'Photography Caravan – Images Of Jewish Buffalo' Is On Exhibit At Jewish Community Center Of Greater Buffalo Art Gallery

'Photography Caravan – Images Of Jewish Buffalo' Is On Exhibit At Jewish Community Center Of Greater Buffalo Art GalleryThe first exhibit in the newly renovated Art Gallery at the JCC Holland Family Building is entitled "Photography Caravan - Images of Jewish Buffalo". This exhibit is a showcase of photographs taken by members of the community who participated in a day long photography workshop with Israeli artist-in-residence, Asaf Elkalai, hosted by the JCC of Greater Buffalo and Buffalo Jewish Federation.

Elkalai, who was in Buffalo for a three week residency during the month of April, was born in Kerem Ben Zimra, and is currently based in Tel Aviv, Israel. He holds a BA in Photography from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design Jerusalem, and an MFA from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and Art Education at The Hebrew University. Currently, he teaches at Ashdod Museum and works as a Social Projects Coordinator at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design.

The day long workshop entitled "Photography Caravan" was developed through conversations with Katie Wzontek, Cultural Arts Director at the JCC, Marty Kerker, a local photographer and member of Congregation Beth Abraham, and artist-in-residence Asaf Elkalai. The idea or goal of the workshop was to bring together members of the community who had an interest in photography and offer them the opportunity to work with other members of the community in a group led by Elkalai. To create an exhibit to showcase these documented images only seemed natural. "The exhibit will help to generate continuous and ongoing dialogue, which is very significant in art and engagement," said Elkalai.

"I thought doing a "photo caravan" of Jewish Buffalo would be a meaningful group activity that Asaf could lend his expertise to, given his background as an established fine arts photographer. The idea was to draw from a cross section of Jewish entities, each of which would bring a unique experience to the participants and stir creativity on an intellectual, emotional and ultimately artistic level," says Marty Kerker.

The program began with a brief presentation on aesthetic and technical aspects of photography including viewing and discussing the works of prominent Jewish photographers. The group then became the photographers exploring and capturing shots at Jewish sites throughout the city of Buffalo. "Locations included Beth Abraham, a historic Buffalo synagogue, which continues to serve the community at large, Temple Beth Zion, an amazing architectural wonder in the heart of the City, Temple Beth El (Richmond Ave), a once magnificent synagogue, now shuttered and Beth Jacob Cemetery, a shadowy reminder of a once thriving Jewish presence on Buffalo's East Side," said Kerker. "We had also planned to visit The Weinberg Campus, but simply ran out of time. If we do a second caravan, perhaps the focus will be more on people/human interest and include entities like Weinberg and the JCC."

"A highlight of the tour was an invitation into the old Temple Beth El, while construction is currently underway to transform the space into an environmentally friendly residence, the group was able to document through photographs some of the original architecture and ornate beauty before the renovation is completed," said Katie Wzontek, JCC Cultural Arts Director.

The group exhibit will feature photographs by participants of the workshop including: Barbara Chazen, Larry Cohen, Brenda Feldstein, Ellen Goldstein, Gretchen Gross, Leslie Kramer, Warren Marcus, Cheryl Pleskow, and Katie Wzontek.

A free gallery reception, open to the community, will take place during the Grand-Reopening of the JCC Holland Family Building, August 19, 3:30 p.m., in Art Gallery at the JCC Holland Family Building. Other activities that day include Dedications, Ribbon Cutting, Tours, Family Activities, and Mezuzot hangings.

Gallery admission is free and the gallery is open during JCC business hours, 7 days a week.

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