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Phyllis Serota

Oral Interview with Phyllis Serota for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Daniella Givon via remote Zoom call. Phyllis talks about her upbringing in inner city Chicago, Illinois and her relationship with both her immediate and extended family who lived in the same neighborhood. She speaks about her religious and secular education leading to being an artist, including her discovery of art when going to art classes at the Chicago Art Institute, and at the University of Victoria. Phyllis and her family relocated to Victoria due to the political climate of later 1960s America. Phyllis discusses her career as a painter including her painting style, her way of selling art, and painters who inspired her. She talks about her life in Victoria, and how her wife, place of residence, and institutions inspired her work. She closes with the importance of her place in the queer community, and the acceptance of her queer identity in the Jewish community.

Barbara Heller

Oral Interview with Barbara Heller for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Daniella Givon. Barbara, born in Vancouver Canada, talks about her family’s origins in Poland and immigration to Canada. She speaks about her upbringing in Vancouver and how she was surrounded by art in her childhood, leading her to become a visual person and a creative. Barbara discusses her interest in religious mysticism which inspired her education and later, became a specific influence in her art pieces. She speaks about how at first she wanted to be a printmaker but pregnancy led her to work with tapestry and she never looked back. She speaks about recurring symbols, like dead birds, in her art which provide a greater message to her audience about themes like life and war. Barbara discusses the highlights of her career, like showing art in Poland and working with various art collectives within North America, all with the support of her family.

Marcia Pitch

Oral Interview with Marcia Pitch for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Carol Herbert. Marcia discusses her upbringing in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and her parents and grandparents’ origins in Eastern Europe and immigration to Canada. Marcia mentions influences that led her to the arts, including education at the University of Manitoba and doing graduate work in California. In 1969, Marcia experienced the police suppression in response to the People’s Park Revolution in Berkeley. Soon after she returned to Vancouver where she studied education at UBC and volunteered with Amnesty International. She pursued an art style that reflected her strong feelings about politics, war, and the influences of her grandparents’ stories of Eastern European pogroms. Marcia's art includes mixed media collages and sculptures, and producing large scale installations for her gallery exhibitions. Marcia speaks about her upcoming project focusing on sexuality, women’s repression and feminism. She further explains her perspective as an older woman in the art world and the differing responses she has received regarding her art online vs. in person. Marcia relates experiences such as having children, volunteering, and being a part of the recycling community to how they’ve inspired her pieces or participation in the arts community.

Ron Appleton

Oral History Interview with Ronald (Ron) Appleton, accompanied by his wife Brenda Appleton for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Carol Herbert. Ron Appleton was born in Vancouver and describes his youth working with his father who was an auctioneer and arts dealer. This experience introduced him to Inuit art which became the focus of his life’s work showing and selling works of Indigenous artists in his family-owned and operated galleries. Ron and Brenda describe the relationships they formed with Indigenous artists but also many art collectors, especially Jewish diaspora, around the world. Ron shares anecdotes related to prominent Canadian artists, as well as unique art pieces he’s seen across the decades in the business.

Carla Stein

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.

Julia Lucich

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.

Tanya Bub

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.

Susy Naylor

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.

Elan Mastai

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.

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.

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