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  • National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society 2020 Spring Online International Exhibition

    Location: , ON

    The National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS) invites oil and acrylic painters..
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  • Land and Sky - 2 Artist/2 Perspectives

    Location: Windsor, ON

    PAINTING WORKSHOP AT SHO ART STUDIOS APRIL 3rd 4th and 5th 2020..
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  • Confluent Dreams

    Location: North Battleford, SK

    An afternoon exhibition, cranky theatre and musical performance all taking place at..
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  • Love At First Sight

    Location: Regina, SK

    Love At First Sight / Regina Art Collective members: Dave Gedjos / DeLee Grant..
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  • In Other Words

    Location: Regina, SK

    In Other Words / Regina Art Collective members: Nikki Jacquin / Derek Olson / Mark..
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  • Alee & Ayla: Approaches to Portraiture

    Location: Regina, SK

    H.J. Linnen; Patron of the Regina Art Collective will be exhibiting works from his..
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  • Call for Art - 4th Annual Black & White Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art invites submissions for the 4th Annual Black & White online art..
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  • CALL FOR ARTISTS: VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2020

    Location: Venice,

    CALL FOR ARTISTS: VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2020 Venice | April 09 – May..
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  • CALL FOR ARTISTS: THE EXTENDED BODY 2020

    Location: London,

    CALL FOR ARTISTS: THE EXTENDED BODY – MIXING CULTURES ITSLIQUID International Art Exhibition THE..
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  • Call for Proposals: 2020 The WALL Artist

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    Vancouver Heritage Foundation is now accepting proposals from independent artists and curators for..
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  • 10th Annual

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery announces an art call for the..
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  • Appreciation of the Arts

    Location: London, ON

    Three day art and music event to recognize local artists in London, Ontario...
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  • Call to Artists - 2020 Sooke Fine Arts Show

    Location: Sooke, BC

    Artists are invited to submit work for consideration to the 2020 Sooke Fine..
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  • INK by Shawn Zheng

    Location: Saskatoon, SK

    Shu Cheng (Shawn) Zheng features his distinctive style of making marks in Chinese..
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  • North Shore Art Crawl

    Location: North Shore, BC

    The North Shore Art Crawl is a free community arts event March 7+8,..
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  • New Craft Coalition: Call to Artists

    Location: Calgary, AB

    New Craft Coalition invites applications from all mid-career and professional artists to be..
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  • TRAVEL EXHIBITION

    Location: Toronto, ON

    John Mantha will be participating in a group show at Twist Gallery in..
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  • David Tycho: Urbania

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    Guest artist David Tycho will exhibit 10 paintings from his latest series. This series..
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  • ACAF (Accessible Art Fair) 2020

    Location: Brussels,

    ACAF (Accessible Art Fair) is back on October 15-18, 2020 for its 14th..
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  • Clarkson Society of Artists 2020 Show & Sale

    Location: Mississauga, ON

    The Clarkson Society of Artists invites you to attend their annual show &..
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  • Call for Artists: Urban Matrix

    Location: North Vancouver, BC

    North Van Arts is inviting artists to take part in an upcoming group..
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  • 9th Artist Spotlight Solo Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art is now accepting entries for the 9th Artist Spotlight Solo Art..
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  • Call For Artists: The Other Art Fair Toronto

    Location: Toronto, ON

    The Other Art Fair are thrilled to present the newest edition of The..
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  • Call for Art - 4th Annual Colors Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art invites submissions for the 4th Annual Colors online art competition. For this..
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  • Marlene Kawalez and Corynn Kokolakis

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Presented by: Cedar Ridge Gallery. Part of the Cedar Ridge Gallery Contemporary Exhibition series. March..
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  • Jane Selbie and Joseph Farrugia

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Presented by: Cedar Ridge Gallery. Part of the Cedar Ridge Gallery Contemporary Exhibition series. February..
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  • “Grey” International Call - Art & Literature Journal - Deadline February 28, 2020

    Location: Toronto, ON

    | Theme: Grey surrounds us, sometimes in surprising ways. In beach pebbles, a..
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  • on thin ice Polar Bear Art Exhibit

    Location: Toronto, ON

    On thin ice is a solo exhibit of polar bear portrait paintings by..
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  • Support the Worldwide Art Community | Participate in 6x6x2020

    Location: Rochester, ON

    Hello Artists in Canada, We want YOU to participate in 6x6x2020! Let your creative..
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  • Olivier Du Tre: New Works

    Location: CALGARY, AB

    January 7 to February 29, 2020 At HUB@302 302-1235 26 Ave SE, Calgary, AB..
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  • WAAH 124th Juried Exhibition at the Art Gallery of Hamilton

    Location: Hamilton, ON

    Who:  The Women’s Art Association of Hamilton (WAAH) at the Art Gallery of..
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  • The Indian Contemporary Art Competition

    Location: New York, NY, ON

    The Indian Contemporary Art Competition (ICAC) aims to discover and promote talented artists..
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  • The Loft On King Street

    Location: Toronto, ON

    The Loft On King Street is one of the most unique private event..
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Phyllis Serota: Memory, Prayer, Celebration

By Robert Amos November 29, 2004

} Phyllis Serota: Memory, Prayer, Celebration - 20 years of Jewish Art By Robert Amos at the Wings of Peace Gallery, 1461 Blanshard Street, 382-0615. The exhibition is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 1 pm until November 20. In this age when the definition of art embraces out-of-focus video loops created for a institutional audiences, Phyllis Serota finds satisfaction in an old strategy. She paints narrative pictures for an audience which knows her personally. Her art delves into themes of her personal experience, her family’s history and the life of the Jewish community of which she is part. Simchat Torah, 2003, acrylic on canvas Serota has developed al oyal following in 30 years of work in Victoria. Solo exhibitions of her work have drawn acclaim at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, the University of Victoria and Open Space. Her fans anticipate the annual Valentine’s Day show in her studio in James Bay. Currently the Wings of Peace Gallery at Temple Emmanu-El (... Blanshard Street) presents a collection of old and new work specifically and profoundly relating to Serota’s Jewish heritage and faith. “Memory, prayer and celebration:” Serota told me, “one of the purest places that I come from is my heritage. It seems to be quite a pure and easy place.” Her view of Jewish life is not dogmatic, nor is it didactic. Her goal is to share with us some of her most meaningful experiences. Hebrew School, 2002-04, acrylic on canvas Serota’s family came from the Ukraine and settled in Chicago. The core of this show depicts her young life. Her parents made a loving home life, which the artist represents as a dinner table with wine, candles and the holy book. All is illuminated by starlight and moonlight pouring through the window. A large portrait of Serota’s father presents him bound with the bands of tephilim, preparing himself for prayer. We looked at a recent painting of children in Hebrew school, in which an unkempt and distracted teacher smoked and held forth. Rabbi Harry Brechner stopped by and reminded us that, when Serota was a student in the late 1940’s, it was often concentration camp survivors who were given jobs in the Hebrew schools. Rabbi Brechner himself is not at all “old school”. He’s a dynamic and open-minded leader who has brought new vitality to Victoria’s oldest Jewish congregation. The next painting shows the Simchat Torah ceremony. This takes place in a darkened synagogue in which young girls parade with candles, apples and flags. This was the one day of the year when the women were permitted into the “family synagogue” of Serota’s youth. Aside from the history encoded in the image, it is a painting of striking colour and composition. A dominant motif in this exhibit is dancing. Men with long sidelocks wear the special regalia of the Chassidic Jews, for whom dancing in ecstasy is part of the religious observation. “It’s part of their relationship to God and prayer,” Serota informed me. In other images, lines of men and women join with arms on one another’s shoulders. The music of Fiddler On the Roof comes to my mind. On the Table, 1999, acrylic on paper “My family loved to dance,” she continued. “I’ve probably told you about my Aunt Molly. She’s in every one of my paintings of dancers. At a Bar Mitzvah party maybe three musicians would be playing quietly in the background while everyone ate dinner. All of a sudden, Aunt Molly would get up and dance - by herself - dance all around the room. She was a big woman, and she held herself proudly. It happened a number of times and it was just about the most thrilling thing about my childhood.” A defining feature of the Serota style is her careful graduation of tone from light to dark which creates a luminous effect. I suggested to her that this light, which pervades her world of memory, is a metaphor for the divine spirit - moonlight, starlight, candlelight or simply the light which shines from within each believer. Serota thought this over and seemed to agree. “My first memories are about light,” she replied. “Light streaming through a window with the dust motes dancing; a patch of sunshine on a wall.” She continued to muse. “Light and love,” she murmured - the subject matter of her art. The consummation of these explorations is a large self-portrait. Serota, with running shoes and wristwatch, strides purposefully forward. She seems oblivious to the four protecting angels which surround her. Rabbi Brechner had mentioned the angels to Serota when she was facing a personal challenge. She thought that if she took these words and made a visual image of them, then she would come closer to understanding the teaching. Four Angels, 2004, acrylic on canvas It looks like a picture of joy and strength, but that’s not how the artist sees it. “I have a real sadness, because I’m not aware of these protectors 99.99 % of the time,” she said. Of course, the angels don’t mind. Perhaps this visualization will help the artist to realize their presence more frequently in the future. The exhibit doesn’t evangelize - “Jews don’t believe in that,” Serota pointed out. And while it offers insight, it doesn’t explain the details of Jewish ceremony. These paintings simply witness a life of love and sharing, an offering from an artist to her community. (You can views the show on-line at www.congregation-emanu-el.org/about/gallery.php and visit the artist’s site at www.phyllisserota.com) ___________________________________________ Copyright © 2004Robert Amos Robert Amos is an artist and art writer who lives in Victoria, B.C.. He can be contacted by e-mail and you can view his paintings at www.robertamos.com