Monday, August 18, 2008

An Opening

Candle Lighting Time, Sandwiched photograph, 30x24, $350, (c) 2008 Jeane Vogel

"Memento Chai," my solo show of Judaica, opened on Saturday night.

A solo show is a gigantic responsibility. When an artist is part of a group show, curators manage everything: art selection, invitations, atmosphere, hanging the show, getting people to the opening, wine and food, labels. Every little detail is managed. The artist just delivers the work and maybe invites collectors and friends. The artist doesn't even think about whether people will come. Of course they will.

Hang the art and people will come.

A solo show rests entirely on one artist and her reputation. Oy! That's a bit of pressure!

Before I could even worry about who would come, I had a thousand details to consider, not the least of which was selecting the art, framing and hanging it. Fortunately I had lots of help. Husband Steve Sorkin managed the PR for me, getting press releases out and making the necessary contacts. Daughter Hannah worked on my mailing list. Friend and artist Ilene Berman listened to my endless, annoying rambles, and gave me advice (which I didn't take, but I appreciated) about the invitation design. She also ran last minute errands for me and offered endless support and encouragements. And thanks to Ilene, we had lovely cups for our wine and didn't have to swig straight from the bottle.

My friend and rabbi, Susan Talve, talked up the exhibit at every opportunity -- and my talent seemed to be more grand with every telling. If your spiritual leader is going to talk about you, it's nice that she exaggerates in the positive! Susan even modeled for one of the images, Hagbah.

Friend and neighbor Arlene Kerman catered the whole event with the most fabulous desserts. HaShemesh, a klezmer band, filled the exhibit with joyful, inspiring music.

And the people came. Art cannot exist in a vacuum. It needs an audience. It needs a relationship.

Thank you to everyone who came! It was an art opening I will not forget!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Solo Show

Aron Kodesh, Digital Photograph, 2008, 29x22, $350

My first solo show of Judaica opens with a reception at my home congregation, Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis, on Saturday, August 16, 7-10 p.m. It will hang until Sept 28. If you are nearby, please come. It's an artist's reception, so of course there's food, wine and music by HaShemesh, a fantastic local klezmer group.

The show contains work that was commissioned for this year's national Art Calendar published by the Women of Reform Judaism. Each year, the WRJ choose one artist to feature, and I was so honored to be selected. Some of the work is on my website now, but most will be added after the show premieres on Saturday. (Don't want to spoil the surprise!)

The show's title, Momento Chai, is a combination of ideas from Jewish tradition and 16th century portraiture.

The 16th century master portraitists spent a lot of time thinking about their relationships to God, and they were a bit fascinated by death -- probably for good reason! Many put a "Momento Mori," or reminder of death, in each of their portraits. It might have been a human skull, a rope or a knife. (Remember this from Art History class?) It was supposed to remind people of their mortality and ultimate obligation to God.

That's a bit of a foreign concept to me, but I like the idea of multi-layered concepts in my work. I combined that notion with the Jewish tradition of
Chai -- LIFE (remember Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof? L'Chaim!) Every idea in Jewish tradition is centered on preserving, appreciating and treasuring life.

The result is Momento Chai -- each image in the exhibit will have a reminder of life and the joy of living.

Memento Chai will travel to several area venues this fall and is available after November for installation. (Just email me at for details.)