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Local wildlife artist to exhibit at BSTC

The art gallery at Beth Shalom Temple Center in Green Valley will present “The Art of Paying Attention,” wildlife drawings and stories by award-winning Tucson-based artist and storyteller Beth Surdut, Sept. 18-Oct. 23.


“My ‘Art of Paying Attention’ series is an invitation to look closely and appreciate the lives of the animals around us. I think an exhibit featuring our local animals is a particularly appropriate companion to the rituals of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur when we examine our own lives, attempt to be more aware, to consciously participate in tikkun olam (repair of the world),” says Surdut. “What better way to heal the world than to recognize our integrated roles in nature and foster the health of all the inhabitants?”

Surdut grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, and lived in Washington, D.C., and Santa Fe, New Mexico, among other places, before moving to Tucson in 2015. She has worked as a journalist for the Boston Globe and small-town newspapers in addition to NPR.

A world traveler who has paddled with alligators and wandered through monkey forests, she created “The Art of Paying Attention” as a radio series. Twenty episodes have been heard on Arizona Public Media (the local NPR station) and seen, with illustrations, on since July 2015. Her illustrated series, “Listening to Raven,” won the 2013 Tucson Festival of Books Literary Award for Nonfiction. Her mystery, “The Shirt Designer,” was a fiction finalist in the 2019 TFOB Master’s Competition. Surdut also creates painted silk modern tallits and healing prayer scarves.

Exhibition hours are Mondays and Fridays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Wednesdays, noon-4 p.m. BSTC will hold two related events.

On Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 1 p.m., the BSTC Sisterhood will host Surdut for an illustrated talk on “The Modern Tallit.” In 2015, speaking to the AJP about her prayer shawls, she said, “I put on my journalist hat as an interviewer and researcher, my spiritual hat as a Jew, and my artistic hat as a designer — but prayer comes first.”

On Sunday, Oct. 13 at 11 a.m., an artist’s reception and talk on “The Art of Paying Attention” will follow BSTC’s monthly bagel breakfast. The breakfast begins at 9:30 a.m., with a cost of $7 for members, $10 for non-members. BSTC is located at 1751 N. Rio Mayo. Call 648-6690 for brunch reservations.