The Saint Vincent Gallery and theFoster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery will both open new exhibits from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18. Both offer free admission to everyone and will feature beverages and hors d’oeuvres that evening.
Because the opening receptions for both exhibits are being held on the same evening, the Saint Vincent Neighborhood Trolley will offer complimentary shuttle service from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. so that guests can park once near either venue and visit both exhibits.
The Saint Vincent Gallery exhibit, Image, Action, Idea: Judaism and Contemporary Art, curated by Ben Schachter, professor of visual arts, will showcase artists who focus on the things that Judaism says they must do (or not do). “Traditional and Orthodox Jews follow a long list of mitzvot,commandments, such as lighting candles on Friday night, following dietary restrictions and visiting the sick,” Schachter explained. “In fact, there is a list of 613 commandments compiled by the medieval scholar Moses Maimonides. Don’t worry – the famous Ten Commandments are included. Some of these commandments are very specific such as wrapping one’s arm with tefillin or phylacteries during morning prayer. Others are more ambiguous such as help the needy.”
This exhibition celebrates the recent publication of Image, Action, and Idea in Contemporary Jewish Art written by Schachter. In his book, Schachter argues that criticism of Jewish art is limited by a nearly myopic focus on images. Why is that? Because of the Second Commandment, You shall not make for yourself a graven image, nor any manner of likeness of anything that is in heaven above, that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. After reading this commandment it is very easy to think that Judaism forbids art. It’s not true. Jewish art has existed for thousands of years but recently artists focus less on pictures (especially since the 1960s) and more on things like performance, installation, conceptual art and a range of other styles that have little to do with the image. Schachter argues that Judaism’s rich demand to act, be it to perform a ritual or help your neighbor, provides the basis for a criticism of contemporary Jewish art. Why is this important? The artists in this exhibition want to show you.
The Saint Vincent Gallery is located on the third floor of the Robert S. Carey Student Center on the campus of Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. and by appointment. The Gallery is closed Mondays. For more information, contact Fr. Robert Keffer, O.S.B., administrative director, at 724-805-2107.
“Opening the same night is the McCarl Gallery’s Washed and Hung: Laundry and Textiles in America. “One of the most hated jobs in the Victorian household was the laundry,” commented Lauren Churilla, curator of the McCarl Gallery. “Women who could afford to have someone else take on the task did. Laundry work took an enormous amount of energy and physical labor. In the 1830s, women typically heated their water on an open cooking hearth or the stove. The use of cooking facilities for laundry water meant that kitchen spaces were often unusable for food production on wash day. For middle and working class women, the washday was typically a once a week task. This exhibit explores how the arduous task of laundry was done prior to the 21st century. The exhibit also features the coverlets of the McCarl Collection, a common household textile of the 19th century as well as laundry artifacts from the Kerr Memorial Museum in Oakmont.” The exhibit is open through June 15.
The McCarl Gallery is open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday evenings. Additional hours are available by appointment.
The McCarl Coverlet Gallery opened in 2008 and houses the lifetime collection of handmade American Jacquard woven coverlets of the late Foster and Muriel McCarl of Beaver Falls, which were a permanent gift to Saint Vincent College. Public exhibits of selections from the collection are shown throughout the year.
For further details, call 724-805-2188
Photo: The cover of Ben Schachter’s new book, “Image, Action and Idea in Contemporary Jewish Art”