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ART : A Tribute to Arts Council : Having helped organize exhibits at University of Judaism, members display their work.

September 10, 1993|NANCY KAPITANOFF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES: Nancy Kapitanoff writes regularly about art for Valley Life.

Although hard times have forced most arts organizations to scale down their programs, the University of Judaism's Fine Arts Council continues to present a regular series of art shows in its Marjorie and Herman Platt Gallery.

Formed in 1985, the council has organized exhibits ranging from Albrecht Durer prints, Robert Rauschenberg's work and pieces from the university's collection to group shows of work by Jewish artists, multiethnic artists and members of local artists organizations.

The council's only parameters are "to show good artists and to give exposure to young, upcoming artists," said Jim Jacobson, the group's founding chairman.

"We've been fortunate. Somehow when we are short of money, something comes through," current chairman Jack Flier said.

To honor the Fine Arts Council, the Platt Gallery is presenting "Artists of the Fine Arts Council," a show of multimedia work by 15 of its 30 members. "We wanted to do this show because we wanted recognition for the art council--that they are professional artists," Flier said. "We wanted to show our appreciation for what they've done. They are all volunteers," Jacobson added.

Among the artwork on view are Ruth Rossman's expressive abstract paintings that celebrate the joys of children at play--swinging, jumping rope and climbing a ladder, for example. Rossman, who co-chairs the council, has been a member since it was formed.

Sagi Vas creates lush environments inhabited by or emanating from male and female forms in her paintings "Valley of a Woman," "Landscape of Man" and "New Growth." Victor Raphael's Polaroid photographs of outer space, enhanced with metal leaf, convey a striking beauty that transports one into the mysterious skies.

Symbols of Jewish mysticism dominate the compositions of two of David Rose's colorful paintings. A third painting, "Isaac and Dora," depicts his parents at work in their bakery in Chelsea, Mass., which Rose termed the Boston Jewish ghetto. The image incorporates an old family photo, a likeness of his father's naturalization papers and the Hebrew blessing for the bread, among other things.

Jerry Novorr's fine paper cuts relate Biblical stories. Sculptor Joan Carl shapes introspective abstract figures in wood and bronze. Ruth Pordy uses Italian marble, alabaster and travertine to make her more geometric forms.

Flier drew his delicate ink and watercolor images of women during the 1970s. Jacobson is represented here by his color photographs taken during trips to the Middle East.

Jacobson organized the Fine Arts Council in 1985 at the request of Max Vorspan, senior vice president of the University of Judaism and one of its founders. The arts have been "integral to the teaching and training of students" at the university since it first opened in 1947, Vorspan said.

Then, its campus was a private home with four bedrooms that served as classrooms. Larger events took place in the living room.

The founders of the university chose to provide a "universalist thrust" to its curriculum, Vorspan said. "We were struggling to integrate universal American and Jewish aspects of civilization. Judaism is more than a religion. We are a people with a culture, and in that culture is the arts."

In 1955, the university moved into the Hollywood Athletic Club building, on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Part-time professors taught art, theater, music and dance classes. "We were a flourishing school of the arts," Vorspan said.

But to establish a first-rate school of fine arts, the university needed a full-time arts faculty and a library. Unable to afford that kind of commitment, its directors decided to create an arts program that would instead concentrate on the exhibition of visual arts and the presentation of performance arts. Today, at the university's Bel-Air campus, which opened in the late 1970s, the Gindi Auditorium holds theater, music and dance performances. A number of art classes are also available to students.

Other artists represented in the show are: Geri Bieber, Nita Corinblit, Sidi Gluck, Lynda Levy, Herman Platt and Pearl Weiss.

WHERE AND WHEN

* What: Artists of the Fine Arts Council at Platt Gallery, University of Judaism, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel-Air.

* Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays through Sept. 26. Closed Thursday and Sept. 17 and 24 for Jewish holidays.

* Call: (310) 476-9777, Ext. 276.

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