My mother-in-law, the artist

Mary Dubin, my mother-in-law, and her ebullient pink painting, It's Springtime!, just to her right. All the paintings in this post were exhibited in Seniors Celebrate the Arts 2007
Mary Dubin, my mother-in-law, and her ebullient pink painting, It’s Springtime!, just to her right. All the paintings in this post were exhibited in Seniors Celebrate the Arts 2007

Mitzvah Mania is coming. I know that from my friend Deborah Zuchman, who I talked to briefly after I wrote the last post about the cutback of her program in which she was coordinator for murals being put in the schools. You’ll be glad to hear she still has a job– doing basically the same work for Mural Arts itself–ushering projects along. (This hardly is a replacement for the other project that got the ax, however).

One of the projects she will be overseeing is a mural at the John H. Taggart School at 4th and Porter (it was Murray’s elementary school, and my mother-in-law still lives nearby). The project in fact involves my mother-in-law, Mary Dubin, and it’s part of Mitzvah Mania, a city-wide project to commit good deeds and nice things all over the city, in part supported by the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia.

Edwina Brown
Edwina Brown is one of the Stiffel Center artists, and that’s her deco-inspired painting of a water bird.

The mural will involve the senior citizens at the Stiffel Center, in South Philadelphia, which means my mother-in-law. She loves to paint. And according to Zuchman, some of the members at Stiffel will be painting both on parachute cloth and then on site, on the lower areas of the wall. The school community and the Stiffel members will all have input on the content of the mural, which will be created by Barbara Smolen, who also happens to be Roberta’s neighbor.

Elaine Mungin
The Earth is the Lords, a fabric collage by Elaine Mungin, is a razzle-dazzle outsider-looking image that blew me away.

Speaking of my mother-in-law and the Stiffel Center, a couple of weeks ago I went to this terrific art opening, Seniors Celebrate the Arts 2007. The event included about 125 works of art, drawn from senior centers all over Philadelphia, including my mother-in-law’s.

The event, at the senior center at Broad and Lombard, was packed. The Philadelphia Corporation for Aging went all out, with wine and a fabulous spread of food–loads of cocktail shrimp, crudites, hot tidbits on trays–pretty swanky. The participating artists and their families and friends–there must have been more than 150 people there–were beaming.

Randolph Newton
While I’m giving out prizes, Best Title goes to the surreal Vision of a Pit Bull, by Randolph Newton. It’s acrylic on canvas.

I have to give props to Barbara Rosen who teaches the Stiffel Center art class. She clearly inspires them. But Stiffel is not atypical. Art is big, and the participants in this exhibit were from every ethnicity you can think of, it seemed.

Some of the art had Asian influences, some had religious content. Landscapes were big, of course. And a number of pieces, from a heavily Asian center, had clear Asian aesthetics.


deborah zuchman, edwina brown, elaine mungin, mary dubin, mitzvah mania, randolph newton, seniors celebrate the arts 2007



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