Rose Zar - Wolf Rider, graphite sketch on archival paper, 14 x 17 inches. This is today's PWYW sketch (so the first person to DM me an offer gets it). Update: ⚫ This one has been SOLD.
This one is actually based on a true story, featuring Rose Zar, my grandmother. She was a Holocaust survivor who hid in plain sight using nothing but a false identity and her razor-fine wits, for years in the war-torn Europe of yore.
Did I ever tell you about the time a painting saved my great-grandfather's life?
My favorite Rose story is about her handsome and gutsy father (my great-grandfather), whose life was saved by a painting. One day, early in the days of WWII, the Nazis arrived to collect and kill her father and brother. Two soldiers came to the family home, knocked on the door, and let themselves in. The first thing they saw (because surprise, surprise, my ancestors were art collectors) was a large painting called Gleaning of two farm workers laboring in a field. Because of the pose, the soldiers thought the painting was about men saying their evening prayers. Based on this assumption, they decided that no Jews were living there, and promptly left, without killing anyone.
(And the government thinks art isn't important... silly government.)
But don't take my word for it! I'll post a video of her telling this story in my Instagram feed in a bit. When you see the wolf sketch go up there, swipe right to see the video.
For those of you who don't know about my (late) undercover, underground resistance member, holocaust-survivor grandmother... she was one tough broad!
Even before the war, Rose was a member of the underground Jewish resistance. After surviving horrors I can’t begin to fathom, she joined up with her childhood sweetheart to rescue and heal a group of over a hundred orphans. They taught and cared for the children until they could be placed in new homes overseas, many traveling on the famous ship, The Exodus. Then the two of them started over from scratch in America, where Rose became an educator and published her incredible story, In The Mouth of the Wolf. It’s a Best Seller in its category, decades later. My grandmother was featured last year in a wonderful article in the New York Times, by Melissa Eddy, as part of an effort to remember people who would have been covered in their own time if they had been born male. She was a truly special, complex, and inspiring woman, who taught me many unusual skills, including how to hide "in the mouth of the wolf"... and that's where all the wolves come in. This is her book:
So why am I telling you all this? Today is the day that people all over the world either commemorate the holocaust or deny it ever existed. To me, it's a day I like to remember my grandparents and marvel at the truly unfathomable lives they lived. And thank my lucky stars that they surrounded themselves with art and Samurai swords (which my grandfather meticulously restored, as a hobby) and mythologically themed antiques and all the beautiful objects that made them feel safe and went on to nurture my family's love of art. I'm so grateful for her son and his (also handsome) husband, whose appreciation for art and collecting runs so deep that they went out of their way to bring me to NYC from an early age to see all the best art and theater. This thread stitches us all to past and passion, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
And now, if you'll indulge me for a moment more, a few nostalgic Rose and war-related things, and some wolves...
Walking with Wolves, oil paint on gessoed quarter-inch thick balsa wood, 8 x 15 5/8 inches. This is also open to bids until I list it on Etsy (so the first patron to DM me an offer gets it for whatever you offer plus shipping).
Update: ⚫ This one has been SOLD.
Save the Wolves, oil on paper, 11 x 7.5 cm.
⚫ This one has been SOLD. (Welcome to the Patreon group, L! You are quick!)
At this point, you may be wondering why the wolves that represented villains in my ancestors' lives are appearing in my work as tamed and even friendly creatures. When society as we know it begins to rip open at the seams, many people have a natural tendency to fill that rift with generalized vitriol. These wolves are not tame because the villains are long under the ground. These wolves are gentle allies because one woman's villain is another man's hero. And because these are, after all, different wolves. There are wolves, and there are wolves... It's all about context. Just like us.
Wakes, oil on stained board, 21.5”x 11”. (This one is REALLY old, but it's her, painted from a dream, so I'm posting it...)
And slightly cheerier, but also quite old:
4 x 6 inches (way smaller than it appears on a computer screen), oil on bent board. Rose used to hand sew these incredible white dresses for me that made me feel like a pint-sized wizardess.
The Soldier, oil on a vintage page, 6 x 6.5 inches tall. This is how things work, right?
And a sunlight look of Rose riding off into the moonset...
Do you have any ancestors whose lives you feel particularly foreshadowed yours? Let me know in the comments below!