September 2016 – December 2016
Michael Weinstein Gallery
MARK PODWAL: A Kaddish for Dabrowa Bialostocka
The first show in our new series of temporary exhibitions took its theme from the Jewish tradition of a mourner’s kaddish – prayers for the departed. It featured eighteen new works in acrylic and colored pencil that were inspired the artist’s 2016 visit to the small town in northeastern Poland where his mother was born. Although Jews once made up 75% of the town’s population, none remain. Podwal calls this series “a visual diary of my journey to Dąbrowa. Like a kaddish, the works honor something precious that is gone by portraying a vanished world of Jewish shtetl life in pre-World War II Poland. Incorporating themes characteristic of Poland, this series is the unique artistic imagining of my Polish roots.”
This exhibition had particular poignancy at Eldridge Street. Like the artist’s family, many of the Eldridge Street Synagogue’s early congregants came from Poland and other Eastern European towns that were obliterated during the Holocaust. And like Podwal himself, many of the Museum’s visitors seek a way to connect with previous generations in their immigrant families.
Mark Podwal’s work focuses on Jewish legend, history and tradition. Although he always loved to draw, Podwal never pursued formal art training, instead becoming a physician. While in medical school, the tumultuous events of the 1960s compelled him to create a series of political drawings that were published in his first book, The Decline and Fall of the American Empire. Later his work was featured on the op-ed page of the New York Times. He is the author and illustrator of many books and has collaborated with Elie Wiesel, Francine Prose, Harold Bloom and others. His work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Israel Museum, and many others.