Hipsters & Hassids is a series of paintings that present the similarities these two Brooklyn communities share despite their obvious differences. These two groups intrigued Elke because she is an artist and a religious Jew, often finding herself caught between the two worlds.
The painting series consists of 25 works which premiered on February 13, 2010 to an audience of 500 people. The opening included in attendance Hassidic Jews and self-identified hipsters from Williamsburg as well as young and old from all backgrounds. Since the series premiered it has inspired other projects, including the blog hasidorhipster.tumblr.com.
The paintings in pairs are meant to be presented with the hipster side on the left, and Hassidic version of the same story on the right.
2am Loft Party, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 60×36 in. Private Collection.
Also known as ‘Where’s Waldo’, this Hipster celebration is full of young people yearning to be unique who end up conforming to their own limited style. This painting features the color red prominently, which is never to be worn by the Hassids. The characters’ expressions are lifeless, no one is looking at each other and even the performing DJ does not hold anyone’s attention. Paired with “2am Tisch”.
2am Tisch, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 60×36 in.
A traditional Hassidic celebration that features drinking and eating, singing and dancing, and deep spiritual discussions that go well into the night. Purple and blue hues give the illusion of monotone referencing the traditional black and white dress of the group, but add the element of warmth that is felt in the celebration. Paired with “2am Loft Party”.
Hipster Couple, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 24×40 in.
The stereotypical hipster family unit complete with unmarried young couple and small dog. The graphic painting technique and bright colors reflect the style of the hipster culture. ‘Hipster Couple’ has been featured on the cover of Prattfolio, Pratt Institute’s official magazine. Paired with “Hassidic Family”.
Hassidic Family, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 24×40 in.
A young Hassidic family with several children in a traditional rendering. The expressionist marks and use of deeper brown tones set it against the hipsters, evoking a portrait of previous centuries. Paired with “Hipster Couple”.
Hipster Rocker, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 18×24 in.
Indie musicians performing on stage, enthusiastically moving to music. Bright comic-book inspired emphasis marks and colors elaborate on the figures. Paired with “Hassid Dancing”.
Hassid Dancing, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 18×24 in. Private collection.
Classic rendering of a Hassid dancing, reflecting the pose of the Hipster Rocker. Although they come from different worlds and express their connection in different ways, they both leap with simcha (joy). Paired with “Hipster Rocker”.
Gottleib’s Deli, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 24×12 in.
A landmark delicatessen in Hassidic Williamsburg whose menu and service remain unchanged since their inception. The building’s façade is surrounded by traditional kosher foods. Paired with “Kellog’s Diner”.
Kellog’s Diner, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 24×12 in.
A prominent Hipster hangout in North Williamsburg featuring a popular mixture of milk and meat products. The diner is a symbol for the sustainability of vintage institutions because of the hipster influx. Paired with “Gottleib’s Deli”.
Record Shopping, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 18×24 in. Private collection.
Hipsters meticulously selecting the perfect vinyl album that will compliment their collection or be utilized in a performance. Paired with “Lulav and Esrog Shopping”.
Lulav and Esrog Shopping, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 18×24 in. Private collection.
Street venders in Brooklyn selling ceremonial Esrogs (citrons) for the holiday of Sukkot. The customers are participating in the Jewish practice to select the most beautiful Esrog they can afford. Paired with “Record Shopping”.
Music Hall of Williamsburg, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 15×30 in.
Landmark of the Williamsburg Indie music scene. Showing the massive audience emphasizes the popularity of live performance in Hipster culture and the lack of audience for Yiddish theater today. Paired with “Yiddish Theater”.
Yiddish Theater, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 30×15 in. Private collection.
Traditional Yiddish theater production performed in the old world style. What was once a staple of the Jewish community has become nostalgia for most, with the Hassids being one of the few groups to preserve Yiddish as the common language. Paired with “Music Hall of Williamsburg”.
Williamsburg Bridge, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 18×24 in. Private collection.
Urban Landscape I, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 8 in.
Conceptual panorama that stretches from Williamsburg to Greenpoint.
Urban Landscape II, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 12 in. Private collection.
Urban Lanscape III, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 8 in.
Bikker, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 18×24 in.
Referencing the classic arcade game “Frogger,” Bikker tells of a hipster biker trying to get to the Williamsburg bridge, but Hassidic school buses, minivans, and moms pushing strollers are in the way. This painting was made when there was much tension over bike lanes in Williamsburg.
Brooklyn, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 30×30 in.
Painting of Brooklyn divided by artist’s interpretations of the neighborhoods.
Press for Hipsters & Hassids
John Leland, “The Orthodox Fringe.” The New York Times. March 10, 2013. Page MB1.
Thomas J. Shelford, “‘Hipsters and Hassids’ Series by Elke Reva Sudin.” The Artful Ranter. January 10, 2010.
Uri Zer Aviv, “Brooklyn’s hipster Hasidim try on a new fringe.” Haaretz. December 18, 2012
Susan Dunne, “’Hipsters And Hassids’ At Mandell JCC.” Hartford Courant. January 11, 2012
Sarah Schmerler, “Hipsters & Hassids.” The WG News. October 14, 2011
Marisa Martin, “From Holy Days to Hipsters.” World Net Daily. October 6, 2011.
Monica Rozenfeld, “‘Hipsters and Hassids’: Jewish Identity Explored Through Art” NY Blueprint. July 12, 2011.
Maya Klausner, “‘Hipsters and Hassids’ Unite on Canvas.” The Arty Semite June 16, 2010.
Traven Rice, “Hanging With Hipsters and Hassids.” NY, NY: The Lo Down, 2010. June 3, 2010.
Jenny Merkin, “‘Hipsters and Hasids’ Finds Parallels Between Two Worlds.” Tablet, 2010. April 20, 2010.
Jordan Galloway, “Williamsburg War Spills Onto Canvas.” NY, NY: New York Press, 2010. February 13, 2010.
Lehman Weichselbaum, “Painting Bridges in Williamsburg.” The Jewish Week, February 12, 2010. Page 3 and 5.
Review by Thomas Shelford
In a departure from the previous generations’ preoccupation with irony and alienation, young artists of the Facebook generation such as Elke Reva Sudin, with her “Hipsters and Hassids” series are forging a new zeitgeist with a global outlook and a powerful sense of community that is also informed by an unabashed spirituality. Armed with graphic line quality and sensitive observation, the members of the young Brooklyn vanguard are building their art out of the intersection of the old and the new, influenced by such sources as comic book illustration and street graffiti.
Mrs. Sudin, walking in the footsteps of her senior colleagues featured in “The Upset“, seems to reject as futile the notion that the artist must re-invent the wheel using only her internal monologue as raw material. As an active member of Brooklyn’s vibrant Jewish orthodox community, Sudin is outwardly focused, embracing realism as a universal vocabulary that can be used to integrate unlikely cultural forces and forge connections with the viewer without relying upon conceptual jargon or marketing schemes to make the work coherent. Her work is solidly grounded in classical illustration training, yet avoids a formulaic approach by employing an arsenal of mixed media styles and empathy for the idiosyncrasies of each lovingly observed subject.
Specifically, Sudin’s work provides a visual roadmap displaying the connections between modern urban multiculturalism and the eternal human need for community and spiritual connection. Her “Hipsters and Hassids” series is relevant to broader cultural trends, while remaining specific to the beloved eccentricities of Brooklyn itself. Exhibiting a compelling sense of place, Sudin’s vantage point is not that of the snarky voyeur striking an ironic pose, but rather her insights are gained from a close intimacy with, and affection for, her subject matter. This is even evident in her pen & ink architectural sketches, in which an overlooked pile of bricks oozes personality. Her work represents a visual manifestation of a phenomenon witnessed in the Brooklyn music scene with performers like Matisyahu and Eprhyme, and provides us with a compass pointing to the emerging characteristics of 21st century art.
– Thomas Shelford