January 24, 2019

Chagall Comes to Life in ‘The Flying Lovers’

Daisy Maywood and Marc Antolin in “The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk” at the Wallis. Photo courtesy of Stand Up With Comedy

Marc Chagall, born Moishe Zakhavovich Shagall, was a mercurial artist whose turbulent emotions in love and on canvas are reflected in the play “The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk.”

The title’s aerial and passionate lovers are Chagall and Bella Rosenfeld, whose marriage from 1915 to 1944 spanned the violent era of World Wars I and II, the Communist revolution, the rise of Hitler and the beginning of the Holocaust.

It is well to keep in mind that personal and global turbulence when watching “The Flying Lovers” — performed at the Bram Goldsmith Theater at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills — for the scenes and emotions shift rapidly, demanding a viewer’s full attention.

The two-person play, augmented by two participating musicians, stars the talented and highly acrobatic actors Marc Antolin as Chagall and Daisy Maywood as Bella, who strut, fly and embrace passionately.

It is not easy to convey the feel of the “The Flying Lovers,” but one example is the sight of Chagall’s large canvas of a rabbi, which suddenly comes to life when Bella’s hands wiggle through holes in the portrait.

An illustration of the artist’s single-minded focus on his art comes through in a rare confrontation with Bella, who gives birth to their daughter while her husband disappears for four days to work on a new creation.

One of Chagall’s paintings, “The Fiddler” (Le Violoniste, 1912-13), has taken on a life of its own as the supposed inspiration for the title of the enormously successful musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“The play is not biographical, but it accurately reflects the relationship between Chagall and Bella.”  — Emma Rice

In any case, from Yiddish songs and dances to persecution by the czars, “The Flying Lovers” is pervaded by Jewish sounds and themes. However, both the play’s writer, Daniel Jamieson, and its director, Emma Rice, are British gentiles who “have been drawn to many things Jewish,” Rice told the Journal in a phone call from England.

In the early 1990s, the pair visited Paris and took in an exhibition of Chagall’s works. “The experience was a revelation of the magic realism of Chagall’s art,” Rice said.

Subsequently, the two not only collaborated in creating “The Flying Lovers,” but also played the two principals in the initial productions.

“The play is not biographical, but it accurately reflects the relationship between Chagall and Bella,” Rice said. “I believe the play will be around for many years.”

One hoped-for byproduct of the play, which was funded by Jewish philanthropists, will be to raise interest in Chagall’s life and works.

The artist, who lived for a turbulent 97 years, from 1887 to 1985, was born in Vitebsk, Belarus, a town of 66,000 inhabitants, where Jews made up half the population.

Throughout the artist’s life, he experimented and innovated in many styles — Naïve art, Surrealism, Cubism, Modernism, Symbolism and Fauvism. But whatever his experiments and explorations in style and material, Chagall “remained most emphatically a Jewish artist, whose work was a long dreaming reverie of life in his native village of Vitebsk,” wrote art critic Robert Hughes.

Another appraisal comes from Jackie Wullschlager, who, in her biography of Chagall, lauded him as “a pioneer of modern art and one of the greatest figurative painters … [who] invented a visual language that recorded the thrill and terror of the 20th century.”

“The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk” runs 90 minutes, without intermission, and will be on stage at the Wallis Center for the Performing Arts through March 11. For information and tickets, visit www.tickets.thewallis.org.

LACMA exhibit turns spotlight on theatrical side of Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall working on the New York Metropolitan Opera’s “The Triumph of Music” (1966). Art © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris, Photo © 2017 Isiz-Manuel Bidermanas

Marc Chagall is best known for his fantastical paintings of folkloric shtetl scenes, circus performers, flying goats and, yes, a fiddler on a roof. His use of light and color and his romantic portrayals of Eastern European Jewish life have made him a beloved artist.

Lesser known among Chagall’s work are the richly detailed costumes and backdrops he created for ballet, theater and opera companies. Those pieces finally get their turn in the limelight in “Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage,” on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) beginning July 31.

“Our desire from the beginning was not just to do another large-scale Chagall exhibition but rather to focus on a lesser-known aspect of his production,” said Stephanie Barron, senior curator of modern art at LACMA.

“Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage” concentrates on four theatrical productions created over a quarter-century: the ballets “Aleko,” “The Firebird” and “Daphnis and Chloe,” and the opera “The Magic Flute.” All were created during and after World War II while the artist was in exile in New York.

Featured in the show are 145 objects, including 41 brightly painted costumes as well as preparatory sketches and rare 1942 film footage of the original performance of “Aleko.”

Chagall was at the forefront of artists collaborating with the ballet, theater and opera by creating fantastical and visually stunning backdrops and costumes. His work with theatrical companies and opera houses in Russia, Mexico, New York and Paris included painting sets for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes traveling dance company as early as 1911.

Chagall’s costumes for the Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris’ “Daphnis and Chloe” (1959)
© 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris, photo © 2017 Museum Associates/LACMA

“Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage” was organized with the help of museums in Montreal, Paris and Roubaix in northern France, and with the support of the Chagall estate.

Chagall worked in many formats, including stained glass, ceramics, book illustrations and tapestries. But one common theme was the appearance of musicians. His granddaughter Bella Meyer told the Journal that music always was an important part of her grandfather’s creative process.

“He always had records or a radio in his art studio, and very often worked while listening to music,” she said. “Most of the time, it was Mozart. And he would talk about music. He loved music.”

Meyer recalled her earliest memories of her grandfather.

“We’d go with my mother to his studio, and that’s where he would be,” she said. “After his happy and gleeful welcome, he would sit back and paint. I have many memories watching him paint.”

Barron organized the show with help from the museum’s costume and textile curators, and she leaned on their expertise to display the work.

“It’s one thing to hang a painting, put up a sculpture, do a drawing. But how you present costumes is a very complicated series of decisions that don’t happen at the last minute,” she said.

Barron previously has tapped Los Angeles luminaries like Frank Gehry and John Baldessari to install exhibitions. For this show, she turned to local opera designer Yuval Sharon and projection designer Jason H. Thompson. Sharon is the founder and artistic director of the experimental opera company The Industry and has grabbed headlines for his immersive productions staged in moving cars and at Union Station. But this was Sharon’s first time designing a museum exhibition. Barron wanted to emphasize the theatricality of Chagall’s costumes in a way that looked different than LACMA’s previous costume exhibitions, like “Reigning Men” and “Fashioning Fashion.”

“Yuval came up with this idea, which of course makes so much sense, to actually put them on stages. Normally, costumes are on platforms,” she said. “These are actually real stages with footlights and curtains and sound that comes out of the footlights and floorboards, instead of a painted deck like we usually do in museum exhibitions. So you walk in and there’s no question that you’re in a theatrical space.”

The exhibition is organized chronologically, with each of the four shows given its own area. Each section includes musical accompaniment. Also included are many of Chagall’s iconic paintings of musicians and theatrical scenes, as well as a series of video interviews featuring contemporary artists, costume designers and opera professionals.

Chagall was born in Vitebsk, Russia (present-day Belarus), in 1887. He developed an interest in theater at a young age, creating set designs for the Ballets Russes and murals and set pieces for the Moscow State Jewish Theatre.

He and his family, who were Jewish, fled Nazi-occupied France and immigrated to New York in 1941. The following year, the Ballet Theatre of New York (now American Ballet Theatre) commissioned him to design the scenery and costumes for “Aleko,” a new ballet based on Alexander Pushkin’s poem “The Gypsies” and set to Tchaikovsky’s “Trio in A Minor.”

Visitors may notice a Mexican style in the hand-painted costumes and preparatory studies. That’s because “Aleko” was supposed to debut in New York but union rules didn’t allow Chagall to paint the backdrops himself, so he and the Ballet Theatre completed work on the production in Mexico. It premiered in Mexico City, went to New York and was performed at the Hollywood Bowl in the summer of 1943.

“Aleko” led to Chagall’s second commission, in 1945, from the Ballet Theatre, of Igor Stravinsky’s iconic ballet “The Firebird,” which had premiered in Paris in 1910 at the Ballets Russes. In grief over the recent death of his beloved wife, Bella, Chagall and his daughter, Ida, threw themselves into the project, designing more than 80 costumes for “The Firebird.” The depictions of animals and monsters were beautiful and strange. It debuted at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York to great critical acclaim.

The eight costumes from “The Firebird” in the exhibition only surfaced thanks to some serious sleuthing by Barron.

In recent Chagall retrospectives, “The Firebird” was represented by only a single costume. The others could not be found. Barron and fellow LACMA curator Kay Spilker, with the help of Bella Meyer, went to the storage archives of the New York City Ballet last summer and located and negotiated the loan of “The Firebird” costumes.

“The Firebird” has stayed in the New York City Ballet’s repertoire with newer costumes. LACMA is showing the originals.

In 1956, the Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris commissioned Chagall to design new sets and costumes for Maurice Ravel’s ballet “Daphnis and Chloe.” Based on a story by a Greek poet, the blue and earthy oranges and browns of the costumes and sets were inspired by Chagall’s own visits to Greece.

Chagall’s only opera production was Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera for its inaugural season at Lincoln Center in New York in 1967. It was a complex project, with 14 sets and dozens of costumes that took him three years to make.

Chagall’s imaginative work for the stage, along with his many commissioned murals and other decorative projects, helped make him an international celebrity. But to Bella Meyer, he always was just her grandfather.

“I had no idea that he was famous. I was probably a bit naive. There could have been many hints. My mother would take us to every big opening. She would always make sure we would have a nice dress on,” Meyer said. “Everyone would call him “maître,” master. That seemed to me normal, not that it happened to any of us, but I had no understanding that he was known outside of our immediate world. I adored him as a very special, dreamlike, fantastical person. That’s how I always saw him.

“I was a teenager when it dawned on me that he might actually be famous. But he was my grandpa. He was the most humble of people.”

“Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage” will be on display from July 31 through Jan. 7 at LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.  

‘Chagall-Malevich’: A tale of love and art

A story of magical realism about a great love and two competing artists is told against the backdrop of World War I and the Russian Revolution in “Chagall-Malevich.” The film highlights the opposing artistic philosophies of the Jewish painter Marc Chagall (Leonid Bichevin), a surrealist painter known for his colorful, imaginative renderings of scenes from his hometown village, and Kazimir Malevich (Anatoliy Beliy), who championed the abstract, geometric style of painting he called “Suprematism.” More than 140 paintings by the artists are shown in the movie.

The project marks the return of noted Russian director Alexander Mitta after a 10-year absence from filmmaking. Loosely based on Chagall’s memoirs, as well as on those of his contemporaries, the movie begins in highly dramatic fashion as Chagall’s young, Chasidic mother is having a difficult time giving birth to him in the midst of a raging fire set by arsonists in the Russian village of Vitebsk. The whole village is ablaze as the young mother labors with the help of a midwife in a burning room, also occupied by a cow and a chicken, as the father, a pickle peddler, hovers in the background.

The baby appears stillborn, but his mother cries out, “Revive him!”  After the midwife dips the infant in hot and cold water, he begins to wail. The character of Chagall, as narrator, says, “The world was so magically bright, horrifying and beautiful that I started to breathe. And ever since then, that intolerable beauty burned within me.”

Decades later, in 1914, Chagall is painting in Paris, “the art capital of the world.” In his narration, Chagall says he and his friends learned to be artists at the museums and from each other.

At one point, he returns to Vitebsk and seeks out Bella Rosenfeld (Kristina Schneidermann), his future wife and love of his life. Although her father is not happy with her choice, she and Chagall are passionately in love and eventually marry. They plan to go to Paris, but their travel plans are disrupted by the war, so they settle in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg), and they have a little girl. Revolution comes to Russia, and Chagall says he can’t paint with the violence all around them. They return to Vitebsk, where they reunite with Naum (Semyon Shkalikov), an old friend who is now Red Commissar of the town and who has always been in love with Bella. Chagall has a commission as Commissar of the Arts, and he establishes an academy. After being invited to join the faculty, the abstract artist Malevich challenges Chagall for leadership of the school. Through it all, Bella stands steadfastly by her husband.

Schneidermann, who is Austrian and half-Jewish on her father’s side, said she looks a lot like Bella and identified very closely with the character for several reasons: “We had quite a lot in common. The first is our languages. Bella knew a lot of languages, just like me. I know five languages and speak fluently in all of the five.” Plus, she added, “We both love theater and art. The third fact is that we love literature and writing, and everything that connects to that.”

Schneidermann also met Bella’s granddaughter, Meret Meyer Graber, whose blessing was crucial to getting the film made.

“That was an amazing experience,” she recalled, “and the most amazing thing that happened to me was that she called me her actual grandmother Bella.

“When we were sitting at a table, I sang the lullaby that I sing in the movie, and she cried and said that was the exact lullaby that her grandmother Bella used to sing to her when she was small. Meret said it was as if our souls exchanged, as if at moments she felt younger, and I in that moment, myself, felt older, like her real grandmother. So that was a very touching and amazing experience.”

As for the film itself, Schneidermann feels that, though it’s called “Chagall-Malevich,” it is more a love story about Chagall and Bella and a story about Chagall the artist.

“It’s mostly about this wonderful painter who influenced me and many people on earth, all around the world,” Schneidermann said.  “He was always in this magic world, which I think the director wanted to dive into and make the audience dive into also. It’s such a magic world of kindness. 

“If he was alive,” Schneidermann added, “I think maybe he would want people to get to know that he wanted love and peace to exist in the world, rather than bloodshed and war.  That’s mostly what I think he wanted people to see in his work, and I think that’s mostly what our director wanted to show in our film.”

“Chagall-Malevich” opens June 19 at Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills and at Town Center 5 in Encino.

A Jewish state grows in Basel

Basel, Switzerland, could be thought of as the cradle of modern Zionism. It was here that the First Zionist Congress was held in 1897, and the city remains a pilgrimage site for many American and Israeli Jews.

One of the most powerful and attractive locations that still draws visitors is Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois (” target=”_blank”>baleph.ch), an ambitious smartphone and tablet app launched in 2014 for Jewish travelers to Basel. It offers a multimedia walking tour that covers the 800-year history of Jews in the city. 

Although Jews living in Switzerland today coexist relatively peacefully with Christians, it is important to remember that Basel, like other European cities from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, was a place where Jews were subject to second-class-citizen status, vocational restrictions, persecution and pogroms. In 1349, for example, 600 Jews were burned at the stake and the surviving 140 children forcibly baptized.

According to various sources — including my Basel Tourism guide Armgard Sasse, a registered city tour guide well versed in Jewish history and with close ties to the Jewish community — Jews were required to live outside Basel’s city walls and restricted to the money-lending trade. Until recently, one gate leading into the present-day central business district featured a plaque dating to the early 18th century listing entry tolls and warning Jews to be out of the city when a loud curfew bell was rung.  

Relief came to Swiss Jews starting with the Great Council of Helvetia (1798-1799), where some of Switzerland’s most liberal citizens advocated civic equality for the Jews and attacked the ancient prejudices of intolerance. Ambassadors of France, England and the United States insisted that the right of settlement should be granted to all citizens of their respective countries, without distinction of creed. After years of conferences and debates, all restrictions concerning the right of Jews to establish residence were finally abolished in 1866. Eight years later, the nation’s new constitution declared full emancipation.

During World War II, Swiss Jews were protected by the nation’s neutrality, yet a number of government initiatives prevented the entry of Jewish refugees. Its banks also have been accused of working closely with Nazis and of holding assets of Holocaust victims. Under pressure from the international community, Switzerland was forced to confront its behavior during the Holocaust, and one result has been restitution for aging survivors.

Out of all the darkness, there’s light as well in this city. One can visit the Stadt Casino, which still retains its Belle Epoque aesthetic, with light fixtures and artwork still cleaned and maintained by hand. You can also stroll through Israel Park, a grove of 40 trees presented to the city by Israel’s sixth president, Chaim Herzog.

Basel also is the site of Switzerland’s only Jewish Museum (Basel’s neo-Byzantine Great Synagogue was built in 1868 and enlarged in 1892. Its basement houses a kosher fine-dining restaurant. 

Sasse, my guide, is close friends with Joel Weill, the Basel Jewish community’s head of administration, and the three of us had lunch at Topas (” target=”_blank”>kunstmuseumbasel.ch) features several of Marc Chagall’s revered studies of rabbis as well as a moving portrait of his wife, Bella, and an idiosyncratic self-portrait. Just outside the city, the Fondation Beyeler (” target=”_blank”>hilton.ch/basel), located in the middle of Basel, and walking distance from the train stations and trolleys to the city’s central shopping areas and attractions, makes a great tour base for Jewish families, especially with its excellent kosher-food program on request. 

Jewish travelers to the city will find more helpful information from SIG/FSCI, Switzerland’s Jewish Federation (


Gurlitt, reclusive German who hoarded Nazi-looted art, has died

The elderly German recluse whose Munich apartment contained a secret art hoard, including masterpieces looted by the Nazis from their Jewish owners in World War II, has died after a heart operation, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

Authorities stumbled upon Cornelius Gurlitt's trove of paintings and drawings by the likes of Marc Chagall, Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso in 2012 after a routine check on a train from Switzerland turned up wads of cash, triggering a tax inquiry.

His spokesman, Stephan Holzinger, said the 81-year-old Gurlitt had decided to return home, looked after by his doctor and a nurse after a complicated heart operation, and spend his final days in the Munich flat that once housed part of his beloved collection.

Gurlitt's collection of 1,280 artworks was assembled by his father Hildebrand, an art dealer put in charge of selling what Adolf Hitler called “degenerate” art, and ordered to be removed from state museums to help fund the Nazis' war effort.

Now worth an estimated 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion), the hoard remained undetected for decades in the Munich flat and a house over the Austrian border in Salzburg. Gurlitt sold pieces occasionally to finance his quiet lifestyle and his healthcare.

“I haven't loved anything more than my pictures in my life. But hopefully it will all be cleared up soon and I will finally get my pictures back,” he told German magazine Der Spiegel in a rare interview last November, when he was already very frail.

But a lawyer for one U.S.-based claimant said Gurlitt's death should mean that German authorities have fewer reasons for delaying the return of looted artworks to their rightful heirs.

“Mr Gurlitt's death, if anything, gives them fewer excuses for not turning the painting over immediately,” said August Matteis, a Washington-based attorney for American claimant David Toren, a retired lawyer who has a claim on “Two Riders on the Beach” by German Impressionist Max Liebermann, who was Jewish.

Toren, 88, is an heir of David Friedmann, an industrialist from Breslau who owned the painting from at least 1905 to 1939. Toren told Reuters last year he could remember the picture hanging on the wall of his great uncle's villa before the war.

Friedmann died in 1942. Toren escaped from Germany and spent the war in Sweden. His older brother reached the Netherlands and now lives in London, but their parents perished at Auschwitz.

The Liebermann painting was among the first works from the hoard to be posted by German authorities on their “Lost Art” website (www.lostart.de) to help establish provenance. But Matteis said there had been no progress in his client's case.


“Some of the excuses that Germany was using are now out of the way – for example, that there's an active investigation regarding Mr Gurlitt's potential tax evasion, and that Mr Gurlitt may have a claim or something,” Matteis told Reuters.

The provenance of other pieces has been established and their return authorised, including the Henri Matisse portrait “Sitting Woman”. It belonged to the Paris-based Jewish collector Paul Rosenberg and found its way into the collection of Hitler's air force chief Hermann Goering, before ending up with Gurlitt.

Cornelius Gurlitt recalled helping his father Hildebrand load a truck with some of his Renaissance and Modernist artworks to save them in wartime Dresden. He hid some works in a Bavarian aristocrat's castle but the family said after the war that the collection had been destroyed by the heavy bombing of Dresden.

Hildebrand was arrested as a Nazi collaborator but freed because he was one-quarter Jewish. He persuaded the “Monuments Men” – a military unit set up by the Allies to save Europe's cultural heritage, as portrayed in a movie by George Clooney – to return about 100 of his works that they had confiscated.

In his son Cornelius Gurlitt's mind, the German state had no right to impound treasures he called the love of his life.

Cornelius agreed to cooperate with authorities to determine if any of the art had been stolen or extorted from its original owners, including Jewish collectors fleeing the Holocaust, under an agreement that permitted a task force to research the works of suspicious provenance while others were returned to him.

German Culture Minister Monika Gruetters praised Gurlitt for agreeing to the restitution work, saying he would be “rightly recognised and respected for taking this step”.

Gurlitt himself told Der Spiegel he was “giving nothing back willingly”. But many claimants reserved their anger for German authorities who kept quiet about the discovery for 1-1/2 years until a story in a news magazine forced them to go public.

Additional reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Mark Heinrich

Will Deutsch: Drawing on Jewish culture

What’s considered “Jewish art” often includes a Marc Chagall print. Maybe some abstract metal sculptures resembling a menorah or Star of David. Or a painting of Orthodox Jewish men dancing with a Torah or playing klezmer music.

This is the art that Will Deutsch grew up around, and while it may capture the religious iconography of Judaism, it doesn’t exactly feel current. It also wasn’t nearly as exciting as the comic books he loved as a child.

The artwork of Deutsch, 29, an Orange County native, is the subject this week of “Notes From the Tribe,” a show at the Gabba Gallery in Los Angeles that includes 108 of his drawings about contemporary Jewish life, including a couple meeting on JDate, a Hebrew National hot dog vendor, and a Valley girl with large Bloomingdale’s shopping bags and a red string around her wrist. There’s also a 6-foot-tall sculpture of a pastrami sandwich, an example of his whimsical humor.

The Orange County Deutsch grew up in was bereft of Jewish life in the 1980s. “It probably has more strip malls than Jewish people,” he joked. When his family decided to join a synagogue, they went to Chabad of Laguna, and made minyan in the rabbi’s garage. High Holy Days services were held by a Modern Orthodox congregation in a rented space above a bowling alley.

Drawing was an early obsession for Deutsch. “My parents pushed me to be an artist the way parents push children to be doctors,” he said. “I have been drawing and reading comic books since I can remember. It’s what I’ve been doing since I could pick up a pencil.”

His mother, Susan Deutsch, is a Conservative Jewish cantor and spiritual leader of Congregation K’hilat Horim in Mission Viejo. “When he was in second grade, he used to draw at recess,” she said. “His teacher called to tell me that he has to play with other kids. The next day, the teacher called me to say, ‘That’s not what I meant.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ She said, ‘He lined them up and is teaching them how to draw.’ ”

Deutsch created his own comic book characters. His father, who passed away four years ago, brought him to Comic-Con in San Diego. Deutsch showed his drawings to the professional cartoonists, who told him he had a future as an artist.

Deutsch’s imagery draws from a rich tradition of immigrant Jewish woodcut artists, also a major influence on Will Eisner’s “A Contract with God,” widely recognized as the first graphic novel. Most of the founding comic book artists and writers were Jewish, and Deutsch can cite the pantheon like a music critic listing the great composers: Maxwell Gaines, a pioneer of the comic book form; Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, creators of Superman; Bob Kane, creator of Batman; Al Jaffee of Mad Magazine; and Stan Lee, former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics.

Deutsch’s drawings reflect the lack of agreement of what it means to be Jewish. The Jews in his drawings are wrapping tefillin, but they’re also doing the electric slide at a bar mitzvah and getting Hebrew tattoos on their arms. “My work is meant to function as a lens, not a pulpit,” Deutsch said. “It’s how I see things, not how they are or how they should be.”

While Deutsch describes himself as a “hardcore secularist,” he makes nods to religious life. He’s drawn a bar mitzvah boy being hoisted on a chair, a young woman entering a mikveh, a man blowing a shofar and an older woman making challah. Like a sofer, or Torah scribe, Deutsch makes his drawings on parchment using a quill. “As people of the book, I think that it’s important to have a visual representation of what it means, a snapshot, of our culture at this time,” he said.

The process of creating these images has also been a way for Deutsch to explore his own Jewish identity. He’s learned that he doesn’t have to do “Jewish things” to feel Jewish. “Even if I were eating ham while getting married in a Catholic church, I would still feel like a Jew doing it,” he said.

His artwork is meant to celebrate Judaism and stops short of offering any criticisms. “I think there’s absolutely a place for being incendiary, and I think there’s absolutely a place for being contentious,” Deutsch said. “What would our culture be without argument? I see my place in it as providing the what, and the viewer’s place as providing the why.”

For example, one drawing depicts a mechitzah, the partition separating genders in an Orthodox synagogue. “Some people could see that as sexist or backwards. I choose to represent that as a way that this culture practices and identifies,” Deutsch said. “I don’t see it as my place to lay judgment. I see it as my place to try and represent it as best I can, from the way that I see it.”

That inclusive approach has helped win him fans from the Jewish cultural establishment. He was The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ artist-in-residence, and JCC Without Walls and the Foundation for Jewish Culture both have championed his work. He’s also one of nine L.A.-based recipients of the prestigious Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists.

“People often dissect and take apart the work, finding different kinds of meaning,” Six Points Fellowship director Josh Feldman said. “You also get a kind of reverence that often doesn’t appear immediately in the work and takes a little while to sink in.”

Will Deutsch’s pop-up gallery show is on view through Oct. 19 at the Gabba Gallery, 3126 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. For more information, visit ” target=”_blank”>thegabbagallery.com.

A Musical Odyssey, Comic Con at the Shrine, Two’s Company, Man Ray


Pack a suitcase with excitement and wonder because tonight you will be embarking on “A Musical Odyssey.” Your journey begins in the South Bay and takes you first to hear the symphonic sounds of Jewish klezmer and choral music performed by the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony. Your next musical port of call will include mystical melodies from Spain, Persia, Yemen and Israel performed by the talented and ubiquitous Yuval Ron Ensemble. Featuring vocals by Tehila Lauder and dance by Melanie Kareem, the Ensemble will whisk you away to the Holy Land with their “‘West Bank Story’ Suite,” a compilation of music from the Academy Award-winning short film. Proceeds from this auditory odyssey will benefit the religious school at Congregation Ner Tamid of South Bay.

8-10 p.m. $50, $75. Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach. (310) 377-3510. ” target=”_blank”>http://jewishjournal.com/geekheeb/.

10 a.m.-5 p.m. $8. Shrine Auditorium Expo Center, 700 W. 32nd St., Los Angeles. (818) 954-8432. ” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’ alt=”Alan Menken”>” target=”_blank”>http://www.alextheatre.com.


” target=”_blank”>http://www.bonhams.com/us.


Comedian Lahna Turner’s ” target=”_blank”>http://www.improv.com.


The golden age of screwball comedy in Hollywood began with a handful of Jews in the 1930s — Billy Wilder, Ben Hecht and Sidney Buchman are just a few names synonymous with slapstick. Jon Edelman is bringing back the farcical, the ridiculous and the fast-talking with his wacky post-modern “Screwballs.” Set in a tiny desert inn, the play has a classic screwball plot involving a divorced couple who can’t seem to let go and end up swapping bodies. The result is, as you can imagine, disastrous and hilarious and screwy.

Thu.-Sun., through Dec. 15. $20. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles. (310) 477-2055.


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” target=”_blank”>http://www.oscars.org.