How to: Art House DIY Salon

18 Feb

A review of 8th Day Art House and a guide of how to do this in your house.

by Morris Levin


On a cold Saturday night while ice formed on the sidewalks I opened my home to 30 strangers in an evening of art and inspiration hosted by Jewish Art Now. The event was called “8th Day Art House” and the house happened to be my house–a standard-issue South Philadelphia rowhouse transformed into a haven of Jews and creativity.

We cleared our dining room and kitchen, moving all the chairs to the living room where we set up a projector and hung a white sheet up on the far wall as the screen for the artist presentations.
Tip! Use an iron to steam out wrinkles and folds in the bedsheet, and hang it with a couple nails over the moldings of your windows.

In the dining room we pushed the table to one side and turned the table into a pop-up shop gallery with art prints, books, stickers, and other small items for sale.
Tip! Use a couple boxes to add height to an otherwise flat table to maximize your vertical space when displaying the art.


We put food and drink out on the kitchen counters including two cases of a small batch dry hard apple cider, home cured salmon, and being Saturday night, we offered thin sliced bread for those who would want to make a “fourth meal” as a proper Malava Malka event.
Tip! Utilize the home experience! People are used to wine and cheese at an art event, why not serve home made eats that are more filling, and more unique drink options?


We opened the doors at 8 for food, drinks, and mingling. At 9:30 we gathered everyone into and around the living room to hear the presentations. Presenting artist Elke Reva Sudin shared her current ‘We Are Patriarchs’ Series, showing slides of her work and telling each work’s origin story. Her husband, Saul Sudin, showed selections from the documentary Punk Jews which he co-produced and recently released. He screened his short work “Gateway to the West” which is about Nusach Hari B’nai Zion Congregation in St. Louis, Missouri, but more so about the role of fixed places which are both deeply personal and also widely public.

Josh Gutoff closed the evening with a unique reflective teaching on imagination as a tool for Jewish practice in prayer, helping another, and not being able to do certain relaxing things on Shabbat like writing a letter. He said he sees “training of the imagination [in Judaism] is not unlike art.”


Tip! Find local artists with work to share and educators who can help give a teaching context for how to look at the work. The content of the presentations makes all the difference!

At the end of the evening, with everyone out of the house, I loaded the dishwasher, put away the food, returned the table and chairs to their regular places, and breathed a sigh of joy and relief.

I wanted to offer an experience that would be somewhat thoughtful, enjoyable, and relatively quickly prepared. Even though the event could have been considered a Saturday night house party, I decided to keep on my Shabbat clothes to show that there is a higher purpose to our get together on a wintery Saturday night.




By hosting a Jewish art event at my home I wanted to prove to people that you can be Jewish and do cool and artistic things, and that is sometimes hard to convey at a mainstream Jewish venue. Saturday night’s format reflected the intimatacy of the home space. People responded to the art with excitement and were awakened to the variety of looks and experiences that can be created when you get Jews to make things.

The following morning I looked around at remnants from the evening that laid there. It was Rosh Chodesh Adar and in the wake of the previous evening, I enjoyed more of the cured salmon for breakfast.

Jewish Art Now presented the event in partnership with The Collaborative,,
and the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association. The South Philadelphia Hebrew Association is the organizing name used by Morris Levin for organizing public Jewish events in Center City and South Philadelphia including community gatherings at Congregation Shivtei Yeshuron.

In January 2012, The South Philadelphia Hebrew Association presented Jewish Art Now at Shivtei Yeshuron, an almost dead but still standing synagogue space that they are trying to revive with art and new life. Author and illustrator Aaron Birk presented his Pollinator’s Corridor graphic novel which was then forthcoming and we used the natural ark facing orientation of the shul to stage the event and audience.

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