Vendor Spotlight: Artist Nancy Patz

Posted on September 27th, 2018 by

A blog post by JMM Office Manager and Shop Assistant Jessica Konigsberg. For more posts from Jessica, click HERE.

As my September blog contribution, I’m delighted to feature a longtime Gift Shop vendor and JMM collaborator: Baltimore artist, illustrator, and children’s book author Nancy Patz. Many of Nancy’s popular children’s books are available at Esther’s Place Gift Shop, including To Annabella Pelican from Thomas Hippopotamus, Sarah Bear & Sweet Sidney and her newest offering, The Elephant with a Knot in His Trunk, written with Dr. Stuart Sheer.

Patz is a Baltimore native who went to Forest Park and Goucher before graduating from Stanford University. Her paintings and drawings have been featured in exhibits at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, the Peale Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art and numerous galleries, and she often speaks to school groups and teachers on the art of the picture book. Patz is the mother of two wonderful daughters and six “absolutely terrific” grandchildren.

Patz with copies of her latest children’s book, The Elephant with a Knot in His Trunk, written with Dr. Stuart Sheer. Elephant is available for sale at Esther’s Place.

I suggested a few questions that Nancy might respond to, and she eagerly accepted the opportunity to share about her current project, an exhibit about memory and loss soon to be displayed as a part of Reimagine End of Life—a weeklong, community-driven program in New York City exploring questions about life and death. These events will be held October 27 to November 3, 2018.

Nancy’s current project has its roots in a 2010 Jewish Museum of Maryland exhibition called Nancy Patz: Her Inward Eye.

Nancy shared:

“Now, eight years later, paintings, drawings, and poems from the section called Remembering My Mother have been brought up from my basement, unwrapped, re-curated, re-wrapped and will be exhibited in New York in October.

My mother, Fanny Jonas Patz, died of cancer in 1947. She was 41. It took me almost 50 years to begin to write and paint her back into my life. I wrote poems about her. I drew her portrait from old photographs, painting in different mediums and different styles. Sometimes I wrote poems on the drawings. Sometimes I drew drawings on the poems.

I cherished this sad, happy, bittersweet experience, and I returned to it again and again for more than 15 years, as I re-imagined my mother and the part she played in my early life. My new exhibit, now called All About My Mother, is one of more than 250 events in which collaborators will explore the subject of death and celebrate life from many perspectives.

Mother and Me: Strathmore Ave. by Nancy Patz, from her upcoming show All About My Mother.

On the evening of October 31, Rabbi Elana Zaiman and I will walk through my exhibit, discussing with each other and with visitors Remembering the Dead and the Living: Sharing Their Stories and Ours. (FYI, Rabbi Zaiman is the daughter of Rabbi Joel and Ann Zaiman – a lovely unexpected Baltimore connection!)

It pleases me deeply that this meaningful part of my original JMM exhibit will be seen again. The moment also gives me a chance to lift my glass once more in praise of JMM’s former Associate Director Anita Kassof, former Curator Karen Falk, Director of Learning and Visitor Experience Ilene Dackman-Alon, former Deputy Director Deborah Cardin, and the rest of the incredible JMM Team for their expertise in creating that original exhibit years ago.”

Thank you so much to Nancy for sharing this update. Nancy Patz’s children’s books are a staple at Esther’s Place, where we love their themes of friendship, adventure, acceptance, and self-discovery as well as their memorable illustrations. We also carry two adult books by Patz—18 Stones (co-authored by Susan L. Roth) and Who Was the Woman Who Wore the Hat? Both offer thought-provoking and poignantly imagined Holocaust stories that address themes of connection and loss.

Stop by Esther’s Place today and pick up a Nancy Patz book! Each one is a vibrant celebration of storytelling and the creative place where imagination and memory meet. Patz’s books make a perfect gift for a loved one—young or old.

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Celebrate Upstanders at Esther’s Place!

Posted on April 27th, 2018 by

A blog post by JMM Office Manager and Shop Assistant Jessica Konigsberg. For more posts from Jessica, click HERE.

At Esther’s Place (JMM’s Gift Shop), we love “upstanders” (defined by Oxford Dictionary as “a person who speaks or acts in support of an individual or cause,” commonly understood as the opposite of “bystander”). At Esther’s Place, we celebrate courageous civic engagement in everything from books about daring rescues and escapes during the Holocaust to our beautiful and inspiring See America products that recognize the beginnings of the Jewish community in Baltimore and the strength of those who worked to build, organize, and fight for equal rights for the Baltimore Jewish community.

From the exhibit: “The Constitution is a sacred document…Over the years, we have tried to make it more and more inclusive. We cannot turn back.” -John Lewis, 2006

So naturally, we were excited to celebrate JMM’s latest exhibit, Amending America, in the Gift Shop. We absolutely love our new civics titles that tell important stories of real-life upstanders such as Clara Lemlich, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.

Here are some of our favorites alongside some of the direct connections to the Amending America exhibit:

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist – by Cynthia Levinson, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.

This children’s title tells the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks who, as a nine-year-old, spoke out against Birmingham’s segregation laws, joined the pickets and was ultimately arrested and sent to jail.

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark – by Debbie Levy, Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley.

This children’s book is a delightful history of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s long history of speaking her mind, using her voice, and dissenting to the discrimination and prejudice she faced as a Jewish woman seeking to make her mark in the legal world. Our upcoming Annual Meeting on May 17 will be a larger exploration of Justice Ginsburg’s life and accomplishments as we hear from I Dissent author Debbie Levy and Mary Hartnett, co-author of My Own Words. Sign up to attend the program here.

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 – by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Melissa Sweet.

This children’s title chronicles the achievements of Ukrainian immigrant Clara Lemlich, addressing topics such as activism, labor rights, safe working conditions, immigration, women’s rights, and education.

This book and others can also be enjoyed in our Amending America reading corner, located in the exhibit itself.

From the exhibit: “A government is invigorated when each of us is willing to participate in shaping the future of this nation.” -Barbara Jordon, 1976

As you’re browsing our great selection of civics titles, don’t forget to check out our gorgeous children’s book about the Lloyd Street Synagogue, The Synagogue Speaks by Anita Kassof, illustrated by Jonathon Scott Fuqua.

This children’s book tells the story of the Lloyd Street Synagogue from the perspective of the synagogue itself—as it grew and moved through its career as founding Baltimore synagogue for the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, to St. John the Baptist Lithuanian Catholic Church, to synagogue for the Shomrei Mishmeres Ha Kodesh congregation, all the way to museum and educational site. Charmingly, the upstanders in this story are the many individuals who acted to keep the Synagogue building alive for the communities that it would shelter and support.

We’ve got so many great titles on display!

Our next book talk, on May 3, also celebrates upstanders as it features the story of America’s efforts to save European Jews during the Holocaust, as told by Rebecca Erbelding’s new book, Rescue Board: The Untold Story of America’s Efforts to Save the Jews of Europe.

Learn more and sign up to attend the program hereAnd don’t worry, we’ll have copies of this one in the shop for you too!

Finally, for many upstanders, coffee and sustenance are essential.

So please, visit the Gift Shop and be inspired by the civics titles available, then check out our “But first, coffee” display, where you can find a huge selection of beautiful, whimsical, and commemorative mugs (some heavily discounted!) to help kick start your civic aspirations.

 

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Seeing Differently: Ezra Jack Keats

Posted on April 19th, 2018 by

A blog post by JMM’s Director of Development, Tracey E. Dorfmann. To read more posts from Tracey, click here.

I am grateful to be the mother of a talented children’s illustrator.  Among the many things I have learned from my daughter is to consider children’s illustration as a high form of art. There were many wonderful picture books that my daughter Hannah and I shared together when she was little.  Now I look at these books and their illustrators in a different way and see how they fit into the pantheon of children’s publishing.

As the adage goes “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This is certainly true for the American writer-illustrator, Ezra Jack Keats.

The child of Jewish immigrants, Jacob (Jack) Ezra Katz was born March 11, 1916. He grew up in the “East NY” which was the Jewish Quarter of Brooklyn. As an early 20th-century Jewish child Keats grew up in harsh and impoverished circumstances in an era of great anti-Semitism. In interviews, he recalls “feeling invisible” as a child. His gift of artistic expression became his coping mechanism in his rough and dreary neighborhood.

Always a prolific artist, he painted and drew on any surface, that he could. He was also known to have a modest and caring temperament.  The experience of making images on so many different kinds of surfaces may be how he came to back collage techniques later in his artistic life.

For many of us, we have come to know of him through his Caldecott Award-winning story The Snowy Day, the story of a small boy enjoying the magic and transformative power of snow on an urban landscape. This book broke the “color barrier in children’s mainstream publishing.”

It was the first picture book to depict a black child as the main character of a story. The tale focuses on the enchanting aspects of a snowy urban neighborhood rather the color of the child’s skin. Yet for so many children this was the first time they could see themselves depicted in a storybook.

As a mature artist-illustrator, he wanted to uplift all children because he knew from experience that they often recede from view in the unforgiving urban landscape.  “His art is bold and speaks the universal truths of children.” Author Anita Silvey observed that “Keats could think like a child but paint and make images as an artist with a social conscience.”

Though Keats never had children of his own, there are millions of children around the world who claim him as their own.

If you are interested in finding out more about this wonderful illustrator there are many books about his art and his life or enjoy this YouTube video from a 2012 exhibition of his work presented by the Jewish Museum in NY  and check out this Ezra Keats website.

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