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Tales, Myths, and Nightmares on Display at Spertus

Tales, Myths, and Nightmares on Display at Spertus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — November 5, 2012

For more information contact:

Brian Zimmerman

Betsy Gomberg


Paintings by artist and historian
Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern on view at Spertus Institute
for nine days only — December 9-18, 2012

(CHICAGO) In Tales, Myths, and Nightmares, artist and historian Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern introduces a cast of characters he says are “irreducible,” like the spare style and primary colors he uses to set his scenes. His paintings personify fragile survivors who represent the struggle and strength of the Jewish experience, and, more broadly, the vulnerability of humanity.

Thirty-three paintings by Petrovsky-Shtern will be on display for nine days, December 9-18, 2012, at Chicago’s Spertus Institute. Petrovsky-Shtern will lecture about his work at an opening program at 3 pm on Sunday, December 9. Tickets to this program are $18 ($8 for students) and include a reception with the artist. There will also be opportunities to meet the artist on Tuesday, December 11 from 10 am to 1 pm; Thursday, December 13 from 2 to 6 pm; and Friday, December 14 from 10 am to noon, when he’ll be in residence at Spertus and available in the gallery to answer questions and discuss his work. Admission to the exhibit, including these opportunities to meet the artist, is free.

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern was born in Kiev, then USSR, to an assimilated Jewish family. He has never been formally educated as an artist but spent a year studying under Ukrainian satirist David Miretsky. Following Miretsky’s arrest and then immigration to New York, Petrovsky-Shtern turned for inspiration to Russian icons, Ukrainian naïve art, Japanese xylography, and Flemish genre paintings. Unlike some art — such as paintings by Marc Chagall — these types of work were on display at Soviet museums or available in reproduction.

In 1996, Petrovsky-Shtern came to the U.S. to study Jewish history at Brandeis University. In 2003, he joined the History Department faculty at Northwestern University, where he currently serves as the Crown Family Professor of Jewish Studies. He is recipient of the 2008 Northwestern University Distinguished Teaching Award and the 2011 American Association of Ukrainian Studies Book Award, and, in addition to his role at Northwestern, he teaches and lectures at many other institutions around the world, including Spertus. Aided by his wife, Oxana Hanna Petrovsky, who encouraged him with canvases and paints, he recently resumed his artistic endeavors through the lens of his role as a historian of the Jewish people.

Spertus offers dynamic learning opportunities, rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and open to all. Graduate programs and workshops train future leaders and engage individuals in exploration of Jewish life. Public programs — including films, speakers, seminars, and concerts — take place at the Institute's Michigan Avenue facility, in the Chicago suburbs, and online.

Spertus is located at 610 S. Michigan Avenue. Discount parking is available for $10 with Spertus validation at the Essex Inn, two blocks south of Spertus.

For more information, please visit         

Spertus Institute is a partner in serving our community, supported by the JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

Exhibits at Spertus Institute are supported in part by a CityArts 4 grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. 

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YPS Y. Petrovsky-Shtern

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 Exodus, 2012

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An Acrobat An Acrobat, 2012

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 Inferno, 2012

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Retired Acrobats
 Retired Acrobats, 2012

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