Monday, February 19 , 2018, 11:52 pm | Fair 42º


Art at JCC 1st Thursday Reception: Celebration of Life Exhibit and Benefit

Show honors lives of Holocaust survivors

The Vilna Marketplace Before World War II by David Labkovki.
The Vilna Marketplace Before World War II by David Labkovki. (JCC)

Art at the JCC will host a 1st Thursday reception from 5-8 p.m. Dec. 1, for its Celebration of Life Exhibit & Benefit which runs through Dec. 17 at the Jewish Federation’s Bronfman Family Jewish Community Center, 524 Chapala St., Santa Barbara.

The reception will include remarks from artist Laurie Gross, the David Labkovski Project executive director Leora Raikin, and exhibit curator Lynn M. Holley.
This poignant show celebrates the lives of local Holocaust survivors with a fresh approach focused on life and renewal rather than death and destruction. It features major works from Laurie Gross studios, David Labkovski, and other local artists and survivors.
As a centerpiece of the show, Art at the JCC will display the seven-panel tapestry "Seven Days of Creation" from Laurie Gross Studios. This intricately woven and embroidered piece is over 10 feet tall and about 30 feet wide.

The title refers to Genesis 1:1–2:3 in which Elohim, the Hebrew word for God, creates the heavens and the earth in six days, starting with light on the first day and ending with the creation of human beings and animals on the sixth day. God then blesses, sanctifies, and rests on the seventh day.
The exhibit also showcases prints on canvas by Lithuanian-Israeli artist David Labkovski (1906-1991), in his Santa Barbara debut. Labkovski’s art tells the story of Jewish destruction, survival and renewal through his expressive technique and captivating oil paintings.

Labkovski’s work takes the viewer on a journey from the dark to the light, from his own survival in a Siberian prison camp during the Holocaust, to the light and life in Israel. His art shares lessons of life, survival, tolerance, acceptance, and the importance of bearing witness to history.
Raikin of the David Labkovski Project, and also the artist’s niece, will discuss how the project’s educational program uses Labkovski's body of artwork to engage, enrich, and educate about the Holocaust, allowing students to curate an exhibition, become docents and story tellers within a multi-disciplinary Holocaust educational program.

More information can be found at Raikin will also lead a docent tour following remarks at the reception.

Local Survivors Ralph Baxter, Freddy Caston, Erika Kahn, Edith Ostern, Bernie Penner, Maria Segal and Margaret Singer, as well as long-time Santa Barbara resident Evelyn (Chava) Gerlach, will be exhibiting their work.

A select group of local artists have created 8-inch-by-eight-inch canvasses which will be for sale at $54 each. Proceeds will benefit the Portraits of Survival/Upstanders Exhibits and Programs: Life Journeys During the Holocaust and Beyond, which has welcomed over 20,000 visitors since its inception in November 2003.
The Survivors’ artwork is part of the Celebration of Life exhibit, and will honor all local Holocaust survivors, their legacies of endurance and hope, and the lessons their lives teach us about the power of the human spirit in the face of unthinkable evil.

A number of these extraordinary Survivors have been lifelong professional artists, while others have been art educators or found their creative talents later in life. Collectively, their work offers insight into the experience of living through one of the darkest chapters in human history.
The exhibit was curated by Lynn M. Holley, an executive consultant to the arts and an award-winning executive director of non-profit organizations. Currently, Holley is the resident curator of art at the JCC and chief curator of Santa Barbara Center for Arts, Science and Technology.

The exhibition’s main partner is the Squire Foundation, a nonprofit arts empowerment foundation that aims to elevate the arts in Santa Barbara through artist in residence and public art programming.

For more information or to become a supporter, visit or call 957-1115.

— Briana Sapp Tivey for the JCC.

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