View Full Version : Rabbi Israel Gross

12-12-2008, 04:35 PM
So heres the story. First of all, I do not do portraiture. Sure, I do faces and figures, but nothing that suggests representational. I do abstracts, impressionism, expressionism. Even with my cast of characters. My wife, on the other end, knows what she knows.

She was visiting her mother at the Hebrew Home, a place where ancient hags convalesce before the forever. My mother-in-law is 85, fairly blind and breathing proof that the human species can exist without the functional use of a brain.

Im sorry, Im sorry.

So my wife is visiting my mother-in-law, the Bubbie, without me, which is rare but cherished. Usually, each Sunday, we take her to lunch. I go along because I choose the restaurant the Potato Shack in Encinitas which has a terrific feta, spinach and avocado omelet with thick fresh sourdough bread. I can bury my face in the food and forget that Im seated across from a nagging, toothless incessant goat. She does have large breasts, which makes her desirable to 100-year-old codgers in the Home. Each breast has a little roller connected to the bottom so she can push them ahead of her as maneuvers blindly with her walker.

Yes, I know. Im going straight to hell. Im OK with it.

Her husband, Sam, died at 90 a few years ago. Sam was a Bronx New Yawka, deaf as stone and happily so. A paratrooper in WWII, he came come partially deft. Never talked about his war experience. When he did speak, which was semi-annually, he always spoke in his outside voice, Shat up, you damn nag. Leave me alone. He made a living selling schmatas in Watts out of the trunk of his car.

So, I digress. My wife, who returned from Israel (a solo spiritual journey) 2 weeks ago with 400 photos, thought it would be nice to show the collection to the gaggle of gibberish at the home. One of the crew was a 92 year old woman Zenie White, who was born in Romania before it was Romania, had lost her family in the Holocaust, but married a fine man with a very long nose, procreated well and lived in Venice, California, not far from where I spent my youth. Seeing the pics of Israel she crawled back to her room she, like Bubbie, still lives on the independent wing and brought forth a photo of her grandfather, Rabbi Israel Gross. The Rabbi must have been born around the time of the Civil War and the photo, I think, must have been taken in the late 19th century. My wife, God bless her, or whatever He does to WOMAN LIKE HER, loved the photo and uttered the magic words. MY HUSBAND PAINTS. And added, He would LOVE to paint this. Zenie, of course, was thrilled and OFFERED TO PAY. Apparently, SHES WEALTHY. My wife, being wealthy IN HER MIND, said NO, My husband would NEVER ask for money.

So here he is. I was going to cross post him in PORTRAITURE, but I dont do portraiture. I can only imagine the response from true representational artists: the background sucks, the light is off, what happened to his eyes? This doesnt even resemble the *******. What the hell were you thinking? Eat tuna. OK.

I did tell my wife to delete the phrase, My husband paints from all her future communications. If she must say something, she might utter My husband HAS paint. But truthfully, I need more. The paint in my tubes and jars has turned to chunks of colored plastic and oil stains. Of course, if I had paint, I might be tempted to throw something on canvas, other than Israel Gross.

By the way, hes acrylic, black gesso and charcoal on heavy watercolor paper, 16 x 20. I shot the painting in the frame under glass, because Im stupid. Im also posting the photo of Rabbi Gross. I know, dont tell me, it doesnt look at all like him. I do abstracts.

I had to tell somebody...

Oh, and the photo is 8 x 10.



12-12-2008, 06:57 PM
Wow d-head what a fascinating story, and thanks for sharing it with us. It's both humorous and sad at the same time. I think you sure did capture his looks and very well, especially around his eyes and mouth. I would think that Zenie would be thrilled to get this and I'm sorry that your wife told her not to pay you for this painting because it's very darn good! :wave:

12-12-2008, 07:42 PM
I hope Zenie likes it, because I think it is very good. I guess it depends on whether she is expecting a classical portrait.

I can also see why your wife said what she did. I find the rabbi a very compelling subject... an you DO paint. Perhaps you should convince her to say something like, "MY HUSBAND PAINTS VERY EXPENSIVE ABSTRACT ART FOR DISCERNING PATRONS LIKE YOU." ;) Apparently she has a gift for sales!

12-12-2008, 08:07 PM
Yes, indeed she is. Thanks for support Rick, and you too Lynette. I feel I'm a bit (like totally) out of my league when it comes to this kind of work. I want to stretch out the neck, contort the eyes, twist the nose, confuse the background, add breasts.

12-14-2008, 12:55 AM
Lord, I don't know which I like most,,,
the telling or the painting! :clap:

"show and tell" to the max.
Thanks dhead!

12-14-2008, 10:07 AM
great story and a fine painting. you do realise that god created everything including irony, so when you finally get to the place that is being prepared for you, down there, do not be supprised if your room mate is your mother in law.:evil: :evil: :evil:

12-14-2008, 10:22 AM
I loved the story. The painting is great. I hope she appreciates it.

12-14-2008, 04:03 PM
:lol: :lol: :lol: great story... and nice texture achieved ... in spite of your lack of interest it turned out pretty good..

12-14-2008, 08:07 PM
Thanks all for looking and commenting. Actually, I was interested. The photo was compelling. It's just not what I would typically do. Kind of like make a fiction writer compose a song. Well, maybe not that. Challenges are good, right? I suppose it's all about that comfort zone. Portraiture has rules. I'm not real good at rules.