The J feels more like the J again, thanks to the grand reopening of the Bodzin Art Gallery. The current exhibition, Forever, makes the reopening particularly grand as it features artwork by long-time J members and exquisite artists, Judy (1931-2018) and Seymour “Sy” (1929-2021) Wengrovitz. Forever is a collection of Judy’s watercolors and Sy’s woodcarvings, and is accompanied by an online gallery featuring a collection of paintings on paper by Judy. Forever is open in both galleries through September 30, 2021. Monthly Pop-Up Sales of Judy’s works on paper in the J’s lobby are scheduled. Artwork in both galleries is priced to sell, with proceeds benefitting fine arts programming at the J. Thanks to the generosity of the Wengrovitz’s three sons, Michael, Phillip, and David, the J has the privilege to share Forever in memory of the contributions Judy and Sy made to their community and craft.
I had the pleasure of knowing the artists, who I met in 2016 in my first months as the J’s Cultural Arts Director and curator of the Bodzin Art Gallery. A few days after issuing a call for artwork relating to Italy in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the first Jewish Ghetto in Venice, there was a knock at my office door. Our meeting started with Judy wondering if she had the right place, “Hi, I think you’re looking for Italy?” And wow, did I find Italy (and more) when I visited Judy’s home studio in Springfield to select pieces for the show. She made stunning watercolor paintings based on the sketches she’d made in different cities across Italy on multiple trips with her sweetheart, Sy. The show, Ispirazione Italiana, was a big success... in fact, the first painting sold was my purchase. Judy’s vibrant, complex painting of an outdoor produce market is a highlight of my home collection.
After Judy passed away in 2018, I invited Sy to curate a retrospective of her work for the Bodzin Art Gallery, which he did beautifully. I’m still moved by it years later. The paintings featured imagery Judy created of their hometown and where they met, New York City, as well as still life, interiors, and scenes from Virginia and their favorite travel destinations, such as Maine and Italy.
Sy was slated to have a solo exhibition in the Bodzin Art Gallery in summer, 2020. The last time I saw him was in February, 2020, as we finalized the marketing and made plans for his exhibit. The show and intergenerational woodcarving class in partnership with Camp Achva was ultimately postponed due to the precautions the J took to keep the community safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. I later learned that Sy carved his way through lockdown, bringing tools and wood to his apartment to pass the hours and keep preparing for his exhibit. I am relieved that his awe-inspiring carvings are finally where they belong: on view for all, and perfectly complimenting Judy’s paintings, most of which were framed by Sy.
The reopening of the Bodzin Art Gallery is grander because of our memories, and their talent. Both artists have received numerous awards for their work. Please visit www.theJ.org/fine-arts to learn more about the artists, see videos of them in action, find a link to our online gallery, check the Pop-Up Sale schedule, and make plans to stop by the J to see Judy and Sy, Forever.