Israeli Art Show Returns to KC
Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, November 2008, USA
By Beth Lipoff, Staff Writer
It’s been four years since the “Expressions” Israeli art show last came to greater Kansas City, but show organizer Izzy Assour is ready. He tours the country every year to show and sell Israeli art to Americans.
“Expressions” combines the diverse works of more than 150 Israeli artists, from sculptures and paintings to jewelry.“We do it to support the Israeli artists and economy of Israel, because it’s in decline in Israel,” Assour said in a phone interview.
Izzy Assour and his son, Meir, are the brains behind the show, and they will both be here to oversee the sale and talk to patrons about the artwork in “Expressions.”
“We have been in Kansas City before, and they’re very supportive of Israel, and they’re very supportive of art, and we love to come,” Izzy Assour said. “It’s a big pleasure, because I know almost everyone there, and everyone knows us … We are hoping that it is as we have done in the past. We hope people support Israeli artists, even with the economy.”
Izzy Assour got interested art while in the hospital recovering from injuries he sustained while fighting in the Israeli Defense Forces. After studying sculpture at an art school, he got the idea for the show and presented it to the Israeli government, which now helps subsidize “Expressions.”
To be part of the show, artists apply to the senior Assour. After that, a committee visits them to check that the quality of their work is up to “Expressions” standards.
After so many years of doing the show, “I come to know the American tastes,” said Izzy Assour. Prices for the pieces range from $50 to $8,000, and the show accepts cash, checks and credit cards.
Volunteers will be on hand to help show customers jewelry and write up receipts.
Izzy Assour loves to return to cities where he’s been before with “Expressions.”
“They are very, very excited. After they see it once, they want us to come a few years later,” he said. “It’s a connection between Israel and the United States. I miss everybody there, and I am very happy to see them again.”
Chairperson Sandy Czarlinsky remembers the first Kansas City “Expressions”
show back in 1986. Assour had been doing a show in Omaha, Neb., and called up then-executive director of the Center David Belzer to ask if he could bring his show to Kansas City.
“The Center brought ‘Expressions’ for a week in the little building on Indian Creek,” Czarlinsky said. “He very much wanted to do the next show when we moved into the Campus.”
Czarlinsky was marketing director for the Center then and has continued to promote “Expressions” each time it’s been in Kansas City. The mutual benefits of the show,
both for Israel and the Center make it a very attractive program to have. “What we make not only goes back to the state of Israel, which helps the artists and the artisans, but also the Center gets a commission. Everybody benefits, plus Kansas Citians get beautiful Israeli art that, if they don’t go to Israel, is impossible to find in America,” she said.
The Center gets 25 percent of all purchases made at “Expressions,” making that portion of the purchase tax-deductible for buyers. Czarlinsky credits Izzy Assour’s
personality and love of art and Israel for the show’s previous successes.
“It’s very difficult not to become good friends with Izzy,” she said. “(Izzy and Meir) understand Israel; they understand the economy of Israel. They understand life in Israel, and they try to bring that to Americans. It’s one of Izzy’s best sayings. He will say, ‘Israel is more than war. Israel is a beautiful country, a beautiful people who are
creative and who want to share their skills and their beauty with others and to show the world that Israelis are not just warriors and fighters. They are citizens of the world.’ ”
Tammy Ruder, cultural arts director for the Center, agreed with Czarlinsky. “People are always excited about it coming. Izzy Assour is someone who endears himself to all those who come to see the artwork; he brings a friendly face there,” Ruder said.
Assour goes to great lengths to make sure people are satisfied with their art purchases, Czarlinsky said.
“Shirley White, four years ago, bought a gorgeous painting, and she wasn’t sure how it would fit or how it would look in the room. So, Izzy took it over to her house, he hung it, and she lived with it for a couple of days. It worked, and she came back, and she
bought it,” she said. “He wants us to appreciate the art and to love living with
it.” Both Assours are sculptors and will show some of their own work in the show.
Czarlinsky is looking forward to seeing all the art on display.
“The Center will be transformed — it will be a gallery,” she said. The art will cover most of the front foyer and gallery area near the front of the Center.
“I just like seeing the art added to the Center. You walk into the lobby and it’s like a sculpture garden; it’s very pleasing to the eye,” Ruder said.
Patron preview set
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 30, there will be a patron reception.
The cost is $60 per person or couple, and those who buy a piece worth at least $160 during the two-hour party get one $36 credit in addition to a 10 percent discount. The $60 amount is meant to spotlight Israel’s 60th anniversary.
Local musicians Limor Lifshic and Shy Oren of Yachad, the Traveling Tefillah Band, will perform.
“The music they’re going to be playing is Israeli music starting from the 1950s up to today - jazz, classical and modern. It’s just a great time for people to come and preview the artwork,” said Tammy Ruder, the Center’s cultural arts director.
Breakfast foods will be available.
There is no charge to view the show after the patron-preview reception.