Sculpting history: Talmor’s menorah
VAIL – This isn’t your typical menorah.At nearly five feet wide, three feet tall and more than 450 pounds, Amnon Talmor’s creation is distinct enough in stature alone. But it’s Talmor’s attention to the smallest detail and his historical symbolism that set his sculpture apart from other menorahs.Thursday night, Talmor, the Israeli artist and engineer who lives in Broomfield, was at Vail’s Donovan Pavilion to light the menorah as part of a B’Nai Vail Chanukkah party.Even before Talmor poured traditional oil into the candles (which are spears held by the six soldiers made of bronze, silver and gold sitting on top of a granite base), it was evident just how much foresight he put into the sculpture. Talmor, along with three others, lifted the entire piece by two metal rods inserted into holes in the granite base and moved it on a dolly and into the pavilion. After Talmor removed the rods, he screwed on four bronze circular pieces, each having what he calls a “promise land element” – things like wheat, olive fig trees and pomegranate.Talmor spent two-and-a-half years researching and designing the piece, which he completed one day before Chanukkah last year. While Talmor has produced other sculptures and worked in other mediums like painting, this project was something that piqued his interest.
“I’m very connected to Judaism, and I was looking for a subject that would manifest my artistic side, and I couldn’t think about a better piece,” Talmor said. “I wanted to bring the best of the art into the menorah and still keep it kosher.”
The soldiers on the menorah wearing Greek armor – Jacob and his sons, Judah being the most notable – are not only important in the Jewish tradition, but also in other religious traditions.”Without them the belief in one god would be gone – they were fighting the last frontier for monotheism,” Talmor said, explaining how Judah and his brothers fought the Greeks who sought to wipe them out. “This is a turning point for mankind.”Talmor fills his piece with other historical references, like twelve gold squares on the armor of Jacob, which represent the 12 tribes of Israel.As intricate as the menorah may be, Talmor said he encountered very few problems in its construction, most of which was done in his home. And aside from the clay models of the soldiers, Talmor said there weren’t many intermediate steps. “Because of my profession, I think in 3-D, and I don’t do any sketches,” Talmor said.
Talmor, who was born on a kibbutz in the northern part of Israel on the Lebanon border, is a mechanical engineer and earned his undergraduate and master’s degree in his native country before coming to Michigan where he got his Ph.D.. For several years, Talmor worked on underwater technology, and for the past 10 years, he’s worked in aerospace.”I think I chose the wrong direction early on, so I’m making up for it,” Talmor joked. “In recent years, I’ve done much more art.”Still, Talmor isn’t shying away from his engineering skills – he built a crane that he uses to transport his menorah by himself. After Thursday’s Chanukkah celebration, the menorah returned to its temporary residence at the Philinda Gallery in Edwards. Talmor hopes to sell the piece, which goes for $55,000, and may make between 12 and 15 copies of the limited-edition sculpture.While Talmor doesn’t have his own copy of the menorah at his home, he’s ready for one to be on permanent display.”I broke down a wall and I have a place for it,” Talmor said.Other pieces Talmor is working on include a smaller version of his menorah and another Jewish historical figure – Samson.Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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