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Publications The following article was published in the
"Stained Glass Quarterly"
, Summer 1997.
The professional publication of the stained glass industry.
"Elyse Granetz Memorial Windows", Blumberg Chapel, Temple Sholom, Bridgewater, New Jersey. Each window is 3 foot wide and 8 foot high.
by Laurie DiCara

In Temple Sholom's Blumberg Chapel in Bridgewater, New Jersey, there now stands an evocative and wholly modern triptych of stained glass inspired by the early death of a cherished young woman of that community. Elyse Granetz died of multiple sclerosis at the age of 36. To commemorate her rare spirit and courageous nature, the synagogue contacted Mark Liebowitz, President of the Wilmark Studios requesting a meeting with Elyse's parents, Sharon and Sidney Granetz and the architect of the recently completed Blumberg Chapel, Donald Pantel of Tectonic Architects to begin the process of planning a fitting memorial to Elyse in glass.          

It was soon apparent to all the participants at these meetings that the renowned glass artist, Robert Pinart, would be uniquely qualified to express the richness of the woman's soul in an abstract but poignant design. From these first meetings, the commission took almost a year to complete and was recently installed at the chapel and dedicated in a moving ceremony commemorating the second anniversary of her death. In attendance were several hundred members of the community, Elyse's family, the artist and the fabricators of the artwork.                                                      
First window in the series, inspired by the life and accomplishments of Elyse before her illness.
The windows are designed as a symbolic and highly conceptual trilogy representing stages of the life of Elyse. To follow the flow of the room, from the left, the windows move from the first pastel-hued window's metaphor for vibrant childhood and spirited youth so full of promise and achievement to the representation of the tragedy of her sudden illness depicted in the central window, with its debilitating restraint of freedom and mobility illustrated in the severe and angry-red collage cuts. Finally, the window on the right brings a peaceful conclusion to the symbolic story with a sky blue overtone symbolizing a transition to a higher spiritual level and a deeper resolve for the woman stricken so young by fatal disease.

An excerpt from Viktor E. Frankel's Man's Search for Meaning was printed in the dedication day's guide:

       "When we are no longer able to change a situation-  just think of an incurable disease-we are challenged to change ourselves."

Detail of left window.
This statement, coupled with the three glass panels which scale eight feet high, are testimony to the human capacity to overcome adversity and earthly limitations. The panels, together measuring nine feet across, were hung in the north windows of the Blumberg Chapel. A beautifully landscaped courtyard can be seen through the windows. Transparency was specifically requested by the synagogue leaders, and was achieved effectively by the selection of a transparent hand blown glass, but which could nevertheless embody a powerful and evocative design.
The windows are composed of a blend of hand blown antique glass, flashed glass and flashed opal glass. With the exception of the center panel, which makes use of intense reds and vibrant streaky purples in its composition, the glass is predominately soft blues, lavender and gray tones interspersed with white flashed opal glass that has been enhanced with vitreous paint and areas of freely applied silver stain.

This painterly approach to glass painting is masterfully explored by Robert Pinart on these windows. In the fabrication facility of Wilmark studios, Pinart was able to carefully study each section of the window as the cut glass was waxed to large glass easels and set up in a window for painting. The process was repeated twice to allow for both glass paint and silver stain to be applied and fired at the required temperatures. After firing, the glass was leaded and the panels were completed in the studio prior to delivery and installation into the frames provided for them.

Central window, depicting a debilitating and finally, her deadly affliction.
Wilmark Studios of Pearl River, New York fabricated the triptych under the supervision of Mark Liebowitz, owner and head craftsman of the firm. Liebowitz has owned and managed the New York-based studio for over seventeen years and has specialized in fabricating art windows in collaboration with many famous artist, including Albinas Elskus, Harriet Hyams, Ellen Mandelbaum and Hendrik Vandeburgt and also in restoring stained glass windows for churches and synagogues. Wilmark Studios has many significant installations to its credit, in houses of worship all around the United States. A sampling includes: the Washington Cathedral in Washington DC, the National Arts Club in New York City, Temple Beth El in Charlotte, North Carolina and the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer in Las Vegas, Nevada, among many others.
Mark Liebowitz, over the year that the work took to complete, was pivotal in seeing that the Granetz windows were executed in compliance with a range of sometimes competing inputs and demands. He and his senior craftsman, Timothy Macomber, took great pains to ensure that the religious customs and tenets of the Synagogue were scrupulously observed, that the work was ultimately faithful to the commissioning family's memory of their child, and that the vision of the artist, Robert Pinart, remained uncompromised. This position of facilitator, although well beyond the traditional role of glass fabrication, is one that the Wilmark organization frequently plays and it is what drew the donors of this window to Wilmark.
Detail of the right window, depicting hope and a higher self, eventually peace and love.
Robert Pinart, the Paris-born designer of the memorial triptych, resides in Rockland County, New York and has created more than 100 major works in glass since he began experimentation in the art form in the fifties. His work has almost always been abstract in form, as Pinart has sought fervently from the beginning of his career to move well beyond the strictly representational approach of traditional liturgical artists. His commissions are all characterized, therefore, by a bright and free-form color palette, and a symbolic representation of the subject matter that evokes both high thought and strong emotion. There is a distinct absence of heavy black lines and somber paint overlay in Pinart's work; instead, a Pinart stained glass installation is decidedly modern and energetic.
In 1993, Robert Pinart was awarded the very first "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the Stained Glass Association of America in honor and recognition of his unique approach to the art form.

It is a footnote of some poignancy that when the Blumberg Chapel work was awarded to the Wilmark Studios and to Pinart, the artist had recently survived a very serious traffic accident, sustaining injuries severe enough to completely restrict his free movement and to cause excruciating physical pain. This accident and the months of recuperation it required made the already empathetic artist acutely aware of the trauma which the commissioning family would have suffered. It made Pinart especially driven to express an affinity with them in his moving and ultimately uplifting glass design.

The Blumberg Chapel and the Elyse Granetz Memorial windows are accessible to the general public on all days that the Temple is open.

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