Raise the Roof will be shown at the Art Center on Thursday, March 3 at 6:30pm with a discussion to follow.
Artists Rick and Laura Brown are not Jewish and not Polish, and yet they set out to rebuild Gwoździec, a magnificent wooden eighteenth century synagogue in Poland that was later destroyed by the Nazis. Their vision inspires hundreds of people to join them, using their hands, old tools and techniques to bring Gwoździec’s history, culture, science, and art back to life.
Raise The Roof follows the Browns and the Handshouse Studio team to Sanok, Poland, as they begin building the new Gwoździec roof. The crew has only six weeks to hew, saw, and carve 200 freshly logged trees and assemble the structure. Working against a seemingly impossible deadline and despite torrential downpours and exhaustion, the team must create the structure, and disassemble it again for shipping and eventual installation.
To paint the intricate ceiling murals, the Browns face another challenge: the 1914 photographs of Gwoździec are black and white and there is only one, small color study called the Breier. Using that as their Rosetta Stone, the Browns slowly build a library of Gwoździec’s colors.
Armed with pigments and rabbit skin glue, the Handhouse team sets up to paint the ceiling mural in what seems to be an art gallery in Rzeszów, Poland. In fact, this building and those in seven other Polish cities where they will work during the summers of 2011 and 2012, are all former or active masonry synagogues. Each Handshouse-trained painting leader is tasked with creating the mural’s most iconic images, training students to paint thousands of flowers and vines and greeting visitors—creating a community throughout Poland.
Film provided by The National Center for Jewish Film, www.jewishfilm.org