Art Exhibits

The J’s art gallery, or Omanut (“art” in Hebrew), is a place for established and emerging artists to showcase their work. The gallery is dedicated to art that offers new perspectives on the rich history and values of the J and the Jewish community.

Enjoy happy hour and check out the art. Love something you see? The art is for sale, and 10% of the proceeds go toward the J’s Early Childhood School and camp scholarship fund. 

The space is curated by artists Lora Martini and Matt Lome, along with SJCC Senior Director of Community Engagement Dana Weiner. Contact Dana with questions via email or at 206-829-2593.

Meet the Artists

Tovi Ben Herzel

Tovi is an artist, illustrator, and teacher who lives in Moshav Olesh, a small village in Israel. She has her own graphic design studio and serves as head of the Department of Media Design at Ruppin Technical College. She worked at Israel’s “Yediot Ahronoth” newspaper as head of the Infographic & Graphic Desk for 15 years.

Tovi’s drawings are inspired by her personal experiences and passion for graphic arts and design, and they express her connection to the world and to Judaism. The drawings are colorful symbols combined with words and phrases presented in eye-catching and interesting typographic forms with matching content, colors, and shape. The motif of repetition, cycle, and rhythm is dominant in all of her drawings.

Read more about how Tovi’s art came to be part of this exhibit

Gary Fagin

Gary Faigin is the co-founder and artistic director of nationally renowned Gage Academy of Art in Seattle where he also leads the Faigin Still Life Painting atelier, lectures on perspective and portraiture, and teaches drawing and painting workshops. With an expertise in Western art history, Faigin has been leading art tours for Gage to the cultural capitols of the world since 1995. Through a Gage/Town Hall partnership, Faigin hosts televised “Art Talks” with leading American artists, as well as art panels on “hot button” art topics.

As a fine artist, Faigin’s paintings have been shown in galleries in New York, Santa Fe, Santa Barbara, Portland, and Seattle, as well as one-man museum shows at the Frye Art Museum and the Coos Bay Art Museum. He is currently represented by BONFIRE Gallery in Seattle. As a Jewish artist, Faigin produced a major mural in 2012 that depicts four separate, overlapping sequences using both symbolic and descriptive elements—the annual cycle of Jewish holidays, the cycle of a day from dawn to sunset, the cycle of a life from birth to death, and the history of the Jewish people. The 16-foot mural is installed at Temple Beth Am in Northeast Seattle.  

Faigin received his artistic training at the Art Students League in New York and the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Paris. Faigin also writes art reviews for the Seattle Times and serves as a founding trustee of the Cascadia Art Museum in Edmonds, which features historic Northwest art.

Wendelin Russell

Wendelin Russell grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. She eventually made an exodus from the South, headed West, and landed in Portland.  She attended East Carolina University and earned a BA in art management.

Although she been painting over 30 years, her inspiration for the paintings are based on her life-long study and development of intuition – and more than three decades of practice accessing higher states of consciousness through meditation and prayer.

She calls her current paintings “Beginnings,” which she imagines as the origins of the Sefirot (Tree of Life) and the beginnings of intention and language.  She’s fascinated by the Sefirot as constantly moving bursts of energy, and as the starting point of all possibilities.

When you look at her paintings, you will usually see “Light Writings.” She calls these “sacred symbols of the soul.” They, too, are bursts of energy. She intuits these symbols from the source of all blessings. Every painting she create is imbued with unique symbols inscribed in gold or other shimmering colors.

Her work is about people seeing their own personal beauty, and seeing beauty in other people.  True beauty is vulnerability. It is the state of true humanness.

Joanne Shellan

When your father and grandmother paint, you come by the addiction to the brush honestly. “I always felt at home doing any kind of art, from as far back as I can remember,” Joanne Shellan says. 

Shellan, born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, has studied and painted full-time for almost twenty years in Kirkland. She has degrees in communications and art from WSU, and recently studied under master painter Liana Bennett in Kenmore.  Over her career, she has explored a variety of media moving from watercolors (in which she received her Signature Membership from the Northwest Watercolor Society) to acrylics and oils.

Shellan’s paintings have won dozens of awards including a first and second place award this past summer. She has been part of  more than three dozen group shows and held almost two dozen solo shows. She was chosen to represent Washington State in a year-long solo show at the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia in 2012-2013. Two of Joanne’s donated paintings were auctioned for $10,000. Her work is part of the permanent collection at Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland and the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island. The Seattle Public Library’s Foundation used one of her images for all their media in 2015. She is represented by several fine art galleries in Oregon and Washington. Shellan also co-started the Kirkland Artist Studio Tour which is now entering its twelfth year.

A consistent theme in her impressionist style paintings has been to push the boundaries of color and use strong compositions to support her bold brushstrokes. “I like to paint subjects that are a little off the beaten path, especially small groups of people in interiors, city, and landscapes.” To help keep her painting style loose, she likes to turn her paintings upside down and then take off her glasses.

Shellan annually commits 25% of her profits to local charities and donates her artwork to dozens of charity auctions.

Matt Lome

Matt Lome is an illustrative artist. His work reflects his love for storytelling. He fancies himself to be a ‘folk’ painter, employing a ‘cartoonistic’ approach to figure drawing. He works in several mediums including oils, pastels, and watercolor. Matt serves on the Mercer Island City Arts Council and teaches art and music to children of all ages.

Lora L. Martini

In my paintings, I focus on light reflection and textures, blending color with subjective atmosphere. I like maximizing the light diffusion and reflection. The end result is a painting that delivers my own emotional experience drawn from nature and daily life. I aspire to invite you, the viewer on a journey that evokes an emotion that connects us to one another on a very fundamental human level.

I enjoy not only the painting process and the end result, but also the chemistry that goes into making the paints, in the studio. You can practically see the color pigments suspended in the painting medium, which allows me to convey the ethereal atmospheric qualities. The paintings are all one of a kind and the surfaces are custom constructed by my husband, made of high-grade birch wood.

I paint using an ancient painting medium called encaustic, which is essentially is a mixture of pure beeswax, Indonesian tree sap crystals (Dammar), and natural color pigments that I combine and melt to a liquid state to create the unique colors you see.

I hope you enjoy my painting as much as I enjoy painting them.

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