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St ories we tell:


MARCH 29 - MAY 11 2014 Janet Boltax

Pauline Chernichaw Marilyn Deitchman Helena Gullstrom Racheli Hilai Monica Litvany

Caren Sommer- Lazar

St ories we tell:


MARCH 29 - MAY 11 2014

Janet Boltax Pauline Chernichaw Marilyn Deitchman Helena Gullstrom Racheli Hilai Monica Litvany Caren Sommer- Lazar


The Changing Narrative

Narrative is the stuff of a good story. It goes beyond simple reference and describes real events or illustrates an imagined arc of activity. Both unfold through time and can be represented musically or described by the written word, whether as literature, theater or film. The “still” and static arts of photography, painting and sculpture, on the other hand, only depict a single significant moment or a sequence of significant moments, each with its component references contributing to the complete narrative. Preliterate society used a sort of simultaneous presentation by randomly overlapping significant images without any consistent spatial intention. Later, with literacy, images were organized along a baseline, perhaps influenced by the organization of pictographs or alphabet, linking significant moments together to allude to a continuous narrative, whether horizontally like a modern cartoon strip, vertically, or upward spiraling as around a commemorative column. The suggestion of perspective space was the result of overlapping. Representational art employs illusionary perspective to create a monocular, highly structured and almost accurate illusion of deep space. But, as accurate depiction lost its relevance in art, structured simultaneity replaced continuous narrative, first with Cezanne’s consequential though rudimentary presentation of multiple views of still life fruits and small simple buildings, then with the cubists’ purposeful faceting and shattering of traditional space, and later with Duchamp’s nude progression, reminiscent of Muybridge’s photographs of a horse in motion. But, with a more complete rejection of realistic depiction, the means of communication changed. Realistic imagery communicates ideas with more specificity than does

abstraction though the latter, in using medium fully in the service of the narrative message, may drive a more powerful emotional response. It is the difference between prose and poetry. The surrealists followed, conjoining unexpected images in real or painted montage. These generated a multiplicity of metaphorical interpretations that went beyond the specificity of illustration to create powerful if uncertain poetic possibilities. Motherwell presented some of the traditionally trained New York painters, mostly imitative of Picasso, with the surrealist technique of Freudian free association and that drove abstract expressionism’s early focus on process and expression. These paintings were witnesses of each artist’s struggle to integrate medium and expression, without a message of any specificity and without the scaffolding of realism. However powerful the emotional impact, their work was often allusive and ambiguous. These changes in the narrative from one that is easily and intentionally understood to one that suggests a variety of emotional possibilities, is a sort of affective simultaneity. As for the non-objective, narrative persists but as an intuitive arcane implication of perfect balance, whether earthly or divine; and of course artists like Malevich, Kandinsky, and Mondrian; then Reinhardt and Rothko struggled to bring the ineffable to mind.

– Judy Schaefer (artist, teacher, writer and editor) February 2014


A recent gift of a postcard written in the late 30’s sparked this art exhibit

at Montclair’s 73 See Gallery. The postcard had been written by a young man from the ghetto in Lodz, Poland, to his great-aunt Frieda living in Paterson, NJ. Written in German, it was translated by a mutual cousin and ultimately given to me, a very interested cousin and artist. The postcard’s tragic plea for help impelled me to create art related to the stories I had heard while a child visiting my grandmother in Paterson. My paintings and the work of six other artists will be shown at the gallery from March 28th until early May. The members of the exhibiting collective, Janet Boltax, Pauline Chernichaw, Helena Gullstrom, Racheli Hilai, Caren Sommer-Lazar, Monica Litvany, and Marilyn Deitchman, have approached this project with their own stories in mind. The art behind “A Visual Narrative” is a unique expression of each artist. Collectively they reflect their compelling interest in provoking viewers to think and feel beyond any stories and reflect on the wider reality of both the natural world and human behavior. – Marilyn Deitchman, curator, 2014

Janet Boltax

Selma Oil, 24” x 30” 1500.

Aging in America: Portraits and Commentary

For as long as I can remember, I have had an affinity for older people. As

a portrait painter, I have also found that they are some of the best subjects to paint. Their faces reflect much more character than those of young people, and the aging process results in elaborate planes and surfaces that are fascinating to observe and paint. Similarly, older people often have remarkable and surprising stories to tell, and while some elderly people are unable to enjoy their later years due to illness, poverty, isolation, or other reasons, many still take great pleasure in their lives at 90 or even older. I am in the process of creating a series of portraits of individuals who are 90 plus years old, along with interviews about their experience of aging. The paintings in this group exhibit, “Narratives,” are part of my “Aging in America” project, which includes excerpts from interviews with each sitter. I greatly enjoy getting to know their stories, many of which are a comfort to me as I find myself well into late middle age. – Janet Boltax, 2014

Eileen Oil, 36” x 36” 2000.

Charles Oil, 24” x 36” 1500.

Pauline Chernichaw

Pieniaky Acrylic on Canvas, 48” x 48” 3600.

My paintings, “Siberia Day” and “Hate” were inspired by stories that my

Mom and Dad had told me about their lives and experiences as young Jewish teenagers during the Holocaust. I am motivated to paint abstractly, sometimes suggesting formless figures, because of a story my mother told me. It was a story of her grandfather who died in a forest on a forced trek from a shtetl in Poland to Siberia. My great-grandfather’s body had to be left behind in an unmarked grave. The dead disappear on the killing fields of global conflicts. I paint to depict the hardship my mother’s family endured during the years she and her family spent in Siberia. Some of my work reveals my emotional connection to a child’s primal fear of being alone in the darkest of night. My paintings often convey an unforeseen terror intrinsic to the ill-fated displacement of children (and families) as a consequence of war. In biographer Geoffrey Cocks’ book about Stanley Kubrick, The Wolf at the Door, he relates that Kubrick, (a relative of mine), “made movies to keep the violence of the world on the other side of the camera, and thus under his control.” I created these paintings in an attempt to keep the violence of the world under my control. – Pauline Chernichaw, 2014

Departure Acrylic on Canvas, 48” x 36” 3200.

Siberia/Day Acrylic on Canvas, 36” x 48” 3200.

Hate Acrylic on Canvas, 48” x 36” 3200.

Marilyn Deitchman

The image of “Aphasia,” one face placed upon another, is ambiguous. As the title suggests, it is about remembering and forgetting. We know aphasia as a medical condition. Perhaps, however, those who forget are the lucky ones.

Aphasia Mixed Media on Paper, 16” x 20” 550.

I grew up with family stories.

380 Ellison Street

The earliest story was about my father’s good fortune to come to this country after World War I. He delighted in telling me about how, as a 16 year old, he spent two weeks in Holland prior to boarding the ship to America. Another early one – how my beloved aunt, uncle, and cousins came to America on the last boat from Germany prior to World War II. At one point in the voyage, the ship turned 180 degrees and was about to return to Germany. Then it turned again and headed west. My grandfather was the family’s sponsor. Sadly, he died before they arrived. This past year, one of those very fortunate cousins gave me a postcard that had been written by a mutual cousin we had never known, Jakob Lerner. He had sent the card to my grandmother, his aunt, from the ghetto in Lodz, Poland to her home at 380 Ellison St., Paterson, NJ. My German cousin translated the card for me. Jakob had sent a tragic plea for food and other help. The postcard sparked several thoughts: The first, love and compassion for a family member (and his family) I wished I had known. I remembered other stories about displaced people I had met as a child in Paterson when I visited my grandmother. I wondered about how to create work that would tell these stories and be compelling enough to truly engage viewers in the art and my thoughts of empathy. I named my collection “380 Ellison St.” – Marilyn Deitchman, 2014

“Fannie” is a stylized painting based on a wedding photo of my mother.

Fannie Acrylic on Paper, 25” x 30” 850.

“Jakob” is an imagined portrait of the cousin I never knew who sent the postcard. The palette is deliberately jarring and emotional to suggest the fear and sadness he must have felt.

Jakob Mixed Media on Canvas, 16” x 20” 750.

Esther Acrylic on Paper, 21” x 26” 650.

“Steven” is an imagined view of someone I knew briefly when he was a small and very beautiful child. He and his parents stayed at 380 Ellison St. for a short while. I imagine him today bearing the weight of the mystery and sadness surrounding the loss of his older sister. The family had had a daughter when the war broke out. To keep her safe, they placed her with a Gentile family. After the war, despite many searches, they were unable to find the child or the family they had left her with.

Steven Mixed Media and Collage on Canvas, 18” x 24” 850.

Helena Gullstrom

Stillness Mixed Media on Canvas, 43” x 30” 2100.

Helena Gullstrom is a Swedish artist whose figurative paintings explore the individual’s longing for emotional freedom, self-expression, and union with nature.  

These pieces are inspired by Scandinavian folklore, or Folkesagn. Gullstrom incorporates oil, acrylic, paper and fabric on canvas to invoke otherworldly feminine archetypes deep within the human psyche.  Influenced by ancient symbolic figures such as Älva, or Scandanavian feminine elves who dwell in forests and meadows, and contrasting them with modern, industrial imagery, Gullstrom’s work illustrates the longing of the human soul to re-connect with human nature and the natural world.

Royal I Mixed Media, 16” x 20” 950.

Racheli Hilai

Variations in Violet Print, 15” x 18.5” 725.

Like many in my generation in Israel, I’m a “Second Generation Holocaust

Survivor,” meaning my parents were subject to the Nazi’s atrocities. Instead of relatives, we have partial stories and sometime a photograph. Our family roots are very short. Through my art I recreate a world destroyed, document untold stories, create memories I don’t own and people I never knew. I usually start with an image that intrigues me. It can be a picture in a newspaper, a person, an object or something that just pops up in my mind. In exploring it I’ll use different methods and mediums, letting the idea evolve. Although the core of my work is emotional, it goes through a restraining intellectual process. I stay away from the too obvious and explicit. My work is about the ripple effect of loss and violence, no matter where or to whom it occurs in the fabric of everyday life. – Racheli Hilai, 2014

Uprooted II Print, 15” x 18” 925.

Variations in Red Print, 15” x 18” 725.

Leipaja Print, 9.5” x 12” 350.

Enfolded in Your Wing Plexiglass Print, 13” x 20” 975.

Monica Litvany

Tower of Babel Ceramic, 10” x 10” x 39” 650.

As an artist, I am intrigued by the encoded language found within the

complex patterns of growth and flow in the natural world, a cosmic alphabet. I look to explore the mysterious connections, microscopic to monumental, between structures, growth patterns and forms, trying to decipher this fingerprint of life. Ancient symbolic languages continue to hold fascination for me and appear spontaneously in my art. My work has recently taken on a more personal and intimate expression, using the narrative as a vehicle. – Monica Litvany, 2014

Container for Sorrow – Skin Deep Porcelain, 9” x 6” x 15” 400.

Extremely Personal Objects – Stories Never Told Ceramic, 6.5” x 29” x 6” 500.

What It Feels Like (2 views) Ceramic, Mixed Media, 5” x 9” x 10” 400.

Wounded Ceramic, 18” x 18” x 5” 450.

Hand To Mouth Ceramic, 9” x 15” x 7” 400.

Language Paper Clay, 70” x 40” x 4.5” 2000. set; 200.@

Faces Paper Clay, approx. 2.5” x 3.5” x 4” 100.@

Caren Sommer-Lazar

Marigold Madonna Collage/Assemblage, 12.75� x 17� 1800.

Integrating elements of collage and assemblage, these works reflect my

interpretation of the ways in which women have been portrayed throughout much of art history. It focuses on the depiction of women as delicate, virginal, serene, abundant with life, and mysterious. Although it is perhaps not in vogue today to embrace such idealized concepts of women, my work celebrates these qualities. As such I have striven to imbue these works with an atmosphere of quietude and spirituality. They incorporate my reverence for women as sacred beings and the concept of women as the bearers of life as it cycles on and on. As a metaphor for this giving of life, my work is also comprised of nature in all of its forms. I have used dried flowers, berries and other fruit, greens, feathers, butterflies and birds to symbolize life, afterlife, and the abundance present in the natural world. This series was first conceived when my firstborn child entered college. I came to question my role as a woman, mother, and artist, and sought to come to grips with my future and that of my daughter embarking upon her adult journey. – Caren Sommer-Lazar, 2014

Praying Madonna Collage/Assemblage, 12.75” x 16.75” 1800.

Our Lady of the Birds Collage/Assemblage, 12.75” x 24” x 4.25” 2400.

Madonna with Fruit Collage/Assemblage, 14.5” x 17.5” 1800.

Golden Madonna Collage/Assemblage, 12” x 15” 1800.

Inquiries: Please contact 73 See Gallery at 973.746.8737 or email us at

We look forward to hearing from you.

73 Pine Street, Suite C Montclair, NJ 07042 973-746-8737 u Hours: Tuesday Thru Sunday Noon til 6 or by appointment. Closed Mondays.

73 C Pine Street Montclair, NJ 07042 Catalog 7 Š 2014

Stories We Tell: A Visual Narrative  

Artists: Janet Boltax, Pauline Chernichaw, Marilyn Deitchman, Helena Gullstrom, Racheli Hilai, Monica Litvany, Caren Sommer-Lazar The art b...

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