April 16, 2024
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Kristallnacht to Carnegie Hall

Can one extended family of Holocaust survivors make the desert bloom, develop an ancient dog breed, create beautiful art, and help the blind ride bicycles?

An insight into these remarkable people will be on display from Oct. 20 to Nov. 12, at Gaelen Gallery West, Alex Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus, 901 Route 10. The exhibition “From Kristallnacht to Carnegie Hall: The Art & Life of Fred S. Boyko,” presents the portraits by Boyko, a successful artist in pre World War II Europe. Trained at the art academy that had rejected the putative painter Adolf Hitler, Boyko’s commissioned European work included portraits of the Austrian Imperial Royal family, Sigmund Freud and others.

Arriving to the safety of the United States, Boyko was able to sufficiently establish his artistic credentials here to support an extended family here, family members in Palestine and even help some left in Vienna. His work here garnered several prizes and was exhibited at Carnegie Hall, the National Academy of Design, and other places. Stage stars Mary Martin and Charles Kullman were the subjects of his first American portraits. He won several prizes for his paintings, and his work was exhibited at Carnegie Hall and the National Academy of Design, among other places.

His sister-in-law and her husband, Drs. Rudolf and Rudolfina Menzel escaped to Palestine, where they founded the Israel Guild for the Blind, plus the K-9 force of the IDF and created the Canaan Dog breed. The Canaan Dog was redeemed from status as a pariah dog and developed to become the basis of the IDF K-9 unit.

Fred Boyko’s brother, Dr. Hugo Boyko, an ecologist, worked to develop methods of salt water irrigation in the Negev desert.

Anita Boyko Fox, his daughter, an impressive woman who will celebrate her 90th birthday at the opening of the exhibit of Fred S. Boyko’s work, is an occupational therapist who also carries on the pioneering work of her aunt and uncle, the Menzels.

On a cold day this September at the JCC in Tenafly, a cane in each hand, she greeted all the bikers participating in fundraising ride for the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind from New York to Tenafly and back.

Visually impaired people may not be able to appreciate Fred Boyko’s art work but they can certainly appreciate his legacy.

The opening reception will take place at 7 p.m. on Oct. 30. The program will feature a trailer from “Unconquered Souls,” an upcoming documentary about Anitta Boyko Fox, and her family. The opening also celebrates Fox’s 90th birthday. The exhibit is sponsored by the Holocaust Council of Greater MetroWest, a department of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.

By Helen Weiss Pincus

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