Crown Heights Welcomes Opening of First Hasidic Art Gallery

By Sonja Sharp on May 17, 2012 2:46pm 

Betzalel Gallery curator Shmuel Pultman has seen prices soar for Hasidic artwork.
Betzalel Gallery curator Shmuel Pultman has seen prices soar for Hasidic artwork.
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Betzalel Gallery

CROWN HEIGHTS — A gritty block of Empire Boulevard in Crown Heights mights seem far from the manicured streets of Chelsea — but for the glitzy new gallery Betzalel, which will celebrate its grand opening Thursday night, the space in the heart of Brooklyn may prove just right. 

That's because Betzalel specializes in Judaic art, a form the owners hope will draw art-lovers not just from the surrounding Hasidic enclave, but from all of Jewish Brooklyn and beyond.  

"It’s located between Hasidic areas like Borough Park and Williamsburg," said Lazer Cohen, the gallery's director of communication. "It’s a central location, so people will travel to come there." 

Betzalel's backers believe much of their target market lies among the children of Holocaust survivors, many of whom live in Brooklyn and prize portraits of old-world Jewry, like those depicted in the watercolors of Israeli artist Itshak Holtz, whose work will grace the gallery's opening Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. 

In addition to Holtz, the gallery boasts works by the "Rembrandts, van Goghs and Monets of the Hasidic art world," with pieces ranging in price from about $2,500 and $175,000.

Cohen said the gallery's owners are betting on the up-and-coming area.

"It's definitely the first of its kind," Cohen said, "such a high-end gallery in Crown Heights."

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