Bill Farran Shares Unique Linocuts: A Combined Love Of History, Geography And His Roots

Bill Farran is showing his unique linocut prints at the Nathan D. Rosen Museum Gallery Biennial Juried Art Exhibit (Opening Reception Feb.11), ArtiGras in Jupiter (Feb. 13- 15) and Chabad House in Manalapan (Feb. 21)  After retiring as a history and culinary arts teacher, Bill Farran became a Florida snowbird.  With the guidance of several art teachers he pursued portraits and outdoor landscapes before he rediscovered his love of block prints. He enjoys working backward and in reverse! Combining his art with his love of history, Bill’s versatility shows as his subjects range from Pop Art to social commentary and his Jewish roots. In addition, Bill is an author and an internationally sought-after speaker.  The Rickie Report shares Bill’s story, his upcoming Exhibits and speaking engagements plus some sneak peeks.  Bill’s abundant knowledge, including more of his artwork as well videos, resources and a vast history lesson can be found on his website.  

 

 

 

The   Linocuts   of   Bill   Farran

 

Meet The Artist:

Nathan D. Rosen Museum Gallery

“Art 2016”  Biennial Juried Art Exhibit

Public Opening Reception:

 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

4:00 – 6:00 PM:

Exhibit runs through Friday, March 18, 2016

Gallery Hours:  Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

 

Levis JCC Sandler Center
21050 95th Avenue S.     Boca Raton, FL 33428
(located off Glades Road at 95th Avenue S., West of the Florida Turnpike)

 

 

 

ArtiGras Fine Arts Festival

 


February 13, 14 & 15, 2016

Saturday 10am to 6pm


Sunday 10am to 6pm


Monday 10am to 5pm


Abacoa Town Center in Jupiter, Florida

Central Boulevard between Main Street Circle and Fredrick Small Circle & University Boulevard

 

 

 

Chabad of South Palm Beach

 

Sunday, February 21

 4-6 PM

 

 

 

Plaza Del Mar  224 S. Ocean Blvd.  

Manalapan, FL 33462

Gallery Show runs February 21st  thru March

 

 

 

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“Flowers”, Linocut by Bill Farran

 

 

It all started in 1968 with the need for a quick gift. Bill Farran made a woodcut, and framed it. After that, he created a woodcut or linocut each Jewish New Year. His two children were announced to the world via woodcuts. As the years passed and postage increased, Jewish New Year Cards became less frequent.

 

 

 

BillFarranscha011

“Klezmer Singer, Elizabeth Schwartz” by Bill Farran

 

 

 

Bill tells The Rickie Report, “Then in 2011 two things happened. First, I made a Jewish New Card and posted it on Youtube for my friends and family. In the past I incorporated the usual images; apples and honey, views of the Jerusalem skyline, Chassids dancing, men holding the torah or blowing the shofer. In 2012, I made a linocut Jewish New Year Card of the Gvozdetz wooden synagogue (Gwoździec, Poland is now Hvfzdets, Ukraine). It must have been fate”.

 

 

 

BillFarrannycard22105_copy

Jewish New Year Linocut by Bill Farran

 

 

Bill met a group of men in Century Village who were members of the woodcarving club. They were a mixed group, liberals and conservatives, religious Jews and non-religious Jews, Americans and Canadians. “I decided to make a Jewish New Years video, as I would carve and print my linocuts with them each Tuesday morning. I never did make the video. As one thing always leads to another, before I knew it I’d created over 20 Wooden Synagogue linocuts, spent untold hours researching and learning about Eastern European history, had entered shows, and began to speak about “Lost Treasures: Wooden Synagogues of Eastern Europe”.

 

 

 

“My wooden synagogue series has become a labor of love. It brings together many aspects of myself. My love of history and geography, my love affair with Jewish genealogy, my love of art, and my love of my wife who helps me research and write”.

 

Bill Farran Novyy Yarychiv linocut

Wooden Synagogue of Novyy Yarychiv, Ukraine by Bill Farran

 

 

TRR: Take us through the process of a linocut:

BF:

 

A linocut is a printmaking technique, a variant of woodcut in which a sheet of linoleum (sometimes mounted on a wooden block) is used for the relief surface. A design is cut into the linoleum surface with a sharp knife, V-shaped chisel or gouge, with the raised (uncarved) areas representing a reversal (mirror image) of the parts to show printed. The linoleum sheet is inked with a roller (called a brayer), and then impressed onto paper or fabric. The actual printing can be done by hand or with a press.

 

 

The process begins with finding a photo or drawing of a wooden synagogue. They were all destroyed by the end of World War II, and very few images have survived. We research the history of the towns or shetles, to learn about the synagogue, how the people lived and finally how the Jewish presence came to an end. We often become very emotional, but it is my way of not forgetting the past. Then I transfer the image to a linoleum block and carve. I work backwards, only “what I leave behind” prints. The next stage is to make a print from the block. I have to ink the block and place a sheet of acid free paper over it and burnish the image. All my prints are hand printed. Each print is ever so slightly different and I create limited editions.

 

 

 

 

Bill explains, “My artistic focus and inspiration flow from two sources. First, I love my medium, block printing. The feel of the wood or linoleum under the carving tools transports me to another plain. The process of working backwards and in reverse is an enjoyable challenge. In block printing one has to remove surface, leaving behind the surface that will accept the ink and print. When adding color a second block has to be carved. Hand printing in itself is an art”.

 

 

 

“Second, I love my subject love – the wooden synagogues of Eastern Europe and their importance in Jewish cultural history. Depicting them as linocuts and woodcuts, began with creating a simple Jewish new year’s card has become a journey reinventing my life. Wooden synagogues are gone from Eastern Europe, victims of fire, war, old age and the Holocaust. Through art I try to bring back these wonderful Jewish wooden synagogues, to give us a glimpse of the past”.

 

 

BillFarranVITEBSK 96010

City View of Vitebsk, Belarus by Bill Farran

 

 

TRR:  How did you get started creating your art work?

 BF:

I needed a quick last minute gift for my Mom and decided to make a wood cut. I based it on Vincent Van Gogh’s Postman Joseph Roulin. Everyone said it looked like a rabbi, so I used it as a Jewish New Year Card. After that card I made a woodcut or linocut each Jewish New Year.

 

BilFarranPrienaiLithuania

Prienai,Lithuania by Bill Farran

 

 

TRR:  Tell us about your lectures.

 BF:

 

I use my Art to educate my audience about Jewish history is Eastern Europe from 900 AD to the present. My goal is to impart that Jews were fairly well off until the Partition of Poland, in 1772-1794.

 

Topics:
• Jews in the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania
• The Art of Wooden Synagogues, What motivates the Artist
• The Jews under the rule of the Tsars
• Rise and Fall of the Shtetl
• Yom Ha Shoah
• Kristallnacht

 

 

BillFarranlostsoulsoftheghetto

Lost Souls of the Ghetto by Bill Farran

 

 

TRR: We understand that you have lectured internationally and in the US.

 BF:

 

I love the art and the knowledge that I acquired, and I have a passion to share them with people.My next lecture will be on February 21, 2016 at Chabad of South Palm Beach.

Most recently:

• November, 2015 92nd Street Y, New York, NY “The Jews under the rule of the Tzars”
• August, 2015 Neptune Towers Co-op, Long Beach NY “Rise and Fall of the Shtetl”
• August 2015 92nd Street Y, New York, NY “Rise and Fall of the Shtetl”
• April, 2015 Temple Beth Shalom, Melville NY: “Yom Ha Shoah Commemoration”
• April, 2015 Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center, “Yom Ha Shoah Commemoration”
• March, 2015 Jewish Genealogy Society of Palm Beach; Florida
• September 2014 Temple Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek,Chester, CT “Jews in the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania”
• January 13, 2014 Na’amat Movement Of Working Woman And Volunteers, Valencia Lakes, Boynton Beach, Florida “Jews in the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania”
• August, 2014 International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) 33rd International Conference on Jewish Genealogy; Boston MA “Jews in the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania”
• July, 2014 Tomek Wisniewski’s Studio Of Film, Sound and Photography, Michalowo Poland. “A Day of Jewish Culture. Jews in the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania”.
• November, 2014 Long Beach. NY Public Library “Kristallnacht‎”
• March, 2013 Jewish Genealogical Society of Long Island; NY “Jews in the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania”
• March, 2013 Adolph And Rose Levis JCC, Boca Raton, Florida “Jews in the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania”
• January 2013 Century Village Art Club, Boca Raton, Florida “The Art of the Wooden Synagogue”

 

 

sugar

“Sugar” by Bill Farran

 

 

TRR:  Where have you exhibited your Art?

BF:

ArtiGras is my first professional Exhibition, as I am now a full-time artist.  Previously my work has been seen at:  Huntington Arts Council, “Artie Techie Show”, Huntington NY July, 2015; Huntington Arts Council “Don’t Eat This” Art Show  Huntington NY May, 2015;  Ocean Ridge Coastal Artist Exhibition, Ocean Ridge, FL March 2015;  Temple Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek Gallery, Chester, CT August-October 2014;  Anti-Defamation League of Palm Beach; Florida Artworks: “Justice, Advocacy & Art” November 14, 2013;  The Opera and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Podlasie-European Centre for the Arts, Bialystok, Poland August 19 – September 20. 2014; The Studio of Film, Sound and Photography, Michalowo, Poland July 7, 2014-August 7, 2014;  Arts Arena Gallery, Delray Beach, Florida January 2013 and the Public Library, Long Beach NY October-November 2012.

 

 

 

Bill continues to write for various newsletters, including the most recent “The Towns of Our Ancestors”.  He is available for small groups, synagogues, organizations, museums and special events.

 

 

 

TRR: What sustains your creative energy?

BF:

I’m always learning and discovering new things about both block printing and Jewish history.

 

 

TRR:  What challenges you face as an emerging artist and what would you share with other emerging artists?

BF: 

It’s a challenge to find a balance between creating and marketing.  Keep working and promoting yourself!

 

 

For more information please contact:

www.billfarran.com

www.facebook.com/bill.farran

 516-869-4049

E-mail: billfarran@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

For coverage of your events, to place an advertisement, or speak to Rickie about appearing in The Rickie Report, contact:

Rickie Leiter, Publisher

The Rickie Report

P.O.Box 33423

Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33420

Rickie@therickiereport.com

561-537-0291

How A Museum Can Lift Our Spirits And Share Common History Through Art-The Museum Of The History Of Polish Jews

The Rickie Report shares our visit to the newly opened Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, through the eyes of artist and art patrons. We went to recapture part of our heritage, before WWII, and to support the educational efforts to teach acceptance and tolerance of “the other”.  This article will focus on two main features: the role of architecture of this edifice and the highlight of the Core Exhibit itself.  While we publish on Holocaust Remembrance Day, we celebrate this visit because it is a museum of life, rich in culture, ready to be shared.

 

 

Welcome to the Museum!

 

 

 

Outside the Museum Plaza

Outside the Museum Plaza

 

The Museum of The History of the Polish Jews

 

 

The architecture of every building tells a story.  What can we learn as we visit this museum?   The Museum is situated on the ruins of a prewar Jewish neighborhood, where the Germans established the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII.  It faces the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes, commemorating how Jews died.  The Museum memorializes how they lived among their Polish neighbors.

 

Museum, Outside View, Left of the Entrance

Museum, Outside View, Left of the Entrance

 

From the outside, we can see the overriding chasm coming together with an inner bridge, the undulating walls and massive panes of glass.  Like art itself, the interpretations are left to the viewer.  We overhear other guests, ” Is it the splitting of the Red Sea?”  ” Is it breaking with the past and moving toward the future?”  “Is it the chasm caused by WWII, when 90% of Polish Jews perished?”  What does it mean?  There is one, clear glass corner of the building on the first floor, where we can see colorful chairs. The bright colors hint at what we will find inside.

 

 

Etched Glass Columns

Etched Glass Columns Of the Museum Facade

 

 

Before we even enter, we notice the Latin letters “Polin” and their Hebrew counterparts, silk screened on the vertical glass and copper columns.  The word, “Polin” in Hebrew means “Rest Here”.  The Museum serves as a common meeting place for a diverse public, an opportunity to learn, discuss, and grow continued tolerance.

 

 

 

Walking Up the Ramp into The Museum

Walking Up the Ramp into The Museum (Courtesy of Museum of History of Polish Jews)

 

As we enter, we walk up the ramp toward the naturally lit interior.  The  light that fills this space is magical, as shadows dance around the smoothed, rolling walls. We are met by a Museum Intern, Iwona Oleszczuk and walk into the space.

 

Museum Interior Walls

Museum Interior Walls

 

Chief Architect, Rainer Mahlamäki says, “This place called for light; a natural radiance that would illuminate the surroundings”. The building, a postmodern structure in glass, copper, and concrete, was designed by Finnish architects Rainer Mahlamäki and Ilmari Lahdelma. A plaque tells us that “Since the museum presents the whole history of Jews in Poland, not only the period under German occupation, the designer wanted to avoid similarities to existing Holocaust museums which had austere concrete structures. The architects kept the museum in the colors of sand, giving it a more approachable feeling.  They won the 2008 International Architecture Award in recognition of their bold and innovative design”.

 

Rear View of Museum

Rear View of Museum (Courtesy of Museum of History of Polish Jews)

 

 

 

Children twirl to their own tunes and adults speak in soft voices. Outside, at the back of the museum through an all glass wall, we can see a large grass lawn, with people sitting and enjoying the sunshine.  From this vantage point, we can also see the top of the wooden synagogue, plain and bear wood planks meeting at the roof top.  We cannot see into the Core Exhibit, but it beckons.  This is like peeling an onion, layer by layer. We look at some explanatory signage and are anxious to see where the next step will take us.

 

 

 

Roof Beams from the Core Exhibit synagogue below

Roof Beams from the Core Exhibit Synagogue below

 

Visitors are brought into the time and place  of the story itself.  The exquisite painted ceiling and timber framed roof of the 17th century wooden Gwozdziec Synagogue is the highlight of this visit. Over 400 volunteers from all over the world recreated it over a period of 10 years at 85% scale.  They used old drawings by Alois Breir to paint the interior.  To construct and assemble the wood beams, they recreated the same tools used to build the original structure.  

 

Welcome to the Core

 

We are greeted by Curator, Eva Malkowska-Bienick, who brings us down to the Core Exhibit.  At the time, we are the only visitors because the Museum had not officially opened yet.  Walking off the elevator into the basement level of the museum, I was unprepared. We stepped into a replica of the Gwozdziec Synagogue.  I have never seen such bright colors on a synagogue ceiling, or any ceiling. I had to catch my breath!  There are zodiac symbols, depictions of animals (real and mystical) , quotations form Hebrew liturgy and images recalling the Jewish calendar. Each had been painstakingly painted on the ceiling and upper walls.  

 

 

 

Close-Up of Gwozdziec Synagogue Ceiling

Close-Up of Gwozdziec Synagogue Ceiling (Courtesy of Museum of History of Polish Jews)

 

 

The Core Exhibition is a journey through 1000 years of the history of Polish Jews – from the Middle Ages until today.  Eva explained, “The Core Exhibition is a narrative: visitors will be drawn into a story told by artifacts, paintings, interactive installations, reconstructions and models, video projections, sounds and words. Our focus is on life, therefore at each stage of the journey we strive to remain close to life by letting people speak – Jewish merchants, scholars or artists from a given era, rabbis, housewives, politicians, chroniclers and revolutionaries. We give the floor to those who perished and to those who survived.  We present 1000 years of Polish-Jewish coexistence, speak of cooperation, rivalry and conflicts, autonomy, integration and assimilation. While seeking to confront thorny issues, we also bring attention to bright chapters in our common history”.

 

 

Close-Up of G Synagogue Ceiling

Close-Up of Gwozdziec Synagogue Ceiling (Courtesy of Museum of History of Polish Jews)

 

According to the Museum website, “The Core Exhibition was developed by a team of international scholars and curators under the direction of Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. The design was created by Event Communications, a London-based company, and by Nizio Design International from Warsaw. Thanks to these teams, the Core Exhibition employs reliable methods as well as cutting-edge multimedia solutions”.

 

 

 

Synagogue Bimah (Courtesy of M. Starowieyska D. Golnik Museum of History of Polish Jews)

Synagogue Bimah (Courtesy of M. Starowieyska D. Golnik Museum of History of Polish Jews)

 

 

While many of the Eight Galleries were not ready for visitors,  we were able to interact with some of the technicians who were tweaking the final stages of one interactive module.   We asked about the general public’s reaction to this facility.  One said, ” We have a curiosity of Jews before the Holocaust and this is a place which shows commonality, not just catastrophe.”  This echoes the Musuem’s Vision Statement, “To make the Museum of the History of Polish Jews an important and innovative center of research, education and culture – a platform for social change, offering a profound, transformative experience and promoting new standards of narrating history.”

 

Synagogue

Model of Gwozdziec Synagogue

 

An explanatory sign tells us, “This model of the wooden synagogue that once stood in Gwozdziec was created in workshops organized by Handshouse Studio for the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.  The model is based on the research of Kärol Maszoswki, Alois Breier, Maria and Kazimierz Piechotka, and Thomas Hubka.  Rick and Laura Brown, directors of Handshouse Studios donated this model to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews”.

 

The Rickie Report thanks our Museum guides and the Museum website for technical information used in this article.

 

To learn more about the Museum:

 

http://www.polin.pl/en

 

 

 

For coverage of your events, to place an advertisement, or speak to Rickie about appearing in The Rickie Report, contact:

Rickie Leiter, Publisher

The Rickie Report

P.O.Box 33423

Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33420

Rickie@therickiereport.com

561-537-0291