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Cynthia Minden

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.

Pnina Granirer

Summary: Oral Interview with Pnina Granirer for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Daniella Givon as a follow-up to an interview from 2021. Pnina recalls her earliest memories of producing art at school in Romania, and learning illustration and painting home decor in Haifa. She explains how her art career truly started when her and her husband moved to Illinois as she didn’t have a work visa and thus spent her time painting and crafting. She discusses inspiration from her children, mixing medias and art genres, and the exploration of making and learning. She talks about themes in her paintings coming from universal human experiences such as identity and existentialism, and the only painting she ever did in regards to the Holocaust and its showing in Tel Aviv. She speaks about her working in galleries and pushing for galleries to be made in Jewish institutions in Vancouver. Pnina talks about the creation of Artist in Our Midst and other art crawls in Vancouver, and her experiences teaching arts on Gabriola Island. She closes with an encouraging message for upcoming artists in Vancouver and the importance of art education in the art world’s future.

Jessica Freedman

Oral Interview with Jessica Freedman for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Daniella Givon via remote Zoom call. Jessica was born in Montreal, but recalls moving around as a child to Israel and back to Canada where she grew up in Calgary. She explains immediate family history which included her mother who was a professional actor, and her father and brother who are musicians. She was primarily introduced to the arts through dance and music, though eventually was trained in visual arts at Simon Fraser University. She describes her different careers as a dancer, choreographer, accountant and yoga studio owner and instructor, but pursued arts full time after quitting her job to take care of her mother who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Jessica explains how her painting style transitioned from realism to more expressive abstracts over time, and how she is inspired by emotions and colour. She also discusses how she is motivated by nature and chaos, collaborating on commissions, and the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, having her art contribute as a light to the world.

Janis Diner-Brinley

Oral Interview with Janis Diner-Brinley for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Brynn Gillies. Janis briefly describes her family history in Eastern Europe and Canada, and tells us of her immediate family. She discusses how she was immersed in artistic environments from a young age including parents who enjoyed the arts at home, and taking art classes as young as 6 years old. Janis recalls being the only girl to learn welding in school for her sculpture projects and working with the Winnipeg Art Gallery. She talks about how she uses traditional mediums like watercolours to convey messages about environment and landscape change, and how she learned to work with and teach watercolours to others. Janis talks about how her move from Winnipeg to Vancouver to Victoria challenged her, as the colour palettes and landscapes were not the same as those she usually painted. She talks about art classes, and what brought her into teaching high school, but also feats of curating exhibitions and starting the Jewish Film Festival in Vancouver. Janis also talks about participating in Judaism themed exhibits at her synagogue, her interest in archaeology, and the power of observation.

Hinda Avery

Oral Interview with Hinda Avery for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Bill Gruenthal. Hinda speaks about her family history in Poland, Russia, and immigration to Vancouver before World War II and the beginning of the Holocaust. She discusses her maternal family’s experience in the Holocaust and her immediate family’s livelihoods in Canada. Hinda talks about her childhood in Vancouver where there was little Jewish community and its impact on her and her relationship with her parents. Hinda discusses how her trip to concentration camps and Holocaust memorials in Europe influenced her decision to pursue visual arts as a form of therapy after she retired from teaching. She speaks about her style of mural illustrations of herself and women in her family resisting against perpetrators of violence during the Holocaust. Hinda talks about how she keeps her artwork, and her difficulty showing her work in Jewish institutions. Hinda speaks about artists who inspire her, how her work was translated into a film, and her previous awards and grants. She also discusses her passion for animal rights, her interest in biology, and her outlook on her wisdom in life.

Jack Rootman

Oral Interview with Jack Rootman for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Carol Herbert via remote Zoom call. Jack describes his early artistic influences attending children’s art classes at the Kost House in Calgary where he grew up. Jack speaks about how he fell in love with sciences in his teens, which lead him to a career in medicine as an ophthalmologist and ophthalmic surgeon. He discusses how his studies by night at Emily Carr aided him in his medical practice by day, but also how attending workshops, and working in his own studio propelled his painting career forward in BC and beyond. Jack talks about the different mediums he works with, including oils and watercolours, and what influences his paintings, like nature and colourscapes. Jack discusses is work in the arts community, including his thematic shows at various galleries and creating a program for having art in hospitals. Jack speaks about advice for other artists and doctors.

Jeannie Kamins

Oral Interview with Jeannie Kamins for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Bill Gruenthal. Jean was born in San Francisco, California. She offers an extensive history of her family’s roots in Europe and early American settlement, and shares about her marriages, children both biological and fostered. Jean stayed in California until she was 28, before she moved to Canada in protest of the Vietnam War. She talks about how she has always been entrenched in politics and public demonstration for causes such as Women's Rights, Black Rights and against conflicts in North America and abroad. Reflecting on her time as an arts student, Jean decided to make her art her permanent way of protest. Jean talks about doing political commentary in public murals, having her art used in event posters and sending a message through an expressive style. Jean shares her recent interest in erotic art, and how some of her previous art has been too risque for some gallery shows. Jean also talks about her volunteerism with the 411 Seniors Centre as well as food banks, as she says she doesn’t do art as much as she did before. Jean describes her most recent project which is a collaborative erotic calendar she is working on, alongside grant writing to raise funds for arts in the Seniors Centre where she volunteers.

Olga Campbell

Oral History Interview with Olga Campbell for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Bill Gruenthal. Olga Campbell was born in Iraq in 1943 and immigrated to Canada at the age of five in 1948. She explains her family’s experience with both Russian prison camps and the Holocaust during WWII, where they eventually made it safely to Canada. She discusses her journey as a social worker turned arts professional, including her time spent at Emily Carr and Capilano arts schools. As a second generation Holocaust survivor, Olga discusses how being Jewish and the associated inter-generational trauma of Holocaust survivorship has informed her works. Olga is a mixed-media artist, working in digital and traditional mediums, including collage and sculpture. She also published her art in a book focused on her family’s experience of the Holocaust that has fostered connections to her story, shared herein.

Mia Weinberg

Oral History Interview with Mia Weinberg for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Bill Gruenthal. Mia was born in London, England in 1958. She describes her life as a child of German-Jewish refugees post-WWII, growing up in England and the role this had on her life, including her art work. She discusses her transition from a materials technologist in England to an immigrant in Vancouver, going to art school in her 30s and becoming an independent working artist. Mia is known for working with unconventional materials in her works, most often sculpture and installations.

Nora Patrich

Oral History Interview with Nora Patrich for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Carol Herbert. Patrich was born in Argentina in 1952 and speaks about her upbringing between Argentina, Israel and the United States. She discusses her exposure to political activism and Latin American expressionist art throughout her formative years, including mentorship within her father’s politically charged arts collective named the Spartacus Movement. She tells her experience of the military coup in Argentina during the ‘70s, that forced her into exile in Israel with young children after her husband was assassinated. She explains how this led to a life of traveling activism denouncing Argentina’s past military atrocities, including anti-Semitic genocide, and fighting for human rights through art and protest. Patrich’s primary art mediums are painted murals and sculptures; she discusses their public installments into places like past concentration camps and military bombing sites, and how her art will always be political. She closes by talking about doing mosaic work, independent book printing and publishing, and how there is a documentary about her stories of Argentina.

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