Intro to the Arrt Gallery

Before touring the Art Gallery, you might be interested to know
that currently there are seven exhibits in the Shivvetee Art Gallery:

Introduction to the Art Gallery Tour
-Table of Contents -

1. The “Elegies” manuscript
The “Lost Prophet” manuscript
The “Poem Excavated from Jerusalem” manuscript
Examples of calligraphy, ornaments, and border designs
A collection of portraits
Two illuminated amulet
The illustrations for an edition of the Pilgrimmage to Mecca story

1. The “
Elegies en Nance” exhibit displays an illuminated manuscript that is lettered on burnished Persian paper, that was estimated to be 150 years old when I purchased it in 1979. The title is raised gold leaf. Each of the poems is decorated with hand-ground pigments made of semi-precious stones, including cinnabar, lapis lazuli, azurite, turquoise, malachite, and jasper, as well as gold leaf. The manuscript is sewn on linen ribbons, but remains unbound. Up

2. The images in the “Lost Prophet” exhibit are reproduced from my first illuminated book. The poem itself was written in 1976, and as such, is the earliest example of my writing on this website. The paper for this small manuscript was purchased in Istanbul in 1977, and was estimated by Sam Kleinman to be 100 to 150 years old (back in 1977). Mr. Kleinman (I *never* called him “Sam”), was a much honored and vastly knowledgeable antiquarian book dealer (may his memory be a blessing). He also speculated that it might be of Persian provenance. The paper is still in wonderful condition. I calligraphed the book using India ink, and illustrated it with acrylic colors and bronze ink. The binding is made of laminated cedar veneer, sealed with polyurethane, and the title on it is done in gold leaf.Up

3. When my family and I moved to Victoria, BC in 1989, my first friendship was with a writer and printer, Robie Liscomb. Robie and I decided to make a little chapbook of a poem I wrote in Jerusalem in 1983, entitled
Poem Excavated from the Old City of Jerusalem. The poem itself was a one-off technical experiment. (I don’t know why I never played with this idea again.) First of all you’ll notice there are 2 alternate title pages. One is a woodcut I made; you'll recognize it as the opening gateway to Shivvetee. The other is a woodcut of a map of Jerusalem that Robie found in a very old book, and modified for this project. Then there's a dedication page, followed by 2 side by side pages of poetry. The side by side format is critical. On the left side of the double page is the "excavation" in totally broken English. On the opposing side is the "modern reconstruction." The idea is to emulate the architectural history of Jerusalem while describing scenes that I hope can be seen as either modern or ancient. You’ll see what I’m talking about when you visit the exhibit. Don’t pass up the last page, which is the “Printer’s Note.” It tells some essentials about the printing process and materials. What it doesn’t mention is that Robie was an absolute wizard in both his art and craft.Up

Calligraphy, ornaments, and border designs: This exhibit is a diverse collection of images and calligraphic experiments extracted from my notebooks. Some of the drawings were made while I was exploring museums or old books. Others are drawn from nature. In either case I often stylize them to make them appropriate for border designs.Up

Portraits: Of this collection of sketches, a few were used to make woodcuts to emboss leather for decorated book bindings. All have been extracted from my notebooks.Up

6. In the
Amulets exhibit, you can find two sets of images. The first set of five images documents the creation of an amulet named Spektrel Fiyer. The second set of four images documents the creation of an amulet named Yahava.

Spektrel Fiyer is a small Shiviti, produced in honor of a Bar Mitzvah. The actual Shiviti is about 3 inches (7.5 cm) square. The image was produced using highly burnished gold leaf and acrylics, on calfskin parchment. The image portrays a visualization of the atom. It can also be seen as a complex mobius strip. On one side of the strip is a Jewish prayer/mantra in Hebrew. Its translation is on the other side: "The God of Hosts is with us; a stronghold is the God of Jacob. Selah!" Traditionally, a Shiviti will be crowned with the name of God written twice, one within the other. In this Shiviti, within the large Yud Hay Vuv Hay, it appears twice in English and twice in Hebrew.

The Yahava amulet is a small, non-traditional Shiviti, produced for a Bat Mitzvah. The actual Shiviti is about 3 inches (7.5 cm) square. The Shiviti was produced using the same methods and materials as Spektrel Fiyer. The image portrays emerging emanations of Adoniy above and Yisroyel below, into Yahava, the Bat Mitzvah, taking her place among her people. Traditionally, a Shiviti ("Shivvetee" in Stevespell) is an inscription that includes the text "I will set Adoniy before me always," or in Hebrew, "shiviti Adoniy l'negdi tamid." It stands as a reminder of the constant presence of the Divine. For many people, a Shiviti may also act as a talisman and/or a focus for meditation and prayer.Up

7. In the “
Pilgrimmage” exhibit you’ll find my pencil sketches for an edition of the story, A Pilgrimmage to Mecca. You can read that story in the Reading Room in a version in which I have integrated some of these sketches. Here’s the whole set of them, 6 in all, directly out of my notebooks. I drew them as triptychs (groups of 3), and that’s how Steven Toleikis, my web guru, has hung them in the Gallery.Up

Back to Courtyard
Poetry, Writing, and Art by Stephen Berer © 2010. All rights reserved.