Gallery hosts exhibit in support of food pantry

Gallery hosts exhibit in support of food pantry

Julia Sirotkin, right, shows off a necklace made by Barbara Halberstadter, left, an exhibitor in the JFS Food Pantry art show.
Julia Sirotkin, right, shows off a necklace made by Barbara Halberstadter, left, an exhibitor in the JFS Food Pantry art show.

An Elizabeth art gallery and a bevy of local artists have joined forces for the second year in a row to raise money for the food pantry run by Jewish Family Service of Central New Jersey.

A show at L&M Art Gallery on Elmora Avenue will open with a meet-the-artists event on Sunday afternoon, April 18. The art will be on display for a further 10 days.

From the proceeds of each work sold, 15 percent will go to JFS to help stock the food pantry — contributed by both the artists and the gallery. Organizers are hoping to surpass last year’s total of $65,000.

Potter Mimi Stadler of Hillside, who helped launch the idea last year together with painter Nancy Asher, said enlisting the artists was no problem.

“There was a wonderful response,” she said. “This is a way of doing a great thing for a noble cause, and everyone is very committed to helping the community.”

The organizers said they decided to have a broader mix of work this time, with a somewhat lower range of prices. Seven of the 18 artists involved last year have signed up again, joined by about another 15 individuals, and a group of knitters. Their work varies from painting, graphics, and photography to Judaica, jewelry, pottery, textiles, and handmade kosher chocolate.

Painter and beader Phyllis Bernstein-Kuchner of Westfield, who works with a group of artists at Union County College, is one of the new exhibitors. “Artists like people to see their work, and this way we could do it for the food pantry,” she said. She will show both her pictures and her jewelry.

Jeweler Barbara Halberstadter of Linden, a JFS board member for 30 years, said she learned about the show too late last year to participate but immediately asked about taking part this year. She makes necklaces and earrings using a mixture of metals, with subtle hammered surfaces. “I love JFS. I don’t produce in large quantities, but I wanted to be part of this,” she said.

At a recent planning committee meeting, chocolatier Debrah Kivelevitz of Elizabeth earned sighs of delight when she passed around samples of her work. A psychotherapist by training, she turned her love of cooking into a business proposition after she and her family moved to Elizabeth from Chicago.

She said she cannot yet open a therapy practice because she’s still in the process of getting her New Jersey certification. “I enjoy doing anything culinary. I was having fun making chocolate, and people kept suggesting I sell it, so I thought, ‘Why not?’” She makes truffles in all kinds of flavors, all of them kosher, and — as her fellow artists suggested — definitely therapeutic.

Michael Sirotkin is the third-generation owner of L&M Art Gallery. His mother, Julia, is on the organizing committee for the second time.

They said the family has a long-running relationship with JFS. When Michael’s grandparents, Leo and Magda Pfeifer, and their children came to the United States from Hungary in the mid-1900s, JFS helped them get established.

“We are very grateful to JFS,” Michael said, “and it’s great to be able to help this way.”

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