Expanding its unique responses to the pandemic, The Braid (formerly Jewish Women’s Theatre) will be showing off its first-ever Zoom Art Talk, during an in-depth interview with renowned Los Angeles artist and USC art professor Ruth Weisberg. The Ruth Weisberg Art Talk will take place on Sunday, Jan. 17 at 4 p.m., 7 p.m.
The Art Talk, which will feature paintings from some of Weisberg’s extensive career, will explore the inspirations, techniques and influences behind the distinguished artist’s body of work.
The event is free to attend, but The Braid hopes viewers will consider choosing a virtual ticket. For the link to register and more information on how to use Zoom, visit: www.the-braid.org/.
“The Braid/Jewish Women’s Theatre cherishes the interaction between theatre and the visual arts and we always have a complimentary art exhibit coinciding with our performances. This year, all our salon shows will be live on Zoom, but we want the tradition to continue,” The Braid’s Artistic Director Ronda Spinak says.
“Our first show this year is titled “AHA! Moments” and it will feature stories about the moments when people just knew life was about to change. We wanted to explore whether this bolt of lightning happens in art as well.”
The answer according to Weisberg may surprise you. “When I was six,” Weisberg says, “I actually decided I was going to be an artist because my parents had begun to send me to a class at the Chicago Art Institute Junior School. I came home after my fourth class and announced very formally to my parents that I had made up my mind that I was going to be an artist.”
While Weisberg’s first “AHA! Moment” struck early, she explains that her creative process is continual and very much about the inspiration she draws from history, Judaism and the history of art. She has always had an intense interest in the Holocaust and is currently working on a series about Kindertransport, (German for children’s transport), which was an effort to save Jewish children from Nazi Germany and the countries it had conquered. Approximately 10,000 children were saved and Weisberg has been able to locate a few of their pictures, some of which were useful.
But in creating art, Weisberg explains “You really absorb your sources and then you make them your own.”
Weisberg’s career as a painter and teacher is legendary. She is currently the director of the USC Initiative for Israeli Arts and Humanities and the founder and past president of the Jewish Artists Initiative of Southern California. She has won scores of awards, including the Foundation for Jewish Culture’s 50th Anniversary of Cultural Achievement, the Art Leadership Award, and the Women’s Caucus of Art Lifetime Achievement Award.
Her degrees are from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Perugia, Italy and the University of Michigan. She has had over 80 solo and group exhibitions, including a major exhibition at the Norton Simon Museum and a retrospective at the Skirball Museum. Her works have been displayed all over the nation and internationally in Paris, Rome, and Norway, among others.
Weisberg will be interviewed by Wendy Klier, The Braid’s art consultant. Klier says, “We hope art lovers will take a break from pandemic tedium by joining us for a special event where they can see a selection of Ruth’s remarkable work and not only observe it, but hear about its history, themes and the inspiration behind it. It promises to be enlightening and truly beautiful.”
Although Weisberg sees differences between seeing and experiencing art in a galley and on Zoom, she acknowledges some positives. “Zoom allows you to see a lot quickly,” she says. “What you are missing is the tactility. The sense of touch and texture.” But she is really excited about the art show and talk at The Braid.
“Personally, as an artist,” she says, “you want to share your work. You want as many people to see it as possible and the Art Talk at The Braid will also allow me to share the sources of my work, and the sources of my inspiration for it. It is a real plus as it adds context, meaning, and depth to what you’re sharing.
The Braid/Jewish Women’s Theatre is the 2020 winner of The Argonaut’s Best of the Westside’s “Best Live Theatre Award” and The Santa Monica Daily Press award for “Most Loved” performance venue. It presents inspiring Jewish stories, art, and other programming that highlight Jewish contributions to contemporary life. Now in its 13th (bat mitzvah) season, The Braid’s salon theatre of original dramatic shows, each written to a specific theme, displays the diverse and eclectic community of writers, artists, and creators who celebrate Jewish life, one story at a time. Learn more about The Braid/JWT at www.the-braid.org.