Held this year in Baltimore, the annual conference of the Association for Jewish Studies was splashed in blue, orange, ochre, and green. The image of the Lloyd Street Synagogue and Congregation (?) Bnai Israel on the cover of the program book was painted by Harry Evans Jr. The oldest synagogues in town, they were built in 1845 and 1876 respectively.
An African-American painter active some hundred years later, Evans was drawn to old area synagogues, particularly, and to Baltimore vernacular architecture more generally. Rich with color, the composite image of the two synagogues remains true to the drab and dumpy character of old Baltimore a decade or two prior to the development of downtown. The painter’s organization of the synagogues in a line evokes the special place of the rowhouses that characterize working class neighborhoods throughout the city.
With its cover design to the program book, the AJS conference committee made a lovely tribute –to the city, to old Baltimore landmark places, to an under-known local artist. Evans was born in 1925 and died in 1995. His Pinterest site is here, and there’s a nice blog post here from the Maryland Museum of Jewish History. I’ve included a self-portrait of the artist.