Leah Raab, a former resident of Teaneck, a recognized artist in Israel and the U.S. and member of the Jewish Art Salon, will be exhibiting selections of her artwork in September at the Art Gallery of Fairleigh Dickinson University.
“My work reflects the paradoxes of everyday life. What is not always apparent or clearly visible is lurking beneath the surface.” So comments Leah Raab about her impressive portfolio of artwork created over 20 years in the USA and Israel.
A resident of New York City, Raab was born in Trenton, where her father, Rabbi Solomon Poll ob’’m, served as a pulpit rabbi and a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. Her early education took place between Philadelphia and Boston where she attended yeshiva day schools. Upon the family’s aliyah to Israel in 1971, Raab attended the Bezalel Academy of Art in Yerushalayim.
“My mother, Ruth Poll, ob”m, a gifted artist in her own right, had a great influence on me. She encouraged me to study at Bezalel. My years living in Jerusalem were inspirational. Words are not adequate to describe my feelings of being one with the landscape of the city.”
Raab earned her BFA from Bezalel in 1974, the year she and husband David were married. She began her career teaching art at Beit Zeirot Mizrachi in Tel Aviv while creating her initial artwork.
In 1978, the family moved back to the USA where Raab continued painting while teaching art at local Jewish day schools including TABC, Solomon Schechter of Englewood, Manhattan Day School and Moriah. In 1999, they returned to Israel. Raab resumed her teaching in Israel, at schools in Raanana and Beit Shemesh, and ultimately became the art director of the Emunah V’Omanut Program at Emunah College in Yerushalayim. Most recently, upon her and her husband’s return to the USA, Raab received her MFA from the New York Studio School and now serves as an instructor of painting and drawing at Touro’s Lander College for Women.
Raab has exhibited her art extensively in the USA and Israel. Included among the Israeli venues are the Municipal Gallery in Jerusalem, Asia House in Tel Aviv and the Agam and Mofet Galleries in Raanana. In the USA she has exhibited in galleries including Fairleigh Dickinson University, the Waltuch and Atrium Galleries in Tenafly, the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, the National Association of Women Artists and the Prince Street Gallery.
In describing her art form, Raab explains, “My work depicts my environment and my reaction to my surroundings. I focus on scenes that are familiar to me as I alternate between painting scenes in New York and Israel, where I lived for many years. The colors of the buildings in Israel are sun-bleached, pale and muted, while the colors of the street scenes in New York are intense and dark. Rooftops and buildings in New York are evocative of skylines I painted in Jerusalem and I am constantly comparing and contrasting the two.”
In terms of technique, Raab goes on to explain, “I use brushstroke and color to evoke a mood or feeling enveloping me in each setting. I depict scenes that are significant to me, such as neighborhoods where members of my family live, such as Modiin and Beit Shemesh. I am captivated by the jigsaw-like puzzle pieces of the buildings forming geometric configurations, the structures nestled in the hills, the vegetation and the stark patches of open land.”
Recurring images in Raab’s paintings are playgrounds and parks with playing children, and the old and new contrasted in the gentrification scenes of the Lower East Side, which also represents early roots of Raab’s family. Colorful paintings of lungs that then morphed into images of turtle shells are based upon Raab’s grieving for her mother, ob”m, who was stricken with lung cancer. The duality of fun and fright are represented in her series of paintings of the monster slide in Jerusalem.
Raab invites the community to view and purchase her artwork at the upcoming exhibit at Fairleigh Dickinson University. The official opening of the exhibit is scheduled for Thursday, September 14, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will run through September 21. Fairleigh Dickinson University is located at 1000 River Road, Teaneck, New Jersey 07666. The exhibit will be held at the University College Art Gallery in University Hall, Room 11.The gallery hours are from 9:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m.
By Pearl Markovitz