At Oregon Jewish Museum: Jews, Germans reflect on the past
By DEBORAH MOON
article created on: 2008-10-15T00:00:00
“We cannot make history undone; but we can learn from it. … Sometimes artwork speaks more than words,” said German Consul General Rolf Schuette at the opening of the “Charlotte Salomon: Life? Or Theater?” exhibit at the Oregon Jewish Museum.
Based in San Francisco, Schuette spoke at the Oct. 2 opening of the OJM exhibit along with Jewish Federation of Greater Portland Executive Vice President Charles R. Schiffman. The museum has partnered with the German American Society for the exhibit and related events (see boxed sidebar, page ??). The audience of 52 people at the opening was roughly evenly divided between the Jewish and German-American communities.
Born in Berlin in 1917, Salomon escaped to the south of France in 1939 to join her grandparents. Before she was deported to Auschwitz, where she was killed in 1943, she gave her complete portfolio of more than 1,000 gouaches and drawings depicting her life to a friend.
The OJM exhibit features 22 museum-quality reproductions on loan from the Goethe Institute in Los Angeles.
Noting that the era reflected in the exhibit is neither pleasant nor inspirational, Schiffman said, “I believe that if we view it in its entirety, and in its true context, we can learn about people, about artists, about society, about human resilience and about human limitations.…We do not live in the past, but we dare not ignore it.”
“Where we have been is not where we want to go,” continued Schiffman. “But, knowing where we have been, we can more easily determine the correct path towards our goal. … It is our good fortune that in our searching for the right path, we have found a fine and generous friend, Consul General Rolf Schuette, who knows very well that where both of us have been is not where we want to go, but that the lessons of the past, as preserved in a Jewish museum—even the unpleasant lessons—are essential signposts on the way to a better future.”
Calling German-Jewish relations something very dear to his heart, Schuette said, I am happy to see this bridge between the Jewish and German-American communities.”
OJM President Craig Wollner thanked the German American Society for partnering with the museum on the exhibit and related events, which he called a “package of great events.”
Salomon’s paintings have received favorable reviews during multiple exhibits in Europe and New York. Salomon’s life and work have been the subject of many scholars, including Mary Lowenthal Felstiner of San Francisco State University, who will lecture on those topics Nov. 23.
Oct. 2-Jan. 4
Oct. 19, 3 p.m.
Mary Ann Foy, alto Lisa Actor and Edmond Stone.Free. Location: The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th, Portland.
Nov. 23, 1 p.m. .