Friday Morning Coffee: Chasing Portraits Author Elizabeth Rynecki on Writer’s Bone

Chasing Portraits author and documentary film producer Elizabeth Rynecki talks to Daniel Ford on the podcast Writer’s Bone about her emotional and personal project to find her Polish-Jewish great-grandfather’s paintings that were lost during World War II.

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    Chasing Portraits Radio Interview – Dallas, TX

    Missed my interview on KERA’s Think? Not to worry, you can listen to it online or download it as a podcast.

    KERA Think

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    About Think: “Since launching in November 2006, Think and host Krys Boyd have earned more than a dozen local, regional and national awards, including the 2012 Public Radio News Directors Inc. first place award for best call-in show, the 2016 Texas AP Broadcasters 2nd place award for local talk show, the 2013 Regional Edward R. Murrow award for breaking news coverage and more. In addition to airing on KERA FM, Think also is among the most-downloaded local podcasts in the public radio system, receiving about 200,000 downloads each month – more than half of which come from listeners outside the state. In each of the past two years, Think has been invited to broadcast live from the NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.” [http://think.kera.org/about/]

    Reading the Megillah

    In the months since Chasing Portraits was released (September 2016 was the publication date), I frequently get asked if I have anything new to report about finding my great-grandfather’s lost paintings. Up until today, the answer was “no.” Today I received an email from a Polish friend who continues to astonish me with his discoveries. Today he sent me the image of a painting titled, “Reading the Megilah,” an ink drawing published in the Warsaw Yiddish daily, Unzer Express on March 17, 1938. The illustration was included to illustrate several articles on the page about Purim. Purim commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day,” as recorded in the Megillah (book of Esther).

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    Capital Public Radio Interview

    Woman Discovers Holocaust-Era Paintings With “Chasing Portraits” Book.

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    Listen to the interview on Capital Public Radio’s website.

     

    ‘Chasing Portraits’ recounts journey into lost world

    jweekly september 2016There’s nothing quite like hometown coverage! Thank you so much Robert Nagler Miller and JWeekly for this really lovely piece, “‘Chasing Portraits’ recounts journey into lost world,” about the Chasing Portraits project, book, and upcoming events.

    I hope to see you at one of these upcoming bay area events.

    September 12, 2016. 7pm
    San Francisco JCC
    [Free, but advance reservation required!]
    (3200 California Street | San Francisco, CA)

    October 4, 2016. 7pm
    Book Passage
    (51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera, CA)

    October 16, 2016. 3pm
    Jewish Historical Society of Napa Valley
    Congregation Beth Shalom
    (1455 Elm Street, Napa)
    This program is free for JHSNV members and $5.00 for non-members. There will be refreshments served.

    Can’t make one of these three?

    Check out the calendar for other events.

     

     

     

     

    San Francisco Magazine

    Hey, thanks, San Francisco Magazine! What’s not to love about this fun and whimsical write up about Chasing Portraits?!

    A Detective Story, Sort Of
    “Follow the lead of Oakland’s Elizabeth Rynecki and her hotly anticipated nonfiction debut, Chasing Portraits (Sept. 6, Penguin Random House), to become a buzzed-about writer yourself.”

    SFMagazine

    A ‘Moral Imperative’ to Recover a Lost Art Legacy

    Chasing Portraits is in today’s New York Times:

    NYTimes August 2016

    An ink drawing by M. Rynecki?

    An email arrives. It’s from my friend, Piotr Nazaruk, in Poland. The subject line makes my heart race. It says, “An ink drawing by M. Rynecki.” I’m in the kitchen eating breakfast. It’s early, maybe 6am. I open the email and my phone struggles to download the large PDF. Piotr explains he found the image in the Warsaw Yiddish daily newspaper, Unzer Express from September 25, 1938. “The quality is very low,” he writes. But the Yiddish is clear, it says it’s an India Ink drawing by רינעצקי, the Yiddish spelling of Rynecki.

    I walk into my office and boot up my desktop computer to download the image. The black and white image slowly appears. Our internet connection this morning somehow feels throttled. I wonder if the boys are playing too many video games and eating up the bandwidth. Then the image appears, but it’s dark, and I can barely see the people in the painting. unzer express september 1938

    Piotr tells me he thinks the title is תקיעות = tkija, sound of the ceremonial shofar. “It’s hard to say what is in the painting,” Piotr hedges. “A man blowing a shofar, some books, Torah scrolls?”

    I stare at the black and white reprint of the painting in a newspaper published 78 years ago, trying to see something, anything. The top and edges of the image are too dark. I look at the bottom where I think I see two figures, and older man reading a book, and a young man standing(?)/sitting(?) next to him.

    “Do you know this one?” Piotr asks.

    No, no I do not.

    I write to my trusty Yiddish translator, Nick Block. “Can you read this?” I ask. “Does it say it’s my great-grandfather’s?”

    “I’m not sure why Piotr is hedging his words so much. It certainly says what he’s translated.” Nick assures me. Then he offers a slightly edited translation of Piotr’s Yiddish. It is plural, “tekies / Tekiot,” he writes. “It means, Sounds of the Shofar  or Shofar Blasts.”

    I stare at the painting, willing it to become clearer, but for now it’s all I have, another partial clue in a long line of mysteries.

    Israel’s Nazi Art Hunters in Foreign Policy

    This article is primarily about Holocaust era looted art in Israel. It opens with the story of how Polish provenance researcher Agnieszka Yass-Alston discovered a painting held in Israel at Ein Harod’s Museum of Art that belongs elsewhere and talks quite a bit about Elinor Kroitoru of Hashava and the Israeli governments’ efforts to find and locate heirs of Holocaust-era property in Israel. There is also a lovely mention of Moshe Rynecki and the search for his lost art (although the facts are a little off).

    Foreign Policy December 2015

    Przeglad – Poland

    first page of articleSławomir Grünberg was interviewed about his Karski & The Lords of Humanity film in the most recent issue of Przeglad (nr 45/2015). In the article the interviewer asked him to talk about some of his other projects. He told them a bit about his involvement in the Chasing Portraits documentary film project and my quest for my great-grandfather’s lost art. The article is in Polish and is available here as a PDF.