In the 1990s, American painter Anthony Dubovsky visited Jerusalem and found himself drawn to the historic neighborhood of Mea She’arim, whose people follow traditional ways. Dubovsky began walking the streets of the old neighborhood at dawn, before the heat of the day and while the doves were still cooing, carrying his sketchbooks and pens. Soon he had settled into drawing Mea She’arim without quite knowing why, and its people had settled into accommodating him. They let him know them by living. Dubovsky sketched the haredim of Mea She’arim outside the argument. Rather, as with all fine artists, he viewed what he was drawn to with passionate attention, with readiness to see.

Related Link: Dubovsky's paintings are represented by George Krevsky Gallery,
San Francisco. (Image Slideshow)

Critical Praise

Recent Review- ART IN AMERICA, April 2006

Full Review, Art in America

Dubovsky’s quavery touch and rich, subtle colors are very seductive. The paintings don’t look like anybody else’s, though artists as disparate as Bonnard and Ryder come to mind...Yet [Dubovsky's] work is suffused with an exile’s yearning. In the 79 works on cardboard, particularly, one finds a love of cultural variety. It is almost as if Dubovsky is trying to catch and preserve images of all the most beautiful things and feelings in the world and is cannily hiding them in plain sight on the most humble and impermanent of materials.

—Nathan Keman, Critic, Art in America

I loved (Anthony Dubovsky's) paintings at the Cue Art Foundation. I admire
The scale, the brushwork, the palette, the subjects. In another era, he
would be seen as a master.

—Arthur Danto, author of After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History

Seldom can artists write, despite their best intentions. And even more
seldom can writers draw. This an exception. As he blends an
author's pen with an artist's brush, Dubovsky exudes a synergy rarely found
in toda's world of pop culture and quick sound bite quips. Dubvosky chose to
drop into Mea Shearim, the ultra-Orthodox sanctum in Jerusalem. Struck by
the rhythm of the place, he recorded his experiences in the form of notes
and sketches, recreating and describing a romantic, unique and deeply
emotional society. He walks his readers through the streets introducing us
to the people and places, to the buildings and alleyways. He discusses the
issues that resonate in this one-of-a-kind place, not politics but life. To
read this book is to indulge your mind and your senses.

Jewish Book World

Anthony Dubovsky tells us about the ultra-Orthodox community in Mea She’arim both as a writer and an artist. His words and his drawings do not patronize this community. On the contrary, he sees their humanity. This is the best book that has ever been written, and illustrated, about the inner life of ultra-Orthodox Jews.”

—Arthur Hertzberg, author of A Jew In America: My Life and a People's Struggle for Identity

“Beautiful and haunting.”

—Lars Lerup, Dean, School of Architecture and Planning, Rice University; author of After the City

“A sensitive, lovely rendering of a special place.”

—Susan T. Goodman, Senior Curator-at-Large Jewish Museum,
New York City

“If all you did was follow the stream of brilliant drawings in the broad margins of this book, you would already have a vivid sense of the Jerusalem neighborhood of devout Jews who have committed themselves to “live in holiness.” In the margins you find the rabbis and the men and women who follow them, all students of Torah. The details of daily life are boldly sketched; the accompanying text is as exuberant and generous as the drawings. The experience of Dubovky’s Jerusalem probably brings me as close as I—“religiously tone-deaf”—will come to understanding the serenity and joyfulness of a religious community. This book will be an illumination for anyone.”

—Leo Litwak, author of The Medic

“Anthony Dubovsky is a poet of the soul. These wise, honest, and deeply moving stories take us on his personal journey of spirit. Rich in imagery, his work inspires, showing us how to understand the significance of events that mark our life's journey.”

—Sue Bender, author of Plain and Simple; Everyday Sacred; and Stretching Lessons: The Daring That Starts From Within

”Tony Dubovsky has given us a wonderful gift—a living portrait of a great city. 2000 years of the life of the city and 100 years of his family's history are lovingly interwoven into a vibrant image of Jerusalem. For architects, planners and all those who love and study cities, Dubovsky’s deeply expressive writing and drawing are a lesson in how to see (capture) a city as a living organism—' where the past is best always built upon, never forgotten.’ ”

—Richard Bender, Dean Emeritus, College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley

“Jerusalem: To Know by Living is a book of tender and poignant connections. America, Poland, Israel. Present and past. Memory and desire. Word and image. Anthony Dubovsky’s drawings of Mea She’arim, weaving in and out of his meditations, are, like all his work, unforgettable.”

—Alicia Ostriker, author of The Nakedness of the Fathers: Biblical Visions and Revisions

“The power of this book lies much in the author's own voice, as he stands between the familiar and the strange, observing with unfailing gentleness, understated humor, and candor his own limitations as an observer. That artist’s voice is richly augmented by his drawings, evocations of life in the old streets, where a single ‘incomplete’ stroke can catch a whole character in an aura of sympathetic, often loving, frankness.”

—Leonard Nathan, author of Tears of the Old Magician

“Elegant literary travel writing, learned meditations on place, culture, faith and the spiritual life, and all in concert with the illustrations of a master, miraculously emerging from the same pen, in the same spirit: this is a rare and significant work of art.”

—Daniel Duane, author of El Capitan: historic feats and radical routes

“Tony Dubovsky’s immersion in the old/new world of haredim (ultra-orthodox, rigorously observant Jews) and chassidim in Jerusalem , and his encounters with ordinary and extraordinary people, students, sages, shopkeepers, artists, are recalled here with love and amazement. He gives himself entirely to daily customs and profound devotion, an experience as holy and uncorrupted for him as the memories of lost families in the ghettos and prayer rooms of Eastern Europe. The book is incredibly rich with art and life, life as art. Dubovsky not only knows by living, he lives by being—in the fullest sense. Even an unbeliever like me, who has lived in Jerusalem for thirty years, is deeply moved by his visual and emotional awareness, the fervor of his record in words and drawings of three intensely experienced months.”

—Shirley Kaufman, author of Threshold

“Tony Dubovsky’s art captures a mystical dimension to human experience in its uniquely Jewish manifestation. His paintings gently grow into your soul.”

—Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor, Tikkun, and author, Healing Israel/Palestine


ANTHONY DUBOVSKY was born in San Diego, California, in 1945. He studied with Willard Midgette at Reed College, and has lived in Warsaw, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, and Jerusalem. He is the recipient of the first annual Adler Award, and his paintings have been exhibited internationally. He teaches at the University of California, Berkeley.


Works by ANTHONY DUBOVSKY are featured online at ArtNet

Jerusalem : To Know by Living
By Anthony Dubovsky


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Paperback: 128 pages; 8.75 in x 10.25 in
Published:El León; 1st ed.; (May 2004)
ISBN: 0887395376
Non Fiction; Visual Art