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Expressions of the Holocaust
by J. Tim Raymond
Locust Street Art has a new director, a new name, and a moving exhibit of paintings by Jeanette Shropshire
Locust Street Art, the new name for Locust Street Neighborhood Art Classes Inc., has provided free classes for individuals in the visual arts since 1959 in the Fruit Belt district of Buffalo’s East Side. The list of classes available includes photography, painting, drawing, pottery, printing, clay, and, starting with this year’s session, computer animation.
I spoke with Elizabeth Van Verth, the new director of Locust Street Art, during a fundraiser held this past weekend in behalf of the school and in conjunction with a retrospective of artwork by Jeanne Shropshire dealing with her painted images of the Holocaust.
This past Monday being National Holocaust Remembrance Day, I was especially moved by Shropshire’s black-and-white paintings depicting the retina-searing images of the great horror of the Nazi extermination program during the Second World War. What is unusual about her work is that Shropshire, not a victim of the atrocities, was compelled since the age of nine, when her parents read a newspaper article about the doomed refugees of the ship St. Louis, to think deeply about the ship’s passengers, unable in all the world to find a welcome port to escape the Nazi purge and occupation during the early 1930s. But until bringing her granddaughter to Locust Street in the 1980s to attend art classes, Shropshire had never found a way to express her emotions about how she felt. Her art teacher, Molly Bethel, invited her to take painting instruction, and her long-buried cares took graphic form. These works are all the more riveting for the restrain of palette—white on a black ground, the figuration only a contour outline describing a kind of indelible after-image.blog comments powered by Disqus
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