December 19th, 2009 by Menachem Wecker
The Israel Museum has received $12m from the Mandel family, which, in part, will provide for a wing that combines Jewish religious and secular objects. [NY Times Arts Beat] This will be interesting to watch, as it is a rare exhibition space that actually manages to seamlessly present ritual and secular objects without favoring one over the other.
For the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ “discovery” of America, Roman Catholic priest Rev. John Giuliani is painting a “very personal” reparation: “an effort,” according to Episcopal Life, “to represent Native Americans as the first spiritual presence in the land.” Sounds noble and open minded, doesn’t it? But the priest, 77, is depicting the Native Americans as Christian saints “to acknowledge their original spiritual presence here.” I love how he is drawing from his own sacred tradition to represent others in a very personal way, but I could see some folks getting put off by this, especially since Columbus, however motivated by his faith, did some pretty reprehensible things to the Native Americans in the name of religion. Either way, check out a quote at the end of the article from Giuliani on Native Americans converting to Christianity that is quite interesting.
Ljuba Poleva, of the Prague-based Precious Legacy Tours, writes to Iconia with season greetings. “It’s been an exciting year for Prague’s Jewish community,” she says, “with the celebrations for 400 years since the death of Rabbi Loew bringing the revival of Jewish life here into the secular limelight. The restoration of Jewish monuments and cemeteries all over the country continues apace, and we’re looking to the future with bright eyes!” (PL holiday card available here.
January is Jewish history month in Florida, says Heritage Florida Jewish News, and one museum is discussing questions like: “Is Jewish art any art produced by a Jewish artist, regardless of content? Is Jewish art any art product that focuses on a specifically Jewish theme? Where does the ‘Jewishness’ lie, in the artist or in the art?”
Are there links between crosses and swastikas? If I’ve learned one thing from Ori Soltes’ wonderful book Our Sacred Signs: How Jewish, Christian and Muslim Art Draw from the Same Source, the answer is maybe, but this seems like a bit much. (Although I totally disagree with the simplified statement in the piece, “The whole point of art is to express who you are.”)
Judith H. Dobrzynski absolutely slams an instance of arts journalists acting like PR flaks. Of course this is only one side of the story, but Dobrzynski has done her research, and I think her post raises very important concerns.