By Marjorie Cohen
The third in our 7 Walks in 7 Days around the Upper West Side heads to an art space that’s not much bigger than a parking meter.
Kiosk/West 83rd Street and Broadway
In the 1970s just about every west side block had its own block association. That’s when neighbors got together to plant street trees, throw block parties, have volleyball games, and even “patrol” their blocks when the going got a bit rough. It was during those years that the West 83rd Street Block Association, one of the most active on the UWS, put up a kiosk at the corner of their block and Broadway. The kiosk was used then to post notices but has now morphed into more of an exhibit space for local artists.
For months, the kiosk has showcased artist Andrea Strongwater’s paintings of synagogues that were destroyed before and during World War II. The paintings are a result of research that Strongwater did for her book, Where we Once Gathered: Lost Synagogues of Europe.
“It’s a story that needs to be told, [the story of] Jews and the Jewish world before and during WWII,” says Strongwater. “We had an amazing, deep, strong and long lasting culture in Europe that created many great things. For some people, like me and my mother, it’s not possible to tell the story by recounting and re-imagining all it’s horrors… No way to take in information. But looking at significant cultural artifacts built by Jewish people to express themselves all over Europe, in many and varied architectural styles, over centuries, a picture can be painted. An attempt was made to totally destroy this world and the synagogues I paint are gone, but the Jewish world is still here and thriving on a new continent.”
A new exhibit was scheduled to follow Strongwater’s at the end of May but will probably not go up until July or August. Organized by artist Audrey Banks, it focuses on works of art that portray “acts of kindness”.