Painter Mayer Kirshenblatt dies


(JTA) — Mayer Kirshenblatt, who recorded the lost world of Polish Jews in paintings and stories, has died.

Kirshenblatt died Nov. 20 at his home in Toronto. He was 93.

Born in 1916 in Opatow, Poland — known in Yiddish as Apt — Kirshenblatt left Poland for Canada in 1934.

In 1990, at the age of 73, Kirshenblatt taught himself to paint and began recording the vibrant lost world of his childhood. He had turned to painting at the urging of his family.

Since 1967 his daughter, the scholar Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, had conducted interviews with Kirshenblatt on every facet of prewar Jewish life in Apt.

In 2007, these recollections were published along with nearly 200 of Kirshenblatt’s paintings as a book, "They Called Me Mayer July." The title stems from Kirshenblatt’s childhood nickname, "Mayer Tamez," or "Mayer July" — slang at the time for crazy Mayer. The book won several awards and brought Kirshenblatt’s work to international attention.

Kirshenblatt’s paintings were the subject of a major exhibit this year at the Jewish Museum in New York.

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