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Jews And Rock: An Art and Music Exhibition in Brooklyn

Ellen Levitt

Posted on February 12, 2019 21:24

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An art gallery in a Brooklyn, New York synagogue is holding a series of events in an exhibition called Jews And Rock, combining art, music and panel discussions about Jews in rock and roll.

Jews and Rock 'n Roll: is this a combination? For real?

The Jews and Rock exhibition being held at a Brooklyn, New York synagogue aims to prove that yes, Jews are a significant factor in rock 'n roll. The opening forum on Sunday, February 10th brought together pieces of art and photography featuring Jewish rockers, together with two panel discussions on Jews and punk rock, and a particular Jew and the Beatles. Upcoming events will highlight Jews and hardcore punk as well as Jews and other rock genres.

The art side included pieces from two dozen artists and photographers, featuring Jewish rock 'n roll artists ranging from the very famous (Bob Dylan, Amy Winehouse, the Beastie Boys) and many others such as Joey Ramone, Arlo Guthrie, Laura Nyro, Susanna Hoffs (The Bangles), Leslie West, Scott Ian (Anthrax), Neil Diamond, Leonard Cohen and others. The art was curated by Max Gottfried, and the exhibition was conceived by Fred Polaniecki of the Brooklyn Jewish Art Gallery at Congregation Kol Israel, where the event took place. 

The first of two panel discussions included the legendary cartoonist John Holstrom (who is not Jewish, but who worked with the Ramones, who counted two Jewish members), Andy Shernoff of the proto-punk rock band The Dictators and other groups, and Steven Lee Beeber, author of The Heebie-Jeebie's at CBGB's.

The second panel featured author Vivek Tiwary, author of The Fifth Beatle, a graphic novel about British Jew Brian Epstein, the first manager of The Beatles. He discussed how Epstein promoted the young Beatles, and worked with other Jewish music entrepreneurs such as concert promoter Sid Bernstein

Both panel discussions were lively and audience members interacted with the speakers. Before and between the panels, people admired the artwork hanging on the walls of this landmarked synagogue (known for its location adjacent to an outdoor train line, the Franklin Avenue Shuttle). 

The musicians portrayed in the paintings, drawings and photographs represent just a fraction of the many Jewish rock 'n rollers that have been active since the 1950s through today. Jewish rock musicians have been involved in mainstream rock, folk rock, rap and hip hop, punk and hardcore, pop and other genres. As well, Jews have been involved in the business end (management, promotion, legal); on the technical end, as producers and studio workers; and in related fields such as radio (such as the deejay and impresario Murray the K who promoted The Beatles on his shows). 

And the artwork in this show spanned a variety of techniques, including oil and acrylic paintings, marker and pencil sketches, and photographs that included portraits as well as experimental styles. The youngest artist was 16 year old Michelle Dankowitz, whose drawing of singer-songwriter Laura Nyro (with a mystical third eye) was admired by many, as well as the rendering of Amy Winehouse emerging from a yahrzeit (memorial) candle, designed by Lynne Cassouto. 

This exhibition indeed shows that Jewish men and women do indeed rock on. L'Chaim!

 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on February 12, 2019 21:24

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