“Celebration” by Betty Franco Handmacher


“Celebration” by Betty Franco Handmacher

SPECIAL FOR THE AJT //

The MJCCA presents a unique exhibition in its Katz Family Mainstreet Gallery entitled “PINK RICE: Recollections of Atlanta’s Spanish Jewish Community,” featuring paintings by Betty Franco Handmacher, through Sept. 30.

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This visual representation of the Spanish-Jewish (Sephardic) community of Atlanta features 15 works of oil on canvas and includes abstracts as well as depictions of celebrations, life-cycle events and family portraits.

“My work relates to my ethnic background, a small community in Atlanta,” Handmacher said. “I feel that it has universal appeal: the assimilation of a culture into the larger American culture. Some of the work expresses the celebratory aspects of our community. The abstract canvases express the feeling of disintegration, of an old culture slowly disappearing.”

Handmacher’s work reflects both the charm of a native Atlantan and her remarkable heritage. She was born in what is now called the Midtown area of then small-town Atlanta; played in Piedmont Park; walked to her family’s store, the Roxy Delicatessen at 10th and Peachtree; and went on to earn degrees in both fine arts and visual arts from Georgia State University.

Her father, the late Jack David Franco, was among the first people of the Sephardic culture to settle in Atlanta, by way of the Island of Rhodes and then Montgomery, Ala. Her mother, the late Catherine Benbenisty Franco, was also from the Island of Rhodes.

“These paintings remind me of a happy time in my life,” Handmacher said. “I am attempting, through this work, to recapture the peace, security, joy, and comfort I have received from this unique group of people – the immigrants, and their descendants, from Spain to Turkey in 1492, and later to America around the turn of the 20th century.”

For more information, contact Kim Goodfriend, MJCCA Arts & Culture Director, via (678) 812-4071 or kim.goodfriend@atlantajcc.org.

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