All the rest is commentary... 2010

[Arlene Goldbard (NEWS PAPER)]

"Twelve Bites of the Apple: Beth Grossman's All the Rest is Commentary" Zeek, A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture 05/01/2010

[The Jewish Daily Forward and The Arty Semite (WEB BLOG)]

Dan Friedman, "Beth Grossman: The Woman with the Golden Rule" 06/01/2010

[Truthdig (WEB)]

Susanne Strimling, "All the Rest Is Commentary," Truthdig": Drilling beneath the headlines 07/01/2010
Seats of Power 2009
See Seats of Power excerpts below.

[The Los Angles Times (WEB)]

[The Los Angles Times (NEWS PAPER)]

Richard Paddock, "Cheeky art work shows Brisbane, California Officials in new light,"
(Short Description)
[The San Mateo County Times] Christine Morente, "An art exhibit for posteriority," March 15, 2009
(Short Description)
[SF Examiner (WEB)]

[SF Examiner (NEWS PAPER)]
Katie Worth, Brisbane artist's exhibit no butt of City Hall jokes,”  March 15, 2009
(Short Description)

The Bay City News published a full article for their news feed. Here are selected links to TV, Radio, Press and Blogs that picked up the story.

Click here for a complete Seats of Power press list.
[USA Today]    
[Oakland Tribune]    
[CBS5] (Short Description)  
[ABC7] (Short Description)  
[KGO Radio]    
[California City News]    
[The Daily What]    
[Red Bubble]    
Los Angeles Times:

Reporting from Brisbane, Calif. — The artist calls them the "Seats of Power." The 10 upholstered chair seats hang on the walls of City Hall and bear the personal imprints of city officials: their rear ends. The mayor, City Council members, fire chief, a police commander and others agreed to let local artist and activist Beth Grossman photograph their posteriors -- with clothes -- and turn the images into art.

"I appreciate the exposure," said Mayor Sepi Richardson, whose bright red skirt is depicted on her chair seat. "I had thought about what my legacy would be, but I had never thought it would be my butt."...Will the city be known as "Brisbun?" someone asked. Or "Buttbane?"

"This helps show that people on the council are just like everyone else," said Councilman Michael Barnes as he checked out the image of his seat. "This is an analogy: Opinions are like rear ends. Everyone's got one."…One of Grossman's goals is to divert the dialogue from the question of "who are the buttheads" at City Hall to empowering the public to take more of a role in the political process.

San Mateo County Times:

"That's the heart of Brisbane," Grossman said, pointing to an upholstered seat cushion with an image of a derriere in a red silk skirt belonging to Mayor Sepi Richardson.

It's perfect timing, as President Barack Obama is halfway through his first 100 days in office. "He can't do this without our participation," said Grossman, who also is an activist. "He's made that loud and clear. I think this project completely supports the new direction we need to take."…"Civic engagement is actually really fun, especially when you have a lot of people working together."

At the opening reception, people will walk down a red carpet to the conference room. Inside, they can sit on a throne where they can contemplate and speak on what it's like to be on a chair that holds great responsibility.

"My take on civic engagement is, don't sit and ask why something isn't happening," Mayor Richardson said. "If something isn't happening, help make it happen."…"Everyone is in the seat of power and we can all make a difference," said Brisbane Police Commander Lisa Macias. "Brisbane has always been community-oriented. It's important for all of us to sit together and make it a safe place to live and work."

San Francisco Examiner:

BRISBANE – When the City Council asked local artist Beth Grossman to create a special art exhibit in honor of the opening of the new City Hall, they didn’t expect her to request to photograph their backsides.
The exhibit, titled “Seats of Power,” opens with a special ceremony Wednesday. With it, Grossman hopes to encourage people to think about civic involvement from the chairs’ perspective.

Ten people in positions of power in Brisbane agreed to participate, including the mayor, entire City Council, police commander, fire chief and harbormaster.

Grossman, who has been heavily involved in city politics since she moved to Brisbane more than a decade ago, said the project is intended to make people think about leadership and civic responsibility. She said the object was also to humanize the people on the other side of the podium. Councilman Steve Waldo agreed to play along. “After she explained to me what she was going to do, I said, ‘Sure, why not?’”

Bay City News on Television ABC 7 and CBS 5:

Brisbane residents will get a very fresh perspective on local elected officials Wednesday with the debut of an art exhibit featuring 10 community leaders' posteriors. In November, local artist and active community member Beth Grossman was invited to create an art exhibit honoring the opening of the new Brisbane civic center. A 12-year resident, Grossman said she wanted to do something outrageous to get residents' attention and get them down to city hall.

"I'm not your typical artist who makes pretty pictures to put up on your wall and match your couch," she said. "I like to create dialogue and involve the public in the process in some way." The resulting "Seats of Power" exhibit is a testament to local officials' desire to draw residents to the newly remodeled civic headquarters, and perhaps to their sense of humor as well.

…Guests can sit in the "hot seat," an elaborate chair at the end of a red carpet, and share their thoughts on how it feels to be in a seat of power. Local filmmakers will document these moments for an ongoing film project.

The idea for the exhibit came to her, Grossman said, as she sat in the conference room and pondered what stories the chairs would tell if they could talk. From there, she imagined the chairs' vantage point quite literally."I guess they just see squished butts," she said.

…While the nature of the exhibit will naturally attract attention, Grossman said she hopes viewers will understand the fundamental message of encouraging citizens' participation with the individuals who sit in these chairs. "The city council listens to who's there at the meeting," she said. "If it's the developer, the corporation and their lawyers and we're not there, they think we're OK with it."

Press Archives 2004 to 2006
Click news paper title to read the whole article.
See article excerpts below.

[Zeek Magazine]
(download a pdf)

A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture online.
(Short description)
[San Francisco Chronicle]
(300 kb)
Art imitates life for Brisbane woman
by Charleen Earley, Special to The Chronicle.
(Short description)
[San Francisco Bay Gardian]
(419 kb)
Alternative visions
By Matthew Hirsch
(Short description)
[New York Times]
ART REVIEW; Capturing the Torah Of Their Lives
By Fred B. Adelson
(Short description)
[My Jewish Learning article]
(download a pdf)
Interpreting the Bible Visually: "Contemporary Midrash" through painting, sculpture, and other visual arts By Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer
(Short description)
[J. Weekly]
(161 kb)
Mary the Jew
By Dan Pine
(Short description)

[J. Weekly]
(download a pdf)

Art ahoy! Brisbane artist breaks out the paint at floating Jewish conference
By Joe Eskenazi
(Short description)
[San Mateo County Times]
(214 kb)
Art explores myth of the American Dream
By Bonny Zanardi
(Short description)
[San Mateo County Times]
(161 kb)
Artists find inspiration in Brisbane
By Emily Fancher
(Short description)

Zeek Magazine:

"It's beautiful. It's brilliant. We'll never show it." Such was the response California artist Beth Grossman received when presenting her latest body of work to Jewish museums and galleries across the United States. With the exception of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, all of the institutions she contacted rejected her work, at times questioning its Jewishness.
Grossman chose to remember Mary as a Jewish woman, through the gesture of her hands, through the trace of her actions. Our Mother Mary Found remembers a loss, the death of an identity, but also celebrates the beauty and brilliance of a Jewish mother, Miriam, daughter of Zion.

San Francisco Chronicle:

Beth Grossman weaves motherhood, history into her work:
" I still had another masterpiece to complete before I could become a mom, " she said. "As it turned out, my experience as a mother has informed and inspired my artwork immensely. I now feel I would have missed a large part of the picture."

San Francisco Bay Guardian:

Five Bay Area conservationists are thinking globally – but outside the mainstream consensus – about sustainability.

Beth Grossman: Brisbane Baylands

" The former San Francisco dump, off Highway 101 in Brisbane, is now called "the Baylands" by developers who plan to cap the landfill and create yet another shopping mall hosting "big box" stores. I see a great opportunity to transform these 550 acres of toxic land into an "eco-park center." Environmental research and development labs and an indoor-outdoor environmental museum and conference center would be a destination for international scientists, environmentalists, policy makers, artists, journalists, and students of all ages."

New York Times:

" Indeed, there are dozens of personal tales, providing an almost voyeuristic opportunity to eavesdrop. In ''Views,'' with shutter slats used as a grid for her text, Beth Grossman tells two stories. On the inside, her first-person narrative is honest, private and unguarded. To the outside world, ''Everything is just fine.''"

My Jewish Learning Article:

Artist Beth Grossman has taken the idea of exploring biblical texts into a new
direction; her work is about recontextualizing history and mythology--creating art
that can turn assumptions upside down. While studying art in Italy, she found
herself surrounded by images of an idealized, iconic Mary--the virgin mother. That
experience, along with her interest in interfaith dialogue, inspired Grossman to
explore the Jewish roots of this Christian icon. Grossman chose to revisit Mary's
story and create art that portrays her as an unidealized, very human Jewish woman.

When her Mary works have been exhibited, she has invited both Jewish and Christian
groups to view and discuss the meaning of her artwork. As an artist, she is
interested in finding common threads among groups; in this case, she feels it is
significant for both Jews and Christians to remember that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus
were known, historically, to be Jewish.

J. Weekly:

Artist underscores Jewish connections in life of Jesus’ mother
With the 10-piece exhibit, Grossman seeks to reclaim Mary, the venerated mother of Jesus, as the Jewish woman she was. Each piece is an antique wooden object adorned with gold leaf inscriptions of Jewish prayers (in Hebrew, English and Italian). She also painstakingly painted in gold leaf on each object the hands of Mary as represented in classic Renaissance and Baroque paintings.
The objects, which also include a sieve, tray, plane and washboard, were collected in Italy during a year Grossman and her husband spent in Milan. While there, the artist filled her days studying the great Italian masters, in particular their representations of the ubiquitous Virgin Mary. “I was seduced by how beautiful they were,” says the Brisbane-based artist. “How do I relate to this story as an artist and a Jew?”
“ This story has had a big impact on our history,” she says. “It’s the iconic story of Western civilization. But she was an ordinary Jewish mother.”

J. Weekly:

“I wanted to give each woman a sense that her story was crucial to making up the history we were creating. And we do create [history] as Jewish women in the world. I got a really clear picture of the role women in the former Soviet Union are playing in creating a civil society there,” she said. “And if they don’t write their own stories, their own history, no one else is going to.”

San Mateo Times:

“Grossman bases her work on her personal experience as a married, middle class artist and mother, celebrating her coming of age during the feminist movement of the 1970’s. The relationships between men and women are key. In “First Comes Love” She begins with ordinary domestic objects, which she chooses for their shape, function or cultural symbolism. Her works offer many layers of understanding with a humorous undergirding.”

San Mateo Times:

“Artists have founded a bi-monthly salon, held art sharing evenings and will now be working with a City Council subcommittee on how to nurture this community.”

Press Archives 2004 and before
Click news paper name to read the whole article
See article excerpts below.
[Excerpt from San Mateo County Times Article]
(155 kb)
First Comes Love 09/23/2004
[The Forward] (347 kb) Opening the Doors to the Past 01/01/2002
[Miami Herald] (1,252 kb)
Living Arts Section (cover photo)
Rites of Passage 12/04/2000
[SF Examiner Magazine] (315 kb) Sweet Charity 11/28/1999
[Nassau Herald] (428kb) Opening the Doors of History 05/16/1996

[Lifestyles magazine] (355kb)
International Edition

Ellis Island: Passages Spring 1996
[The Jewish Week] (1,140kb) A Room of One's Own 02/16/1996
Excerpt from San Mateo County Times Article:

Brisbane artist Beth Grossman’s new series of work, “First Comes Love,” makes its debut Monday at the Belmont Arts Council Gallery in the Twin Pines Art Center. Using found objects which she imbues with stories and history, Grossman probes the myth of the middle-class American Dream.

The Forward:

"California artist Beth Grossman contributes to this important realm of American-Jewish history with "Passages an Immigrant's Story," an exhibition of her work on display at Philadelphia's National Museum of American Jewish History."

The Miami Herald:

"These and many other immigrant stories unfold around a series of seven doors painted by California artist, Beth Grossman.......Like the doors and suitcases, memorabilia and heirlooms immigrants bring from their homeland -- or keep of their journey to the United states -- tell their family history."

SF Examiner Magazine:

Photo feature of 'G' is for Giving in wood, by Beth Grossman

Nassau Herald:

"Some view doors as and entrance, others as an exit, but one artist sees doors as a means of telling and preserving her family's history for future generations....There are so many different versions of family history and the more of us that write it down, the more voices we will have to tell it."

Lifestyles magazine, International Edition:

"Six women artist are currently presenting a novel exhibit at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum focusing on the Jewish experience in the Goldene Medina (the "Golden Land"). Ellis Island, the refurbished landmark in New York harbor that witnessed the arrival of hundreds of thousands of immigrants to the United States, is host to the sculptures, paintings, photographs and sounds that offer a glimpse into that experience, one that is so much a part of American-Jewish history,"

The Jewish Week:

"In the stark and sterile dormitory rooms on Ellis Island, immigrants slept fitfully on flimsy cots waiting to begin their new lives in Di Goldene Medina. Almost a century later, the ghosts of immigrants inhabit these rooms of peeling radiators and chipped tile floors. Only now they must share their space with a group of Jewish women artists who, like Virginia Woolf, know what it means to transform a room into their own."