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Patchwork & Ornament
A Woman's Journey of Life, Love, and Art

Jeanette Feldman
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Artist's memoir told in short essays, stories, and poetry, with full-color photographs of the artist's work.

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The daughter of an immigrant mother and a disabled father, Jeanette "Jenny" Feldman grew up in poverty in the South Bronx during the Great Depression. Through art and culture, she transcended her humble beginnings to create a life filled with love, travel, and creativity

The Good Jewish Ladies of Allerton Avenue

I would stand at a window in our Freeman Street apartment and watch for my mother’s return from her Thursday trip to a temple on Allerton Avenue. She went there to collect food for our family, gifts of food to the worthy Jewish poor of the Bronx from the more worthy Jewish ladies of the Temple.

The Jewish ladies of the Temple had husbands who still had jobs in the ever-worsening Depression of the 1930s. There were temples closer to us, including a large one a block away, but the one on Allerton Avenue was solo in running what we now call a food bank. Kosher food was given on Thursday so that Shabbat dinner preparations could proceed without delay on Friday.

My father was a heart patient. He had angina pectoris, had many heart attacks, and was hospitalized for long periods. Because of his health, he was unable to work. We were on home relief and received food stamps for groceries plus surplus commodities in sacks, such as corn meal and grainy skim milk solids. The Allerton Avenue food made a great contribution to our meals.

My mother went on the trolley carrying two fabric shopping bags that she made from scraps of curtain materials, fashioned with side panels and strong wide handles.

In the winter, the Freeman Street hill near our home was a terror for me, slick with ice and snow. I would get down the hill by hugging the faÇades of the small shops that lined the sides of the street. Yet each week, my mother went down that hill and then came back up. I would see her head first in a hat or scarf; then her face, always stern, then her body emerging with her bags in tow. I would wave to her as she got closer to our apartment house. She would climb the two flights of stairs to our place.
She did this every Thursday to provide whatever she could for her family.

When I was a child, I didn’t think of the cost to her self-esteem, of what all of this—can I call it begging?—must have done to her. But then, her whole life had conspired to cheat her of self-esteem. She was beaten by her life, the way it would unfold: the sick, invalid husband with heart trouble, the asthmatic child, the poverty, the lack of hope for the future, and the shame of never having enough extra food for guests, not even for coffee and cake. Her pride, gone.

And yet, and yet, she did it, every week, every week, she went with her submissive face and her two shopping bags, got on the trolley, walked to the temple, took the food for her family, and thanked the good Jewish ladies of Allerton Avenue for their help.

I see my life as a detailed, intricate mosaic, as a process of experience, feeling and resolution; incredibly rich and enormously rewarding, the pain as well as the joy—all part of it.

I stand here, as on a hilltop, looking forward and back at the same time, awed by the depth and power of my lived life. This point of view, I feel, only came to me through my aging. I couldn’t see it when I was young.

The daughter of an immigrant mother and a disabled father, Jenny Feldman grew up at the height of the Great Depression, living in poverty in the South Bronx. Through the power of art and culture, she transcended her humble beginnings and created a rich life filled with love, family, travel, and creativity.

Taken from Jenny’s own writings, Patchwork and Ornament expresses the rich textures of an artist’s life through short essays, poetry, and stories. Through its collage-like style, Patchwork and Ornament combines bite-sized writings to present the full, complete work of art that was Jenny Feldman.

Jeanette "Jenny" Feldman grew up in the South Bronx and studied art at The Cooper Union School of Art. Her work has been exhibited in New York, Texas, and New Mexico. She lived in Houston, Texas, until her death in December 2008. She is survived by her husband of 53 years, Norm, two children, and two grandchildren.

Nadine Galinsky Feldman, editor, is the author of When a Grandchild Dies: What to Do, What to Say, How to Cope, and the editor of Joy-Full Holistic Remedies by Georgie Holbrook. Her work was also featured in an academic textbook, Teaching Multiwriting, by Robert David and Mark Shadle.

Table of Contents
Acknowledgements iv
A Collage of a Life v
What I Have Learned to Do In My Life vii
Family Tree viii
Part I: Childhood
I Dream of Warsaw 3
Introduction to the Study of Polskiego 6
Grandmothers 7
The Good Jewish Ladies of Allerton Avenue 8
Learning to Read 10
The Child 11
Kumquats and Tangerines Long Ago 13
Amber Light Through White Painted Windows 14
Untangling Mother 15
Pneumonia 17
Grapes and Walnuts at My Grandmother’s Table 19

Part II: Coming of Age
The Smell of Roasting Coffee 23
A Day in April 1948 26
My Father’s Name 27
O My Father 28
Eulogy For My Father 30
Feiga’s Death 31
Lessons Learned 33
Chanukah/Christmas: A Jewish Dilemma 34
To Live in New York as a Jew 35
First Date 36
Am I Good Enough for Larry K.? 37
A String of Memory 40
Hans Hofmann’s House in Provincetown 43
There Was a Moment 45
Aubade 46
The Year of 1955 47
My Sister 48

Part III: Family
A Link to My Past 51
Rose Englander’s Family Stories 53
Finding the Finifters 55
The Lost Baby 56
Flowering Crabapple in the Night Garden 57
Talk With Sarah–February 23, 1994 59
Jacob At Three 60
Rachel At Seven 61
Anne Cancer Anniversary 63
Anne’s Aneurysm Surgery 64
Little Birds Flying Home 67
Bar/Bat Mitzvah of Joe and Sarah, March 31, 2001 73
Letter to Joe in Israel 74

Part IV: Travels
Bouquillas Canyon 77
Walking In An Unfamiliar City 78
The Poet and the Roman Aqueduct 80
Morocco Letter 85
Portuguese Cuisine 89
Posing for Photos Along the Grande Canal 93
Principe Statizone 94
Roman Rambles 95
The Turkish Maid 96
Il Papa 99
Come Along With Me 100
Sweet Dark Espresso 101
Paris, Post-9/11 102

Part V: Art
The Studio 107
Patchwork and Ornament 108
Phone Call December 11, 1990 110

The Story of Il Palazzo De Buona Fortuna 111
Campanile Writers 113
Mary B. Reads Her Story 114
Visit to Houston Center for Photography 116
The Final Art Exhibit 117
Mannequin Hand 118
The Blossom Series 119
The “Red” Poems 120
Critique 122
You Know, She Said to Her Husband 123
Assemblages 126

Part VI: Age, Wisdom, and Insights
On the Beach 129
Running Away From the South Bronx 130
Reflections 135
Not Enough 136
Arctic Ice 139
Shopping for Groceries, Thanksgiving 141
Morning Sun 142
A Fall in the Night 143
The Business of Getting Old 147
On Contemplating a Biopsy 148
Quiet Snow 149
Great Dumpster in the Sky 150
Aubade (Reprise) 151
A Perfect Day 152
Looking At My Life at 75 153
A Moment Back

Gal In Sky Publishing Company
Patchwork and Ornament

Biography & Autobiography Books :: Artists, Architects, Photographers Books
Art Books :: Individual Artists Books :: Artists Books Books
Biography & Autobiography Books :: Women Books

ISBN: 0967441617
ISBN(13-digit): 9780967441610
Copyright: 2010
Dewey Decimal: 709.2
Library of Congress: 2009907241
Book Publisher: Friesens Corporation/Gal In Sky Publishing Company
Binding: Perfect
No. of Pages: 168
Paper Weight (lb): 80#
Illustrations (B&W): 6
Illustrations (Color): 33

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