Hidden Art at the Jewish Community Center
By Ashley Custer
The Thomases Gallery, located in the Jewish Community Center of Greater Youngstown on Gypsy Lane, has been operating since 2013.
It was created through the Thomases Family Endowment under the supervision of a gallery committee of five members of the Jewish Federation with strong ties to the Jewish Community Center. The gallery was curated by Joy White, a YSU department of art student and alumni.
Claudia Berlinski, assistant professor of art and interdisciplinary arts area coordinator, took over as curator of the gallery in spring 2015 as an outside consulting position.
“The Thomases Gallery typically has five to six exhibitions per year, running from August until May featuring regional artists,” Berlinski said. “We try to create a Jewish connection in at least one exhibition per year.”
The Thomases Gallery Exhibitions Committee reviews proposals for exhibitions several times per year, and artists are encouraged to apply at any time. Berlinski recently posted a call for entry on the gallery’s Facebook page and in the local newspapers. Eligibility is open to artists 18 years of age or older.
“We’re hoping to get a number of submissions by artists for consideration in our planning of next year’s exhibitions,” she said.
This year, YSU alumni have been featured in exhibitions, including the gallery’s next exhibition. It will feature paintings by Charlene Galose, who earned both her Bachelors and Masters degrees from YSU. She received the Youngstown Arts Council Outstanding Art Teacher Award while teaching art at Boardman High School. The exhibition will be Feb. 8 through March 18.
“Galose shows her work throughout the state of Ohio and has garnered a number of awards, including the Eileen Scragg Memorial Award at the YWCA Women Artists Annual and a Jury Award at the statewide All Ohio Juried Exhibition,” Berlinski said. “She has also had exhibitions at the Butler Institute of American Art and Trumbull Art Gallery.”
There will also be a women’s exhibition this spring, and collaborations with Lit Youngstown, a community of writers from the greater Youngstown area, will hold literary readings once during each show.
Three to four writers from the region will be invited to engage with pieces on exhibit or read from previous work. Lit Youngstown poets will be reading their work in the Thomases Family Gallery on Sunday Feb. 21 from 3 to 4 p.m.
Berlinski feels the artists and art community in general do not have the Thomases Family Gallery on their radar. The people of the art community tend to focus downtown.
Friends and family of the artists who can’t make it to the receptions usually stop by some other time throughout the month. The guest book generally yields 60 to 80 signatures per show.
“There could be larger numbers if the art community at large attended the receptions like they would at other galleries,” Berlinski said. “We’re a bit separate from downtown Youngstown, where all of the attention is being focused now.”