by Alexandra Katz
The word mitzvah in Hebrew roughly translates to good deed. Rimon, the Minnesota Jewish Arts Council, did a big mitzvah for the arts community last night, selecting eight of the 200 council artists to represent the organization in “P’Chotchka.” The term comes from a play on the Japanese word for chitchat and mimics a Japanese presentation style. Speed plus whit makes for a good “chat” because P’Chotchka delivery follows a rule of eights: eight artists speak for 18 seconds on 18 different images or ideas that have influenced their work. Fast-paced and enthralling, there was no time for the blasé. Multifaceted virtuosos performed with fortes ranging from writing, videographer, glass blower, theater, music, photography, architecture and visual art.
Dylan Fresco started the evening and was immediately captivating as he transported us with stories and photos discussing how he followed in his grandfather Norman’s steps, traveling to New York, London and Paris to retrace a life he longed to know.
Sylvia Horwitz used her still photography to not only show but tell us where she has been. Through her lens, we were soldiers walking the streets of Jerusalem gun in hand, on the streets of Buenos Aires dancing the tango, and entering ancient rooms of barley existing buildings in Pompeii.
“I knew I shouldn’t have asked” was the echoing statement of Margie Newman. She is in the process of writing her memoir as the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. “Why don’t we have a big family?” Margie questioned her father. He replied, “A big family? The Nazis took care of them.”
“3 Minute Egg” is Matt Peiken’s short video series about artists in Minnesota. He has composed over 300, including a special series on Jewish artists. Currently he is working on a project is called “Faith Forward MN,” which examines different religious leaders opinion’s on equal rights and gay marriage.
“Picasso fucked me up,” Adam Levy said. The leader singer of local alt-country favorite the Honeydogs credits the artist with his surrealism approach to art. Through a montage of images, Levy shared his life experiences. After telling his daughters to plug their ears, he told the crowd that his first erotic experience was linked to motorboats, and now every time he sees them…well, you know. “The power of memory,” he put it simply.
She paints upside down, inside out and backwards on hand blown glass. Lucy Rose Fischer takes her inspiration from Jewish women and Jewish practices. Focusing on the art of aging many of her bowls, seder plates and tile pieces symbolize her life.
Kent Simon sees “beauty as the scaffolding of ornament in architecture.” He stated firmly that an architect’s first duty is to the community not to himself. As the vice president of Miller Hanson Partners, a Minneapolis based architectural firm, he was responsible for the design of an award winning sukkot.
Elisa Korenne is an oddball. Moving from New York City to rural Minnesota she felt like the “Hebrew orphan.” Her pop rock songs and narrative nonfiction is composed around the idea of being the odd one out.
Falling under the umbrella of quirky, intriguing and generally engrossing “P’Chotchka” was satisfying in the search for something “different” in the arts community. The concept behind the presentation was incomparable and the talent diverse. David Jordan Harris, the Executive Director of Rimon asserted that Rimon is bringing Jewish artists from the margins to the forefront of the artistic community. “You don’t have to be Jewish to like rye bread,” he joked, and you don’t have to be Jewish to support or join Rimon, which aims to build bridges between artists and institutions. Thanks to Rimon, the Twin Cities is sure to get more mitzvahs like “P’Chotchka.”