by Lynn Batten, Gallery and Publicity Manager
During the month of September, the JCC Gallery will host the first annual Omaha Jewish Artist Showcase. This exhibit will feature 12 local Jewish artists working in their medium of choice. Mediums in this exhibit will include fiber art, photography, painting, glass art, bronze sculptures, mixed media and papíer-maché.
Event co-organizers, Beth Brown-Gershovich and Marge Bresel, are excited to bring this event to the community. The inspiration for this event was driven by a desire to recognize some of the local artistic talent that exists in the Omaha Jewish community.
“I had seen the work of many local visual artists who also happened to be Jewish. They all create outstanding art. I thought it would be a nice idea to pay tribute to them and feature all of their diverse talents. In my professional background I have 21 years of event planning, so organizing an event to make it happen came naturally to me,” said Brown-Gershovich. “Our goal for this exhibit was simple. We wanted to give local Jewish artists more exposure in the Omaha area.”
Marge Bresel echoes this sentiment. “In the spirit of Hiddur Mitzvah (making a mitzvoth beautiful), we are bringing together the Jewish artists of Omaha,” she said. “We have so much talent in our community and it’s good to know each other. We’re quite a diverse group, as this exhibit illustrates.”
The twelve participating artists in this year’s showcase are: Marge Bresel, Daniel Christensen, Lila Ferber, Annette Sherman Fettman, Tom Friedman, Allyson Friedman, Beth Brown-Gershovich, Ron Ipock, Bette Kozlen, Naava Naslavsky, Randy Nogg and Jenni Schlossman.
The pieces in this showcase are a representation of the artist’s medium of choosing. They do not have to include Judaica, but several do.
Bresel, whose medium is fiber art, recognizes the importance and inspiration that religion can provide when going through the creative process. She is a member-at-large of the Pomegranate Guild, a US/Canadian guild devoted to Judaica in the needle arts. The group has chapters all over the East Coast, Canada, and the West Coast. They also have national conventions with members teaching such things as talliot making, etc.
Brown-Gershovich, who works in fused glass, also acknowledges how religion sometimes plays a role in her creative process.
“I’m very proud of my heritage and the ingenuity of my people,” she said. “Since childhood, I was intrigued by the design of the Hamsa, its history, and what it represents (protection and good luck). My sweet, yet funny, bubbies emigrated to America from the Shtetels in rural Russia. They were always so superstitious about tempting the ‘Evil Eye’. I guess their superstitions got into my blood.”
Both Brown-Gershovich and Bresel encourage all local Jewish artists to participate in future shows this group plans to organize. Since this was the first year of the event, the duo wanted to start on a smaller scale to gauge community interest.
“We want to make this a yearly exhibit that grows more each year, eventually getting to the point where it becomes a popular event in the community,” Brown-Gershovich said.
“There will be a call for entries in the spring of 2013 for a Fall exhibit. There will be some publicity in the Jewish Press to remind people of the next opportunity,” Bresel said. “People can also come to our reception and talk to us then. It’s a great way to view the exhibit, meet the artists, get information and enjoy a nosh.”
The opening reception for this exhibit will be held on Thursday, Sept. 6 from 7–9 p.m. in the JCC Gallery. There will be light refreshments and the opportunity to meet the participating artists. This event is free and the public is encouraged to attend.
For more information about participating in future Jewish artist exhibits, interested individuals may email Beth Brown-Gershovich at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The JCC Gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m.–9 p.m, Fridays from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. In observance of the High Holidays, the JCC Gallery will be closed on Sept. 17, 18, and 26.