Friday, December 28, 2012

"You did WHAT to my comics?!?"
opening in Foster City, California

My next show opens next Friday in Foster City, and features new work inspired by Star Trek, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, and more. I'll be giving a talk and leading a gallery tour on Sunday, February 10 at 2 p.m. (details on the flyer above) – I'd love to have you join me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"Greenberg" papercut featured in 2013 Jewish Currents calendar

I'm pleased to share with you the news: my "Greenberg" papercut has been featured in the 2013 Jewish Currents calendar, now available for purchase on their website. The calendar features works by more than 60 artists and writers, includes listings of Jewish holidays and significant historical events.

Jewish Currents is a progressive Jewish bimonthly magazine that "carries on the insurgent tradition of the Jewish left through independent journalism, political commentary, and a 'countercultural' approach to Jewish arts and literature." Which I think is pretty sweet.

I was going to make a parenthetical reference to Jewish Currents' unique spelling choices, but on second thought it deserves more than a passing glance. As we all know, Hebrew words are not always easily spelled in English; there are just some sounds that don't "translate" – hence the December dilemma of how to spell Hanukkah (Chanukah, Hanuka, etc.). How does Jewish Currents spell it? Khanike. I imagine it's a nod to an older, more classical American Jewish pronounciation – very Ashkenazic — and also outspokenly different than everyone else's efforts. Worth a look, for sure.

More information on "Greenberg" can be found in my original post here.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Federation candles

I drew the candles in the toolkit above for a series of greeting cards for The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles many years ago; they were one image of many as part of series of cards that would mark various Jewish holidays and life cycle events. I've seen these candles reused by the Federation a few times before, but this is the most recent – it's really flattering to see one's work keep springing back up and being given new relevance, even in such a small way.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"You did WHAT to my comics?!?"
in Foster City, California

Time for another show, this one in Foster City, California – at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center from January 4 to March 19, 2013.

Featuring new work inspired by Torah, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, and Star Trek (such as "Live Long and Prosper," shown above).

I'll be posting some more images here soon, as well as a catalog... but in the meantime you can get details on the show and sign up for the artist reception/presentation on Sunday, February 10 on the PJCC website.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

"Good and Evil"

This is a piece from my recent show at the Osher Marin JCC: "Good and Evil." It's the tree of knowledge of good and evil, from the Garden of Eden, backed entirely with cut-up Star Wars comics — with elements of good and evil as represented by the Force and the Dark Side.

The rabbis tell us that in an effort not to embarrass the tree (for it was the cause of Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden), we should not attempt to discover nor reveal what kind of tree it was — and so I've blurred the identity of the tree by filling it with abstracted fruit of various sizes and colors.

Now that the show is over, I'm packing up all of the purchased works and sending them off to their new homes – this one included. But there are some works that haven't sold yet, and they (along with many new works) will be showing at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center in Foster City, California, next month – details will be posted here, so check back soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Live Long and Prosper

You know that awkward moment at your Thanksgiving family celebration? When you run out of things to talk about or are wondering if you'll make it through alive? You can say, "hey, look what I found on the internet – it's got Jewish stuff and Star Trek" and watch the room light up with joy. They'll all thank you.

I made this new papercut which I'm calling "Live Long and Prosper"; it's based on the priestly blessing ... and yeah, Star Trek. Don't know why? Seriously? LMGTFY. It started out as an illustration I drew for a siddur for my wife, and I've now given it the "paper tefillah" treatment, backing it with Star Trek comics, watercolor, and pieces from some genizah-bound books featuring the words of the blessing.

This cut is going to be featured in my next show – which will be in San Mateo, California, in January. And I'll probably have some prints available; I get the feeling someone may want one. If you do, contact me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Anybody out there like Star Trek?

Because *this* is on the table in my studio right now.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Uncanny Ben Zoma

My latest commission is in the hands of its new owner, so I'm pleased to share some photos with you here on my blog. Click on the pic above to see it bigger.

"The Uncanny Ben Zoma" measures 36" x 24" and comprises four panels representing some lines  from Pirkei Avot:
Who is wise? One who learns from every person.
Who is strong? One who overcomes their nature.
Who is rich? One who is satisfied with what they have.
Who is honored? One who respects all of creation.
Each panel is based on one of the four fundamental forces and features members of the X-Men; you can click on the pix below to see blown-up details from each section.

At the far right, “Who is wise?” Within the lines of electromagnetic force are Professor Xavier and Jean Grey. Professor X was the founder of the X-Men and the first headmaster of the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters; Jean was a later leader of the school, and it was eventually rebuilt as the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. As a nod to magnetism, at the center of this panel is a portion of Magneto – though often an enemy of the X-Men, at times in Xavier’s absence he has stepped in to lead the school.


“Who is strong?” features Wolverine and Rogue, renowned for their physical strength and abilities, but both of whom must battle against their nature. The strong nuclear force is the foundation of this panel, fitting as mutants are often referred to as “children of the atom.” Wolverine is continually at odds with his bestial, animal nature; to be truly he must not lose sight of his humanity. Rogue has, at times, aligned herself with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and even as a member of the heroic X-Men she constantly struggles with her mutant power.

The third panel is “Who is rich?” and is built on the weak nuclear force, responsible for the hydrogen fusion at work in the center of our sun.  Angel is the heir and CEO of the multi-billion dollar Worthington Industries, and finds himself dealing with the question of what “rich” really means, and how he can use his wealth and his mutant ability for the betterment of all. Kitty originated as a younger, sunnier, member of the team; though faced with danger and death, she maintains her belief that the world is a wonderful place, if only we take the time to realize it.

The last panel is “Who is respected?” and features two key X-Men team leaders: Cyclops and Storm. They are respected for their abilities in leading a team, and in upholding the guiding principle of the X-Men: they stand up for all people, mutant or not. The panel structure is based on the force of gravity, which binds the planets in their orbits and all objects and people to one another.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Some "thing" on the table

Yeah, it's an awful pun.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Go vote!

Election time is around the corner, and a bunch of artists are making #govote hashtag art to encourage our citizenry to make their voices heard; this one is mine.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Who is wise?
Part 3

Done! This is another teaser from the first of four panels. Once it's in the hands of its new owner, I'll post a photo of the whole thing out here.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Who is wise?
Part 2

It's really coming together... and though I usually don't share pix of my commissions until they're in the hands of their owners, I can't resist sharing another little teaser.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Who is wise?

Here’s a peek at a little detail from the VERY LARGE commission on my cutting table right now. Those of you who know, know.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Double rainbow!

 Wasn't planning to post so soon, but then this happened (click pic to see it larger).

Commissions in progress

Working on a couple of commissions right now, and the show up north is going well... so I may not have much to say (or time to say it) out here for another week or so -- but then look forward to some news about the new stuff coming together in my studio.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Hag Sameach from Nice Jewish Artist!

These have been popular in the past, so with Sukkot right around the corner I'm making them available again: two silly instructional poster guides on "how to hold and wave the four species" and "how to pick an etrog." Feel free to download, print, distribute, and share (as long as you cite I'm providing links to both 11" x 17" posters in JPEG and PDF format. Happy Sukkot!

Sukkot Poster

Etrog Poster

Monday, September 24, 2012

Podcast interview from the opening reception

The Osher Marin JCC has just posted a podcast of the "fireside chat" I had with Joanne Greene at the opening of my latest show. I sound a little geeky. And by "a little" I mean "totally."

Check it out here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

“And God Spoke”

“And God Spoke” is another new papercut now being featuring in "You did WHAT to my comics?!?" at the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael, California. It measures 24" x 18", and is now available for purchase (contact me if you're interested).

“And God Spoke” progresses from the chaos of “tohu v’vohu” to the expanding light of God’s creation, ushered into being with the words, “vayehi or” (“let there be light”). The papercut features the characters of The Watcher, Metamorpho, and Black Bolt (whose voice is the source of his great power, and his role as leader of the Inhumans).

The papercut includes bit and pieces of cut-up comics, including the following:
Fantastic Four #240 & 248 (John Byrne) – Mar & Nov 1982
Fantastic Four #296-297 (John Buscema) – Nov-Dec, 1986
Green Lantern #50 (Geoff Johns) – Mar 2010
The Inhumans #1 – Jun 2000)
JLA: Liberty & Justice (Alex Ross/Paul Dini) – Nov 2003
The Lone Ranger #25 (Dynamite) – Jan 2011
Metamorpho and Aquaman #1 – Oct 2007
Outsiders #47 – Jul 2007
Secret Origins #6 (Halo) – Sep 1986
Trinity #31 (Kurt Busiek) – Dec 2008
Ultimate Mystery #1 – Sep 2010
War of Kings #5 – Sep 2009
What if...? #59 – Mar 1994
National Geographic – Jun 2012
See the rest of the show in person, or check out the catalog of works in the online catalog.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"You did WHAT to my comics?!?"
Osher Marin JCC Show Catalog

The opening reception is this Sunday, so it's time to post a catalog of the show for you folks who either can't make it... or need a little visual persuasion. The catalog is a PDF with big images and descriptions of each piece, as well as listings of the comics that I cut up to make each one. All of the works are available for purchase; I can provide a price list on request via email.

*** Download the catalog ***

More press for the Marin show

I love this Pacific Sun interview – the reporter and I spent an hour talking about superhero movies and art, and the article came out great. "Each piece demonstrates Brynjegard-Bialik's ability to create art that is both insanely complex and gorgeously simple." Read it here.

And it's an honor to have the show selected as a "Best Bet" for this week by the Marin Independent Journal! "...questions of how we balance the sacred and the profane, the profound and the everyday, the traditional and the cutting edge..." Read it here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

"Return of the Jedi" activity book fun!

Yeah, I've still got this. Here's what's inside:

Want all of the good stuff? The Yoda crossword, the color-by-numbers, the Darth Vader papercraft bank instructions, and more? It's all in this Zip archive. You're welcome.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Rebel Spies

Rebel Spies by Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik
"Rebel Spies" — one of the new papercuts I'll be featuring in my upcoming show, which opens this Sunday (click the image to see it larger).

"Rebel Spies" is based on Shelach Lecha in the Torah (Numbers 13:1–15:41). Moses sends spies to scout out the Land of Canaan, and they return with stories of giants who live there and clusters of grapes so large it takes two men to carry them. The story is a contrast between those who fear going into the land, and those who have faith that with God they will succeed. The papercut includes cut-up Star Wars comics, with characters and speech bubbles that complement the biblical story. So yeah, that is Princess Leia in one of the grapes.*

The opening reception for my next show — where you can see this new papercut in the flesh, as it were — is Sunday, September 9, at the Osher Marin JCC; details here. The show will be open through the end of November, but I'll be posting a catalog on my blog later this week, in case you can't make it in person.


*Are you curious about the comics that get cut up when I make my papercuts? Here's what's included in "Rebel Spies":
  • Star Wars #3, #68, #70 (Marvel) – Sep 1977, Feb & Apr 1983
  • Star Wars #17, #18, #30 (Dark Horse) – Apr & May 2000, May 2001
  • Star Wars: Jedi Council #3 of 4 (DH) – Aug 2000
  • Star Wars Crimson Empire II #3 of 6 (DH) – Jan 1999)
  • Star Wars Empire #34 (DH) – Jul 2005
  • Star Wars Jedi: The Dark Side #3 (DH) – Jul 2011
  • Star Wars Legacy #15 (DH) – Aug 2007
  • Star Wars Rebellion #5 & #15 (DH) – Aug 2006 & Jul 2008
  • “The Grand Canyon” (National Geographic) – Jul 1978

Coverage at "Ink Destroyed My Brush"

"Ink Destroyed My Brush" is a blog written by a comic artist friend of mine, and he was kind enough to put together a write-up on my upcoming show, with his reflections on my destruction of that which he creates. Check it out here.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Nice write-up in Northern California's "J"

[Excerpted from j., the Jewish news weekly of Northern California]

What could Moses, Abraham and Sarah possibly have in common with Superman, Wonder Woman and Wolverine?

In Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik’s art, at least, they all inhabit the same complex, colorful world — one in which caped crusaders and Jewish text engage with ease.

“So many of these characters and tropes were created by Jews. I look at these stories and I see metaphors for our existence, and metaphors for the Jewish experience,” he says. “Certainly a lot has been written about Superman representing an immigrant who’s trying to fit in, a model minority... I’m always just trying to figure out, how do I use these stories as a level of commentary? I can start off with an idea, but [comics] always help to take it further.”

A lifelong comic book fan who is married to a rabbi, Brynjegard-Bialik combines traditional papercutting techniques with collage to create intricate pieces whose inspirations span centuries, blurring the lines between graphic storytelling and decorative arts, pop culture and worship.

His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and in Israel. His new show — cheekily titled “You Did WHAT To My Comics?” — opens Sept. 9 at the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael.

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Good and Evil

Detail from a new papercut that will be in my upcoming show.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cutting up comics: a studio video

Shot with my GoPro — one hour of footage, which I edited down to this 2.5 minute video.

It features Khachaturian's "Sabre Dance" as the soundtrack (the music to which all knife-related activities should be set).

On the table? A new papercut titled "Follow Me," which will premiere at my upcoming show at the Osher Marin JCC. Please join me at the opening reception on September 9, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the JCC. There will be free food, and local comics shop Blue Moon Comics will be bringing Jewish-created comics and graphic novels for your perusal and pleasure.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Big, juicy grapes

Detail from my "Rebel Spies" papercut, featuring a large cluster of grapes and a bit of Princess Leia.

You'll be able to see the whole thing (and lots more all-new work) in my upcoming show at the Osher Marin JCC. Please join me at the opening reception on September 9, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the JCC. There will be free food, and local comics shop Blue Moon Comics will be bringing Jewish-created comics and graphic novels for your perusal and pleasure.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The power of words

No title for this piece just yet. It's about the creation of the world and the power of words, and it features a lot of Black Bolt. I've got three close-up shots I took while I was making it, showing how it developed. You won't see Black Bolt here, however — just Metamorpho and The Watcher.

You'll be able to see the whole thing (and lots more all-new work) in my upcoming show at the Osher Marin JCC. Please join me at the opening reception on September 9, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the JCC. There will be free food, and local comics shop Blue Moon Comics will be bringing Jewish-created comics and graphic novels for your perusal and pleasure.

Friday, August 3, 2012

"Rainbow Over Ararat" adapted for tallit-like garment

Curate Lore Chumbley, St. Thomas', Stockton Heath

It's raining, so this feels like a great post to put up today.

Last spring I created a Noah's Ark papercut titled "Rainbow Over Ararat" as a donation for the annual Temple Ahavat Shalom Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC) fundraising luncheon.

I was contacted a short while ago by some folks at St Thomas' Church, Stockton Heath, in the United Kingdom. They were welcoming a new curate with a stole for her to wear, and wanted to make something with Noah's Ark as a theme. Joanne Ridley, the seamstress-artist, asked if she could use my papercut as a basis for the design. She offered to make a donation to the ECEC, and I said "go for it," and she's just finished it. That's the new curate, Lore Chumbley, wearing it in the photo above.

(The church TOTALLY looks like the Platonic ideal of an "old English church" and is, apparently, of historical interest.)

Here's what Joanne said about the process of making the stole:
Briefly, I tacked all the fabrics onto a foundation of muslin, then covered each "join" with a very narrow strip of white bias binding to replicate the papercut. I layered this up like a quilt and quilted through everything to hold it all in place then I (heart in mouth) cut it into the two pieces needed for the stole, sewed those together at the back neck edge and finally bound the edge with blue fabric to match the sky.  I did extend the waves downwards to make the balance right for the stole's length.
I think it's a beautiful adaptation of my work, and I'm so proud they wanted to use it. Here are some photos taken while the stole was being made, and one of the original papercut.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Getting Ready for September Show

My next show opens Sunday, September 9, at the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael, California — and I'm cutting and cutting and cutting these days, finishing up work. Here's a detail from a piece I just completed titled "Shamayim"; it'll be at the show, and I hope you will be as well.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Teaching Papercutting at Camp Newman, 2012 (Part 4)

This is the last post on my 2012 residency at URJ Camp Newman! The campers in the Hagigah yetzirah (major) had time for one last project — a group mezuzah, to which everyone would contribute. (A mezuzah is traditionally a small box attached to the inside of a doorway of one's house; ours, becing a papercut, will be placed next to a doorway at camp.) They took turns picking a spot on the oversized sheet of watercolor stock, drawing in a design (some chose to include parts of their mizrach or midrash projects, while others came up with new imagery to use), cutting it out, and backing it with colored papers and comics. In the center is a shin, behind which is the klaf text inside every mezuzah (paragraphs of the Shema and V'ahavta prayers).

Last, I am pleased to share another mezuzah — another group project, created on Faculty Art Night by the faculty and staff at camp while we were there (instituted by my wife, who was Faculty Dean this year for our session).

Rabbis, educators, medical staff, artists, spouses, and other camp adults contributed in the same way the campers did — but we did it all in a couple of hours one night after the campers went to bed. Here are some shots of the group at work...

...and voila — the final faculty/staff mezuzah!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Teaching Papercutting at Camp Newman, 2012 (Part 3)

Ah, the penultimate installment of my Camp Newman posts. Tonight is the annual "Mark and Peachy Levy Hagigah Arts Festival," which will feature works from all of the workshops the campers have been involved in for their four weeks at camp: painting, sculpture, street art, drama, songwriting, creative writing, papercutting (of course), and more.

I thought this was a good time, therefore, to share some shots from the  papercutting sessions. I'm not sharing as many out here this year; there are more on my Facebook site, for the campers and their friends to check out if they wish. But here are some, so you can see what we were doing for those two weeks.