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Cultural Exchange Through the Lens


There's more than just art at issue in the current exhibition at the Finegood Gallery in West Hills. The operative term is cultural exchange. Teenage photographers from Tel Aviv and Los Angeles bring their curiosity and fresh vision to the sights and scenes of their respective cities.

The work veers from well-meaning snapshots to more artful images, but the main point is young photographers sharing visions of their environments.

The most artistic work comes from Corrie Siegel, who brings an illuminating eye to scenes around Los Angeles, from a shot of the artist's grandmother happily lost amid a densely colored mural celebrating Jewish life and culture to the curious kitschy Jewish-Chinese landmark sign on Wilshire for Shalom Hunan.

The Jewish sights on Fairfax Avenue are an obvious point of reference, and somehow Siegel brings fresh interest to familiar scenes, including Canter's Deli and its Kibbitz Room sign. Siegel depicts the bold sign for the Shalom Retirement Center against a moody sky, like the iconic letters in an Ed Ruscha painting.

Jewish life is a natural theme for many of the young photographers, including Elon Hartman's series of black-and-white images of Orthodox Jewish worship and lifestyle.

Lindsay Gelb's dramatic yet engagingly odd photograph depicts a Hanukkah scene, in which a Hanukkiah made from ice is being sliced ritualistically with a chain saw, enigmatically back lit with morning sun rays.

Nonreligious slices of life are fair game as well. Ben Reynolds of Milken High School finds art in the surreal image of an airborne dog leaping over a fence. Idit Minka's urban image juxtaposes a dark alley, dotted with trash containers and ragged-edged roof lines, against the bright promise of skyscrapers in the distance.

With a casually graceful sense of composition, Fathia Minawi shows a warm, you-are-there portrait of furniture-makers at work on the street, while Orit Balicer shows the swirl of colors at a Tel Aviv food market viewed from the level of the rainbow-colored produce.

What we come away with from this big, friendly assembly of images is a sense of intrigue about the world and a sense of collective, youthful fervor.

That solidarity comes through in Jaqueline Cedar's snapshot-like portrait of 15 10th-graders visiting Los Angeles from Tel Aviv. They appear wide-eyed and full of wonder. No doubt, Los Angeles is a strange landscape to anyone first landing here, but not as strange as one might expect.

Part of the exhibit will be shown at the Skirball Cultural Center starting in May.


"Picture LA/TA 2000," through April 16 at the Finegood Art Gallery, Bernard Milken Jewish Community Center, 22622 Vanowen St., West Hills. Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (818) 716-1773.

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