Dan RiiS Grife ~ Texas

Dan Riis Grif in the Journal HaLapid (published by the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies)

Birds of the Sky
A Story of King David
From the Book of the Prophet Samuel
By Dan Riis Grife
Coupland, Texas: Dan Riis Grife, 2007. Edition of 10.

11.5 x 9.25"; 30 leaves. Text in Hebrew and English. Hebrew calligraphy in fire crown characters. Woodcut prints handcolored by artist. Thirteen prints, signed and numbered. Bound in leather boards with brass corners. Laid in a cedar box, lined in purple velvet, title inscribed in Hebrew on the lid. Lift ribbon of black silk satin attached to bottom interior of box. Lid attached to base with solid brass hinges. Hand printed, colored, and bound by artist.

Dan Riis Grife: “This project represents over a year of work and untold hours of research and study. I hope you will find it appealing.”

When RiiS was doing research for his Tanakh Series he became hooked on the Torah and began working with Albuquerque Rabbi Joe Black.

RiiS: "He was helping me with the art project, which I was approaching strictly as an art project. He put me onto reading the Bible. I really had no religious background. I was raised in a completely secular environment. I read the entire Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) in six months because the mezuzah was to contain all of the prophets and some of the major events in Jewish history.

“After I finished, I wanted to learn more. In fact, Rabbi Black had me make one (mezuzah) for him. I started going to synagogue regularly and then to weekly Torah study. I wanted to learn more and more. Then I started to the Chabad synagogue and got introduced to Kabbalah. As I continued learning, I wanted to adapt my art to the Midrashim and the Kabbalah."

After the Tanakh Series which covered multiple stories from the Torah, RiiS focused on the story of David and Goliath. Birds of the Sky is the result of this focus. The title is taken from the conversation between Goliath and David:

"The Pelishti said to David, Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky, and to the animals of the field. Then said David to the Pelishti, You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a javelin: but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Yisra'el, whom you have defied. This day will the Lord deliver you into my hand; and I will strike you, and take your head from off you; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Pelishtim this day to the birds of the sky,..."
$5,000 (Four copies remaining)

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Dan Riis Grife Out of Print Title:  

Legends of Tanakh
By Dan Riis Grife
Coupland, Texas: Dan Riis Grife, 2007. Edition of 5.

Dan Riis Grife: "My latest body of work is entitled the Tanakh Series. It is a compilation of paintings, sculptures, and prints based on the weekly parchat (weekly reading from the Bible). It reflects the vocabulary of legend, faith, and struggle rendered in the rich colors of New Mexico. This work is inspired by the legacy of the crypto-jews [those who secretly adhered to Judaism while publicly professing to be of another faith]. These were among the first pioneers to plant fragile roots in the rich soil of the Rio Grande Valley."

Each of the images are based on the parchat (portion of scripture) being studied the week the work began. Each woodcut is accompanied by the scripture in English and in Hebrew (Hebrew calligraphy in fire crown characters). The third text element is the Midrash (commentaries on the Hebrew Bible) surrounding the scripture as interpreted by Grife. The book is structured to read right to left in traditional Hebrew book style.

Grife: “I sought out folktales and Midrash surrounding each subject in order to weave iconic symbolism into the work. Iconic symbolism has long been used as a device to identify the subject of characters in southwestern traditional painting.

"Symbolic elements are used to represent attributes or deeds of each character, thus serving as a pictorial narrative. This visual vocabulary enables illiterate populations to recognize the subject of the images.”

Included are the stories of Adam and Eve; Noah; Og, King of Bashan; Sarah; Jacob; Jacob and Rachel; Judah; Jael; David; Ezekiel; and Ruth and Naomi.
$2,500 (SOLD)

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Page last update: 11.19.13


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