JFSLA Collaborates with Major LA Artists

When JFSLA’s Art Committee began filling the walls of the JFS Gunther-Hirsh Family Center with art that would provide a calming and inspiring environment for clients and staff alike, they never imagined that they would end up collaborating with two of the most influential LA artists working today. 

When the committee began searching for artists to place two murals in the new building in 2020, the criteria was that the artists had to be local, and they had to understand JFS and its mission.

To find the perfect fit, Irene Ribner, a JFSLA Board member and chair of the Art Committee, and Jenny Lavey, former JFSLA Director of Donor Relations, invited Nancy Berman, the Executive Director of the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation and the Director Emerita of the Skirball Museum, and Barbara Gilbert, a former Senior Curator at the Skirball Museum, to join the Committee. Together, with the other members of the Art Committee, including JFS Board Member Roz Goldstine, an avid art collector; Laura Bergman, Senior Major Gifts Officer at LACMA; Sara Cannon, a well renowned art educator, JFS volunteer and supporter; JFS Board member Monique Maas Gibbons; and Gina Posalski, past Board member of Fellows of Contemporary Art.

Nancy and Barbara brought a selection of 30 LA artists for the Art Committee to consider.

After much deliberation, the Art Committee chose Eamon Ore-Giron to create a mural in Anita & Stanley’s Cafe, JFSLA’s new senior meal site. The Committee also selected Fran Siegel to create the mural located in the Todd Morgan & Rosanna Arquette Lobby on the third floor.

Siegel, a well-known LA artist and a professor of art at California State University of Long Beach, depicts time, movement, and cultural impact through her drawings and paintings. Siegel’s current focus in art is to tell a story by depicting location and landscape.

Siegel envisioned a mural for JFSLA that would represent the work of the agency and the people it serves. The mural, “Regrowth,” features an array of trees representing the many countries of origin of the people of Los Angeles – and therefore of JFSLA’s clients. The trunks of the trees represent the strength of the community’s diversity, while the leaves represent the fragility of life that makes organizations like JFSLA so important to the strength of the city.

To represent the roots of many in the Jewish community as well as her own family’s roots, Siegel painted the Bartek Oak, a tree from Poland at the center of the mural. Other trees represent many of LA’s diverse communities, including Guatemala, Mexico, Iran, Israel, Cambodia, South Africa, Russia, Korea, Japan, Australia, the Philippines, and more.

“The project is about the idea that people move from one place to another – the idea of migration and immigration, part of the population that Jewish Family Service LA serves,” said Siegel. “I really like this idea that plants which might originate from one place can also readapt to other environments as well. People, like plants, can move from one place to another, and they create a kind of new landscape, a composite place where multiple communities reside.”

Siegel said she wants people to look at her piece and remember JFSLA’s mission. She wants others to learn more about immigration and the diverse cultures of Los Angeles that the artwork represents.

Eamon Ore-Giron felt honored to collaborate with JFSLA to create a mural for the Anita & Stanley’s Kosher Café meal site. The project was an opportunity for him to continue expanding his practice and engagement with the public realm with an organization whose mission and goals resonated with him.  

The mural’s arching curves and radiating bands of color represent a sense of movement and flow, recalling waves in an ocean, and is an abstract representation of the geography of Los Angeles and the West Coast. Ore-Giron named the mural “A Platform Out on the Ocean,” inspired by the American cellist, artist, and composer Arthur Russell. The palette of the mural reinforces the reference to the ocean and is inspired by Jerusalem’s Armenian ceramic art and the symbolic importance of the color blue in Judaism.

“Ultimately, I hope each viewer will find their own interpretation or meaning in the mural, or even perhaps a feeling that is reminiscent of looking out over the ocean,” said Ore-Giron.

Siegel and Ore-Giron’s works can be found throughout the country. In 2018, Ore-Giron created a mural for the Bay Parkway subway station commissioned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Arts and Design in New York City. His installations have been displayed in museums around the country, including the MCA Denver, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Prospect.3 in New Orleans, the Perez Art Museum in Miami, and major public commissions in New York and Los Angeles. Ore-Giron’s artwork can also be found outside of the country in locations such as Mexico City and Cairo, Egypt. He was recently featured in the Los Angeles Times as an dynamic artist who finds cacophony to tell a story about his heritage.

Siegel’s work has been displayed at LACMA, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Long Beach Museum of Art, Yale University Art Gallery, and the Morgan Library in New York. She has been profiled by the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Art in America, the Brooklyn Rail, LA Weekly, Sculpture Magazine, and more.

As artists who have dedicated their careers to representing their city, the Los Angeles Metro commissioned both Siegel and Ore-Giron to create permanent works for the new Wilshire/La Brea [MS1] [DV2] subway station under the Purple (D Line) Extension Transit Project. Their artwork will be viewed by thousands of commuters traveling to downtown Los Angeles, the Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills, and Westwood.

“I have called Los Angeles home for nearly 20 years and having opportunities to contribute to our shared visual landscape and engage in a sort of dialogue with the city itself is deeply gratifying and exciting,” said Ore-Giron.

The Art Committee continues to meet to brainstorm ideas on how to bring life and warmth to the JFS Gunther-Hirsh Family building. If you are interested in learning more about how the Art Committee was established, please visit JFSLA’s latest article on their mission to bring life and artwork into the center by clicking here.