The Betzalel Gallery, a new fine art gallery in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, demands attention. Its chic exterior - like that of a trendy Soho gallery - sits sandwiched between an aging Laundromat and a bland, pre-war brownstone apartment building. Specializing in Hassidic Art, the gallery stands as a symbol of the continued revival of Crown Heights and the remarkable emergence of this art form.
Inside the Betzalel Gallery are the Rembrandts, van Goghs and Monet of the Hassidic art world. These are the most sought after – and highly ticketed - art pieces by the contemporary masters of Judaic art.
These wonderful paintings depict scenes of Jewish life and tradition, painted in the representational art style, an elderly Hassid with a long white beard teaches children from an old book by the light of a candle, a tailor dressed from the Shtetal times mends tethered garments, earnest young Yeshiva boys in traditional black hats and coats walk down the windy roads of Jerusalem.
The gallery curator is Shmuel Pultman, who lives in the Hassidic enclave of Boro Park, Since opening his first art gallery in Boro Park almost 20 years ago, Pultman has been at the forefront of Hassidic art's meteoric rise. He has seen the prices of the finest paintings jump tenfold at the same time as contemporary representational art has declined in popularity.
“Twenty years ago, the most a Judaic artist was able to command for a painting was $20,000 - $30,000. The Betzalel Gallery's top painting has an asking price of $175,000 although there are paintings starting from $3,000.”
For Pultman, it was straight-forward to recognize that Hassidic art’s time had arrived. He saw that many Holocaust survivors’ children had achieved considerable financial success. They were building large, beautiful homes but had nothing with which to fill the walls. His mission for the past 20 years has been to educate Jews about fine Jewish art.
The Betzalel Gallery will officially open its doors on Thursday, the 25th of Iyar. There will be an artist reception and exhibition of the great contemporary Judaic artist Itshak Holtz’s watercolors and drawings.
Itshak Holtz is a prime example of the ascendancy of Hassidic Art. Born in Poland, he immigrated to Jerusalem before World War II. He began drawing and studying art in Israel and continued his studies in New York. His everyday portrayals of traditional Jewish life, as well as the charm of Jerusalem’s winding alleyways, have become iconic and are some of the most coveted pieces in the Jewish art world.
Now 86-years-old, Mr. Holtz is the elder statesman of the Hassidic art world and is acknowledged as the greatest contemporary Judaic artist.
The Exhibit will run from 28 Iyar -20 Sivan.
The Betzalel Fine Art gallery is located at 567 Empire Blvd Brooklyn, NY. The Opening Art Exhibition will be on Thursday, May 17 Starting at 7:30 PM. For more information on the exhibition and gallery go tohttp://www.facebook.com/TheBetzalelGallery