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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 18, 2008 / 11 Adar II 5768

Toward the light

By Paul Greenberg


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | We are all drawn toward home even if it may take a while for some of us to realize it.


There's something wrong with the young if they don't want to break out of their secure cocoon, their stifling family and school and little town and all their oh-so-dull surroundings, and strike out for the glamorous world just waiting to take them in — and how. Think of the prodigal son.


There's something wrong with the old if they don't ache for the old home place, and yearn to see those familiar faces once again. The lucky ones make it back someday, at least in spirit, and find themselves welcomed — again like the prodigal. Like wandering Jacob, they realize that this place was holy though they knew it not. Homo viator, Man the Voyager, is also man the homecomer.


Al Allen, artist and teacher, was not only one of the lucky ones but one of the talented ones. He was called home, as they say in these parts, at the age of 82; his memorial service was held at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where he'd taught and painted for more than two decades.


He began his life's journey November 29, 1925, at Steele, Mo., at the noisy dawn of the automotive age. Indeed, his father was an automobile dealer in nearby Caruthersville. Back then, the Missouri boot heel was still a seemingly empty horizon bordering the Father of Waters, a silent expanse that might be broken only by an occasional gray shack.


But the scene was empty only to the unseeing eye. Inside some of those shacks, women would be quilting, following the geometric patterns passed down from generation to generation. But the urbanization — indeed, globalization — of Al Allen's world was unavoidable. The outside world kept impinging: The Allens would move soon enough to beckoning Memphis on the other side of The River, where he would be reared and his mother would work as a seamstress at the old Goldsmith's department store.


On his graduation from high school in 1944, he would enter the Navy and employ his talent as part of its Terrain Model Workshop. Some of his earliest works of art would be three-dimensional, pre-invasion models of Pacific islands like Iwo Jima.


Al Allen might have become a conventional artist and teacher. Indeed, he was — for a time. After the war, he started out as the usual abstract expressionist, winning grants and making the rounds of art departments across the country. But something happened on his way to mediocrity. He got off the main-traveled road. Maybe he was reacting to an avant-garde that had become the conventional. Maybe he just wanted to go home.


Whatever prompted Al Allen, he began driving around the rural South in the 1960s, camera in hand, snapping pictures, not of the picturesque but of the ordinary — or what those not blessed with his eye would think ordinary. He was looking for something beyond the outward scene — a feeling, a certain slant of light, maybe quilt-like patterns of geometric shapes. Maybe home.


He eventually found it, and so did the rest of us, in his large paintings of windows. Windows would become his hallmark, with their outward, classical calm and sense of mystery within. His flat planes of light were anything but flat or plain. They stirred memory, beckoned to something with all of us.


Al Allen described himself as a manipulator of shapes, but the narrative quality of his work is as undeniable as the light falling across his windows, which survive him. You'd have to be blind, or at least terribly sophisticated, which is much the same thing, not to give in to the poignancy that his work evokes.


Al Allen was able to catch time, freeze it in a frame, and so surmount it. Something is about to happen behind his windows, or has just happened. Or happened long ago yet still haunts. His windows invite us into some inaccessible place we can no longer visit except through imagination. The sight of them stirs the kind of remembering that comes before and lasts beyond knowing. They draw us into wordless memory; we yearn for its light, and to see as we once saw. And now Al Allen has been drawn toward home once again, and toward the light.

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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