Press Release: From Destruction to Creation

3lech lecha (2)

From Destruction to Creation

After tragic fire, renowned Israeli painter Yoram Raanan’s art book brings Torah to life

Art of Revelation, the forthcoming book by Israeli contemporary artist Yoram Raanan, brings the entire annual cycle of Judaism’s weekly Torah portions to life through an unprecedented array of paintings—emerging from the artist’s personal story of redemption and uncompromising faith.

Less than 15 months after his art studio and about 2,000 of his pieces were destroyed in a fire as Israel was hit by a nationwide wave of blazes, Raanan’s new book showcases his 160 exquisite original paintings on the 54 Torah portions, accompanied by explanations that help readers see layers in the art that may not initially meet the eye.

The weekly Torah portion—a section of the Bible that is chanted by a designated reader in synagogues around the world on the Sabbath, as well as studied privately or in public lectures—is the de facto drumbeat of the Jewish faith. Ranging from the stories of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs, to the Exodus from Egypt, to the 613 commandments, any given week’s portion (also known as a parshah) reminds Jews—and by extension, all of Western civilization—of both their millennia-old roots and their practical daily concerns.

Art of Revelation engages the mind while being a digestible book that will capture the hearts and imaginations of experts and novices who appreciate fine art. Raanan’s paintings reflect the inner dimension of the events, people, laws, and stories of the Torah, speaking in metaphors that slip into viewers’ minds and touch them in a visceral way.

“In the biblical account of creation, we hear repeatedly the words, ‘God said, Let there be…and there was…and God saw that it was good’…God saw and wanted us to see the goodness and beauty of the world,” writes Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of the U.K., in a letter of support for Yoram Raanan. “[Yoram] helps us ‘see that it is good,’ showing us the light of holiness and the beauty of being.”

Raanan was commissioned to provide, over a three-year span, a new painting on the subject of each week’s Torah portion. But disaster struck in November 2016, when the fire at his studio in the Judean hills destroyed 40 years of his work.

“My first words to my wife and a few others still trapped inside the village were, ‘well, there goes the studio,’” the artists recalls. “As we were able to evacuate and drive through the still spreading fire in the smoky night air, I realized that this was surely the work of God, and that only good would come from this—even though included in this disaster were all the 160 parshah paintings of the previous three years.”

The result of his strikingly optimistic attitude is the new book, which Raanan calls “the actualization of my desire to share this collection with the world.” This sharing would not have been possible without the foresight of the painter, who before the fire had scanned digital copies of all of his pieces on the Torah portions.

The artist praises the work of his wife and co-author Meira Raanan, who spent “years researching and writing about the biblical understanding and artistic nuances that these visual representations convey. In the year since the fire she has put her results into final form, and now they are here to share with you.” Meira, a teacher of religion and meditation, is working on another book, The Lights of Fire, on the subject of the blessings that have emerged from the fire that destroyed Yoram’s studio and artworks.

“Few artists in the Jewish world today better capture the beauty of holiness, of service of God, and of Judaism as a faith than Yoram Raanan,” writes Rabbi Sacks. “His paintings have inspired me for many years, and I have been moved by the way he has rebuilt after the tragedy of losing his life’s work in the arson attacks that engulfed the Judean Hills outside Jerusalem in November 2016. I am delighted to see Yoram’s work showcased in this way.”

About the author-artist

prophet-sparks-(3)_webYoram Raanan is one of Israel’s most well-known contemporary artists. After graduating in 1975 from Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, he traveled and studied throughout Europe and the Near East. He moved to Israel in 1977 and opened his first studio in Jerusalem. Inspired by Israel’s beauty, heritage, and people, Raanan’s art has brought him international acclaim. His paintings are on display in museums, galleries, and collections worldwide. His work often reflects the Bible, nature, and the land of Israel.

Meira Raanan has been teaching and writing about meditation, religion and art for many years. Her interest in the Biblical narrative began with a degree in Jewish studies at McGill University (Montreal) and developed into the study of Chassidut and Kabbala. She is currently working on a new book, The Lights of Fire about the fire that burned down her husband’s studio and a lifetime of art work, and the blessings that have emerged from that disaster.

Title: Art of Revelation: A Visual Encounter with the Jewish Bible
Author: Yoram Raanan and Meira Raanan
ISBN: 978-965-572-500-1
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 237 Price: $ 120
Pub Date: June 1, 2018

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Book Review: Doodled Cats: Dozens of Clever Doodling Exercises & Ideas for Cat People by Gemma Correll

Doodled Cats: Dozens of Clever Doodling Exercises & Ideas for Cat People by Gemma Correll

Doodled Cats: Dozens of Clever Doodling Exercises & Ideas for Cat People by Gemma Correll is a cute little book about ways to draw cats.

The book is divided into four sections. Part 1 is All About Cats and has fun-fact type information, including 20 Signs You’re a Cat Person. This had us really laughing!

Part 2 gives us step-by-step instructions on how to doodle a cat. The examples are very basic and we think most folks will be able to follow their examples and make some really cute cat doodles.

Part 3 is like a kitty fashion show in that it shows doodled cats in various hats and outfits to help inspire you in your own doodling.

Part 4 is a template section to help you get started with your own doodles.

Doodled Cats is a fun little book. There are 160 pages, but it is a very short and funny book. We think that it will bring a smile to the faces of most cat lovers out there.

And, for you dog lovers, they also have a dog version called Doodled Dogs!

Both are available for pre-order right now on Amazon.com. Release date is 26 June 2018.

We were sent a complimentary copy of this book. We are under no obligation to write any review, positive or negative.

We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Notice: This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, we may financially benefit from your transaction, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support.

Press Release: Houston’s Commitment to Disaster Relief Shines in Third Round of Grant Applications Opening to Artists and Nonprofits

Houston’s Commitment to Disaster Relief Shines in Third Round of Grant Applications Opening to Artists and Nonprofits

(HARF Grant Recipient Brian Ellison at Project Row Houses)

Houston, TX, April 26, 2018-  In the artistic communities hit hardest by Harvey, relief can be as simple as a new theater wardrobe and as critical as replacing revenue lost from cancelled performances. Recent months have seen Houston rallying around the vulnerable arts professions to restore what was lost irreparably to the hurricane. The Harvey Arts Recovery Fund (HARF) has launched a third and final round of grants to keep artists and arts and culture organizations on their feet, an intervention essential to preserving the place of creative expression in Houston’s vibrant social fabric.

The application for the third round of grant will be open from April 19 to May 11, 2018 and awards will be distributed in late May. The application can be found at www.harveyartsrecovery.org.

HARF supports Houston artists, performers, musicians, writers, and arts and culture organizations in need of disaster assistance. Applicants to the second round of HARF funding reported staggering need, with 92% reporting losses for opportunities to teach, perform or show their work and 68% confirming a loss of necessary tools or equipment to make their art. Since launching in the fall of last year, HARF has awarded more than $84,000 to local artists and arts, heritage and cultural organizations who suffered personal and professional losses due to Hurricane Harvey.

“The support of just knowing that there is a group out there that believes in the arts in Houston and that wants to see us all get back on our feet, that means a lot in a lot of other ways and we are thankful for that,” said Shannon Emerick, Director of Marketing and Communications at Main Street Theater and 2018 Grant Organization Recipient.

Individuals and nonprofit institutional applicants that are 18 years and older must be able to demonstrate, through appropriate documentation, their cultural or artistic practice and how they pursue this creative mission professionally. They must also prove that their artistic practice was negatively impacted by Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey. So long as both the need and the reasoning behind the need are clearly present, HARF will not restrict the use of funds to any purpose or category. Those who received funding in the first or second rounds of grants are not eligible to apply this  time.

HARF was created as a volunteer collaboration among multiple organizations to meet the substantial needs of the Houston arts and cultural sector during Hurricane Harvey. Funds were raised with the support of local nonprofits, donations through the online advocacy platform www.harveyartsrecovery.org and seed money provided by the Houston Endowment. Creatives within a 10-county region of Harris, Fort Bend, Montgomery, Brazoria, Galveston, Liberty, Waller, Chambers, Austin and San Jacinto have been able to apply for funding since the fall of last year.

Members of the Local Action Group manage the Fund with leadership provided by Galveston Historical Foundation, Fresh Arts, Dance Source Houston, CultureWorks Greater Houston, The Center for Arts and Social Engagement at the University of Houston, Houston Arts Alliance and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs for the City of Houston.

Recovery for the Houston arts and cultural community is an ongoing process. To help individual artists and small to medium-sized arts, culture and heritage organizations, please donate to Harvey Arts Recovery Fund at harveyartsrecovery.org.