We at Beacon Gallery were touched to have been the subject of Rabbi Marc Baker’s weekly email to the members of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies. It was an honor to have him visit, and to have him write so eloquently about Caron Tabb’s work.
Last night I visited Beacon Gallery in Boston’s South End to tour Caron Tabb’s exhibit, “Of Two Places,” sponsored by JArts, the Jewish Arts Collaborative.
From the moment you walk through the door and find yourself under a chuppah (Jewish wedding canopy) made of patched-together American and Israeli symbols, the entire exhibit invites you into the artist’s worlds and her identities as a South African immigrant to Israel who now lives in Boston.
There is paradox and depth to every piece, beginning with the title of the first piece on display, “I now declare you: one.” The metaphor of the chuppah is a perfect one; while a couple does come together as one, they remain two distinct individuals — two unique souls forging a shared identity and shared journey. On so many levels, this has always represented the identity of the wandering Jew, the timeless immigrant, someone who is constantly integrating cultures and stories, but never quite with a place for herself.
The exhibit explores the notion of home as both a geographic and existential concept. What defines home for each of us? The food we eat? The language we use? The currency we exchange? The symbols that surround us? It invites the viewers to ask ourselves these questions and to reflect on our own identities. What place(s) am I “of”? If more than one, how do they or do they not coexist inside of me?
In addition to the powerful existential themes, the media in “Of Two Places” are very much the message. Hebrew and Israeli symbols are in conversation with American cultural motifs, all woven together with deeply Jewish threads, such as traditional Jewish ritual objects and ideas. The artist’s personal story of immigrating twice animates her passionate social critique and call for justice, both of which she describes as defining features of her Jewish identity.
I noticed and appreciated the reversal of fortune that her “privileged” immigration experiences represented, given the Jewish People’s history of flight, expulsion, and geographic rootlessness. Especially at what feels like a precarious moment for our blessed Jewish American experience, seeing a golden suitcase under barbed wire mounted on a fading American flag was jarring.
I left the exhibit with so many questions, inspired by the power of art as an expression of and vehicle for exploring our identities as Jews and human beings. For so many members of our community, art and culture are the media, the texts through which their voices enter timeless Jewish conversation.
Last year, CJP gathered a group to discuss arts and culture in Greater Boston as part of my broader listening tour. During this discussion, we heard similar experiences “of two places.” Too many members of our community have Jewish identities and/or “artist” identities that could, but do not yet, mutually reinforce and deepen one another.
Thanks to organizations like JArts in Boston and others here and around the world, this is changing. CJP is excited explore new avenues of Jewish engagement and expression through arts and culture, which I believe will powerfully interact with other forms of Jewish connection, such as Jewish learning and practice, caring and social justice, and Israel and global Jewish citizenship. Caron Tabb’s exhibit is such a beautiful illustration of interconnectedness of these different lenses on Jewish life.
As we begin the Torah anew this Shabbat and reread the stories of Creation, we remind ourselves that as human beings created in the Divine Image, we are endowed with our own creative capacities. Finding ways to activate and express our creativity can add meaning and purpose to our lives, renew and revitalize the beauty of ancient culture and tradition, and inspire and mobilize positive social change. I am grateful for exhibits like “Of Two Places” and eager to see the ways that the vibrancy of Jewish arts and culture will contribute even more to the vitality of our Jewish community.
We were lucky enough to host a “secret show” at Beacon Gallery last night.
Sofar Boston brought in three amazing musical acts to the gallery for a 2-hour performance.
Like all their events, the neighborhood was advertised, but the actual location was only revealed to winners of the tickets on the day of. About 30 individuals joined us at Beacon Gallery for a sold-out performance.
Three diverse acts performed 20-minute sets each. With a break between each, and Caron Tabb’s installation art on the walls, it certainly made for an interesting and stimulating evening for the visitors!
1. (US, New England) An accumulation of small items of little value.
“Cultch is the New England word for that clutter of partly worn-out or obsolete objects that always gathers…there’s everything there- old bolts, old wrought-iron cut nails, bits of unrelated metal, old wood, wiping rags, coffee cans, broken hacksaw blades, a divorced work glove or two, parts of a dog team harness…it’s a mess, but it’s better to have this one big mess in the corner of the kitchen than a patina of messiness spread all over the house.”
Louise Dickinson Rich, We Took to the Woods, 1942
In September, Beacon Gallery welcomes the work of Sofia Plater as well as that of Ari Hauben and Sam Belisle for “Lost & Found”
One of the showstoppers (at least in this writer’s opinion!) is Plater’s Cultch installation piece.
This room-size installation is on view at the enclosed area at the back of the gallery. We are delighted to feature such an exceptional and original piece of artwork, and one with such layered roots and meanings, relevant both to New England and our time in history.
The Cultch is made up of pieces spanning the 19th through the 21st century, and is an installation of found objects integrated with Plater’s unique textural artwork. It’s truly a meditation on our throwaway culture and ways in which objects we may ignore or discard can be turned into artwork.
Time lapse video of the installation
The final product
Here are some photos of the show
Material Origin List
no 1. Art piece: Grey Pyramids(2019) 12”x18” $350
no 2. By-product from manufacturing poster tubes (Rhode Island Recycle Center)
no 3. Electrical filter (Mission Hill Recycle Center)
no 4. Art piece: Glue Tubes (2018) 18”x24” $1000
no 5. Cast-iron heating grate (late 1800s, donated by B. Amore)
no 6. Styrofoam packaging for Christmas ornaments (Home Depot)
no 7. Foam packaging from shipped Georgia peaches (2010)
no 8. Wood from PopPop’s barn (Kintnersville, PA. 2011)
no 9. Plastic vacuum-formed over a blanket (SMFA)
no 10. Cast-off honeycomb cardboard packaging (Rhode Island Recycle Center)
no 11. Lego mat found during Allston Christmas (Donated by Cal Rice, 2018)
no 12. Sound-proofing foam (Side of road; Allston, MA)
no 13. Insulation spray foam mistake (SMFA, 2018)
no 14. Repurposed art piece, Enveloping Moss(2018)
no 15. Art piece: Shards and Shavings (2018) 30”x40” $3000
no 16. Art piece: Tar Rings (2017) 18”x24” $900
no 17. Old fashioned contact lense cases (donated by Fran Nussbaum, 2015)
no 18. Bose speaker packaging (donated by Beacon Gallery, 2019)
no 19. Rusty sewer grate found buried in the sand, reformed (Provincetown, MA)
no 20. Foam by-product of jewelry packaging (Rhode Island Recycle Center)
no 21. Insulation foam and sound proofing foam (Side of road, Allston, MA)
no 22. Discarded trellis from my childhood best friend’s house (Sondra Saporta. Newton, MA)
no 23. Art piece: fiberglass Strips 1 (2019) 28”x22” $850
no 24. Art piece:Pyramid Push Through (2019) 19”x12.5” $1000
no 25. Painted window blinds under louver (donated by Doug Breault)
no 26. Wood model airplane wing (Makerspace, Rutland, VT)
no 27. Shattered glass from Real Art Ways (Neil Daigle Orians, Hartford, CT)
no 28. First ever welding experiment (SMFA, 2016)
no 29. Knife block insides (donated by Kathy Gearon)
no 30. Art piece: fiberglass Strips 3 (2019) 20”x20” $1000
no 31. PVC flanges from garbage (Somerville, MA)
no 32. Plastic flooring for mold prevention in antique box (Mission Hill Recycle Center)
no 33. By-product from manufacturing poster tubes (RIRC)
no 34. Vacuum-formed plastic over by-product from manufacturing poster tubes (RIRC)
no 35. Wacky wood scrap (donated by Dave Macdonald)
no 36. Found spray paint caps (SMFA spray booth, 2017)
no 37. Board game card cutouts (donated by Aaron Girelli)
no 38. Screen (attic of Webster Court. Newton, MA)
no 39. Stick curtains (from my tree house; 1998)
no 40. Art piece: Remnants #1(2018) 30”x40” $2000
no 41. Insulation spray foam mistake (2019)
no 42. 1920’s metal sign hanger my PopPop found (Kintnersville, PA)
no 43. Art piece: Fiberglass Strips 2 (2019) 18”x24” $850
no 44. Art piece: Cement Circles(2019) 15”x15” $400
no 45. Wood scraps from the laser cutter (Makerspace, Rutland, VT)
no 46. Barn wood frame with by-product from manufacturing poster tubes (Kintnersville, PA)
no 47. Vacuum-formed plastic over by-product from manufacturing poster tubes (RIRC)
no 48. Cast-off honeycomb cardboard packaging (Rhode Island Recycle Center)
no 49. Perforated metal sheeting (Rutland Steel, VT)
no 50. Vacuum-formed plastic over by-product from manufacturing poster tubes (RIRC)