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July 19, 1991 - Image 62

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-07-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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62

FRIDAY, JULY 19, 1991

1---

Jewish Collectors

NINE MILE &
GREENFIELD
15647 West Nine Mile
Southfield, MI
569-5229

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GRAND OPENING
Halsted Village
37580 W. 12 Mile
Farmington Hills, MI
553.2360

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FINE ARTS

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never influenced by Jewish
themes. We look at the piece
as a whole, and if the artist
happens to be Jewish, well
that's just incidental."
Sharon Zimmerman, who
is the new JCC museum
gallery director and curator,
said that until the twentieth
century, Jewish artists were
not creating art in the con-
temporary sense.
"Many Jews observed a re-
ligious prohibition against
making art in the graven
image of another person,"
Ms. Zimmerman said. "It
wasn't until the birth of the
Reform movement that Jew-
ish artists branched out to
create what is now con-
sidered and accepted as fine
art."
Ms. Zimmerman, who
curated shows at the Detroit
Artists Market, said as Jews
moved away from their Or-
thodoxy, so did their art.
"It's normal today for Jew-
ish themes to be absent from
the work of Jewish artists,"
she said. "Art is a personal
expression, each artist
decides what he or she needs
to address. Not all artists
confront their religious
beliefs through art
anymore."
Ms. Zimmerman has spent
the last three to four months
combing Jewish collectors'
homes for this first exhibit.
She said that most collectors
she met couldn't readily
point out which works of art
were made by Jewish artists.
"In exploring the emo-
tional and intellectual
motivations of those who col-
lect fine art, I didn't find the
artist's religion to be a
significant reason to buy a
piece of artwork," Ms. Zim-
merman said.
Ms. Zimmerman has
selected approximately 80
pieces representing 60 Jew-
ish collectors from the
Detroit metropolitan area.
She said she visited about
100 collectors' homes.
"Everybody has some kind
of favorite story associated
with a piece from their col-
lections," Ms. Zimmerman
said. "If it wasn't about the
piece that got away it was
about the extraordinary buy
they found or managed to
haggle."
Ms. Zimmerman said
committee members helped
develop lists of Jewish col-
. lectors. She sent letters and
arranged to visit peoples'
collections.
"I took notes, asked a lot of
questions and then came
back and processed all the
information," she said. "I
can still remember every
piece I saw and where they
are in each home.

Huntington Woods artist Janet Kelman hand-painted glass entrance
doors to the museum gallery from one of Janice Charach-Epstein's
paintings.

"I wanted to find really
good art by major Jewish
contemporary artists, and
through those choices bring
out what the motivations
were in collecting those
pieces in the first place," Ms.
Zimmerman said.
The result is an exhibit of
mixed media, with examples
•of painting, sculpture and
photography from Jewish
artists such as Raphael
Soyer, Jacques Lipschitz,
Milton Avery, Louise
Nevelson, Ben. Shahn, Pat
Steir, David Salle and Alex
Katz.
Ms. Zimmerman found
most artists' collections very
focused. One collector of the
photography of Lawrence
Weiner agreed to loan a
sentence, or statement, he
bought from the conceptual
artist.
The collector liked the
sentence, "A force of suffi-
cient force to wear through a
surface, (i.e. frayed)."
Said Mrs. Zimmerman,
"As much as I could, I tried
to pick pieces that were in
keeping with the collectors'
general taste and collec-
tion.
"People told me they
bought pieces they just had
to have. Most couples said
they started collecting as
a couple. But I was most
impressed with those collec-
tors whose art had become
the dominant guiding force
in their lives."
David and Marion
Handleman of Bloomfield
Hills are such a couple, Ms.
Zimmerman said. The
Handlemans have agreed to

lend two pieces from their
collection.
"We think of ourselves as
colorists," said Mrs.
Handleman, who is also
chairperson of the gallery's
steering committee. "Our
taste has always been con-
temporary, very abstract.
We love the simplicity of it
and its clean lines."
Mr. and Mrs. Handleman
own huge wall paintings by
artists Larry Poons and Joan
Mitchel. The paintings were
so large, the Handlemans
had several of their home's
picture windows filled in to
accommodate their collec-
tion.
Mrs. Handleman, who is
also an artist, said she and
her husband used Florence
Brooks Barron, a doyenne of
the Detroit art scene, when
they decorated their homes.
"When she (Florence
Barron) did a home, she
automatically brought art
into it," Mrs. Handleman
said. "She has influenced
many present art collectors
and still looks for up-and-
coming artists."
Mr. Handleman, who sits
on the boards of the Detroit
Institute of Arts and the
Cranbrook Educational
Community, said he is look-
ing forward to the museum's
opening.
"It has the potential of de-
veloping into a very unique
place for Jews who want to
see what's going on in the
Jewish art world, as well as
providing wonderful gallery
space for the general com-
munity to enjoy," Mr.
Handleman said. ❑

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