“And the Sea is Never Full” a drawing from 2000 in Mark Podwal’s stunning, new collection. Mark Podwal
Passover preparations are beginning around the world as we near the first Seder, Monday. Though I should be learning how to cook matzo balls that could not double as cannon fodder, I am figuring out who receives which book.
Most people give children toys or cash for finding the Afikomen, the hidden matzo, to complete the meal. I have always given books — to kids and adults.
Even if it’s not the traditional gift, I find a terrific link between Passover and books. The meal is spent reading a book, the , and talking and singing. But the point is to read this book – in any of its thousands of iterations – which tell the story of the Jews fleeing slavery in Israel.
One of the I have is illustrated by Mark Podwal. Recently, I had the chance to meet the man, whose art I had long admired in the New York Times. His book, “Reimagined: 45 Years of Jewish Art,” (Glitterati, $100) is why people spend on good art books.
Podwal’s art, in a variety of media, speaks deep to the soul. In this book, there’s a quote from the late great Elie Wiesel: “Above all I love the miniature drawings by my friend Mark. For me, they reflect his mystic quest.” Wiesel referenced a drawing of a town Podwal rendered simply yet eloquently. It is one where Jews no longer lived. “Yet part of their prayers forever floats there,” Wiesel wrote. “Such is the power of this artist: he captures what death has forgotten to take.”
A beautiful book of the art work by physician and artist Mark Podwal who examines the historical and the mundane.Mark Podwal
Podwal’s work has that effect. He examines Jewish history and does so showing the buildings and artifacts of times past but managing to capture what it is that many of us carry within them. He is, naturally showing and telling us, but like all great artists, Podwal makes us feel.
There are sweet drawings, guaranteed to elicit a smile. One I particularly love is a 1977 ink on paper of a a school for Jewish children. The children and teacher walk into the building, which itself is a book.
His clever renderings touch on wars and peace, of daily life and of significant moments. As Podwal explains in the book, “Although museum directors and curators have urged me to broaden my subject matter by going beyond Jewish content, my heart is with the Jewish experience.”
As many of us tell the familiar story from one book next week, this is another book that tells a broader story of the same people. And tells it beautifully.