They Called Me Mayer July’s Second Life

By Stephanie Gabrielle Almeida

Click image to see more screen shots from They Called Me Mayer July opening in Second Life

Click image to see more screen shots from They Called Me Mayer July opening in Second Life

Look no further than the nearest comfy couch or recliner for the future of Museums and Museum exhibitions.

I had the honor of attending a gallery opening at the Tachles Gallery in Second Life for the Mayer July (First Life name:  Mayer Kirshenblatt) exhibition.  I met up with others from across the world – some of the cities represented were Warsaw, New York City, San Francisco and Stockholm.
I looked at vibrant acrylic artwork alongside the other avatars in attendance, and learned the reasons behind each figure represented within the art and each design and symbol in the background of each piece.
I did this from the comfort of my living room wearing a tee shirt, track pants and bare feet with a dog sniffing elbow and an eight year old girl shoving Barbie dolls with broken legs waiting to be snapped back into place into my line of vision every few minutes.
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I learned a little bit about the town of Opatów (Apt, in Yiddish) in Poland.   During the 1930’s, about 10,000 people lived in Apt.   Of that 10,000, more than 6,500 were Jews.   The paintings, which in my opinion could be best described as Jewish Folk Art, were a study of Mayer’s experiences as a child growing up in this town in pre-WWII Poland.  I was transfixed by the use of color and the sheer number of subjects in the works we looked at.

One of the paintings that I think will stay with me forever was called “Synagogue”.  This piece depicted a synagogue with interior walls covered with stained glass windows and beautiful interior paintings including a coat of arms of the twelve tribes of Israel and zodiac signs.  This work actually contains more than one hundred and thirty people (I counted personally!) – many of them carefully painted
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with delightful facial expressions.  There is a holy ark with torah scrolls, a Rabbi, a Cantor and a host of men, women and children attending the service.  The women were separated from the men (so as not to distract them from prayer) and some of the brightest colors in “Synagogue” are found in the clothing that the children are wearing.

Another favorite of mine in this exhibition was called “Shaving the Corpse”.  It depicted more than fifty people all focused on a body outside a cemetery in the center of a village.   The note card that is given when the work is clicked on contained a story about the work.  A rich man in the town had abandoned his religion.  He cut his hair and shaved his beard, wore non-traditional clothing and attended synagogue only once a year.  The man became very ill and during that time his hair and beard grew back.  He soon passed away.  The Rabbi ordained that before the man could be buried, he needed to be groomed back to his cut-and-shaved look.  The reason for this?  God wouldn’t recognize him any other way.

Each work in this wonderful exhibition is a combination of experience, personal recollection and even a lesson in history.  There were a number of times that an avatar in attendance said “wow, I had no idea…” and I feel so strongly that art like this has an important place in every group or culture.

The Second Life exhibition of Mayer’s work was actually a simultaneous presentation of the work.  People in New York City and Warsaw had the opportunity to attend the opening in First Life (affectionately known by many as Real Life).  The images have been shown already at the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkley, CA and in Mayer’s hometown in Apt.  They are currently able to be seen in First Life at The Jewish Museum, New York and in the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow, Poland.  Some of Mayer’s works will be soon traveling to Amsterdam for an exhibition there as well.

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click to see more

Of course, if you’re not a world traveler, you can see this exhibition from the comfort of your own home – just like I did - if you are ready to take the leap into a Second Life and join in the culturally rich environment waiting there for you.




Omgoodness!! This opens up endless opportunities for a gal like me who wants to create a Jewish Art Museum in MN, but is yet to have a site!! I am signing up for Second Life today!! Wow, the endless opportunities for Jewish learning, museum culture and art exhibition in the virtual realm--thanks to Mayer July's Second Life!! Brilliant!!

In gratitude,
--Paige Dansinger

Couldn't quite get "into" Second Life, but I did go see the exhibit there. I think I will just focus on opening a real museum!!

Thank you so much for attending and for taking the time to write about the Mayer July exhibition on Second Life. We will be visiting the exhibition again tomorrow morning, 10:30 am NYC time for anyone who would like to join us. Also, this is the last chance to see the First Life version of the exhibition at The Jewish Museum (NYC), which closes October 1.

Stephanie, this is great disposition and a reminder that SL is a place in which we can extend our cultural experiences past the palisades of our physical landscape.

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Just want to see if you are a robot.