Chapter One, Cowboy, 1895
Chapter Two, Migrant Mother, 1936
Chapter Three, The Artist, 20,000 BC
Tree Rings is a collection of essays inspired by images.
My father’s best friend, Louie Green was a Jew and we shared Passover with his family, and they, Easter dinner with ours on those few occasions when we weren’t with Babcie, Auntie and Aunt Sadie. Through Louie, I was first exposed to Judaism. I first read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning in high school, not many years after its initial publication in 1959. It was my first deep look into the Holocaust. Forty years later, I first saw the photograph commonly referred to as “The Last Jew in Vinnitsa.” It rekindled my interest in things Jewish that was first fired when I was a young boy.
Within months after first staring into the eyes of the would-be ‘last Jew,’ I learned about Witold Pilecki, the Pole who volunteered to infiltrate Auschwitz, and his report led me to Bronisław Czech. Three years later, I published The Hamsa in 2010.
Early in 2017, I found myself staring into that unnamed man’s eyes once again, and I remembered something I read by Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel.
“To forget means to deny the relevance of the past.”
Tree Rings is inspired by Elie Wiesel’s words. Life lives in images. In photographs, finger paintings, watercolors, petroglyphs, oils, and charcoals …. pictures embrace memory like tree rings, memories held not as captives but as free spirits willing to reveal their secrets to those who care to examine them, to relive them, the good and the bad.
I invite you to share the writings that these images speak to me. You will recognize some of the images, others you won’t. Your stories will be different than my stories. Relish your memories and never forget the relevance of the past.
Chapter One Cowboy, 1895
released May 1, 2017
Chapter Two Migrant Mother
released June 1, 2017
photograph by Dorothea Lange
released July 1, 2017