24 November 2019

Museum of Modern Art in New York City: 5,696 miles from Jerusalem, Israel; 305 miles from JerUSAlem, New York; or 0 cybermiles via The Cloud



The Museum of Modern Art has a special place in my life having been born and educated in New York. Instead of taking the Green Bus to school, I’d often run across Queens Boulevard and take the bus in the opposite direction across the bridge to Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street to spend the day at the MoMA with Matisses and Picassos.


My first teaching job was as a high school biology teacher at Rhodes School on 54th Street overlooking the MoMA terrace. (It’s the red brick building in the photo below.) 

My second date with Miriam, who became my wife ten months later, was in the MoMA where I explained to her ideas emerging from modern art. The last museum she had visited was the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam viewing Rembrandts when she was nine years old on her way from Suriname where she was born to live on a farm in Israel.


Victor D’Amico, director of MoMA’s Children’s Museum was my teacher when I was studying for an interdisciplinary doctorate exploring creative process in art and science at NYU. His classes were held at MoMA.  

When I was head of the art department at Pratt Institute, I invited Francoise Gilot to lecture there.  She gave me a copy of her book Matisse and Picasso: A Friendship in Art inscribed “To Mel Alexenberg who sees angels in computers and computers in angels.” My experimental Rembrandt inspired cyberangels are now in MoMA’s collection.           

“He had a vision in a dream. A ladder was standing on the ground, its top reaching up towards heaven as Divine angels were going up and down on it.” (Genesis 28:12) Angels in Jacob’s dream go up from the Land of Israel and go down throughout the world.

As a digital homage to Rembrandt on the 350th anniversary of his death, artist Mel Alexenberg is launching cyberangels from Land of Israel, the setting of Rembrandt's Bible themed artworks, to art museums in the twelve US states that have places named JerUSAlem

Top image: Rembrandt inspired cyberangels arrive from Israel at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in time for lunch at the Terrace Cafe.  The biblical words for angel and food are spelled with the same four Hebrew letters to teach that angels are spiritual messages arising from everyday life. Perhaps there is spiritual significance that museums that offer art also offer food.
Second image: The cyberangels begin their virtual flight from the Israel Museum's Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem, home of ancient Bible scrolls. They gain momentum by going up from the tallest building in Israel, the 91 story Azrieli Spiral Tower in construction in Tel Aviv with the shape of a Bible scroll.

Third image: Cyberangels spiral up from a NASA satellite image of the Land of Israel on a smartphone screen on the cover of Mel Alexenberg’s latest book Through a Bible Lens. They launch the book throughout the world from the artist/author’s studio in Israel. See praise for the book at Israel365.
Bottom image: This experimental mixed media artwork by Mel Alexenberg was exhibited in the “The Second Emerging Expression Biennial: The Artist and the Computer” exhibition at the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York in 1987-88.

It creates a visual dialog between a hand-drawn etching, photoetching, and computer-generated etchings based on a Rembrandt drawing in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that placed Alexenberg’s print in its collection. It was also acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in 1987.

Mrs. Alfred R. Stern, Chairman of the Committee on Prints and Illustrated Books, wrote on adding Mel Alexenberg’s 1986 etching with aquatint, Jacob’s Dream from the series Digitized Homage to Rembrandt to MoMA’s collection: 

“The members of the committee were pleased to accept this computer-assisted etching of Rembrandt’s imagery. As an example of the innovative technological experimentation taking place at Pratt Graphic Center, it will be of great interest to students of the development of graphic techniques.”