“Art is there to beautify a home. But if a childhood home meant something to someone, and every time they see a painting of it, they feel a sense of nostalgia and positive memories, then I’ve done more than I could ever hope to as an artist. I’ve contributed to someone’s happiness.” -Peshi
Accomplished artist Peshi Haas remembers the moment that perhaps was the turning point of her career. It was years and years ago, only a year and a half after she had graduated from art school with a degree in fine arts. A gallery in Manhattan had called: they wanted to give Peshi a solo show, featuring her paintings of urban synagogues from around the world.
“At that time, I was painting shuls from around the world without actually being there. I would research and paint. It was almost a sell-out show. I was so humbled and proud. But then one woman, an art historian who was purchasing a large painting, gave me a talking to, ‘How do you paint something if you’ve never been there? You have to feel what you’re painting.’”
“Today,” Peshi tells us, “being at the scene is very vital to my work.”
And today, Peshi’s abstract architectural paintings grace the walls of both art collectors and those who simply want something beautiful and meaningful on their walls.
“The process starts at the scene. I visit and photograph the scene, and then come back to the studio. I do some charcoal drawings first, and then it’s off to the canvas.”
Now, Peshi is working on a collection that’s different than she ever has before. She calls it “The Bricks That Built Us,” and it’s perhaps her most meaningful collection yet.
Because is there any type of architecture that might mean more than your home?
“Those that know me know I’m always wistful and remembering. I’m very nostalgic – it’s all about the memories. I’ll take out the photobooks on Shabbos and tell my kids, “Let’s look at our photos.” I reminisce with my own brothers endlessly about our childhood and the home we grew up in. We need memories because at a certain point, families disperse and they’re not one unit like they used to be. If a childhood home was one of warmth and camaraderie, if one was blessed with a beautiful childhood, this is a painting that’s a beautiful gift.”
Children are commissioning Peshi to paint their childhood homes as a gift for their parents or spouse, it’s a message of hakaras hatov for the childhood they’ve given them. But this is for all generations—not only as a gift from children to parents, but siblings to siblings and spouse to spouse…
“People grew up in apartment buildings and townhomes, cottages and summer homes, glamorous homes… they are all beautiful and I’m painting it all.”
One client sent Peshi drone footage of a large property on a lake that their parents had bought when they were young. First, the family lived in a cottage on the property; it was small and quaint, with a bright blue door and a large oak tree out in front. Later on, the family added the swimming pool and tennis court, then they built a large, new modern home on the property. But when asked which house they want to feature in the painting, there was a clear consensus: it was the cottage with the blue door, the place where the memories started.
To each client, there are different details that are important. Like that porch swing that they’d swing on all throughout each Shabbos afternoon.
“One home I painted is no longer owned by the family. In the years since they’ve moved, it’s grown unkempt. I worked with the client to bring the beautiful home of her memory to the canvas.”
There’s still time to commission a painting and have it in time for Chanukah!