Thursday, December 31, 2015

Thank you for a great 2015

Whew! It's been a great year, and I am so pleased to have shared it with you!

Workshops up and down the West Coast (including Congregation Kol Ami, Temple Beth Hillel, and  Temple Ahavat Shalom), the new windows at Maimonides Jewish Day School in Portland, my annual residency at URJ Camp Newman, commissions galore, an enormous ketubah featuring Adam Strange and Emma Frost, winning a juror's award in "Heroes & Villains" at the Smithsonian-affiliated Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center, the opening of my latest show "Women of Valor and Other Super Heroes" at National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles, participating in the Jerusalem Biennale, presenting "To Boldly Go" to William Shatner... and so much more! Too much to put in one graphic, in fact!

To paraphrase "Hamilton" – I'll see you on the other side of the year...

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Oregon Jewish Life

There's a nice write-up in the January 2016 issue of Oregon Jewish Life about my appearance with William Shatner in Portland last month. Here's an excerpt:
Jewish-themed papercuts generally don’t conjure up visions of Star Trek. References to Jews beautifying commandments with this colorful, baroque folk art date to 1345. Symbols and inscriptions include biblical passages, Stars of David and the Zodiac – complete with fantastic animals. Captain Kirk and his Starship Enterprise are unlikely candidates. Unless, of course, you’re Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik.

Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

2015 Jerusalem Biennale

I've finally received a copy of the catalog for the 2015 Jerusalem Biennale, and I'm so happy to be able to share a few photos out here. The biennale is over, but the sharing never stops!

The Jerusalem Biennale is dedicated to exploring the places in which Contemporary Art and the Jewish World of Content meet. It is a stage for professional artists who create today and refer in their work to Jewish thought spirit tradition or experience to exhibit their work in Jerusalem. In 2015 it included 13 exhibitions in 10 venues, including exhibitions from New York, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Barcelona and (of course) Jerusalem.

I was honored to be included in the "7,567 mi" exhibition put together by the Jewish Artists Initiative and curated by Anne Hromadka and Georgia Freedman-Harvey. The Jewish Artists Initiative (JAI) is an artist-run organization committed to fostering visual art by Jewish artists and promoting dialogue about Jewish identity and related issues among members of the arts community.

The catalog is, of course, bilingual.

List of JAI members in the "7,567 mi" exhibition.

Exhibition statement from the curators.

"7,567 mi" explored the physical, spiritual and cultural connections between Jerusalem and Los Angeles-based members of the JAI. Despite the 7,567 miles that separate our cities, we share a great deal in common.

My two papercuts, in the biennale catalog.

Two of the six papercuts in my "Paper Mishnah" series were included in the exhibition, and flown to Jerusalem to be shown in the Emek Refaim venue of the biennale: "Seeds" and "Women."

It is such a thrill to have my works listed in Hebrew as well as English!
(Even though I include a gimmel in my last name and they went with a more traditional Swedish pronounciation.)

It was truly a pleasure to be a part of this exhibition, alongside my JAI colleagues.

My two pieces, in situ at the Emek Refaim site.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

KCET Artbound profile: "Classic Comix and the Art of Modern Judaism"

I'm pleased to post a link to a new review of my work by Shana Nys Dambrot on KCET Artbound.

Ms. Dambrot visited my current show, "Women of Valor and Other Super Heroes," at National Council of Jewish Women / Los Angeles and spoke to me about my work, my influences, and my inspiration.
"Bridging youth and popular culture with a thoughtful conversation on the lessons of the sacred Jewish texts may seem like a daunting task. In fact, it is a job for Superman."
"Brynjegard-Bialik brings these different types of stories together in the complex but clean layers of his papercuts, creating new meanings for the world's oldest stories as he engineers these combinations with the architectural presence of stained glass, the whimsy of gilded-age fairy tales, and the meditative aura of illuminated manuscripts."
The show is only open for a few more days – contact Carrie Jacoves at 323-852-8512 or to find out when you can see it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

"Breathe Free" and the Syrian Refugee Crisis

It hurts me to hear people like House Speaker Paul Ryan say we should close our doors – whether he says it's a "pause" or whatever. We have a welcome sign at the border, on a statue given to us by France, and it contains America's core value: we welcome the tired and weary – the refugees who seek freedom and safety. Don't turn them away! They are us!

"Breathe Free" (shown above) is a new papercut in my exhibition, "Women of Valor and Other Super Heroes," now showing at National Council of Jewish Women / Los Angeles through November 30, 2015. This was inspired by my wife's Rosh HaShanah sermon about the Syrian refugee crisis.

The original Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, has recently “passed the torch” to a young Muslim immigrant from Pakistan. Both dedicate themselves to the ideas of peace and freedom, and the message carved in stone at the foot of the Statue of Liberty — words written by the Jewish poet, Emma Lazarus. This papercut explores the idea of America as a nation of immigrants, with a changing demographic of people all committed to the same ideals: refuge and liberty for all.

This papercut, like all of my work, is made with cut-up comic books, including:
  • Avengers [Free Comic Book Day] #1 (Jun 2015)
  • Captain Marvel #1 (Nov 2015)
  • Ms. Marvel #15 (Mar 1978)
  • Ms. Marvel #1 (Oct 2014)
The original is already sold, but you can buy an archival giclée print at my store site.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

To Boldly Go: William Shatner (and me) in Portland

Presenting "To Boldly Go" to William Shatner.

I still can't quite believe it. This photo? It's me and William Shatner. With a papercut I made for him. Seriously.

Deep breath.

Sorry – but I'm genuinely such a  huge fan of Star Trek and William Shatner, and this was a dream for me. I was given the opportunity to create a piece for William Shatner and present it to him on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland at their annual gala.

The complete papercut; click to enlarge. You can buy a print here.
The papercut is a representation of “Lech L’cha,” the Torah portion in which Abraham and Sarah are told by God to leave their home and travel to a new land: Canaan (Genesis/Bereshit 12:1–17:27). This desert journey is set against the backdrop of Vasquez Rocks, a California location familiar to viewers of Star Trek (and many other television shows and movies), and it’s made of cut-up Star Trek comics with a focus on Captain James Tiberius Kirk.

Details of a bit of an old chumash and the opening words from "Star Trek."

The papercut contains comic book quotes and speech bubbles related to the message of “Lech L’cha,” it is set against a star-filled background from those comics, and the background behind Abraham and Sarah’s caravan is made of a mosaic of appearances of Captain Kirk’s uniform shirt. And of course, the Federation Starship Enterprise is included as well.

The Federation Starship Enterprise, a travel-related quote, and Abraham and Sarah.

This is the chapter in our Torah when people are first cited as a source of blessing to others; we read that Abraham and Sarah are a source of blessing for all those they come in contact with. Similarly, William Shatner has used his talent and celebrity to share his blessings with others in various community and philanthropic pursuits.

It was such an immense pleasure to present it to him in front of the Portland Jewish Community – to share the meaning behind the piece and to hear him say that he liked it and would be putting it up in his home.

He had such kind words to share about my work.

When I had originally told my wife this might be happening, she told me that if I was meeting William Shatner, she was coming – and so were the kids. And they did! And he was so gracious; he spent some time with the family, asked each of the girls what they want to be when they grow up and offered them encouragement and suggestions. He knows how to talk to girls! And of course, we not only took an "official" photo with the art...

We are all freaking out! Except for Mr. Shatner.

We also took selfies with him in the green room!

Selfie with Mr. Shatner and my wife/muse Shawna.
This was an incredible experience – and one I owe to the fine folks at the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland (especially Event Coordinator Allison Specter and President Marc Blattner) and my buddy Barry Greenberg (of Celebrity Connection).

One last thing – the original papercut is going in William Shatner's house, but you can get an archival giclée print of your own, right here. I'll sign it and ship it to you in a fancy tube and everything.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Birkon Mikdash M'at: NFTY's Bencher

Just in time for Shabbat!

This groundbreaking publication fills a need for a handy source for Shabbat, weekday, and holiday blessings and songs. Created by NFTY, edited by Jeremy Gimbel, and spearheaded by Rabbi Dan Medwin, this app makes all the blessings and songs even more accessible and easy to use. For use in the home, the synagogue, in camps, at weddings, or wherever your travels take you.

And yeah, it features a bunch of my Paper Tefillah papercuts. I'm so proud to be a part of this!

Get it from the app store for your iPhone... or there's a print version too.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

There's No Place Like Camp

Honorees Jim Heeger and Daryl Messinger being presented with "There's No Place Like Camp" by URJ Camp Newman Development and Alumni Director Tracy Klapow

This past weekend URJ Camp Newman held a celebration to honor Jim Heeger and Daryl Messinger for their contributions to and support of the camp over the years – the theme of the evening was "There's No Place Like Camp."

This fabulous husband-and-wife duo have been involved with the URJ camps for many years – serving on the board, developing the long-term vision, and so much more.

I was so pleased the camp asked me to make a papercut for Jim and Daryl, since I'm at Camp Newman every summer and am proud to call it my second home — and I'm glad to share with you a photo of the presentation (above) and a cleaner image of the papercut (below), which I call "There's No Place Like Camp."

Click the leaf to see it bigger!

The papercut is based on the leaf shape used in another event element, but I've filled out the structure with a modified version of the Camp Newman logo. And within? Cut-up comics, of course, including an issue of Lumberjanes. You'll also see a bit of a map (to stress the importance of location), some camp photos, and a little bit of Hebrew text – words from "Mah Tovu," a blessing bestowed upon the Israelites for the beauty of their tents.

Monday, October 19, 2015

"Women of Valor" Opening Reception

A big THANKS to everyone who came out to the opening of "Women of Valor and Other Super Heroes" this weekend – I had a great time, and I think you did too! Here are some photos from the event, including all of the photo booth shenanigans.

(And if you want to swing by NCJW/LA to see the show – 543 Fairfax in Los Angeles – contact Carrie Jacoves at 323/852 8512 or to find out when you can visit.)

My muse/inspiration/bride and I, showing how it's done.

Really pleased with the vinyl wall graphics – they added some extra OOPMH to the exhibition.

Left: Hamsa Thwip. Right: This Is A Job For Us

Getting up close and personal with "Jacob and Esav"

Perhaps a fan of Marie Curie, on whose life "Radiant Energy" is based?

It's me, in action!

My girls manned the photo booth, where guests could step into a simulated papercut.

We premiered some rough footage of a documentary currently in production, titled "You did WHAT to my comics?!?"