You can read part one of our interview with NY ARTIST and ART THERAPIST ATARA GRENADIR. Atara teaches art therapy at Touro College in Brooklyn. Her new show, Conscious Community, is at the New Art Center in Manhattan at 580 8th Avenue, at 38th Street now through December 30th. If you’re visiting family or friends in NYC (or just live here) take an hour or two to check out this passionate, vibrant, show.
Can you share some insights into some of your paintings?
The painting ‘Red’ from the Conscious Community series was the first in this new series. It carries the inspiration from the great scholarly book called Conscious Community by Rabbi Klonimus* Shapira [the spiritual leader of the Warsaw ghetto during the horrors of WWII].
I felt it embodied those war years when he wrote and disseminated these teaches of faith and loving each other, and I thought it was amazing how he could transcend the horrors surrounding him. The white spots in the painting reflect the holy souls that were living amidst such darkness and revealed such light. These holy souls sustain the world and reveal the good which will bring redemption.
The painting ‘Santa Fe’ from the Birkas Hachamah [Blessing of the Sun] series depicts my visualization of the first moments of sunrise in Santa Fe on the morning when the blessing over the sun was recited, an event that occurs only once every 28 years. The colors of the earth and sky in Santa Fe, a beautiful city that I had visited with my family, are vibrant and transforming. The paintings in that series related to places around the U.S.A. and Israel that I had experienced in person.
In addition to making art and teaching art therapy, you recently published a terrific cookbook with reproductions of your paintings and other artwork.
The cookbook, Naturally Breslov: the Fine Art of Cooking with Simplicity and Joy, was a labor of love for over ten years. It was published by Tzaddik Publishing in Tzefat, Israel and printed in Israel. This cookbook combines more than one hundred fifty recipes of healthful and delicious foods with original paintings and drawings, interspersed with quotes from Rebbe Nachman of Breslov’s mystical teachings.
The recipes are terrific – welcoming, warm versions of traditional and new foods rooted in macrobiotic principles.
Thank you. Cooking, art, and the traditional Jewish teachings engage the physical, emotional and spiritual parts of a person. Cooking should be fun, creative and simple. Just add a pinch of “hisbodedus” (speaking to G0d in your own words) as the ingredients are simmering; everything will come out wonderfully! [We are discussing “hisbodedus” in our Therapy Soup posts on Kabbalah meditation].
Being a minimal abstractionist, my life works best when I practice simplicity that leads to joy. Working at what you love and being grateful are the ingredients for real happiness that brings healing to the person and ultimately the world.
*Also spelled “Kalonymus”.
Atara London Grenadir was born in Pittsbugh, PA and lived most of her life in Oklahoma and Texas before moving to New York in 1982. She studied art at Carnegie-Mellon and the University of Oklahoma, where she received a Master of Fine Arts. Both of her parents, Jeanne and Larry London, were professional artists. Visit her web site to see more of her art and learn about her beautiful healing cookbook.