By Hollace Weiner
Jan Ayers Friedman, whose paintings and sculpture are on display at Beth-El Congregation through the end of July, connects her art with Kabbalah — Jewish ancient mysticism that delves into the nature of the universe. Her favorite tools include graphite powders and pastel chalks, which blend art and science at a primordial level. Among her works on display is an 84-inch tower, titled Level of Soul, created with shards of selenite, a quartz-like mineral. Her paintings, often filled with patterns, grids and color gradations, are upbeat yet serene and open to interpretation. They also reflect her previous employment as a draftsman drawing blueprints for engineering firms.
A Dallas native who grew up in Grand Prairie and Arlington, Friedman is a relative newcomer to Fort Worth. She and her husband, Jerry Friedman, moved to the west side of the Metroplex from Plano during the summer of 2012 to be closer to his work. He is coordinator of the University of North Texas Health Science Center Simulation Lab.
For Friedman, whose art is regularly displayed at Dallas’ Modartists Gallery, the move proved transformative. “Creative and spiritual avenues opened,” she said. She found studio space in a converted warehouse in the Riverside Arts District. Among the seven artists sharing studio space was Gloria Sepp, Beth-El’s Religious School art teacher.
Friedman also connected with the local Jewish community through her high-school classmate Gail Berlin. Gail’s daughter, Angie Kitzman, is program director at the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. She put Friedman to work as a volunteer designing, block-printing, and hand-coloring notecards sent to more than 200 donors.
In conjunction with the exhibit in the Beth-El Board Room, there will be an artist’s reception at 8:30 p.m., Friday, June 12, during the Oneg Shabbat following services. Come enjoy a glass of wine, meet the artist, and reflect on Friedman’s innovative work.