About Chanan Mazal

Farewell to the Old Country זיי געזונט דער אלטאר היים
Farewell to the Old Country
זיי געזונט דער אלטאר היים

I was born in the shadow of George Washington Bridge.

Crossing the Hudson always filled me with wonder: I still strain my neck up to the soaring towers, wondering how graceful, symmetric tension of the cables carry the weight of the double-decked roadways and the vibrations of hundreds of monstrous trucks. And I wonder at super-human scale of it all: The heroic painters who ride up the main cables in little carts and hang under the roadways in baskets. Like the noble Lamp Lighter in Saint-Exupéry’s “Little Prince,” the moment that they finished their job on the New York side, they start painting again in New Jersey.

Without equally opposing tension pulling from deep under the volcanic rock of the Palisades and Washington Heights, which was calculated to elegantly contradict the weight of the central span, this whole colossal would topple. As a child, I constructed suspension bridges with chairs, sheets and piles of books gauging the weight and tension needed to keep it intact.

Bronx Crossing
Bronx Crossing

“The Bridge” connected the shopping centers of my suburban youth to the west, with memories of the immigrant neighborhoods of the Bronx and fuzzier, inherited memories of the the impoverished Old Country. It connected even farther east and backwards in time to the Exodus from Egypt. My historical memory worked overtime.

Somehow, at age 11, I came up with this wacky idea to live in Israel and to become an architect, urban planner or artist. I now live in Jerusalem. Like so many other immigrants, I live suspended between the twin towers of two languages and two cultures. My early bourgeois expectations face the harsher realities of the Middle East.

I create art.

Once again, I straddle two competing worlds: My ideological, religious and family commitments on one hand, and the demands for openness and unbridled imagination in art. L’Art pour l’art.

There are a few more conflict zones relating to my artwork: I love “serious” intellectual art, but I also love joyfully messing around with layers of decoration and paint; I like strong messages and expressionistic images, but I also suffer from and clearly enjoy “horror vacui” in art. (This means that I like filling up every centimeter with polka dots and checkers.) I try to keep both sides of the artist in me satisfied simultaneously, but it is hard work.

A bit of trivia about me:

Married for 25 years; Dad to 3 very nice and very talented kids, left-handed, bicycle to work, never wear a suit and tie. I have a fondness for puns, the idiosyncrasies of languages and very dark chocolate.

And some professional trivia:

  • Born in NY in 1956. Immigrated to Israel in 1980.
  • Studies: BA History and Master of Social Work, Yeshiva University, NY; Graphic Art Design, Bezalel Academy, Jerusalem; Etching and Silk Screen Printing, Jerusalem Print workshop; Painting master class, Orna Millo.
  • Solo Shows: 2013, 2011 Jerusalem Theatre Gallery; AACI; 2008, 2007 Waltuch Gallery, Tenafly NJ; 2007 JCC of Northern Virginia;  2006 Etzion Gallery, Israel; 1981 Maskit Gallery, Jerusalem
  • Select Group Shows: 2018-2019 TERRA inFIRMA, Dr. Bernard Heller Museum at HUC-JIR, New York; 2017 Jerusalem Biennale, Museum of the Underground Prisoner; 2015 Jerusalem Biennale, Hassid Bros. Building; 2011 Flinn Gallery, Greenwich CT; 1989 Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha NE.
  • Prizes: Gold Prize for my Jewish Art Calendar at the Frankfort International Book Fair; Gold and Bronze prizes for Art Calendars, Ministry of Industry in conjunction with the Israeli Society of Graphic Designers.
  • Art Commissions: Cong. Or Ami Lafayette Hill, PA; Temple Beth El, Chappaqua, NY, Hadassah, numerous private collections and in cooperation with architects.
  • Teaching Art: Studio courses and color workshops for adults, 2012 to present.
  • In 1986, I founded C. Mazal Art Ltd. publishers of greeting cards, small gifts, and popularly priced art prints. My goal was to bring the values of quality Judaica, to the wider public and to everyday use.
  • Illustration work for major fund-raising organizations: Hadassah, Jewish National Fund in Israel, France & Netherlands, Wizo, Israel Bonds, The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Jewish Federations in the US and Canada.