20 March 2017 – 26 June 2004

From the old Shtetl of Kazimierz Dolny to complex life in the biggest city in the USA

Chaim Goldberg, 1954. Wash and ink self-portrait.

Chaim Goldberg. Line engraving self-portrait.

“The Footbridge,” 1947. Pen and ink drawing by Chaim Goldberg.

“Purim Parade,” 1993. Oil painting by Chaim Goldberg

“The Marketplace,” 1963. Oil on canvas by Chaim Goldberg

Orchestra, 1964. oil on canvas, 24″ x 30″ by Chaim Goldberg. 

“Old Manor House in Kazimierz Dolny,” 1930. Oil on canvas by Nathan Korzen

“Before Dawn,” 1990. Oil on canvas by Chaim Goldberg.

Chaim at age fourteen in front of the two-room clapboard house built by his father,  (at the doorway). This photo was taken by Dr. Saul Silberstein on the morning they left for Krakow.
Dr. Silberstein is credited with having discovered the talented young lad and placing him on a path  of becoming an artist by obtaining scholarships and other financial support.
Circa, Fall of 1931.

Efraiim Seidenbeutel (1902-1945) and Menashe Seidenbeutel, circa 1930 In 1929 they bought a watercolor from Chaim Goldberg – his first sale! The twins perished in Nazi death camps in 1944 and 1945.

The Twins, 1991. Oil painting by Chaim Goldberg. The painting above is homage to Ephaiim and Menashe Zeitenbeutel twins who painted together and were together the first to buy a work of art by Chaim Goldberg.

Chaim Goldberg, circa 1931, displaying his scholarship to study at the Mehoffer School of Fine Arts, Krakow, with a bust of one of his sisters.

The Cobbler, 1970. Watercolor and ink portrait of the artist’s father at his workbench.

Three years later, Chaim Goldberg (the youngest of the entering class), 1934 with the group of new students at the prestigious Academy of Fine Arts. Professor Tadeusz Pruszkowski is seated, Chaim is 
to his left with the bottle of wine in his hands.

Landscape With the Biala House by Chaim Goldberg, 1936.  Oil on board. Collection of the Nadwislanski Museum, Kazimierz Dolny, Poland. The earliest known painting by Chaim Goldberg to have survived the Holocaust.

The Art Colony by Chaim Goldberg, 1975. Gouache and watercolor, private collection Poland.

Chaim Goldberg.

Chaim Goldberg, circa 1938. Membership ID photo.

Professor Tadeusz Pruszkowski’s mountain-side studio villa in Kazimierz Dolny.

Chaim Goldberg in 1936, Warsaw Poland.

Chaim and Rachel in their Boca Raton, FL home, circa 1995.

Rachel Diament, at the boat slip in Kazimierz Dolny, circa 1938. 
Same time period she was actually introduced to the dashing Chaim.

The Night We Met, 1942. Pen and ink drawing. Chaim dedicates this drawing to his dearest, whom he met in 1938. In this drawing recalls how she read from a poetry book while he paddled.

Crossing the Border, 1952. Drawn from memory. Pen and ink with a wash.

Gas Chamber, Pen and ink drawing with a wash.

Chaim Goldberg painting the Holocaust in Novosibirsk, Russia in 1942.

Warsaw in Ruins, 1946.  Watercolor by Chaim Goldberg.

View in the Warsaw Ghetto, 1949 (from memory) Pen and ink with wash by Chaim Goldberg.

Yenta, a hammering in silver of his mother, circa 1956.

Yellow Star, 1952. (by way of witnesses). Ink wash by Chaim Goldberg.

View in the Warsaw Ghetto, 1952 (from memory) by Chaim Goldberg. Pen and ink drawing.

Chaim Goldberg‘s Mother, Yenta and Father Summer, circa 1931.

Farewell, 1964. Acrylic and oil on canvas by Chaim Goldberg.

Under the Gun, 1952. Based on eyewitness reports to Chaim Goldberg:
 A labor detail being walked to a factory just outside the Ghetto walls under the guard of the Nazis. 
Similar work details were marched to the Schindler factory, as seen in the movie, “Schindler’s List.”

To the Trains, 1952. Ink wash by Chaim Goldberg.

Chaim and Rachel with their son Victor in front of the Warsaw Ghetto Fighters Monument.

Chaim was commissioned to execute monuments like this one of Mitzkevitch and Pushkin.

Chaim Goldberg at work.

Driving. Oil painting.

Chaim’s post-modernist work from the 70’s.

Goldberg in front of the 6-panel painting, “1939-1945.” (by Jill Friedman).

Houston studio.

Chaim Goldberg and his family, circa 1947, before going to Paris. From Left to right: (Front) Chaim, Victor, Bracha and Meyer -Chaim’s in-laws. (rear Rachel and Sara, the two sisters).

On July 4th, 1953 their second son, Shalom was born (nursing above).

Chaim Goldberg’s family had grown by one more son.

War of Independence hero, Yehuda Arazi, who became a hotel owner.

“When the Vistula River Spoke Yiddish”. Chaim’s drawings became illustrations to the book.

Chaim Goldberg next to the Model for the Holocaust Monument titled Triumph II, A carving in wood he made in Houston, TX.

Chaim Goldberg sculpting.

The Wedding, Oil painting.

Chaim Goldberg painting a Shtetl Circus oil on canvas, circa 1993

SHIR Fine Arts exhibition of Goldberg’s shtetl work in Southfield, Michigan, circa 2003.

Chaim Goldberg at 80“. A one man show at the Rosen Museum, Jewish Federation Boca Raton, FL, April 1997.

Chaim Goldberg finally achieves a studio in which he can paint his Kazimierz Dolny Shtetl and gather all of his characters to live eternally through his art, circa 1994. Here, he is painting the canvas, “Homage to my Shtetl, 60″ x 40”.

Chaim Goldberg‘s first monograph is designed.

Table of Contents

Part 1 – Kazimierz Dolny – The Roots

Hailed as the visual chronicler of the Jewish life of the shtetl, Chaim Goldberg had proven himself true to that calling. His shtetl is called Kazimierz Dolny and it’s still one of the most picturesque places in Poland. It has become an even more significant destination than before either one of the World Wars.

The artist’s colors and compositions speak of a childhood deeply rooted in the culture inspired by the Jewish shtetl of Eastern Europe. His interest in art began quite innocently. As a child he liked exploring the banks of the River Vistula and the small tributary that ran by his house. He would find river stones and try to look for the shapes that lay hidden within.

One day he decided to scrape away layers with his father’s shoemaking tools, which did not get a good reception for the senior Goldberg. The son had made them dull. He fashioned a chiseling knife from a farm tool one of his friends had provided, and began to sculpt the stones using a smooth stone as his hammer. He would ‘discover’ heads of lions and goats, which he would give away as gifts to his older friends. In exchange his bond with the older boys improved. Later, when he got bullied in school, his ‘private guards’ would step in and help ‘calm things down.’

The polish villages, referred to as a “Shtetls”, and this particular one had proven itself as safe and friendly place for the Jews for over seven centuries, since they first settled there. Jews lived a life that revolved around the old customs, holidays and their rituals. These were central to the young Chaim Goldberg.

The abject poverty, and the seemingly happy-go-lucky attitude among many of the Jews had inspired the Yiddish culture in an affectionate and sharp witted, humorous manner. Life was primitive for the most part, with water delivered by a water carrier, clothes washed by the river, chickens bought live at the market and taken to the butcher on the way home to be plucked and cooked.

The bustling shtetl was like a tapestry of many colors comprised of merchants, farmers, shoemakers, musicians, a water carrier, horse traders, laborers, with the marketplace being a bi-weekly event, (see below), it became central to its survival.

In addition to the merchants and laborers and other regulars of the village there was a regular group of artists of various types, writers, photographers and film-makers who came to be inspired by the landscape and lifestyle as well as to create outdoors while there.

One of these artists was Nathan Korzen who had painted a portrait of Chaim as a young boy of eight. It is now in an unknown collection in Europe.
Chaim was born in this two-room cottage (below) built by his father, a shoemaker, and raised along with his eight sisters and two brothers. His father had built it with a pointy roof for more space. It became a landmark in the entire region for the vagabonds and the Klezmers who frequently needed a free place to stay. The Goldberg home became known through the beggar and musician grapevine and it served them well.

It also served the young artist with numerous new characters each week to paint. They were willing subjects and often times too absorbed in the legends they told and the news from the far places they had visited.

In the painting from his third Shtetl Period, Chaim painted his father the cobbler and the eternal host. Despite the poverty, his parents welcomed wanderers, such as in “Before Dawn” – the family of a Klezmer (musician). Chaim and his brother happily gave up their cramped bed for the floor. While the klezmer’s wife and children slept in their bed, with the klezmer sleeping in the roomy, but colder attic. In the painting, Chaim’s father is busy repairing the traveler’s shoes while his mother bakes bread for the breakfast – all included for free. In exchange they heard the latest news and gossip from the Shtetls visited by the musician and any other stories he had picked up along the way. Chaim listened and made drawings based on these stories.

His talents dominated his youth and marked him as a unique and gifted prodigy. By the time he became a teenager, he had added making life-sized sculptures out of clay. In the watercolor below, the artist’s father – Summer the cobbler explains to his customers, a Polish couple who were farmers, that these sculptures were made by his son, Chaim. The farmer responded, “When your son makes these, they walk and they talk!” The future artist who had just returned from work as a house painter could overhear this conversation just as he was about to enter the small house. This event had stayed etched in his memory for nearly forty years.

Chaim was never short of subject matter in this tight, folklore-filled and often-visited picturesque village. The artists visiting the village who contributed to the growth of the art colony also inspired the young lad, in fact some became his first customers.  The “painter-twins,” as they were known, the landscape artists Efraiim Seidenbeutel (1902-1945 and Menashe Seidenbeutel (1902 1944) purchased from Chaim one of his landscapes of Kazimierz Dolny prior to its completion, saying, “Here is your payment for this painting, when you complete it, please bring it to us at the hotel.”

His artistic talents were noted by other the village folks as well. The Pharmacist, S. Lichtstein and his wife, also became his fans. As were a few key individuals. Many strangers had identified his gift to draw and to remember their faces and colorful expressions. Until one promising fall day in 1931, just after Chaim had turned fourteen-years old. Dr. Saul Silberstein, a well traveled psychiatrist, who was conducting research for his book on Jewish Family Mannerisms and Shtetl Life, stopped by to have his shoes repaired. Dr. Saul Silberstein was a postdoctoral student of the legendary Dr. Sigmund Freud and for him, as many others, Kazimierz Dolny became a natural stopping point as he traveled through the villages in the Lublin area.

Part 2:  Chaim Goldberg is Discovered & The Art Colony Years in Kazimierz Dolny, 1931-1939 (Poland part I)

On that fateful, brisk morning in the fall of 1931, when Dr. Silberstein needed to have his shoes repaired, he had no idea what else he may encounter when he was directed to this cobbler – Summer Goldberg, the artist’s father.
As Silberstein entered the small, two-room home-workshop, he noticed the numerous works of art on paper that were attached to the walls with short shoe nails and inquired, “Who’s the prolific artist?” The cobbler proudly answered that the artist was no other than his teenage son, Chaim!

Later that day when the young artist returned home from his day of laboring as an apprentice house painter (see Chaim, the apprentice housepainter in the painting The Twins) he could sense that the visitor will change his life forever.
His days as an apprentice house painter were over. Just as the master painter had predicted a few days before this event. Prophetically, he stated, that once young Chaim’s talent will be discovered, he assured him that his true calling would emerge.

Suddenly, Chaim felt the prophetic words come to life. Silberstein spent the entire night reviewing the works of the young artist. In conclusion he told Chaim about the great world that’s out there, beyond the shtetl boundaries. He told him about places like Vienna and the enlightenment, about the magical place called Paris, where new art styles were exploding with Cubism following Impressionism and Expressionism as well as Surrealism.
Dreams of a great life in exploring the arts were stirred in young Chaim. He yearned for such an opportunity. After studying the young lad’s work Silberstein told him that he was destined to become a great and well-known artist. He promised the young artist that he would make sure he received the education and the opportunity to accomplish his dreams.

In the morning they set out by foot to the city of Lublin and then to Krakow by train. Silberstein contacted his friends and made new acquaintances as he sought support to fulfill his promise to Chaim. He was referred to the accomplished sculptor and teacher Henryk Kuna, who recognized the young man’s talent immediately and contributed toward his scholarship. Among his teachers at the prestigious Mehoffer School of Fine Arts, was Władysław Skoczylas. Other patrons he had contacted contributed to the boy’s education as well. They included the honorable Judge Felyks Kronshtein and his wife, who became his greatest pre-World War II collectors, as well as the Editor and Publisher of a Yiddish newspaper who became Chaim’s “managing trustee”.

Chaim was accepted with a full scholarship to study at the Mehoffer High School of Fine Arts in Krakow and Dr. Silberstein continued to pave the way for his future by seeking support from others. In 1932 he had to travel to Paris to have a leg operation. While in Paris, a few months later, Dr. Silberstein sought the opinion of Marc Chagall. He showed him the portfolio with Chaim’s drawings of the bible stories and told him how excited he was about his discovery of the young talent. The established artist said that indeed this young boy had a great deal of talent and promise. He then decided to purchase the complete portfolio of drawings from Dr. Silberstein. He took the young artist’s address and a correspondence developed between the senior artist and the young prodigy. During his correspondence Chaim was later invited to visit Chagall’s studio, however, the World War had forced to put all of his future plans on hold.

He thrived in this new arena of intellectual enrichment under the prodigious Pruszkowski.  The landscape below is an example of those years as the Fourth Group that Pruszkowski organized with his students converged on Chaim’s ‘home-town.’ As providential as it may appear, which was not the case; the professor also loved the scenic village and built his summer studio there.
The years at the Academy of Fine arts in Warsaw and studying under the rector of the department, Professor Tadeusz Pruszkowski gave Chaim a unique opportunity to sharpen his skills and become more confident.

Pruszkowski had a flair for the drama. Often he would point out to the rest of the class Chaim’s landscapes of Kazimierz Dolny.  This also gave him a better perspective of Chaim who came from utter poverty that Pruszkowski came to know first hand when he met the young artist’s parents. He understood the progression and maintained contact with his parents by visiting on any occasion.

Before Chaim was discovered, he yearned to be a ‘real artist’ like the older, more established, artists who arrived in Kazimierz Dolny to paint and socialize.
He saw them as his future role-models and he did everything he could to develop those senses within him, so that he would end up the same.
Chaim’s painting style was primitive and expressive. His subject matter was the village characters and the colorful village. Kazimierz-Dolny possesses a charm like no other place in Poland. It became a magnet for artists, writers, poets and vacationers. As Chaim was growing up the artists who frequented the village became his source of inspiration and awakened his natural and deep need to create.

Part 3:  Chaim Meets Rachel, 1938

During a school holiday in 1938, Chaim was introduced to his future wife Rachel (1920-2003), at the boat slip by the River Vistula.  She was also vacationing in the village. Although Rachel lived in Warsaw with her parents at the time, she had her roots in the same village as Chaim. With her father born there and her mother who had come from Pulwawy, a bigger town across the river — now their worlds crossed.

Their Romance lasted the entire 65 years that they were together, from 1938 only to be separated by Rachel’s passing in 2003. Finally in 2004 Chaim passed away to join her. They were married in 1944 while both were refugees in Siberia. Chaim and Rachel were married in Novosibirsk on April 15th, 1944. On August 15th, 1945, the day the Japanese signed the surrender pact, their oldest son – Victor was born..
Together, Chaim and his wife Rachel endured and triumphed over the worst period in the history of mankind.

Part 4: Surviving the Holocaust, 1939-1946

By September 1st, 1939, when World War II began, Goldberg had already been serving as a corporal in the Polish Army for nearly a year. He was conscripted into a three-year obligation to serve, despite his hearing disability and placed in an artillery battalion stationed in Warsaw.

Chaim Goldberg lost his whole family in the Holocaust except for one brother and one sister who escaped early.  The horrors and guilt of surviving the man’s most devastating events in history were etched deeply in his mind for the rest of his life. One of his earliest works, titled Gas Chambers can be seen below.
The artist had escaped with his future wife and her family to Siberia, where they became refugees. Despite the difficult wartime conditions, Goldberg was able to gain employment as set designer at the Novosibirsk Opera House. This source of income provided him with some stability so that he could consider starting a family, have his first son, Victor.

The news of the mass exterminations began to trickle in by way of radio and newspaper as early as 1941. The artist, shaken to his core by the news plunged into making a visual the horrific news he had heard.

Later, in 1946, when Goldberg and his new family returned to Poland he witnessed the near complete destruction of Warsaw. He then began to document the debris that once made up familiar buildings and streets of Warsaw.
At the same time he began considering various monuments to memorialize the mass of murdered humanity so that future generations would remember. He also began to draw from his memory various scenes of life in the Warsaw Ghetto.
While they were there, he witnessed the progress of the war as a soldier, then a POW in the Majdanek Labor Camp, whose 14,000 prisoners were made to build the concentration camp.

Chaim and a friend managed to get away and escape that chapter, by writing a letter in German to the superior officer in charge of the military prisoners, saying that his mother was gravely ill and on her deathbed and needed him.”  The time was prior to the implementation of the Final Solution and his letter was convincing enough to be set free.
He looked for Rachel whom he had been courting and located her in hiding with her family in a basement of an un-bombed house.
He immediately set a plan into action – to escape!
He headed for Kazimierz Dolny to gather his family and join him and Rachel and her family in escaping from Poland.

His father and mother would not leave saying, that they are too old and frail to undertake such an effort, and also the Germans they remembered from World War I “were nice to the Jews…” in fact they persisted in trying to assure Chaim that no harm will come to them, “they even gave out chocolates…” they said.

Chaim returned to Warsaw heartbroken and with a deep sinking feeling.  He knew from having studied German as a foreign language at the Warsaw Art Academy, and having read Hitler’s book,  “Mein Kampf” that a madman was set loose with a state sanctioned agenda of mass murder and destruction the world will be a different place within a few years.
He made his way back to Rachel who was still in hiding with her family.
The time: end of October, 1939.

The colder weather began to move in and the Germans had begun to close their noose around the Jewish population of Warsaw. The final solution had not been implemented yet, but one could sense the foul stench of the war and see the destruction.

His own art, which he had stored with a non-Jewish artist colleague and friend in the Polish side of Warsaw, was destroyed later. The ghetto wall confines had not been put in place yet. Only a barbed wire indicated the perimeters.
Those who lost their homes and businesses, like Rachel’s parents, were forced to eat the rationed soup that the Germans had prepared and were dishing out in thinly watered down servings with a small piece of bread.
Then each Jewish person had to wear the yellow Star of David and Chaim understood the sinister thinking behind the yellow patch… marked for extinction!

By early November, Chaim had gotten word back from his network of friends that a guide has been found who will get the family through the guarded border on a certain agreed-upon night in exchange for gold jewelry.  Now came the escape plan.

Rachel had stowed some items before running out of her home on September 1st, just as the bombing began. Her mother had grabbed some valuables as well. They gathered all their personal items and prepared them as payment/bribe for the border guide. Somehow they managed to get out of Warsaw before the Jewish section was made into the ghetto and made their way at night. They managed to escape to the country. Then they proceeded east to the border by travelling mostly at night and established contact with the Polish man who was to show them the trail through the woods.

With the German guards on constant vigil and patrol they placed their trust in their guide to deliver them to safety and not to the German soldiers. Luckily, they were helped by a man who had kept his word. They travelled by foot and on some scarce occasions by wagon, getting rides from some friendly farmers until they reached a nearby village when Rachel had fallen ill and could not go on any further. She had to be carried for a long distance. Chaim and his future father-in-law, Meyer took turns carrying her to the nearest hospital which was over seventy kilometers away.

When the Nazis advanced against Russia, they were forced to flee again. Each time the German forces managed to get closer, Chaim and the others were forced to flee. They finally arrived in Novosibirsk, northernmost city in Russia. Believing that the Nazis would not get that far, they stayed there to the end of the War. Chaim was able to get work immediately in the big city as a set designer at the Novosibirsk State Opera. He also began to paint his first Holocaust paintings there in 1942.

Part 5: Poland (part II), 1946-1955

The couple returned to Poland aboard a cattle train in 1946. In 1947, after submitting an application, Chaim was granted a two-year fellowship by the Polish Ministry of Culture to study in Paris at the prestigious Ecole National de Beaux Arts. There he studied under Ossip Zadkine and others. While in Paris he finally had the opportunity to take Chagall up on his earlier invitation to meet and visit him in his studio.

Upon the expiration of the Fellowship, Chaim and the family decided to return to Poland, despite many invitations to stay in France and offers from family to help him emigrate to Canada. He was convinced that his work would be essential to the rebuilding of the country in exchange for security.
Before heading to France, Chaim began to feel a stir within him when he visited Kazimierz Dolny in 1947. The stir became a loud calling to paint the life that was there before the war. The life he remembered so well and his beloved Shtetl. He began to respond to the calling and was told that the art had no business being made. Everything was the proletariat and nothing else mattered. He had to follow the party-line and began to make plans to escape this new hell.  Between the years 1949 and 1955 he delivered numerous designs for the official communist monuments, while secretly he made drawings of the faces and places he remembered. These drawings he determined had to become oil paintings when he would free himself and his family from Poland’s oppressive grip on his freedom.
In 1955 his family grew with the arrival of his son, Shalom on July 4th, 1953.
Whenever he could, he began to suggest that the Ministry of Culture should allow him and his family to leave. His subtle pleas were not heard for over a year. In utter frustration, he had to develop a plan at great risk to himself and his family. One day he headed into the Ministry of Culture to plead his case not knowing if he would ever see his wife and children again. After the confrontation at the Ministry, they yielded and allowed him to immigrate to Israel. He returned home late that day, after a whole day of waiting and being seen late to the rejoicing of the family.

His wife Rachel had a feeling that he would return, despite his parting words, that he did not know if they would even allow him to return to his family rather than ship him off to a labor camp for standing up and asking for his artistic freedoms.

The artist now had a plan on how to leave the oppressive Communist regime and the lack of freedom for him to create the art he also wanted to make – his own subject matter. He became intent on immigrating to Israel.
It took two years of pleas and requests to finally be allowed to immigrate.  Only three families were allowed to leave, finally had their wish and were allowed to leave and go to Israel in 1955. 

Chaim was free at last to return to his passion, painting and sculpting Jewish subjects inspired by the life he remembered from his beloved village Kazimierz Dolny.

Part 6: The Israel Years, 1955-1967

Getting to Israel for the artist Chaim Goldberg was the first challenge. Now he had to find a way to support his family.
Upon their arrival, Chaim and his family were given a temporary state-provided apartment and some basics. He created his art in the common area, or the apartments’ courtyard.

One day he decided to begin looking for his old friends and seek opportunities as an artist. First and foremost he needed a place to work and some commissions. He criss-crossed the country and found many of his friends from Poland now in various positions that could order a commission.

He was introduced to a War of Independence hero by the name of Yehuda Arazi, the owner of a resort hotel called, Ramat Aviv. Timing was right and Yehuda was looking for just an artist who could help him make the hotel a more memorable place.

Yehuda Arazi became the artist’s greatest fan, patron and lifeline to others, who shared Polish roots, and then suddenly, tragedy struck, and he was taken away. He passed away at the age of 51 from a brain tumor that was discovered too late to be treated. Chaim’s life again was marked with a terrible loss. It was a painful blow that the artist took to heart.  It was as if all the people who had mattered to him were taken away.

Despite the repeated loss, Chaim dove right into making more paintings. For the next four years he created the most significant paintings of his career. He painted his shtetl characters from memory and depicted them in large canvasses, such as the Simchat Torah, Wedding, Parents, Bread Carrier, Water Carrier and others. The earlier pen and ink drawings that he made in Poland between 1947-1952, during the Communist regime, became the foundation for his new paintings.

A pattern became self evident that the drawings had been done anywhere from ten to twenty years before the oil painting was created. This pattern became clear throughout his life. He could never quite catch up with the lost twenty some years, from 1939 to 1960. Regardless, the new studio and the stress-free environment of Israel provided an excellent, and secure place to explore Judaic subjects and to make eternal his beloved shtetl.

Some of the Israelis from Chaim’s generation who called Poland their former country and numerous Canadian and American Jews became his new fans. The studio’s location provided easy access to many tourists who made the short trek and visited the artist’s humble villa. Some became buyers of his art and were very glad to leave with the painting or sculpture. Years later they kept in touch and purchased more. One of these steady buyers was Baron Oscar Ghez, a collector and museum founder from Geneva, Switzerland.
Chaim’s circle of friends expanded and his art was exhibited in Israel in various venues. In Petach Tikvah, he had a one man show at the spacious Beit Yad Labanim, which was well attended. Some of the visitors included the future Prime Minister, Golda Meir and Kadish Luz the Speaker of the Knesset during the early to mid sixties.

Another exhibit was held at the Pioneer House in Givataiim. With others in the works, Chaim had to abruptly give up his newfound slice of heaven to Jewish progress. The family was approached by the City of Tel Aviv and was informed that due to development plans, they were forced to sell their property – his new found dream to the city.

Chaim sought the advice of friends, one of whom was the President of Israel, Mr. Zalman Shazar. After consulting with him, Chaim decided that it was time to seek brighter horizons and to accept his offer for the unique 2-year business visa to America. These extended visas were not easily obtained in those years, so Chaim decided that it must be pointing to another door opening. With his new business manager, Mr. Yaron, the family embarked on a ship voyage to the United States. Chaim’s entire art collection was loaded aboard the S.S. Olympia and they sailed off to New York on a seventeen-day voyage.

Part 7: New York, 1967-1974

New York City’s hustle and bustle had an immediate impact on Chaim, but he was too busy with getting settled and responding to the great reception his art enjoyed at the gallery exhibits. The exhibited art had sold-out, with much selling out on the first evening of the opening. Finally, Chaim had met with the success that had eluded him most of his life.

He liked the ready availability of art supplies in New York, but disliked the tumult. He could not adjust to the way of life, or fit in too well due to his hearing disability and his knowledge of the language. The Goldberg’s gravitated to the Yiddish speaking intelligencia that also lived close by. He was introduced to Issac Bashevis Singer almost as soon as he settled in his west-side apartment just down the street, in 1968. They discussed a possible collaboration on a series of books that Chaim would illustrate. But the ongoing demand on Chaim to deliver more oil paintings increased and the illustration project was shelved.

Chaim also met S.L. Schneiderman again, a journalist and historian also from Kazimierz Dolny, whom Chaim had known before the war as his “senior” and now their age difference became insignificant. He became friends with Shea Tenenbaum who wrote several books in Yiddish about the artist.  A very prolific writer, he had visited many studios of Jewish painters in the New York area, as well as Marc Chagall during the War years while Chagall lived in upstate NY. This exposure made him the natural writer to pen many books about the Jewish artists whose origin was Eastern Europe or Russia.

S.L. Schneiderman also wrote about Chaim in his book “When the Vistula River Spoke Yiddish.” Chaim’s drawings became illustrations to the book.
In 1970 the family moved to Queens, a New York City Borough and a quieter area than the upper West Side. Here Chaim began to develop etchings and engravings based on his paintings and drawings. He printed his work in his basement graphic studio, while painting in the attic studio. Even the more harmonious Queens winter challenges of icy sidewalks and pipes breaking caused Chaim to reconsider the New York.

In 1973 the Goldbergs received their US citizenship. In 1974 when a collector from Houston, Texas contacted the artist about adding to his already growing collection of Goldbergs paintings, Chaim took a look at moving out of NY to the warmer climate of a north Houston town called Spring, Texas.

Part 8: Texas, 1974-1986

The family made the move to a large home situated on a plot of land that would make a spot for a studio.  The distance from town proved too much as challenge for both husband and wife when it came time to learn to drive a car.

The 70’s also were a period that marks Chaim’s response to life in a complex, modern society. He created hundreds of drawings that, while they recall recognizable symbols and faces, they also present a frightening observation of modern drives and behaviors. Chaim observed the aggressive street life on New York’s West Side and the less than friendly drivers and saw a life that could only end in peril unless we revert and learn how to relate to one another in a more peaceful manner.  He also painted the circus and numerous landscapes.

His dance theme is a calling to the more harmonious manner of village life that he became accustomed to in Poland.  In describing the rationale for the dance theme, Chaim explained that he sees the shapes as rising freed spirits from the crematoria of the Holocaust. These are the Jews from my Shtetl and the millions of others as they rise to freedom. The concept is unique and the imagery can be seen intricately combined into certain paintings that recall a moment when musicians reunite with the spirits of their ancestors. Then the spirits drift back to their dimension, free at last. They can also be seen in his sculptures and monument concepts for Holocaust memorials, such as Triumph II and others.

Chaim kept himself busy with many projects and mediums and with several studio spaces in his house he was able to devote time to exploring the numerous mediums that ranged from painting on paper, on canvas, sculpting in wood, stone and in concrete as well as engraving and etching.

After Chaim had created a body of work with the rising spirits or dance, he moved back to what became his Third Shtetl Period, (the First Shtetl Period is defined as his years there 1925-1939, the Second Period being 1946-1972 and the Third Period being 1983-2000). This collection of large canvases tell the story of the family and of life indoors to a large degree. The paintings set outdoors detail celebrations and a lost culture. While the ones set indoor reveal the way his family, or other poor Shtetl folks lived. His paintings are a celebration of a way of life and its intricate mannerisms that belong to a different era. They recall the work of the Dutch Jewish artist, Joseph Israels and Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Part 9: Florida, 1986-2004

Chaim and Rachel became uncomfortable in Houston due to the petrochemical pollution that rose and drifted over their house from neighboring Pasadena and decided to move to Florida in 1986. After an interim residence in Southeast Florida and looking around for a while with their son Shalom who had been living in Florida since 1985, they decided to build a house that would better suite the artist with a large studio, in Boca Raton and finally moved in 1992.
In 1997 the Rosen Museum in Boca Raton, in the Jewish Federation campus held a major exhibition of Chaim’s watercolors, Oil paintings and sculpture, called “Chaim Goldberg at 80”, celebrating the artist’s 80th birthday. The exhibit opening drew large crowds and again his sales set records.

In his new spacious studio he was finally able to paint from memory the village life he recalled so easily. His paintings are a source of information and are revered as a chronicle of a life and a bygone time.

After a life of wandering through many lands and finally settling to comfortable studio space, Chaim’s adventure was cut short when he was diagnosed with a debilitating neurological condition that starting in 1997 required full time attention and care until he passed away on June 26th, 2004, exactly eighteen months after his wife Rachel had passed away on January 26th, 2003, as if to say with his final statement that everyone must celebrate life.


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