The Jewish Community Center of San Francisco will be hosting a book launch party for Mayer Kirshenblatt and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s new book, They Called Me Mayer July, on September 5th at 8pm. This will be the precursor to an exhibition of Mayer Kirshenblatt’s artwork at the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley that will run from September 10th to January 13th.
Mayer Kirshenblatt, who was born in 1916 and left Poland for Canada in 1934, taught himself to paint at age 73. Since then, he has made it his mission to remember the world of his childhood in living color, “lest future generations know more about how Jews died than how they lived.” This volume presents his lively paintings woven together with a marvelous narrative created from interviews that took place over forty years between Mayer and his daughter, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. Together, father and daughter draw readers into a lost world—we roam the streets and courtyards of the town of Apt, witness details of daily life, and meet those who lived and worked there. This moving collaboration—a unique blend of memoir, oral history, and artistic interpretation—is at once a labor of love, a tribute to a distinctive imagination, and a brilliant portrait of life in one Jewish home town.