Aimee Rubensteen

Brooklyn, NY

Since we toured Aimee Rubensteen’s eclectic, love-filled apartment in Brooklyn, NY, she’s picked up and moved to Miami, where she opened her very own art gallery, and, now, she’s back in BK.

The mission statement of Aimee’s art gallery said that “art is a platform for transparency, dialogue + community.” Her home and the objects within certainly lived up to this ideal.

The “Nice Jewish Guys” calendar was a gift from my roommate. It was the best present for our home, especially since I lived with a Feminist lady and two Jewish gay men. We were all dating, but I don’t think any of us were really looking for that NJB… too cliche, you know? Each month, we could all appreciate the ridiculousness of the “Nice Jewish Guy” stereotype.

I’ve been cherishing my Polaroid camera since I got it for my birthday a few years ago. I take it with me when I travel and use it on special occasions when I’m home. Film romanticizes a moment – it literally freezes a memory by recording the light around it. I like to hang all the polaroids in different iterations on my bedroom wall whenever I move – and I move a lot. One of the best pairings: A polaroid of me standing in front of one of my favorite Manet paintings on my 21st birthday at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. During that visit, I fell in love with the Courtauld Gallery collection and scholarship. That polaroid now hangs on my wall next to another precious picture – me, smiling and posing with my MA Art History supervisor, Caroline Arscott, on the day of my graduation from the Courtuald Institute just a few years after I took that first photo in the gallery. Those two polaroids, placed side by side, are like a condensed time machine.

(Don’t forget the film for your Polaroid camera! Can’t afford your own Manet? This book gets you 500 of his images all at once.)

My favorite plate! Every time I would visit my Bubby, I gushed about how much I loved the details and fragility – the cracks were so precarious around the beautiful flowers and gold patterns. I love the story of the plate. When my grandparents finally arrived in Montreal after the war, the movie theaters would actually give you a free plate with your purchased movie ticket. Each visit to the movies would ensure another plate – this was a brilliant marketing idea because everyone would keep going back to the movies until they had a whole china set. My grandparents were Holocaust survivors, so I can imagine how much they must have appreciated the practicality that came with a little bit of indulgent entertainment. My Bubby gave me one of the last plates from the remaining set during a recent visit because she knew how much I loved it.

(Get your own heirloom plates from Zola.)

“Rooted: The Ecological Duality of Nature and Jewish Identity” was an important exhibition for me as a curator and art historian because the space was challenging. It was a multi-purpose gallery at the Manny Cantor Center on the Lower East Side and was really just a large, unconventional hallway in the basement. It forced me to be creative with my curatorial vision. I focused on creating a narrative path for viewers to walk through artwork by 20 artists in various media and feel intrigued enough to linger and engage with each surface. I worked with Yona Verwer (Jewish Art Salon) to present this Art Kibbutz exhibition and we focused on selecting artwork that encouraged viewers to question their own connection to Earth, Judaism, or both. I was especially proud of the range of art that was presented, from raw materials like dirt, branches and bones, to painting, photography, sculpture, and then, incredibly, to innovative technology, like Augmented Reality.

Jewish Art gets complicated when trying to define its terms, but I think Rooted was a strong representation of art that was also Jewish in correlation with the theme.

This necklace has been passed down from my grandmother’s mother to my grandmother to my mother and then to me. The Jewish iconography still looks strangely modern for its time, but the necklace holds an immense amount of power and memory.

(Don your own vintage pendant of Moses and the Ten Commandments.)

I have a picture of Beyonce’s “Lemonade” cut out and hung up on my fridge because Beyonce is a badass and it’s good to have strong female role models hung on your fridge as a daily reminder that you, too, can slay.

Photos by Jake Fromm

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