Artist Mission Statement
I am a 2nd generation American Jewish artist and a Zionist. I believe strongly in the state of Israel and its strength and survival. Currently some holocaust survivors are struggling in Israel with the funds they get from the government because of medical bills or care services. As an artist, one way I can hope to help is to donate a portion of my earnings through this website to that and other important causes and various charities by giving amounts of no less than 18% of the profits per sale. In this way, depending on the movement of my art, I can maintain a steady flow of support for those in greater need than I.
For those interested, every quarter I will post a report on the Donation Report page seen in the main menu above, showing the amounts of the donations and to which charities of the 18% of my income have been donated including the totals to date. I will try to post this on January 1st, April 1st, July 1st and October 1st. I will keep some flexibility here within a week or two for posting, since I often travel to find subject matter for my painting and may not have access to updating that information.
My Artistic Background
My passion in creating art began as a very young child. I took an interest in drawing from the age of four when my father showed me the basics of perspective drawing. I was fascinated with the 3 D illusion created by just a few 2 D lines on a piece of paper and tried endlessly to improve that illusion. From then on I was hooked. My mother, who studied painting a bit at college, enjoyed painting outdoors. When I was around five I would watch while she painted landscapes around where we lived. I drew endless subjects including trains, spaceships, boats, airplanes and people. Throughout early grade school, I developed a strong interest in portraits and drew many historical figures including pictures of my classmates. My parents had many art books about the great artists in history including Rembrandt, Monet, Van Gogh, to name a few. We also visited museums where I saw these artists’ works for real. I tried to emulate and learn from their styles and techniques. I studied painting in college under a Ford Foundation grant. My studies were intensive in learning technique and formal training in traditional painting. After school, I moved to New York City for a couple of years to paint the city, then moved to France for many years, painting European subject matter and scenes. When I returned to the states I painted city scenes and many portraits of federal judges, etc, and ended up painting the entire history of one U.S. district court – all 34 judges (below).
My Jewish Background
After college I began to be more aware of my family’s history in Europe and our connection to the Holocaust. Right out of college, my family took a trip to Israel where I met some cousins in Tel Aviv from my mother’s side of the family. One of these cousins, originally from Poland, told me stories about how my great grandfather was shot and killed by a Nazi soldier in a death camp. He then escaped from camp, hid in the forest in Austria then a few years later arrived in what was then British territory Palestine and fought in the 1948 war the day after Israel became a state. He showed me how Israel evolved and grew over the years since his arrival some 36 years earlier.
While in France I discovered a large branch of my family in France that I never knew existed. I learned that I had cousins from siblings of my father’s father. At the start of the 20th century five of his brothers and sisters moved to France from Transylvania around the time that he and my grandmother moved to New York. During the war two of of his siblings were deported to the camps from Paris and died. The others had children and grandchildren in France. All those (three other siblings, and other cousins) that stayed in Hungary, Romania and Poland were murdered as well. As I got older, I became more and more aware of just how extensive the losses to my family were due to the Holocaust.
Chaim Wolfe is the Jewish name given to me at birth by my paternal grandparents. That was the name of my paternal grandmother, Hermina’s father. They were from Szegit, Hungary, now Sighetu Marmației Romania. She met my grandfather while in Hungary got married and then came to the United States in 1927. Their entire family that remained in Hungary perished in the Shoah.
The following from Wikipedia explains what happened to the Jewish population of the town of my great grandparents of Romania during the Holocaust:
[A first deportation of Jews from Sighet took place in 1942. The second occurred after Passover 1944, so that by April, the town’s ghetto contained close to 13,000 Jews from Sighet itself and the neighboring places of Dragomirești, Ocna Șugatag and Vișeu de Sus. Between May 16 and 22, the ghetto was liquidated in four transports, its inhabitants sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. Among the deportees was Sighet native and future Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel. In 1947, there were some 2,300 Jews in Sighet, including survivors and a considerable number of Jews from other parts of Romania. By 2002, the town had 20 remaining Jews.]
As an artist, I now feel compelled to paint and draw from the history of these Jewish themes, to keep that part of my family history alive and hopefully generate support for those in need in Israel through my art and will be able to express it through this site.