In Remembrance at JGallery: “Why Some?”
By Susan Sternberg
JGallery presents Mark Lit’s “Why Some?”, a collection of present-day photographs of Poland including images of Warsaw, Krakow, Auschwitz, Birkenau and Madjanek, from April 4 through May 18.
Lit’s black and white images, punctuated by selected color, document a stark and poignant reality. On Tuesday, April 17, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Lit will speak about his photography at JGallery’s free opening reception hosted by the Visual Arts League.
Lit’s first trip to Poland was in the late fall of 1997. He said that it confused him that a country with so few Jews still had so much anti-Semitism. He remembered the phrase he once heard but never understood; “…only in Poland can you have Jew haters and no Jews.”
In 2011, Lit returned to Poland on a trip offered by the Jewish Community Center Association of North America for directors and lay leaders. In Krakow, there was a growing Jewish community with an active JCC, a rebuilt Jewish quarter and well-kept Jewish cemeteries.
During the trip, he shot more than 1,300 images. In the evening, after travels to Jewish cemeteries and concentration camps, he would return to the tour bus and download his photos into his iPad. He shot in color and using a ninety-nine cent software program he would turn the images to black and white and then bring back specific colors to the photograph.
“I took a photo of the bunk beds in Majdanek and added color to one,” Lit said. “Just as I selected one bed, I realized, someone else had done the “selecting” not so long ago.” Why this bunk? Why that person? In this exhibition I ask the viewer to tell me, ‘Why Some?’”
Besides being an accomplished photographer and theatre director, Lit is also a potter, a painter and glass mosaic portrait artist. His work can be seen at Imagine Art of Austin where he is a resident artist and volunteers as a teacher/coach with a group of talented adults with special needs.
In tandem with “Why Some”, Imagine Art is presenting “Treasures of Darkness”, from April 16 to May 31, a “sister” exhibition of Lit’s photographs. Olivier Messiaen's “A Movable Feast: Quartet for the End of Time” will be performed by Austin Chamber Music Center on April 19 at Imagine Art. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lit is the former founding CEO of the Jewish Community Association of Austin (now Shalom Austin). He also served as assistant executive director at the JCC Houston, and CEO at the JCC of San Antonio and the JCC of Metropolitan Detroit. He retired in 2015 after 36 years in the JCC field after which he accepted an interim CEO position at the JCC of Metrowest, in New Jersey. Mark Lit and his wife, Joyce, now live in Austin. ■
"Why Some?" free opening reception will be held April 17 at 7 p.m. at JGallery, 7300 Hart Lane, Austin, Texas 78731.