When I found out that the "grandmama of the Wynwood design district" was closing shop I remembered with nostalgia how, four years before, Bernice Steinbaum congratulated me on completing my thesis on Jewish art and gave me an Archie Rand "matzo package" with printouts of his Had Gadya series, which had been recently exhibited in her gallery. She grabbed me by the shoulders and asked "is this for your Master's?" and I said "No, my Bachelor's in Art History", she scoffed and dismissed me. But I smiled... her behavior was exactly what I expected based on her famous witticism. She had given me, after all, a key to continue my path down the rabbit hole of Jewish creativity, innovation, and artistry.
A few years later I read a Mathew Baigell article that confirmed my thoughts on what I had been learning on Jewish art for the past three years. He said: "Most people do not know that we are living in a golden age of Jewish American art". So I continued researching, forming my own theories, and expanding my knowledge. After five years of intense dedication I decided to open up and share a part of it, with the immense satisfaction that some were inspired in return and have now followed me into this field.
Even though I have not met Bernice since, I am very grateful for what she gave me. I can only aspire to also be a wisecrack with style and a great sense of loyalty to artists and their genius when I get older.
No more BS? Not for long... check out this May 2014 video.
- A. Iaroc