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Tucson artists’ menorahs on display at Park Place Mall exhibit

Stoneware menorah by Julie Szerina Stein.

Visitors to the Park Place Mall will be able to see a collection of menorahs through Dec. 31. The mall contacted the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona last year to ensure that there would be Hanukkah decorations amongst the Christmas decorations displayed at the mall during the winter holiday season. Last year’s “menorah museum” was so well received that the mall asked JFSA for another exhibit for the 2016 winter holiday season.

Several local artists and artisans will be lending menorahs for the display. Tidi Ozeri, Julie Szerina Stein, Daryl Cohen, Laurie Sherman, Lynn Rae Lowe and Michael Schwartz will all have pieces included. The gift shops at Congregation Anshei Israel, Congregation Bet Shalom, and Congregation Or Chadash have all confirmed that they will be submitting menorahs, and JFSA will provide an electric menorah that will have a bulb added each night of Hanukkah. Other synagogue gift shops may also be adding to the display. The 20-plus menorahs will be in a glass display case near the food court, and there will be educational information about Hanukkah displayed as well.

Metal menorah by Tidi Ozeri.
Metal menorah by Tidi Ozeri.

Ozeri, a metal artist, created two pieces that will be on display, titled “Menorah” and “Zenorah.” Both pieces draw on nature themes, with “Menorah” in the shape of a flower with the petals as candle holders, and “Zenorah” using sand to hold pieces of geodes that are turned over each day to represent flames.

“It is more of a symbolic menorah,” explains Ozeri. “When the lights are ‘out,’ and the geodes are turned over, they look like rock mounds in a zen garden. When they are ‘lit’, you turn them over, and they really look like flames.”

Originally from Israel, Ozeri does a wide variety of custom metal work from furniture and yard art to fences and sculptures, but he tries to create Judaica whenever possible. “I do Judaica as much as I can. It is a commitment I made to myself when I moved to the United States,” says Ozeri. His work can be viewed at  ozerimetalde signs.com.

Stein will have several menorahs in the display, all of which will be made of stoneware clay. Using elements of nature, such as flowers, plants and animals, Stein incorporates a sense of whimsy in her work through both the shapes and colors of the pieces.

“I don’t like to say that my work is Southwestern, because that makes people think of cactus,” says Stein. “It’s full of bright colors, and hopefully it’s magical.”

While much of Stein’s art is Judaic in nature, she also works with subjects such as mermaids and fruits and vegetables. Recently, one of her pieces won an international competition. The international juried exhibit at Western New Mexico University in Silver City, N.M. was titled “Interwoven: Neo-Mimbreno Clay and Fiber Explorations,” and Stein was awarded first place for her contribution “Mimbres Totem.” Her work is available to view at etsy.com/shop/RinaKadima.

Curated by Ori Parnaby, Jewish Tucson concierge, and Sharon Glassberg, director of the Coalition for Jewish Education and vice president of programming for JFSA, the exhibit is an opportunity to educate mall shoppers about Hanukkah, give local Jewish artists the ability to showcase their work to a large audience and promote visibility of the Jewish holiday.

“It’s an opportunity to educate the public about Hanukkah, and we were so excited when the mall called us again this year,” says Glassberg.

Parnaby is also coordinating a networking group for Jewish artists in Tucson which will meet in early December. “It’s an opportunity for Jewish artists to get to know other Jewish artists and find out more about what’s going on in the community,” says Parnaby.

For more information, contact Parnaby at concierge@jewishtucson.org or 299-3000, ext. 241 or Glassberg at sglass berg@jfsa.org or 577-9393, ext. 122.

Laura Wilson Etter is a freelance journalist, grant writer and artist in Tucson.