Cinegogue Sessions Vol. 9 — Eye of the Beholder

Peggy Guggenheim

Dear JFI Friends and Family,

We’ve all heard the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but what does it really mean when it comes to art? Whether something is “art” doesn’t solely exist on its own but is rather defined by observation. That famous quote can help us remember that a beholder is someone who sees or otherwise experiences things, becoming fully aware of them. If art, like beauty, is truly in the eye of the beholder, it’s really our personal opinion that does the judging.

In this week’s program we meet an affluent art collector whose tastes made and supported careers in the high society artworld, an outsider artist working with found plastic materials and yearning to be recognized in that rarified world, plus several scrappy young Jewish cartoonists that eventually bring a respectability towards the comic artform.

Wherever your artistic tastes lay is of course entirely up to you, but we hope you’ll enjoy beholding this week’s program, The Eye of the Beholder.

Until next time.

Jay Rosenblatt, Program Director

Joshua Moore, Programmer

Margherita Ghetti, Next Wave Programmer

Born into great wealth and yet experiencing a series of traumas that left her emotionally at odds with the world, the rebellious American socialite Peggy Guggenheim spent a lifetime — and a fortune — breaking society’s rules to become one of the preeminent art collectors of the 20th century and a tireless champion of the avant- garde. In the absorbing Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict (SFJFF 2015) director Lisa Immordino charts Guggenheim’s journey from Jewish heiress to bohemian tastemaker, as she helped discover, support and promote the early careers of such talents as Wassily Kandinsky, Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali, Louise Nevelson, Robert Motherwell and Jackson Pollock. The film, richly illustrated with her collected artworks and containing rare, candid audio interviews with Peggy Guggenheim herself, makes a strong case that she was one of her generation’s truly liberated women.

Click here for a special filmmaker intro from Lisa Vreeland!

Click here to find streaming options for Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict through JFI On Demand!

“Michelangelo said the rocks speak to him. Well, this plastic stuff speaks to me,” says Jerry Ross Barrish, the unorthodox San Francisco–based artist in the inspiring documentary portrait Plastic Man: The Artful Life of Jerry Ross Barrish (SFJFF 2015). Working with found plastic — trash, essentially — since 1989, Barrish has created sculptures with the empathic whimsy of Alexander Calder or Pablo Picasso. Barrish grew up the dyslexic son of a mob-connected Chicago boxer and worked for 40 years as a bail bondsman, becoming the bailout guy for many radical ’60s protestors. He jokes that his Jewish faith has made him a pessimist. Barrish’s long and circuitous route as an artist always on the verge, rubbing shoulders with the successful and celebrated, while never quite breaking through, is the dramatic tale artfully told by director William Farley and producer Janis Plotkin.

Click here for a special message from film Bay Area reviewer Michael Fox
Click here for an amazing exclusive conversation with Janis Plotkin, Jerry Barrish, and Michael Fox.

JFI extends a special Thank-You to the filmmakers and distributors for making this film available for FREE(!!) from June 18th until July 1st! Please use the link below, or visit and enter the video password: JFI61820

Click here to see the Plastic Man: The Artful Life of Jerry Ross Barrish film page at JFI On Demand!

Like jazz, the comics are a truly American art form, chock-full of the dreams of Jewish kids. In the spirited short film People of the Graphic Novel (SFJFF 2012) Bay Area filmmaker Sam Ball provides a playful look at the history of the artform from the first “funny pages” to seminal artists including Will Eisner and Art Spiegelman. You may be surprised at who gave birth to Clark Kent and how the funnies went from thrilling pulp to respected graphic novel.

Click to watch the short film, People of the Graphic Novel!

To Tune In Next Week…

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