Crossover event brings art fans to concert and music fans to student art show

BP Photo by Neima Fax
POP-UP: Student art at Shalhevet is displayed on the walls in the circular stairway and on bulletin boards around school for everyday visibility. But the art show displayed the student artwork on racks in room 304.

Jolie Wineburgh, Arts and Culture Editor 

The familiar smell of latkes swirled through the air as guests were welcomed into an evening of collaboration between Shalhevet’s choir and Visual Arts department Dec. 18.

The two-in-one event — a student art show at 4:45 p.m. and the Choirhawks’ “Back from the Bay” Hanukkah concert at 5:45 p.m. — was held in the two adjacent Batei Midrash on the third floor, attracing guests from within and outside of the community.

It was a bit of real-world synchrony.  In the arts and culture world, museums are commonly located near concert halls; in downtown Los Angeles, the Broad Contemporary art museum and Walt Disney Concert Hall face each other across 1st Street, while Boston’s Symphony Hall and Museum of Fine arts share a neighborhood as well. Placing them together attracts visitors with overlapping interests to explore both. 

Similarly, the night at Shalhevet unified its art departments, which had held similar events in the past, most recently in 2017.  

“The show was always with the choir because that’s how we got the audience.” said art teacher and Arts Department Chair Ms. Roen Salem. “If you just write ‘Art Show,’ on a flyer I’m not sure that parents and other people would come from outside of school to see an art show.”

 

Shalhevet art students’ projects and the Choirhawks’ voices thus were exposed to a new audience of students, parents, relatives and alumni of Shalhevet. 

The exhibit was organized differently than other art at Shalhevet. Student art is always displayed on the walls of the spiraling stairs that connect the school’s three floors. This time, Room 304 (the small Beit Midrash) was set up as a gallery, with tables and racks to hold the projects.

A lot of my artwork is about my family. This piece specifically is about my grandmother’s journey moving to America from Japan. She knew no English, and that’s why I added these different elements. It tells her story in art rather than in words.”

— Sarah Navon, 12th grade

Art pieces including pencil-drawn watch gears, colorful abstract Hanukkah collages of dreidels and menorahs and Picasso-style portraits hung on grid screens standing throughout the room. The gray walls of the room were transformed with a bright display of colorful projects made by students from all grades.

Guests were given the opportunity to explore the art in the Beit Midrash, and many slowly made their rounds around the room.

Meanwhile, Trader Joes’ latkes and applesauce and Krispy Kreme doughnuts were laid out on a table for guests to enjoy, setting a Hanukkah mood.

Students who would be attending the Shalhevet-Milken boys basketball game downstairs found out about it and headed to the roof before the game had started to eat some latkes and doughnuts, taking time to tour the art show and watch the choir concert as well. 

The room displayed upperclassman’s art on tables. Four large canvases displayed work by senior Sarah Navon in different media and materials. There were portraits of her dog, two koi fish, a woman, and Sarah’s grandmother. 

The mixed-media portrait of her grandmother was comprised of colored pencil and collaged paper from an English dictionary. 

“It’s definitely the most special to me because a lot of my artwork is about my family,” said Sarah.  “This piece specifically is about my grandmother’s journey moving to America from Japan. She knew no English, and that’s why I added these different elements. It tells her story in art rather than in words.” 

Another unique project displayed was a set of themed mandalas, made by seniors and juniors. * Senior Danya Helprin used the city of Los Angeles as her theme, and filled the eight separate sections with landmarks of the city including the Hollywood sign, the LACMA Urban Light display, downtown and the Santa Monica pier. Other students’ wheels portrayed the solar system, famous feminists, fruits, and album covers. 

Ms. Salem said that there hadn’t been an art show for at least three years. 

“We used to have art shows in the Beit Midrash — in the old building,  before this one was built,” said Ms. Salem. “And there weren’t that many students, so it was a little easier to maneuver things, but it was nice.”

Ms. Garelick estimates that about 150 people came to the student art show.

 

While the art show was free, the choir charged parents and non-Shalhevet students to attend the concert. Non-Shalhevet students paid $5 to get in, and out-of-school parents paid $15.  The Choirhawks started their concert 45 minutes later than usual so the art show could be first.

The group titled its concert “Back from the Bay” because the singers had returned just three days earlier from their every-other-year Hanukkah performance tour, this time to the Bay Area. 

They called it their “home concert,” after four days of singing at schools and synagogues in Palo Alto, San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. The music was mostly familiar, with Choirhawk classics including “Maoz Tzur,” “Mi Yemalel” and “Al Hanissim.”

For “Al Hanissim,” this year senior Alyssa Wallack sang the solo. Sophomore Emily Klausner elicited laughs from the crowd by energetically stomping her foot to cue the choir — something Choirhawk director Mrs. Joelle Keene usually does — to start the song.

The choir also debuted two new songs for the group: “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” by Tim Rice from The Lion King, and “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, in a new arrangement by Mrs. Keene. 

There were also solo performances, including the sophomore Talya Kukrudz who sang “Make You Feel My Love,” by Bob Dylan, accompanied by sophomore Nooria Kerendian on the piano. 

“I was really scared before when my name was called to come up,” recalled Talya. “ I started shaking a little bit, but once I started singing on the right key, I knew everything would be fine and I wasn’t scared anymore.” 

Sophomore Emily Klausner and senior Evan Rubel sang a slow version of  Katy Perry’s upbeat “The One That Got Away.” 

A highlight of the evening was when freshman Asher Taxon, the youngest member of the Choirhawks, invited choir alumni to the risers to join in singing the reprise of “Mi Yimalel” in its traditional folk tune version, arranged by Joelle Keene.

Six former Choirhawks who joined current members on the risers. They had no difficulty remembering their parts from however many years ago, and staying with the group.

“It was nice to see that everything was like muscle memory,” said Daniel Lorell ‘18, a former bass section leader.  “It was just like it clicked instantly and was just as fun as it used to be.”

Amberly Hershewe was president of the group two years ago.

“It was kind of crazy to be back,” said Amberly. “I mean I really miss choir a lot so it was really nice to come back and sing one more time. It’s really cool because there are people from all different years of choir, singing as one big family.” 

Evan Rubel noticed the quality of the choir’s sound was “richer” with more voices joining in. 

“It really is incredible singing with the alumni,” said Evan. “It’s a bond that really lasts, much longer and much further than Shalhevet.”