Calgary – A new artists group has been formed in the Calgary Jewish community by Winnipeg-born founder Louise Blank who moved to Calgary in 1983.
Although Blank’s focus has always been on writing, she has also grown to love another form of art – painting.
Since there was no artists group in Calgary, Blank proposed starting one to connect artists with the Jewish community and vice versa, with the help of the Calgary JCC.
The name for the group ‘Betzalel Arts’ was suggested by one of the people wanting to join.
“Betzalel is actually the name of the first Jewish person allowed to create images in the building of the Mishkan,” said Blank. “In early times it was believed that we weren’t supposed to reproduce images. As it happens, the parsha in the Torah related to my birthday is Betzalel.
“Moses introduced the first biblical artist, saying, ‘The Lord has singled out by name Betzalel...and has endowed him with a divine spirit of skill, ability and knowledge.’”
Blank said she knew that with a small arts group, there would be no limits to their innovation.
“We could do things like network with the business community and lease our art, or put up an exhibit for events. We could also have virtual exhibits where people could try out art at home, virtually.”
By partnering with the JCC, Blank said both Betzalal and the JCC win.
“We reduce our facility rental cost and they get 20 per cent commission on our sales. Part of our vision is to have an Art Week for the Jewish community where each day we’ll have something different.”
In the fall, Betzalel will have an exhibit at the Foothills Hospital. The group plans to have exhibits and sales throughout the year. And, in the JCC lobby, they have a rotating exhibit (rotating paintings every three weeks).
“Although some group members do Judaic work, we’re not about Jewish art,” said Blank. “We’re about Jewish artists, doing everything from photography to landscape, floral, watercolour and abstract art.
“We’ll be having themed exhibits, giving everyone an opportunity to shine. Most of us are at the professional level.
“We’re trying to create a template that other Jewish communities can use to create such a group in their communities.”
For more information, visit BetzalelArts.com.
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