Celebrating Three Generations Of Artists At P’Chotchka

Tamara Nadel describes her work at the Ragamala Dance Company as “hybridic” – which makes sense: She’s an American working at a South Indian dance company, and herself of Jewish and Cuban descent. But that hybrid of styles led her to a grant from Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council to create Haven’t I Hidden Your Name?, which she will spend some time talking very quickly about.

Nadel is one of the eight artists who will be participating in the seventh annual P’Chotchka, the annual gala of Rimon. The event will be held at the Metropolitan Ballroom (5418 Wayzata Blvd., Golden Valley) on June 4 at 6 p.m.

The eight artists, spanning three generations and a torrent of artistic disciplines, include a playwright, dancer, choral conductor, photographer, painter/writer, arts educator, mixed media artist, and actor. Each has been supported by Rimon through one of its many programs, such as Project Support grants, Artist Salons, youth artist workshops, and more. The challenge for the artists: they each select 18 images that have inspired them and have 18 seconds per image to get their point across.

“I’m so happy to contribute to [P’Chotchka] this because I couldn’t have done this without the support from the community,” she said. “My artistic life is not within the community, but having them recognize me and bringing my own tradition in is meaningful to me.”

David Harris, the executive director of Rimon – a program of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation –said that the format comes from the Japanese word “Pecha Kucha,” which means chit-chat.

“Since its launch over 20 years ago, Rimon has supported several hundred Minnesota artists working in every field in the arts. Rimon wants to build a passionate, appreciative audience for the arts and to highlight the singular contributions artists are making to the community,” said Rimon’s Executive Director David Harris. “P’Chotchka—derived from pecha kucha, or chit-chat in Japanese—is a great opportunity to look at the depth of the Jewish arts scene in all its startling variety.”

Other P’Chotchka honorees this year are:

Susan Weinberg is a writer and artist. She weaves these skills together in an exploration of family, cultural and community history, offering a layered retelling using text and image. In 2011 she began the Jewish Identity and Legacy Project, an oral history project with elders, complemented with artwork. Her recent book We Spoke Jewish: A Legacy in Stories includes artwork and story from this project. She speaks and exhibits nationally and internationally. Susan is a long-time member of the Minneapolis Jewish Artists’ Lab where she is the Resident Writer and serves on the board of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest. She works out of her studio in the California Building in NE Minneapolis.

Maggie Bearmon Pistner’s two loves have always been teaching and theater. She recently retired from Minnetonka High School where she taught English for 25 years and theater for 10. Now she just gets to act. Most recently Maggie performed at the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company in Collected Stories, but she has been seen at a number of Minneapolis and St. Paul theatres, including The Jungle, Walking Shadow, Gremlin, Theatre Unbound, Theatre Pro Rata, Red Eye, PlayLabs, Park Square, and Artistry. Telling her mother’s story as a captain in WWII in They Called her Captain, a Rimon-supported one-woman show, remains a highlight in her theatrical career. Maggie is also a voice-over and commercial talent with NUTS, Ltd.

Gary Wolfman is Artistic Director of the Twin Cities Jewish Chorale. He was the religious leader and cantor for Congregation B’nai Israel in Oshkosh, WI for the past 30 years. He currently is the conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra for the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony organization. Before joining GTCYS in 2012, Gary was Music Director for the youth symphony program of Fox Valley Symphony in Appleton, Wisc. For many years he taught students in orchestra programs at Appleton North and West High Schools and was a recipient of the Appleton School District High School Educator of the Year Award. He graduated with a music education degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a Masters degree in orchestral conducting and music education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Deborah Yarchun is a New York City-based playwright. Her plays have been produced and developed at places including Fusion Theatre, Jewish Ensemble Theater, Jewish Plays Project’s OPEN Festival, the Minnesota Fringe, the Philadelphia Fringe, The Samuel French Off Off Broadway Festival, the William Inge Center for the Arts, and Playwrights Horizons’ Peter Jay Sharp Theater by Young Playwrights Inc. Deborah’s honors include two Jerome Fellowships at The Playwrights’ Center, an EST/Sloan Commission, the Kernodle New Play Award, The Kennedy Center’s Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award, the Richard Maibaum Playwriting Award, and the Iowa Arts Fellowship. Her play, A PICKLE,  won a 2017 Minneapolis BroadwayWorld.com Award for Best Original/New Work. Deborah is a 2017-2018 Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow.

Susan Armington is an artist and project designer who leads Talking Suitcases ™ to connect communities through art and sharing life stories. She works in painting, mixed media and imaginative map-making.  Her art has been exhibited regionally, nationally, and internationally. She received grants from the MN State Arts Board in 2004, 2009, and 2013. In 2012 she was commissioned to create life-size figures (“Dreamcarriers”) for International Labour Organisation headquarters in Geneva. In 2014, Talking Suitcases™ was exhibited in Shengyang, China. In 2017 she led a project about poet Robert Bly and created a 3-D exhibit for the History Museum in Madison, Minn.

Liba Zweigbaum Herman is drawn to the intersection of creative expression and reverence for the natural world. She graduated with a degree in Experiential Education from the University of Minnesota and earned a teaching license in Art Education from the College of St. Catherine. Her beadwork, ketubot, and mixed media works have been seen in exhibitions throughout the Twin Cities. She has worked locally with Courageous HeARTS, Free Arts MN, Minnetonka Center for the Arts, St. Louis Park Community Education, Torah Academy, Old Arizona Youth Programs, Rimon, and the Sabes JCC. Liba first discovered “Soul Painting” while living in Oregon. She was captivated by its awakening and restorative qualities, which led her to open INSIDE OUT Painting Studio to share this experience with others.

Sarah Weinshel‘s art, which ranges from portraits to photos and paintings of nature, is inspired by traveling. Recognition for her work includes two gold keys in the Minnesota Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, second place in the Keren Or photography contest, and displays at local coffee shops. Sarah will graduate from The Blake School this spring and in the fall will be attending Swarthmore College, where she hopes to continue exploring her passions in photography, painting, and the natural sciences.