Around The Town: Chagall show

By Hollace Weiner

Chagall show at Beth-El, Feb. 1 -April 30; art historian to keynote exhibit Feb. 10

Sixteen biblical lithographs by Marc Chagall, one of the 20th century’s premier artists, will be exhibited at Beth-El Congregation from Feb. 1 through April 30.
Titled Art as Midrash, the three-month show will feature two lectures about the popular artist, whose Jewish-themed works stimulate emotion and analysis. Among the Chagalls hanging in the Beth-El board room is Moses With the Tablets of the Law, a vibrant work filled with hues of scarlet and cobalt.
The colorful lithographs, on loan from the Dallas Museum of Biblical Arts, were created by the artist in 1956 to celebrate publication of a set of etchings he was forced to leave behind in France when his family escaped Nazi-occupied Vichy in 1939. The art’s survival and eventual publication seemed a miracle, and the lithographs at Beth-El constitute an homage to Chagall’s personal history and heritage.
Born into a Hasidic family in Belarus in 1887, Chagall developed his dreamlike style during his years living in France. Marked by floating objects, upside-down farm animals, shifting planes, and fiddlers-on-the-roof, Chagall’s art filters his childhood memories through a myriad of modern art styles.
The Beth-El exhibit’s keynote event, Wednesday, Feb. 10, is co-sponsored with The Jewish Federation of Fort Worth & Tarrant County. It will begin with a wine-and-cheese preview at 6:30 p.m. followed by a 7 p.m. lecture featuring art historian Scott Peck. Peck is director and curator of the Museum of Biblical Arts and curator of a related show at the University of Dallas. He holds a certificate in Jewish ceremonial art from New York’s Jewish Theological Seminary and has curated exhibits in cooperation with the National Holocaust Museum and in partnership with the Israeli government.
The second talk highlighting the Chagall show will be during Shabbat services, Friday, March 18. Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger will deliver a sermon on “Art as Midrash,” exploring how artistic creations add nuance to religious narratives.
Jewish and non-Jewish organizations are welcome to schedule their monthly meetings in the board room and to invite art docents Sheryl Levy or Gail Granek, both Beth-El congregants, to lead a discussion about Marc Chagall. (To schedule a meeting in the board room, contact the Temple office at 817-332-7141.) To date, Jewish Women International and the Daytimers are planning programs.
The question remains: How was Beth-El able to land a Chagall exhibit, a first in our community? Six months ago, congregant Kim Goldberg, a professional artist, was invited to serve on a Chagall Advisory Committee. It was planning an exhibit at Irving’s University of Dallas about Marc Chagall and the stone-lithograph process. The group wanted to stage satellite events to expose the larger community to the famous artist, who died in 1985 at the age of 97.
Kim suggested a corollary exhibit in Tarrant County. Scott Peck offered to loan stone lithographs from his museum’s collection. Kim’s husband, Bob Goldberg, director of our local Jewish Federation, sent an email to eight Tarrant County Jewish institutions explaining the availability of the Chagalls.
He received enthusiastic responses from Rabbi Mecklenberger and from Jim and Elaine Stanton, co-chairs of the Beth-El Art Committee, and that got the ball rolling. The Art Committee, which stages quarterly exhibits by local Jewish artists in the Temple board room, had the experience to seamlessly organize, hang, and publicize a Chagall show, replete with a poster created by Beth-El’s Communications Director Alexa Kirk.
The concurrent exhibit at the University of Dallas’s Beatrice M. Haggerty Art Gallery is called Marc Chagall: Intersecting Traditions. It runs Feb. 4 to April 22 and features 50 hand-colored etchings from Chagall’s The Bible series. The show will include demonstrations of the stone-lithograph technique, whereby images are traced onto a flat, limestone tablet. One color at a time is added to the composition by the artist. After each application of oil-based paint, high-quality cotton paper is pressed to the stone. Next, the limestone is cleaned, and the artist applies another color, precisely placing the paper in the same spot. So exacting is the process that each application of color takes up to 40 hours.
The University of Dallas show is on the Irving campus in the Art History Building at the corner of Gorman Drive and Haggar Circle. (For group tours, call 972-721-5087 or email
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