Sculptor Hadas Rosenberg Nir was the first recipient of the ‘Andy’ prizeThe spirit of Andrea Bronfman was alive at the ceremony where the first ‘Andy’ award was granted to Hadas Rosenberg Nir, a senior lecturer in the ceramics department of the University of Haifa and Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy. Rosenberg Nir was awarded the $12,500 (NIS50,000) prize, for her amalgamated sculptural forms, wheel-thrown pottery and hand formed shapes.

Earlier this year, the world of Jewish philanthropy was stunned and saddened when Andrea Bronfman was tragically struck by an automobile in Manhattan.

The fatal accident had occurred just months after her husband, Charles Bronfman, created the Andrea M. Bronfman Prize – the ‘Andy’ award – in May 2005 to promote a field that his wife held close to her heart – the Israeli decorative arts. Established in honor of Bronfman’s 60th birthday, the ‘Andy’ rewards works of an Israeli decorative artist in ceramics, jewelry, textile or glass mediums allowing the winner an opportunity to exhibit at Tel Aviv’s Eretz Israel Museum.

Attending the ceremony were Bronfman family members, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Education Minister Yuli Tamir, and members of the Association of Israel’s Decorative Artists (AIDA) delegation who traveled from the US to continue in their work of discovering and promoting Israel’s artists and attend the prize ceremony.

Founded by the Bronfmans, AIDA has sent since 2003 more than 50 Israeli artists to showcase jewelry, ceramics, sculpture and glasswork at various galleries and exhibits worldwide.

“AIDA’s mission is synergistic with the awarding of the Andy prize,” AIDA co-founder and Bronfman family friend Doug Anderson told ISRAEL21c. “We came to Israel with a group of 40 serious collector/friends to accomplish a purpose. Mission accomplished. Andy’s presence was felt by everyone.”

Impressed with the ceramic and glass works she discovered on annual visits to Israel, Andrea Bronfman launched AIDA in 2003 in collaboration with her husband and longtime friends Doug and Dale Anderson. Their central mission was to present the work of artists from Israel to the collecting public, hoping that art dealers would pick up and represent artists on the rise.

Israeli wares have been seen at Chicago’s annual SOFA (Sculpture Objects and Functional Art) forum and New York’s Duane Reed Gallery and plans for upcoming showings include London’s Flow Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum and New York’s SOFA.

Jewelry designer Shay Lahover of Tel Aviv was a 2004 AIDA exhibitor at SOFA and currently shows his 22 and 24K gold, platinum and silver designs inlaid with precious stones at galleries in Tel Aviv, Michigan and soon in Manhattan. Lahover says AIDA recognition changed both his career and his focus.

“The opportunity to work with American clientele propelled me towards larger pieces and more precious stones which I now import from Asia and Europe. The entire experience has been amazing and I’m now working in some of the world’s top jewelry galleries.”

Lahover was also present at the Andy Award ceremony in Tel Aviv and described it as an embodiment of Andrea Bronfman’s essence.

“In the most non-cliché way possible, the ceremony was exactly what Andy was: attentive to detail, thoughtful, charismatic, tasteful and charming. Andy’s death dealt a shocking blow to the AIDA artists and to me personally,” Lahover told ISRAEL21c.

During their weeklong visit, AIDA delegates visited Tel Aviv and Jaffa galleries and museums, discussed art with Israeli collectors and curators, spent time in Arab Israeli galleries, toured the Galilee, Jordan Valley, Massada and relaxed at the luxurious Carmel Forest Spa.

Charles Bronfman hosted a Sabbath dinner for the visitor and moderated a discussion for them on Israel’s modern politics led by Hirsh Goodman, Director of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Program on Information Strategy at Tel Aviv University’s Jaffee Institute.

Bronfman noted family origins and ancient and modern history combine to lend unique perspective and new traditions of art and artifact in the work of the artists being promoted by AIDA.

“The time has arrived when Israeli craftsmanship in these disciplines can compete with the best in the world,” Bronfman said.

The AIDA foundation will continue to foster that connection. “AIDA seeks to make the point that artists working in Israel are working on a high level and in an international style,” Doug Anderson concluded.

When asked for his assessment of the future of the mission that Andrea Bronfman began, he responded twice.

“Very bright,” he declared enthusiastically. “VERY bright.”