Zakheim: The Art of Prophetic Justice is on display at the Jewish Community Library in San Francisco now through February 3, 2013. Ruth Gottstein, Bernard Zakheim’s older daughter at age 90, shared her reflections on her father.
How would you like your father and his art to be remembered?
“Exactly the way in which Prop B publicized the Coit Tower issues, by pointing out how relevant his art was – and is.”
How did your father feel about the controversy related to the Coit Tower murals?
“In all my answers, we have to remember that I was a little girl, and my reactions were those of a young person. I do recall the pasted up/newspaper story, and how my father felt – but there were many issues, including the delay of opening the tower due to the General Strike. I will address these to the best of my ability, and memory.”
Why did your father decide to include you in The Library (his Coit Tower mural)?
“Would you believe–I don’t know?”
What are your fondest memories of your father either personally or related to his art?
“Of course many of my memories are not directly connected to his art or his being an artist – and yet, what I remember clearly is our walking with him to downtown San Francisco when the city was closed down during the General Strike. I will describe this. As a father – well, turbulent. I clearly remember something he said frequently, in reaction to many problems and issues – both within the family and in the community – “I am an artist.” It was his true self-definition.”
Give us an overview of yours and your sister Masha’s book Coit Tower San Francisco.
“For a long time, my father had told my sister that she should interview the Coit Tower artists while they were still alive, and she did. And believe it or not, no publisher was interested in the topic. So back to Masha. She came to me with the book project, and in 1983, we published the first edition in a smaller format. The current book includes fascinating new materials and text, a far better design and layout, and is in every way a superior publication.”
Support for the creation of this exhibition and related programs is provided by the Koret Foundation, the Laszlo N. Tauber Family Foundation, and the Fleishhacker Foundation. This lecture is co-presented by the Jewish Community High School of the Bay, the Mechanics’ Institute Library & Chess Room, The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring of Northern California, and The Mexican Museum.