Sunday, March 12, 2017

Purim 2017 - 14 Adar 5777: #BeLikeEsther

Rembrandt van Rijn, Esther Accusing Haman Before Ahasuarus, 1660

Today is Purim, the Feast of Esther, the day to party, get drunk and release our inhibitions behind masks of all kinds.  By now, most people accept that the Book of Esther in the Bible is not true.  We read the story to explain the reason we celebrate Purim and to re-inspire our capacity to do good in the face of powerful forces that seem impossible to defeat.   Queen Esther, you may recall, was asked to be the whistle-blower in order to save the Jews, "her people," by informing her husband that his prime minister, his appointee, scheduled the annihilation of the Jews (herself included) on the 14 day of Adar.  She was fully aware that accusing Haman of wrongdoing might displease the king and his wrath might end her life. Yet in the face of possibly losing her crown and/or her head, she courageously pursued her clever plan. Rather than go straight for the indictment during her first audience with the king, she played it cool and invited him to her private apartment in the palace for an intimate banquet - not once, but twice. Then, like Judith, Esther pleasured her man with food and drink before striking the decisive blow. This fairy tale plot seems based on both archetypal tropes and real experience. Begun as an oral history (possibly linked to the Persian New Year), ir was added to the Hebrew Bible as yet another Wisdom Tale that instructs the Jews about life among those who see them as unwelcome Others.  

Who indeed are the Others in our society today now threatened by government actions? Consider the cost of actions to combat injustice (time, inconvenience, social ostracism). Imagine how difficult it was to #BeLikeEsther and fight for the underdog. Imagine how heroic it is to try.

Here is an old blog post that tells the story of Esther and Purim: 

And here is an excellent article in The Jewish Magazine about Rembrandt and Purim, written by Helen Webberley. 

Chag Sameach - Happy Holiday - Happy Purim 2017/5777,

Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, Ph.D.
Director and Owner
New York Arts Exchange
A division of New York Arts Etc., LLC

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Celebrate International Women's Day! Support Women Artists!

Kathleen Gilje, Self-Portrait after Bouguereau's The Assault, 2012

It has been an honor and a joy to select four extremely gifted women artists for our Art Above the Sofa: Next Generation jury: Kathleen Gilje, Wilhelmina Grant, Ruby Silvious and Marjorie van Cura. Today, in honor of International Women's Day, we celebrate these four women with examples of their work on our blog:

Ruby Silvious, from 363 Days of Tea, 2015

Wilhelmina GrantTime into Eternity

Marjorie van Cura, Untitled, 2016

We also invited a male artist into the jury: Sasha Meret   Please visit his show at Rafael Gallery, 235 East 59th St., through March 31st.   

Each juror will be highlighted on our Art Above the Sofa page on Facebook.  Please look for us there.

Happy International Women's Day!  


Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, Ph.D.
Director and owner
New York Arts Etc. LLC

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New Year, New Us: New York Arts Exchange is now a division of New York Arts Etc., LLC -


It's a New Year and a New Name:   New York Arts Exchange is now New York Ats Etc., LLC, retaining the moniker "New York Arts Exchange" as a division of our arts education service. Today, I am pleased to announce our latest project: Art Above the Sofa: Next Generation, which is a juried show for art students in accredited programs (AA, BFA, MFA, Ph.D. and art academies of all kinds, including schools abroad).  We are eager to exhibit emerging artists whose visual vocabulary addresses the concerns, hopes, dreams and aspirations of their generation.  Millennials, lead on!

What is Art Above the Sofa?  It is an irreverent poke at a much maligned phantom category of art that is often mentioned but never truly defined.  Who seriously makes art exclusively for an installation above a sofa?  Who wouldn't mind selling a work that winds up placed above the sofa, admired by its owners and shared with their guests?  Art above the sofa is often a beloved source of frequent contemplation. For most of us who buy art, we look for a work to cherish, study often and find endless surprises in what becomes a familiar companion.  An artwork above a sofa, in the intimacy of one's home, might turned into a steady, unquestioning love affair.

Therefore our concept of "Art Above the Sofa" is slightly ironic and hopefully disruptive. We are not suggesting that the artists match the furniture in a client's home or produce pleasantly "decorative" canvases.  Rather we seek excellent art that might be edgy, confrontational, uncomfortable, or decidedly spiritual in a complicated way. And we also seek humor that demonstrates intelligent wit and innuendo.

Consider the role of the sofa in Jacques-Louis' famous portrait of Madame Jeanne-Françoise Julie Adélaïde Récamier, decorously arranged on an Directoire Style lounge.  Legend has it that the sitter hated this cold interpretation of her personality and commissioned the early Romantic François Pascal SimoGérard, who did indeed capture her sensual charms. But when it came to choices, René Magritte went right to David's sofa, transforming Madame R into a seated casket that seems to ridicule the Academy's moribund state of affairs.  Let's find our inner Magritte and have fun while we say something bold and exceptionally new!  Art Above the Sofa challenges us to invent a new kind of art, a Post-Post-Modernism or something totally off the category charts.

Jacques-Lous David, Madame Récamier, 1800, Louvre, Paris

François Pascal Simon, Baron Gérard, Madame Récamier, 1802
Musée Carnavalet  

René Magritte, Perspective: Madame Récamier, by David, 1951
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Dear friends of the New York Arts Exchange, now New York Arts Etc., LLC - - please support emerging artists by sharing information about our art competition and exhibition in April. Send a link to our website - and come celebrate with us in person.

The exhibition Art Above the Sofa: Next Generation  will take place at 171 Elizabeth Street, between Spring and Kenmare, from  April 27 to 30, 2017.   Opening celebration: April 27th.

As for the New York Arts Exchange tours and lectures for 2017  - we will post our schedule separately.  In the meantime, please visit our website: New York Arts Exchange to see details about our current exhibition  "Sasha Meret: Selected Works" at Rafael Gallery, 235 East 59th Street, NYC, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.  We will schedule a day with Sasha at the show in March.  The show was extended to March 31st.  

This week, please join me at JCC Greenwich for a lecture on Queen Esther in Art.  Tickets and information can be found at New York Arts Exchange or on the JCC Greenwich website.

Best wishes,

Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, Ph.D.
Director and owner
New York Arts Etc., LLC

Friday, December 23, 2016

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Last Call: Miljan Suknovic at Catherine Ahnell Gallery, through December 18th

Miljan Suknovic: Studio Visit
Catherine Ahnell Gallery, 66 Grand St, #1, NYC
Through Sunday, December 18th

Lost in a world of pure abstraction, I am bewitched, but not bewildered, by Miljan Suknovic's second exhibition at Catherine Ahnell Gallery in Soho. Suknovic knows what he is doing and always pursues it with vigor. The gallery''s website tells us that this is a new chapter for the artist "With raw linen as a base he applies his paint strokes directly on the canvas. Spontaneous gestures and random color strokes meet an uncalculated structure characteristic to Suknovic."  Suknovic has certainly become bolder in this new series and more varied in the size of his canvases.  Here, in the photo, you can see a representative sample.

Entrance to the exhibition

Suknovic studied art and architecture in Belgrade and then went on to Prague, Florence and Hamburg, before settling in New York. His first solo show was held at Union Gallery in 2008.  Last year, Suknovic exhibited in the elegant rooms of the Serbian Mission to the UN.  And earlier this month his work appeared along with Jonas SUN7 and Lahcen Khedim  in Catherine Ahnell's booth at Art Miami Basel X Contemporary Art Fair.  

Miljan Suknovic's work in Catherine Ahnell Gallery's booth at Art Miami Basel 2016

Suknovic's exhibition in New York closes on Sunday.  If you are headed to SoHo to shop for holiday gifts, please stop in to this upbeat and color-ific show -and then treat yourself to those delicious Christmas specialties in Little Italy. (A Nesic Tradition.)

I'll be back with more tips as the art season draw to a close - so stay tuned . . . 
Beth New York 

aka, Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, Ph.D.
New York Arts Exchange

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sasha Meret: Selected Works opens at Rafael Gallery on East 59th Street, Monday, December 12th - 6 - 8 pm

Sasha Meret: Select Works
Rafael Gallery, 235 East 59th Street, NYC
December 12 – 22, 2016; January 5 – 23, 2017
Opening on Monday, December 12th, 6 - 8 PM

Rafael Gallery is pleased to present Sasha Meret: Selected Works, which complements this internationally-acclaimed artist’s participation in the exhibition Bedazzled, concurrently on view at Lehman College Gallery through January 14th.  Our show begins on December 12nd  with an opening reception from 6 – 8 PM.  Curated by Beth S. Gersh-Nešić, the director of the New York Arts Exchange, this particular exhibition contextualizes Sasha Meret’s extraordinarily complex installation, Agendada: Books of Hours, 2010-16, at Lehman College, through its grouping of informative sculptures, photographs and paintings. Meret’s entire body of work draws from the influence of Dada, Surrealism, Conceptual Art and Quantum Mechanics – among many other sources.  It is a heady mix that infuses Meret’s visual language with a phantasmagorical expression, evident in his elaborate sculptures, assemblages, installations, paintings, photographs, drawings, prints and videos – on view in the exhibition space and also in photographs. “The main ingredients in art are mystery, surprise and spontaneity,” Meret explained. “You have to create the environment for the accidents to breathe . . . to invite happy accidents.  This is part of my process.”

Queztelcoatl, 2007-8

The son of Romanian and Russian parents, Sasha Meret was born in Transylvania in 1955.  He completed an MA in economics in 1977 and then moved to New York in 1987 to pursue his true passion, art, at Columbia University. There, he studied printmaking with Tony Harrison.  In 1994, he joined the International Art Group “Gaia” in France.  Over the last 26 years, Meret has exhibited all over the world, most notably in China, Japan, Italy, France, Switzerland, and the US.  Recently, he orchestrated an exhibition and performance piece at AmyD Arte Spazio in Milan.  He has been honored with an exhibition at the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York.  His wearable fashion was featured in XEX Magazine (October 5, 2012). 

The Divine Thirst Quencher, 2010

Founded in 1948 by Rafael Aryeh, Rafael Gallery specializes in Old Master, Nineteenth Century, Modern and Contemporary art and antiques from all over the world and Native American art of various media.  In 1978, the gallery established its main exhibition space at 1020 Madison Avenue.  Now under the leadership of Benjamin Aryeh, the gallery has expanded to three locations.  The East 59th Street galleries, situated in the heart of the Decorators and Design District, are dedicated to Modern and Contemporary masters.

Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 11:30 AM to 6:30 PM.  For more information, contact Associate Director Wade Bonds at or (212) 755-4888.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ruby Silvious: 363 Days of Tea at Riverrun Books and Manuscripts, December 2 - 4, only!

Ruby Silvious: 363 Days of Tea

Exhibition and Book Signing
At RIVERRUN Books and Manuscripts
12 Washington Avenue, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706
December 2 – 4, 2016

The New York Arts Exchange is pleased to announce its partnership with RIVERRUN Books and Manuscripts for the forthcoming exhibition of Ruby Silvious: 363 Days of Tea, a magnificent collection of paintings on tea bag paper, executed ritually from January 3 – December 31, 2015.  The subjects range from whimsical to poignant, depending on the artist’s mood and current events.  This brief “pop-up” exhibition will feature about 20 of her original paintings and her beautifully illustrated book, 363 Days of Tea, which includes all the paintings in a sumptuous 8” x 8” volume.  Please join us for three days of exciting events:
·         Friday, December 2 – opening, 6 – 8 pm
·         Saturday, December 3 – artist’s talk and book signing, 3 – 5 pm
·         Sunday, December 4 – owner of RIVERRUN Books, Tom Lecky (former head of Books and Manuscripts at Christie’s) presents “How to Think Like a Collector,” 2 – 4 pm.

RUBY SILVIOUS is a visual artist and graphic designer. Her recent work includes experimenting on recycled and found materials. On January 3, 2015, she started a project called 363 Days of Tea, a visual daily record of her impression of the moment, using the emptied-out tea bag as her canvas, and altering it to create a new work of art every day for 363 days. She draws, paints, prints and collages moody, evocative and sometimes whimsical art on used teabag paper. She is the author of a newly published coffee table book, 363 Days of Tea: A Visual Journal on Used Teabags. Silvious was educated in the U.S., Europe and Asia; she currently lives in New York's Hudson Valley. Her art is exhibited internationally, and is featured in public and private collections.
RIVERRUN specializes in rare, antiquarian, and unusual books & literary manuscripts of all periods, with an emphasis on literature, travel & exploration, art reference, illustrated books, science & technology, and Americana. We seek interesting and important material in all fields.
RIVERRUN's cataloged inventory exceeds 15,000 titles, all of which may be found online. The shop's revolving inventory of some 30,000 volumes means that there is always more to discover if you pay us a visit.  Please call or e-mail to confirm hours and availability or (914) 478-1339.
NEW YORK ARTS EXCHANGE is an arts education service that offers lectures, private art tours, studio visits and curatorial services. Founded in 2003, NYAE is dedicated to connecting audiences with all the arts in accessible and joyful ways in order to inspire life-long curiosity about what the arts can offer.  We wish to thank Tom Lecky of RIVERRUN Books and Manuscripts for helping the NYAE bring Ruby Silvious’ extraordinary work to Westchester County.

For more information, please contact Beth S. Gersh-Nešić, director of the New York Arts Exchange at or call: 914-318-6074.

Press photos by request.