Skirball Cultural Center to present
Mark Podwal

August 18–October 31, 2004

Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, California 90049 (Exit Skirball Center Drive off the 405)
(310) 440-4500, fax (310) 440-4595
Contact: Mia Cariño (310) 440-4544
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(l.) Sukkot, Mark Podwal, 2002, © Mark Podwal
(r.) Shavuot, Mark Podwal, 2002, © Mark Podwal

Los Angeles—A Sweet Year: A Taste of the Jewish Holidays, an exhibition of 30 works by renowned artist and author Mark Podwal (b. 1945), will be on view at the Skirball Cultural Center from August 18 through October 31, 2004. Celebrating the culinary customs of the Jewish year--from Rosh Hashanah to Shavuot, Passover to the Sabbath--the works playfully picture the foods that are essential to each observance and ritual. The exhibition will be on view in the Skirball’s Ruby Gallery; Ruby Gallery exhibitions are always free to the public. Podwal will lead an art workshop for families on Sunday, October 3, at 11:00 a.m. and give an artist’s talk at 2:00 p.m. See below for details.

The works in the exhibition originated when Podwal was invited by the Youth Wing Library of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem to participate in an exhibition centered around images of food. In response, Podwal proposed creating a series of new gouache and acrylic paintings illustrating the compelling symbolism of food in Jewish tradition. The resulting exhibition of Podwal’s artful works, entitled A Sweet Year, opened at the Israel Museum in October 2003 and was presented in conjunction with its exhibition Food in Art: A Matter of Taste. Podwal’s images were also featured with thoughtful, whimsical text, also by Podwal, in a children’s book entitled A Sweet Year: A Taste of the Jewish Holidays (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, Random House, 2003). Booklist praised the book for its “hugely imaginative evocations of Jewish observance.”

At the Skirball, the exhibition will feature twenty of the original paintings that comprised the show at the Israel Museum and the book. In addition, ten works on paper created especially for the Skirball will be premiered. Throughout the fanciful, clever works, Podwal takes an inspired look at the timeless bond between the sacred and the sumptuous. To illustrate Sukkot--the autumn harvest festival commemorating the shelters used by the Jews during their journey in the wilderness--Podwal depicts a solar system of fruits to capture the experience of wandering under the desert night sky and eating in the safety of the sukkah, a temporary holiday dwelling. To depict Passover, Podwal highlights the importance of matzoh, the bread the Jews ate during their flight to freedom, and the fruits and nuts that in the Seder meal represent the mortar used to build Pharaoh’s cities; in Podwal’s vision, the pyramids of Egypt themselves are giant pieces of matzoh. In yet another painting, a slice of cheesecake stands tall like Mt. Sinai to represent the dairy dishes served at Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments on the mountain.

Mark Podwal’s drawings have appeared in the New York Times since 1972. His works are in the permanent collections of museums around the world, including the Skirball Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, Haifa Museum of Modern Art, the Israel Museum, the Library of Congress, the National Gallery in Prague and others. He has illustrated books by such authors as Paul Simon and Cynthia Ozick. He was awarded a Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators for his paintings in Elie Wiesel’s book King Solomon and His Magic Ring (1999). Podwal has written and illustrated a number of books of his own on Jewish themes, including The Menorah Story (1998), Golem: A Giant Made of Mud (1995), and A Book of Hebrew Letters (1983). The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently commissioned Podwal to design a special Passover Seder plate for its 2004–2005 holiday gift season.

Related Programs:
Sunday, October 3, 11:00 a.m.: Drawing from Our Heritage: Painting Inspired by the Illustrations of Mark Podwal, an art workshop for children 6 and up with their families
Sunday, October 3, 2:00 p.m.: Artist’s talk by Mark Podwal

Visiting the Skirball Cultural Center
Skirball Cultural Center is located at 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA (exit Skirball Center Drive off the 405). Museum Hours: Tuesday through Saturday noon–5 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; closed Monday. Admission to A Sweet Year is free. General Museum Admission: $8 General, $6 Seniors and Students. Admission is free for children under 12 and Skirball Members. Ruby Gallery shows are always free to the public. Parking is free. For general information, the public may call (310) 440-4500 or visit

The Skirball is also home to Zeidler’s Café, which serves innovative California cuisine in an elegant setting, and Audrey's Museum Store, which sells books, contemporary art, music and more.

About the Skirball
Skirball Cultural Center
is dedicated to exploring the connections between 4,000 years of Jewish heritage and the vitality of American democratic ideals. It welcomes and seeks to inspire people of every ethnic and cultural identity. Guided by our respective memories and experiences, together we aspire to build a society in which all of us can feel at home.

Skirball Cultural Center achieves its mission through public programs that explore literary, visual, and performing arts from around the world; through the display and interpretation of its permanent collections and changing exhibitions; through scholarship in American Jewish history and related publications; and through outreach to the community.

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