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Marc Shanker: Traces of Sepharad

 Osher Marin JCC, San Raphael, January 13, 2017 – March 10, 2017
Exhibit Dates: January 13 - March 10

Meet the Artist Reception:
February 28 from 6:30-8:30

Cozy up with hot cider and treats to learn more about the history and inspiration for the exhibit.

The Osher Marin JCC is excited to announce "Traces of Sepharad (Huellas de Sefarad): Etchings of Judeo-Spanish Proverbs," a new exhibition of a series of etchings by New York-based artist Marc Shanker. The series, based on Judeo-Spanish proverbs, is densely layered with meaning and cultural connections to medieval Sephardic wisdom and culture. Shanker's naïve drawing style distills the proverbs' spirit into simple images without sacrificing the complex meanings contained within. The etchings reflect the proverbs' appealing mix of common sense, timeless wisdom, pithy humor, and irreverence.

Each proverb is listed in English and Ladino, the spoken and written Hispanic language of Jews of Spanish origin. The etchings celebrate the richness of Sephardic culture and traditions as they continue in the Diaspora with links to other Spanish-speaking peoples. The exhibit's overarching focus on the vital importance of oral traditions also acknowledges that language is the most endangered aspect of Judeo-Spanish culture. "Traces of Sepharad" explores themes of exile, cultural sensibility and adaptation, the retention and loss of cultural and religious identity, as well as connections to life in contemporary Spain.

Cost: FREE


Marc Shanker grew-up in the Boulevard Housing Projects in East New York, Brooklyn, in close proximity to his extended Sephardic family. He attended Thomas Jefferson High School, and studied Sociology at Brooklyn College. He has spent most of his work life working in the labor movement.

Following college graduation, Marc began to make art. He rejected a formal art education preferring, instead, to struggle alone toward a realization of his own unique style and content. Marc's "high & low," naive style of drawing serves as an expressive lens through which he interprets the complex, irreverent, and sometimes whimsical meanings of Ladino proverbs.

Marc paints with acrylics, draws with pen & ink and wax crayon, constructs collages, and is a printmaker.

Marc is the founder of Gravity Free Press, collaborating on projects with other artists, especially poets.

He is the author of "Traces of Sepharad, Etchings of Judeo-Spanish Proverbs," and a number of artist books, including: "But a Bubble," "Man, A Machine of Absurdity," and "Cheap Gems. Precious Rocks." His recent book is, "Message from the Memoirist," poems by Paul Pines was published by Dos Madres Press.

Marc has an extensive exhibition history. His work can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and www.Gravityfreepress.net.


"Traces of Sepharad has the aura of a small ark about it, rescuing vital parts of a past, and revealing its vitality, its enduring ability to procreate and survive. Shanker's own phantasmagoric drawings, paired with evocative proverbs from the vanishing Ladino universe, together provide a moving link to Spain, and especially to that once-central part of it long ago amputated: Sepharad. And even greater riches await the reader in Munoz Molina's moving words connecting his Andalusianess to Shanker's New York City-ness, and Perry's illuminating essay on the powerful history of the proverb in Spain."

-Maria Rosa Menocal, Yale University, co-author of The Arts of Intimacy: Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Making of Castilian Culture

Accompanying the exhibition is the release of the newly published book, with translations in Spanish, Traces of Sepharad (Huellas de Sefarad).

Traces of Sepharad, is the first book to use Ladino proverbs as the basis of a large body of serious visual art. Mr. Shanker's etchings are accompanied by essays by the artist, Mr. Antonio Munoz Molina, an internationally known novelist and critic, and by Professor T.A. Perry, a respected Sephardic and Biblical scholar. Together the book forges a unique synthesis of fine art, and literary and scholarly essays that touch on salient aspects of the Sephardic experience: language, meaning, humor, religion, cultural and personal identity, family, exile, assimilation, as well as connections to contemporary Spain.

Location: Kurland, Stairwell, Gallery

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or call 415-444-8090

Osher Marin JCC
200 N. San Pedro Road
San Rafael, CA