Far Rockaway, NY, Sept. 19 — A local artist’s likeness of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, ZT”L, won the top prize for oil paintings at the annual ArtSPLASH art show conducted by the Rockaway Artists Alliance.

Mrs. Laura Deckelman of Far Rockaway’s painting “Rebbe With Lulov” — depicting Rabbi Schneerson, talis over his head, holding a lulov in preparation for celebrating the Succos holiday — took home the red ribbon signifying the best oil painting in the show at the honors judging held this past Sunday, Sept. 16.

Numerous people attending the regional artists group’s big annual show at its gallery at the old Fort Tilden military base in the Rockaways  said that they were impressed by the expressiveness seen in the Rebbe’s face, particularly in his piercing eyes, as captured in oil on canvas by Mrs. Deckelman — and the professional art judge brought in to scrutinize all of the dozens of various works on display  apparently agreed, in awarding her work the top honors in the oil-painting category.

For Mrs. Deckelman — a long-time professional photographer  who went back to school in the early 2000s to formally study painting — the award marks a milestone in a process that began in 2005, when she began doing paintings of the Rebbe at the suggestion of a good friend, Chaim Eliezer Abrams, a”h,  who was a follower of the Rebbe; he suggested that he might be an interesting subject for one or more paintings.

She began painting “Rebbe with Lulov” in 2006, continuing it in stages for more than a year, until late in 2007, when she felt it was finished. The painting sat with many other works she had painted on varied subjects, both religious and secular, for several years, until this summer, when Mrs. Deckelman decided to enter it into ArtSPLASH, the largest of the more than half a dozen shows mounted each year by the R.A.A,  a community arts group based in Rockaway Park but whose membership includes artists from all over the New York metropolitan area. The exhibition opened last weekend (Sept. 8-9) and will run each weekend at the R.A.A Gallery, Building  7 at Fort Tilden, through Sunday, Oct. 7.

Mrs. Deckelman  says that it is her dream that her painting of the Rebbe will someday be in many Jewish homes and sukkahs in America, Israel and elsewhere in the world, and has reasonably-priced giclee prints on canvas or fine-art paper available for purchase. To order a print, commission a custom painting or for further information about Mrs. Deckelman’s work, or to set up a media interview, please contact her at (718) 471-1949 or (347) 703-9329, or via e-mail at laura.deckelman@yahoo.com.

For further information about the Rockaway Artists Alliance’s shows and its various other educational and cultural programs, please contact the R.A.A. at (718) 461-0861, or via e-mail at info@raa116.org . The group’s website is http://www.rockawayartistsalliance.org


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