The Singer Gallery of the Mizel Center (350 South Dahlia Street, 303-316-6360) is nominally a Jewish institution, although the programs are typically more secular than religious. However, the current exhibit, Fourteen Stations/Hey Yud Dalet, is thoroughly Jewish, and the subject is the Holocaust. On display are fourteen monumental charcoal drawings of concentration camps done by Arie Alexander Galles.
Singer director Simon Zalkind has a special interest in this particular topic, since both of his parents were interned during the war. The title of the suite refers to the Stations of the Cross in Roman Catholicism, which follows Christ's passion and death in fourteen vignettes. But in these drawings, such as "Station #4 Belzec" (pictured), it's the Jews who are being crucified.
Polish-born California artist Galles painstakingly copied aerial reconnaissance photos of the camps taken by the Allied air forces. The resulting images are photographic in their accuracy, although up close, they do not look like photos. The artist allowed the tooth of the paper to show through and built up the surfaces with thick streaks. Hidden in the drawings are parts of the Kaddish, a mournful prayer for the dead that Galles wrote in Aramaic and Hebrew.
It took Galles a long time to complete these drawings; he began in the mid-'90s and just finished them a couple of years ago. Each is framed in wrought iron decorated with the image of barbed wire, and each is accompanied by a poem specifically written for them by Jerome Rothenberg, who used numerology based on the names of each camp as his guide.
The aerial photos tell their own story, which is not addressed by either Galles or Rothenberg: They prove that the Allies knew about the death camps, and history shows that they did nothing to put a stop to them until the end of the war.
If you want the hairs on the back of your neck to stand at attention, go see Fourteen Stations at the Singer Gallery before it comes down on June 24.