Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Sacred Words, Sacred Texts" review
in the Jewish Journal

This week's Jewish Journal has a great review of the "Sacred Words, Sacred Texts" group exhibition.

"Brynjegard-Bialik’s beautiful pieces, which weave in images from comic books to create mythic takes on Torah and the Jewish experience, breathe new life into the ... art of paper cutting." 


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Visiting Watts Towers

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to visit Watts Towers – and by "had the opportunity" I mean that I MADE TIME to see them. And so should you, if you live anywhere nearby; they are a true wonder. Started by local artisan Simon Rodia in 1921 and completed more than 30 years later, they are (allegedly) the largest single piece of art completed by one person.

Looking up through one of the towers
Watts Towers is a collection of 17 interconnected structures, with two immense towers and many smaller structures. The armature is constructed from steel pipes and rods, wrapped with wire mesh and coated with mortar. Rodia covered EVERYTHING with pieces of porcelain, tile, and glass, as well as found objects including bed frames, bottles, ceramic tiles, scrap metal and sea shells.

The towers and walls are covered with scavenged pieces of broken tiles, crockery...

...and LOTS of bottle, mostly green. Mostly 7-UP and Canada Dry, we were told.
Rodia built the towers with no special equipment or predetermined design, working alone with hand tools and window-washer's equipment.

He pressed his tools into the cement for this "signature" panel – again with his initials.
We took the tour and heard many stories – some of which may even be true, I suppose... but many of which sounded suspicious.

On weekends Rodia scavenged broken bottles and dishes, and gathered seashells at the beach.

Rodia married the loved of his life in 1902... and divorced her seven years later, never to see her or their three children again. This was decades before he began the towers.

This little area is called The Cactus Garden.

The lot that Rodia purchased upon which he would build the towers faces Italy... roughly. Yeah... VERY roughly.

Would this fall under the category of forbidden reuse?

He built the towers in his backyard. Seriously – in the backyard.

Rodia has his initials EVERYWHERE... as well as lettering such as "Nuestra [Pueblo]."

He apparently built the towers himself because (1) he didn't have any money to pay anyone to help him and (2) he wouldn't have known how to tell them what to do.

He included a fountain which he thought would be perfect for baptisms, and supposedly plenty of people came by and baptised their babies in it.

There are two huge towers, and many smaller ones and other structures.

The intricacy of the steel rebar work is beautiful.

While building the towers he worked at various jobs during the daytime, pouring cement and setting tile... and then would come home and work all night on his towers.

Rodia's intials, the year he began the towers, and "[Nuestra] Pueblo."

This is supposed the be the "sail" of the "ship" portion of the towers.

He married a second time, but his second wife left him when he started work on the towers.

The entire property is surrounded by a wall he built and decorated as well.

The towers are composed of (literally!) approximately 11,000 pottery shards; 10,000 seashells; 6,000 pieces of colored glass; and 15,000 glazed tiles. I didn't count; that's the official word from the staff.


When the city found out what he was doing they warned him that he couldn't build his towers over 100 feet – so he made the tallest one 99.5 feet.

Interested in seeing them yourself? (Photos just can't convey the experience.) The site is open daily; it's "closed" on Mondays and Tuesdays, but they can still be viewed from the street. But I suggest taking the tour – it's worth the seven bucks. Information here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Join me this Sunday for a panel on Judaism and the arts

This Sunday, October 27, from 11 am to 1 pm, American Jewish University is hosting a panel on "Sacred Words, Sacred Texts" – tied in to the group exhibition currently being held at AJU, HUC, and USC Hillel. The panel will discuss Jewish art and its relation to our sacred canon, and will last about an hour (with time for Q&A and a tour of the exhibit).

Rabbi Zoe Klein, of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, will serve as moderator of a discussion on the nature of a sacred text in a Jewish context and in our everyday lives. The four artists will be:
American Jewish University
15600 Mulholland Drive  •  Los Angeles, California 90077
310-476-9777  •

No RSVP is required. Questions? Drop me a line.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Happy Tenth Anniversary, Disney Hall!

Ten years ago I took some photos of the Walt Disney Concert Hall as it was being built — and today is its ten-year anniversary as a Los Angeles landmark. I was lucky to be working down the street during its construction and opening, and got to see it come together. If you haven't yet been inside to see a show (or just to marvel at its beautiful pipe organ), I recommend it.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Adath Jeshurun entryway commission complete!

I'm so pleased to share photos of the new entryway at Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Louisville, Kentucky. Last year the congregation completed work on their new ark doors, which are an adaptation of my "Burning Bush: Flame On" papercut (see here for details and pix), and now five of my "paper tefillah" papercut series have been produced in metal for the entryway to their synagogue.

From left to right are V'ahavta, Shalom, Yotzeir, Avot, and Mi Chamocha; you can see the whole set of 16 paper tefillah papercuts in this PDF.

They are EXTRA LARGE and very well-executed; I'm so pleased to have my work included in the redesign of the synagogue.The ark doors and the entryway are both featured on the front page of Adath Jeshurun's redesigned website.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Join me at a free panel discussion on art and "Sacred Words, Sacred Texts"

On Sunday, October 27, from 11 am to 1 pm, American Jewish University is hosting a panel on "Sacred Words, Sacred Texts" – tied in to the group exhibition currently being held at AJU, HUC, and USC Hillel. I have work in the other two show venues (not at AJU), but I will be one of the four artists on this panel (which also includes two rabbis), discussing Jewish art and its relation to our sacred canon. The panel should last about an hour, with time for Q&A, and then a tour of the exhibit.

Rabbi Zoe Klein, of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, will serve as moderator of a discussion on the nature of a sacred text in a Jewish context and in our everyday lives. The four artists will be:
American Jewish University
15600 Mulholland Drive  •  Los Angeles, California 90077
310-476-9777  •

No RSVP is required. Questions? Drop me a line.

"Sacred Words, Sacred Texts" - photos from the opening reception

My thanks go out to everyone who came down to the opening last Sunday – great art, great company, and a great band! For those of you who missed it, you can still see the work on display at Hebrew Union College and the USC Hillel, through December. I'll be participating in an artist panel tied to the exhibition on Sunday, October 27, from 11 am to 1 pm at American Jewish University; details forthcoming. In the meantime, here are some photos from the reception.

Talking at the HUC site about my "Sapphire Tablets" papercut, on loan from Benjamin Marcus.

A close-up look at the work of Andi Arnovitz, also featured at the HUC site.

I was given the opportunity to talk a little about my work.

A great piece by Will Deutsch, who is also opening a show across town this week [details here].

The dozen works I have in the show are on loan from local collectors; here Larry Hoffman talks with another guest about "Inundacion," which he loaned to the show. Next to it is "Smallville," on loan from Michael and Danielle Hill.

Hillel Smith has some wonderful work at the USC Hillel site, many of which featured contemporary typography.

At the USC site talking with more guests about my work. Not shown: an excellent student band!

I wish had some more pix to share with you – Lidia Shaddow and Melinda Altshuler were showing some beautiful work as well. I'm still waiting on "official" photos, which I'll share here I get them.


There's an official photo set out on Flickr from one of the USC Hillel staffers; please check it out!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

I look forward to seeing you in Los Angeles at the opening reception for "Sacred Words, Sacred Texts" – Sunday, October 13, from 2 to 5 pm. The reception will commence at Hebrew Union College (plenty of parking available) and we will walk over to USC Hillel around 3:15pm.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Join me this Sunday for "Sacred Words, Sacred Texts" opening reception

Please join me this Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles from two to five p.m. for the opening reception of “Sacred Words, Sacred Texts” – an exhibition in collaboration with American Jewish University,
USC Hillel and Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion/LA.

It's a group show featuring artists from around the world, and I am pleased to have 12 papercuts included, many on loan from local collectors.

The reception starts at 2 pm at Hebrew Union College (3077 University Avenue, Los Angeles – 213 749 3424) and at some point wanders down to the USC site for dessert.

For details, visit the Facebook invitation page – and please "like" my fan page to get regular updates in your Facebook feed.

The exhibition runs through mid-December 2013.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Adam Greenberg and "Resilience"

Last night was the big event at Temple Ahavat Shalom; Adam Greenberg came and spoke for a couple of hours, and then spent time chatting with folks and signing stuff.

I sat with him and talked about "Resilience," and the meaning behind it, and he seemed very pleased. He shared with me that his perseverance is inspired by the history of the Jewish people, by our refusal to buckle under – by our tradition's lesson that we must not give up, no matter what stands in our way. He liked hearing about the parallels I drew between his story and that of Joseph, who overcomes a nearly constant barrage of obstacles and comes out on top.

He couldn't have the original – that was commissioned by a friend, and it's going to hang in his home – but Adam has print #10 of the limited edition, and I hope he enjoys it.

I still have a couple of giclée prints from the set available for purchase; only 12 were made, and they're archival ink on archival watercolor stock. Signed and numbered by me, and signed by Adam Greenberg as well. And a portion of the proceeds are being donated to Temple Ahavat Shalom, a non-profit organization. If you're interested, drop me an email.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


This is my latest completed commission: "Resilience."

You may not know the story of Adam Greenberg – and so a brief explanation is likely in order. He was an outfielder for the Chicago Cubs in 2005, known for being hit in the head on the first pitch of his only plate appearance. He was told he wouldn't play again – the injury was too severe, the pain unrelenting. He didn't get credit for that plate appearance, but determination and fan support encouraged the Miami Marlins to sign him to a one-day contract so he could get that "one at-bat" on the books, and so he did. He's playing again, thought not yet major league ball, but his story is one of perseverance and resilience – of not letting a bad situation take you down.

I made this papercut to represent that journey – and backed it with Wolverine comics, since he's the mutant hero known particularly for his healing power, allowing him to bounce back from injury and keep up the good fight. The structure of the piece is based on Greenberg's at-bat with the Marlins, and the rays are an allusion to the "one at-bat" poster his fans made and shared. Last, the broad spectrum of colors are a nod to Joseph, a biblical hero who also faced up to challenge after challenge, hurdle after hurdle, to make something of himself.

Adam Greenberg will be speaking live in Southern California at Temple Ahavat Shalom this October; for details on the event – where you can purchase one of only ten exclusive limited edition giclée prints of "Resilience" – click here. Or email me. That works too.