Category Archives: Chicago skyline

Casting Love Ketubah

Casting Love Ketubah, sumi ink and egg tempera on ragboard, 18" square, 2014

Casting Love Ketubah, sumi ink and egg tempera on ragboard, 18″ square, 2014

I enjoyed transforming the story of a couple, Anna and Andrew, into visual motives for this ketubah (Jewish illustrated marriage contract).  Andrew works in his family’s steel business.   Casting steel is a wonderful metaphor for creating a new, strong relationship.  Thus, the foundation of this design is the glowing forge, where a steelworker is pouring molten metal into the mold of a heart.  The forge also symbolizes the hearth, source of warmth and sustenance in the home.

Extending the “building” metaphor, reading counter-clockwise from the bottom, there are steel girders, followed by a pair of bower birds.  The male of this species creates an elaborate nest, which he decorates with colorful bits of paper and plastic, in hopes of wooing a mate.  So romantic!

Above the birds is a huppah, symbol of the home Anna and Andrew will create together.  Flying above the jasmine and hibiscus flowers is a hawk, a personal symbol for them.  Chicago’s majestic skyline at sunset surmounts the circle.  Continuing the circular motif are golden rings:  wedding bands, symbols of eternal love. Here they double as microscope lenses, through which we see slides of healthy breast and cervical tissue.  This represents Anna’s profession as a medical doctor, specializing in women’s health.

Returning to the personal narrative of Anna and Andrew, the circle is completed with a Lake Michigan sunset, as seen from the eastern shore, where they go to relax and unwind.

Finding a way to incorporate such disparate elements as the steel industry and gynecology was a wonderful challenge!  Anna and Andrew gave me free rein, which helped me fulfill the commission while allowing my creative stream to flow, unimpeded.

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Chicago Fireworks Ketubah

Chicago Fireworks Ketubah, by Judith Joseph

Chicago Fireworks Ketubah, by Judith Joseph

New ketubah:  inspired by the beautiful skyline of Chicago, as seen from out on Lake Michigan.  This is a new interpretation of an earlier painting, which I created for my son Cameron and his wonderful wife, Blake, for the save-the-date for their wedding:

Chicago Skyline, by Judith Joseph

Chicago Skyline, by Judith Joseph

Blake’s beautiful mom, Raina, just married her beloved, Jeff, and they asked me to create a ketubah for them inspired by the earlier painting I had done for Blake and Cam.

When I look at Raina and Jeff, I can see the sparks fly between them, so I suggested we add fireworks.  Raina asked for lots of flowers, which is also appropriate for love, joy and the motto of the City of Chicago:  “Urbs In Horto”, which means, “City In A Garden.”

So much joy and fun for our family this year!  Blessings and joy to both couples!  See it here on my website.

Sailing Ketubah

Sailing Anniversary Ketubah

I just finished this ketubah for an anniversary celebration.  (See my preliminary sketch here.  The original sketch included their Briard dogs, but we decided to leave them out. )  It was commissioned by a couple who spend much of their time sailing on Lake Michigan.

Working on it brought me back to my sailing days.  I learned to sail at Camp Ramah in Canada, and worked there as a sailing instructor.  I went on to teach sailing lessons at the Hoofers Sailing  Club at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  I tried to capture the power of the wind in the sails, the rhythm and rocking of the waves and the freshness and energy of being out on the lake on a sail-boat.  (See more of my ketubahs here.)

Sailing Ketubah- sketch

Colored-pencil sketch for a ketubah. The text will be on the spinnaker (rounded) sail.

This is a sketch for an anniversary ketubah.  The couple spends as much time as they can on their boat, sailing on Lake Michigan.  Their other passion is their Briard dogs, seen running in the lower left corner.  I tried to give a sense of the energy and movement of sailing, from the taut sails and brisk spray, to the gently rocking motion when you’re sleeping on the boat in port.  The skyline of Chicago is seen over the top of the spinnaker.

Chicago Skyline and Midwestern Farm Landscape

Chicago Skyline/ Midwestern Farm Ketubah by Judith Joseph, 23" square, egg tempera and india ink calligraphy on rag paper.

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the Chicago skyline this summer:  from the Sears (Willlis) Tower, from different angles driving around, and from photos taken out on Lake Michigan.  As I painted it across the top of this ketubah in a moonlit scene, I tried to render the famous landmarks recognizably.

This couple will be married Sunday at a farm in Michigan, which is portrayed across the bottom of the ketubah.  This farm landscape doubles for the Ohio farm where the groom grew up.

The couple wrote their own text, which I was able to have translated into Hebrew.  (More of my ketubahs may be seen here.)