Boys Town art gallery ‘enriches lives’
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Boys Town art gallery ‘enriches lives’

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The Frances and Isaac Suder Jerusalem Art Gallery at Boys Town Jerusalem. COURTESY OF BOYS TOWN JERUSALEM

Longtime Teaneck residents Frances and Isaac Suder became involved in Boys Town Jerusalem more than 25 years ago.

“A friend of ours, Arthur Joseph, spoke with my husband and told him, ‘This is the most wonderful place I’ve seen.’ He said we had to go,” said Frances Suder, explaining that Boys Town, founded in 1948, takes care of “indigent boys with no family and no home and guides them into studies that will lead to a career.”

The Suders paid that visit, and have remained interested in the school ever since.

“Once we saw it, we realized it was something wonderful,” said Frances Suder, who took a particular interest in art education there after seeing some boys painting and drawing.

While the school is known primarily for providing training in technology and commerce, “not every boy can become an engineer,” said Suder, who was pleased to discover some 20 years ago that Boys Town also offered extra-curricular courses in liberal arts.

Suder, herself an artist, said she urged the school to keep up these courses “to reach the boys who are not ‘industry-minded.'”

The school’s continuing commitment to art education – and Suder’s keen interest in perpetuating that – led to the creation of the The Frances and Isaac Suder Jerusalem Art Gallery, dedicated six months ago.

According to a statement from Boys Town, the gallery, which “brings high school students face-to-face with the world of art,” will be open to the public and will display works from professional and amateur artists from around the world. The gallery, located in the school’s main academic building, “features an eclectic array of works in oil, acrylic, pastel, charcoal, and watercolor.”

Suder has two paintings in the first exhibit, which contains artwork about Jerusalem. The Teaneck resident, who works in oils and watercolors, has also exhibited her work in two New York galleries as well as in local venues such as the Bergen Museum of Art and Science in Paramus.

While art education is important to the boys at the school, “art enriches the lives of everybody,” said Suder. “We want to produce well-rounded kids who can take their place in the world with some pride and dignity. Education is not finished unless you are acquainted with the arts.”

Sadly, she said, in a tough economy, “art is the first thing to go.”

According to Josh Weston, chairman of Boys Town Jerusalem, the students selected to display their works in the gallery study drawing and painting in extra-curricular classes taught by Israeli artist Yitzchak Giladi, who has exhibited his work in Switzerland, California, and Israel.

“Last year, a group of 11th-graders from these classes became the first BTJ students to take the national … matriculation exam in art history,” he said. “As the school continues to offer extra-curricular art classes, art awareness is becoming much more prominent in BTJ’s high-level technological environment.”

Professional and amateur artists interested in submitting their work for display in the Suder Jerusalem Art Gallery should call the BTJ national office at (800) 469-2697 or e-mail btjnational@boystownjerusalem.org.

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