Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Art preview: Exhibit honors Holocaust survivors

Forty-seven painted portraits by Wilma Bulkin Siegel are featured in the exhibition Survivors and Liberators at Whitespace – The Mordes Collection.
(Photos by Katie Deits)

By Katie Deits

The general public now has the opportunity to see the collection of one of Palm Beach County’s most outstanding collectors of contemporary art.

Elayne and Marvin Mordes are offering tours of their exhibition space (as well as their attached personal residence), located in a renovated commercial building in West Palm Beach. The current -- and very moving -- exhibition, Survivors and Liberators, concentrates on survivors of the Holocaust, "instilling strength of spirit through portraits and narratives.”

The exhibit, which opened Dec. 18 and runs through April 19, features 47 large-scale painted and collaged portraits of Holocaust survivors created by Wilma Bulkin Siegel. The artist interviewed and painted the subjects in their homes to “reach their souls and spirits in their own environment to tell about who they are," Elayne Mordes said.

A narrative about the person accompanies each painting. Siegel, a South Florida physician, philanthropist and humanitarian, does not sell the paintings, but instead creates community-based projects that are exhibited around the country.

Running concurrently is a thematically related show called Trace Evidence, featuring international film and video artists, as well as sculpture. Palm Beach resident and fine artist Ronn Jaffe is included in that exhibit. His work, Ominousness: The Showers at Auschwitz, is an intense mixed-media sculpture with a woodcut, photograph and found objects (Jaffe and the sculpture can be seen at right).

Private tours of Whitespace – The Mordes Collection can be booked online at, where the public days are also listed. Reservations must be made as space is limited and “drop-ins” are not permitted. The $30 per person entrance fee is donated to Whitespace Endowment, an arts and education grant fund at The Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin. The Mordeses will also be hosting VIP tours during the palmbeach3 contemporary art fair, which opens Jan. 15.

For reservations and more information, e-mail: or visit the Whitespace Website.

Elayne Mordes, left, greets artist Wilma Bulkin Siegel
on the opening night of the exhibition Survivors and Liberators.

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