Shulamit Gallery, Los Angeles
October 5 - December 14, 2013
The Shulamit Gallery presented a solo exhibition by noted regional artist Gary Baseman. Displayed in a unique birch tree forest environment, this new body of work was an extension of Baseman’s exploration of family history and heritage, as seen in his critically-acclaimed retrospective at the Skirball Cultural Center, The Door is Always Open.
As youngest and first American-born child in a family of six, Baseman grew up in idyllic Los Angeles with Disneyland and the Dodgers, a stark contrast to his Holocaust survivor parents’ experiences. Only recently has the artist considered more seriously his family’s origins. While visiting the Ukraine and Poland in 2012, Baseman heard stories throughout his travels describing how Jews lived and observed their religion prior to WWII. Tour guides, shopkeepers, community leaders and the general public shared tales with the artist. The varied and complicated versions of modern Jewish history took on a fairy tale aspect for Baseman. The lack of strong Jewish communities in these regions has led to the repurposing of seemingly disjointed aspects of Jewish life from the last century. This understanding of Jewish life today disturbed, fascinated and perplexed Baseman. Upon returning, the artist decided to create his own “mythical homeland” full of characters that are at first glance adorable yet hold grave messages.