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Former Refuseniks Display Art to Benefit Soviet Jewry Center

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Two former Soviet Jewish refuseniks are exhibiting their paintings around the United States with the hope selling them to raise funds for the Soviet Jewry Education and Information Center of Jerusalem.

Seventy of the paintings of the two artists, Eugene Abeshaus and Misha Taratuta, now both Israelis, are on display in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill through Friday. Some 100 people attended a reception for the pair there Tuesday night. An additional 10 paintings are displayed at the nearby Hyatt Regency Hotel.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews in cooperation with Sen. Lawton Chiles (D-Fla.), the South Florida Conference on Soviet Jewry and the District of Columbia Jewish Community Center.

The union of councils is sponsoring the national tour by the artists, which has already visited Miami and is scheduled to continue to New York, Boston, St. Louis, Dallas, Kansas City and Omaha, Neb. The artists reportedly sold six paintings each in Miami.

Julie Mendel, the union of council’s congressional liaison, said the exhibition represents a “gesture of trying to tie art and politics together.”

Abeshaus was well-known in Leningrad as organizer of the avant grade art group Aleph. In 1976, Abeshaus was Taratuta’s first art teacher Abeshaus, in his early 50s, emigrated to Israel in 1977, while Taratuta, 28, left the Soviet Union last August.

Chiles “adopted” Taratuta during his struggle to leave the Soviet Union.

Taratuta said his art tries to express the “joy of life” and focuses on “all of the progress, the new creations of modern times.” Taratuta said his work does not express “anger” about his past and often uses plastics or arranges concepts in a collage to describe “modern technology.”

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