Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery is continuing the Hanukkah celebration with artworks that highlight the Jewish heritage. The 16th Annual Judaica Show features menorahs, sparkling jewelry, hand-colored prints, mezuzot and festival ware crafted by artists from around the country. On view through Jan. 10, a portion of the proceeds from the sales will be donated to the Boulder Jewish Community Center.
The Gallery’s glittery window display includes whimsical, contemporary menorahs and colorful fine art pieces.
Artists Don Gidley and Sue Parke of Acme Animals create metal menorahs for the home and traveling, using giraffes, dogs, yellowstriped cats and fish as subject matter. Gidley cuts the metal and Parke designs and paints the pieces. In contrast, Florida artist Tamara Baskin jazzes up the base of her bright, fused glass menorahs with designs that feature people in geometric shapes and weaves of blue, lime-green and red colors. Baskin was born and raised in Israel.
The menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum that is a symbol of Judaism, was used in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. The Hanukkah menorah is a nine-branched candelabrum with eight holders, plus one holder set apart from the others that is used to light the eight candles. According to the Talmud, after the Jewish temple was desecrated in Jerusalem there was only enough consecrated olive oil to keep the eternal flame burning in the temple for one day. Yet the oil burned for eight days, giving the people time to press, prepare and consecrate new olive oil.
Karla Gudeon of Smithtown, N.Y., uses family folklore and Jewish history as subject matter for her hand-colored dry point framed engravings. “Tree of Life” shows a blooming tree with a purple, orange and red trunk full of leaves and flowers in royal blue, turquoise, red and lime-green colors. “Tree of Life” designs hang on synagogue walls.
Denver artist Arel Mishory incorporates the hamsa hand in her delicate, hand-painted works on metal. The hamsa, or hamesh in Hebrew, hand can be shaped like a regular hand or have two symmetrical thumbs with fingers pointed up or down. It is often added to jewelry and wall hangings to ward off evil.
Visitors entering the gallery will see necklaces, earrings, yads, mosaics and mezuzot crafted from a variety of materials exhibited in a cheery space to the left of the entrance.
A mezuzah is a decorative case containing a tiny parchment scroll that includes the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21. It is a Jewish tradition to attach the mezuzah to the right-hand side of a door at a 45-degree angle with the top facing the inside of the door or room. A mezuzah is often given as a house-warming gift.
Aimee Golant, a sixth-generation San Francisco metalsmith, uses her grandfather’s tools to make masters for her modern line of mezuzot. Golant is the grandchild of Holocaust survivors. The masters that are mostly made out of copper and silver are molded and cast at small art foundries in Northern California and Rhode Island. The sleek design connects contemporary life with a Jewish tradition.
Sandi Katz’s handcrafted, multicolored glass mezuzot are kiln-fired. The process can take up to 12 hours from the creation of the design through the firing. A native of Haifa, Israel, Michal Golan’s mezuzot contain a colorful mix of semi-precious stones, reflecting the artist’s fascination with Byzantine and Middle Eastern designs. One of Golan’s 24k gold-plated mezuzot on view features lovely swirling lines accented by blue, green and red semi-precious stones.
Near Golan’s decorative works are S.D. Cooper’s simple, organic-shaped copper mezuzot.
Israeli-born artists Nachshon Peleg and Stavit Allweis of Seeka, a word that means pin or broach in Hebrew, utilize a technique that connects steel, paints, resin and found objects with hand-painted acrylics to create necklaces and earrings. Seeka’s collection includes hamsa, Peace Dove and Star of David necklaces in brilliant colors.
Denver artist Ilona Fried’s mosaics blend ceramic tile, stone beads, many varieties of glass and other materials for a fresh look to the hamsa hand.
Boulder artist Brian Seigal creates yads using tree branches and sterling silver. A yad is a pointer used to follow the text on the Torah parchment scrolls during a Torah reading. Since the parchment is considered sacred, it is forbidden to touch the text by hand. Upon request, Seigal can customize a yad by using a branch from a special tree in one’s life.
Seeing this show is a lovely way to start the year.
By Barbara Byrnes-Lenarcic
On the Bill: The Judaica Show will be at the Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery through Jan. 10. 1421 Pearl Street Mall, Boulder, 303- 443-3683, www.boulderartsandcrafts.com.