Oral History Interview with Mordechai (Robert) Edel for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Daniella Givon. Edel was born in England in 1949, but describes the life stories of him and his family spanning across Europe, North America and within Israel. These stories include his family's experience with the Holocaust and his growing up Jewish; they also detail his many professions before becoming an artist including musician or hazzan, hairdresser, and photographer. Edel's primary medium of art is oil painting which is in the impressionist style, and constantly informed by his Jewish faith and heritage. Edel tells anecdotes of some of the people he's met through his art within Canada and abroad, and his most memorable commissions along the way.
Oral Interview with Carla Stein for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Daniella Givon via remote Zoom call. Carla discusses how her uncle’s career as a professional painter and illustrator helped to mentor her in arts at a young age, alongside classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. She discussed attending post-secondary for a diploma in Fine Art and a Masters degree in education, but working in journalism and counseling before becoming a professional artist. Carla explains how she retired from these professions to pursue art full time, which includes currently illustrating her own and others’ poetry. Carla speaks about the flexibility of her work, and allowing words on a page, or pieces to speak to and guide her through the process of their creation intuitively. She discusses how she is motivated to make art by issues that are important to her and the world around her, and highlights memories of her first art show and a prominent commission that she is proud of. Carla speaks about the importance of colour and composition in her work, and how never giving up is one of the most important pieces of wisdom she could offer.
Oral Interview with Julia Lucich for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Bill Gruenthal via remote Zoom call. Julia was born in the Bronx, New York, but was raised primarily in Miami, FL. She speaks briefly about her family history and her immediate family including her children and husband. Julia discusses her education towards sociology and criminology in the United States and Jerusalem and her former career in public administration and as a life insurance agent. She also talks about the beginning of her interest in portraiture art which led to her artistic studies. Julia discusses her work in galleries and art shows, including a gallery in Texas and the Calgary Stampede. She speaks about her family’s relocation from San Jose, CA to Eugene, OR to Salt Spring Island, BC which allowed her to live rurally but close enough to good schooling options for her children. Julia discusses her artistic style as representational portraiture usually done with soft pastels, including her series ‘Party Animals’ which helped kickstart her art career. Julia talks about her teaching workshops in BC, showing Party Animals and the Pooka Project at the Calgary Stampede, and how she decides who she will paint. She closes discussing finding joys in art, even for those who are not artists themselves.
Oral Interview with Sidi Schaffer for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Daniella Givon. Sidi goes over her family history in Romania, where she was born, and across Eastern Europe, and then details her immediate family in Canada. Sidi describes her artistic influences from her parents who were professional photographers after WWII, especially her mother who encouraged her to do art. Being born in 1938, some of Sidi’s earliest childhood memories are of fleeing from the Holocaust with her family. Sidi found art to be an escape from personal traumas, which eventually took her to art school in Bucharest where she met her husband, David. Sidi describes her and David’s time living in Israel, and eventually moving to Edmonton where she pursued more formal arts education. Sidi describes opportunities to show her printmaking and painted works, and teach arts across Canada. She also describes inspiration from nature, freedom of expression, and memories of the Holocaust. She outlines how the Gesher Project helped her develop as a Jewish artist, and how she produces Judaic influenced art with her sister.
Oral History Interview with Tanya Bub for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Daniella Givon. Tanya was born in Minnesota in 1969. Tanya speaks about her family history and her upbringing in Beit Yanai, Israel as a child as well as London, Ontario. Tanya discusses her life in academia while also focused on parenthood and finances, and how she transitioned into an art career in Vancouver. Tanya describes her art as part of the ‘eco-art’ genre, as her mediums are often natural, like driftwood, or recycled and/or found materials. Tanya tells stories of finding community by creating interactive sculptures, especially driftwood people and animals, shared through public art installations across B.C.
Oral History Interview with Janet Esseiva for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Helen Aqua. Janet Esseiva was born in South Africa in 1964. She is an artist currently based out of Bowen Island, B.C. Esseiva describes her younger years in South Africa during the time of Apartheid and her meaningful exposure to the arts. She explains her transition from an Information Technology professional in Cape Town to an immigrant in Canada eventually working as a full time artist. Esseiva is known for painted works that focus on nature, and she explains how these works can evoke strong emotions and meaningful connections between art and artist, as well as artist and viewer.
Oral Interview with Susy Naylor for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Helen Aqua. Susy was born in Brooklyn in 1943 and talks about her family history in the city and abroad, as well as her immigration to Canada as an adult. She talks about her education including two nursing degrees which led her to teach nursing upon moving to Winnipeg. Wanting to transition to counselling, Susy moved to Coquitlam and commuted to school in Washington which eventually enabled her to open a private practice. Susy describes her challenges doing art from home as a middle-aged mother and how her outlook on her artistic ability changed as she did more workshops and gained mentorship, albeit still experiencing impostor syndrome. Susy discusses how her paintings don’t truly have stories, but are ambiguous and she loves to hear the interpretations of the viewers. Susy also discusses how participating in a Leonard Cohen themed art show made her realize her difficulties visualizing imagery in her head when she had an idea, helping to clarify her artistic process. She talks about her involvement in galleries and art crawls, and teaching classes to others who question if they can be an artist.
Interview with Elan Mastai about his mother Judith Mastai, interviewed by Michael Schwartz. Elan speaks about his maternal family’s origins in Chicago and Vienna, Austria and how the family immigrated to Vancouver, Canada because of Judith’s father’s pharmaceutical career. Elan discusses Judith’s upbringing and education in Oakridge and her enthusiasm for theatre, inspiring her education and early career as a theatre actress and director. Elan talks about Judith’s time as a theatre actress in London, England and English teacher in Jerusalem, where she met her husband, Moshe Mastai. Judith then immigrated back to Vancouver to obtain her PhD in education and raise her children. Elan talks about how his mother raised him in an untraditionally intelligent and artistic environment, prompting his career as a writer. He talks about Judith’s career in education at Simon Fraser University and her entrance into visual arts as the director of public programming at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Elan speaks about her time as a travelling art curator and critic, head of education at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and executive director of the Canadian Museum of Craft and Design.
Oral Interview with Monica Gewurz for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Carol Herbert. Monica tells the story about how her parents met and how they ended up in Peru, where she was born. She describes how she ended up in Canada through education in the sciences where environmental planning was a large focus of her studies and careers, and how environmentalism informs her art practice. Monica talks about her mission of incorporating visually pleasing images, most often natural landscapes, to advocate for environmental causes. These works often include using upcycled materials and attempts to illicit emotional response from the viewer in hopes of bridging the gap between art and science in her work. Monica discusses her experimental processes of making paintings and mixed-media pieces, and how she revisits old works to upcycle them as her methods change. She also explains her self confidence and adaptability, and how this has led to work with galleries, commissions and charity. She closes with thoughts on the accessibility of art.
Oral Interview with Cynthia Minden for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Bill Gruenthal via remote Zoom call. Cynthia was born in Toronto in 1953 and describes growing up into a family full of musicians, including her parents, who also admired visual arts. She talks about her professional background in classical music as a flautist where she was a member of ensembles, a music teacher, and an arts administrator. Cynthia speaks about her brothers moving to Vancouver and her love of rural living as inspiration for her to move from Toronto to Denman Island. Cynthia discusses her beginnings as an artist through making baskets and subsequently sculpture, collage, surface design, and other art forms. She talks about translating her art practice into therapeutic work through equine facilitated wellness, where people can connect with nature and do be guided through art projects. She speaks about her work in exhibits including the political inspiration behind her pieces: from themes of refugees and migration to environmentalism and making art from reclaimed objects.