Saturday, August 30, 2014

Movie Review: ‘Through a Lens Darkly,’ on African-American Photography

By A.O. Scott
“Yo Mama's Pieta,” (1996) by photographer Renee Cox comments on racism by drawing on a
biblical narrative in which blacks have often been excluded. Credit Renee Cox/First Run Features
HOLLYWOOD---To describe Thomas Allen Harris’sThrough a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People” as a history of African-American photography would be accurate but incomplete. Inspired by the book “Reflections in Black” (2000), Deborah Willis’s groundbreaking and thorough excavation of a vital and neglected photographic tradition, Mr. Harris’s film is a family memoir, a tribute to unsung artists and a lyrical, at times heartbroken, meditation on imagery and identity. The film is always absorbing to watch, but only once it’s over do you begin to grasp the extent of its ambitions, and just how much it has done within a packed, compact hour and a half. [link]

Fulfilling a Promise, Jewish Center in India Reopens After Terror Attack in 2008

By Gardiiner Harris
Nariman House in Mumbai, India, reopened Tuesday, six years after Pakistani militants killed six
people there. George Rohr, who helped pay for the reopening, held a Torah at the ceremony.
INDIA---With a cantor singing a benediction, more than two dozen black-hatted rabbis from around the world arrived here on Tuesday to reopen a Jewish center attacked and gutted during a 2008 killing rampage by Pakistani gunmen. The seven-story center will include a $2.5 million museum, yet to be completed, that will be the first in Mumbai to memorialize all of those killed in the attacks. One of the center’s floors will be left raw, with pockmarks and blast holes behind glass barriers to remind visitors of the devastation. [link]

Friday, August 29, 2014

Movie Review: In ‘Kabbalah Me,’ Steven E. Bram Explores Jewish Mysticism

By Andy Webster
Steve E. Bram, right, dances with Orthodox Jewish men during a visit to Israel,
as seen in "Kabbalah Me," a documentary directed by him. Credit First Run Features
HOLLYWOOD---The filmmaker Steven E. Bram, a sports documentarian and the star of “Kabbalah Me,” was about to turn 50 and “hungry for a deeper spirituality,” he says. So he delved into kabbalah, a centuries-old mystical interpretation of the Torah. His film likens kabbalah to dessert: something to consume after internalizing the fundamentals of Judaism. Soon Mr. Bram’s friends and business partners, and even one of his daughters, are leery. But Mr. Bram reconnects with his heritage and finds a sustenance he has previously approached at Grateful Dead shows and with psychedelics.  [link]

Drawn to Diversity Activist-Artist Series to Host Survivor of Genocidal Sikh Killings

AUSTRALIA---Alfred University’s (AU) Drawn to Diversity 2014-15 Activist-Artist Series – “Exploring Equality Through Art” – kicks off Wednesday, Sept. 17, with illustrator/activist Vishavjit Singh. His talk, open to the public, begins at 8:20 a.m. in Nevins Theater, Powell Campus Center.
Singh, a survivor of the 1984 genocidal killings of Sikhs in India, creates political cartoons that focus on the latest social, economic, and religious developments within the Sikh community and around the world. He also uses CosPlay, or costume role playing, to engage audiences in his lively presentations. His cartoons are created weekly and appear on his website, [link]

Wyoming's Aaron Wallis Gives Drug Lords the Saintly Treatment

By Frances Moody
"RUN DMC" Silkscreen W gold leaf 30x22 2010 ED. 22/5 24kt
WYOMING---A society persecuted by the Roman Empire, early Christians were considered outcasts. Eighteen hundred years later, Aaron Wallis says gangsters and drug dealers are the people who are harassed by legal authority. Playing with the idea of current-day counterculture and how it relates to the past, printmaker Wallis has taken the images of what he calls today’s alternative saints and has placed them in the context of early Christian art for his “Street Bible Series.” [link]

The Rose at Pink Garter Theatre: “Street Bible 2: Da Return,” (Ends September) 50 West Broadway, Jackson Hole, WY; (307) 733-1500;

Art Review: R. M. Fischer: ‘Life Force’

By Roberta Smith
Like a conjurer’s tent full of charms: an installation by R.M. Fischer at the B²OA Gallery. Credit A.B. Bovasso/B²OA
NEW YORK---R. M. Fischer is well into the second phase of his artistic career. In his latest show, at the B²OA project space, Mr. Fischer has backed off a bit from the labor-intensiveness of the stuffed works and moved on. Here Mr. Fischer borrows from folk and outsider art with the same slyness that he previously used with futurism. His crude stitching in threads of contrasting colors continues, a form of drawing that accounts for some of the works’ bristling energy. The metal rods and knobs from Phase 1 are also here, sometimes forming elaborate scaffoldings. They also provide a bit of a through line while confirming that Mr. Fischer will not be stopped. He will consume his earlier career to keep making art. Not for nothing is his show titled “Life Force.” [link]

Art at the Miriam Reflects its Roots

“Blessed is the Lord,” a mosaic by Walter Feldman
RHODE ISLAND---Peace, blessings and health have been important words in the life of The Miriam Hospital since its founding by a group of women in Providence as a place for Jewish doctors to practice and a home for Jewish patients. Today, The Miriam’s roots are nowhere more evident than in the artwork on its walls. Art is everywhere, much of it with a Jewish focus. Walk into the main entrance and to the right is a showcase with a constantly changing exhibit. The latest is a display of beautiful Seder plates. To the left is a large round mosaic, “Blessed is the Lord,” the creation of Walter Feldman of Providence, who also created several paintings on display throughout the first floor of the hospital building. Feldman, a professor emeritus at Brown University, has created art in places around Providence, including in Temple Beth-El and Temple Emanu-El. [link]