CHAI SPY – The Back Story

Recently, I was asked about the story behind Chai Spy®.

Chai Spy®  has become such a part of my professional life that it has really become my own story…at least for the time being.

Back in 2006 I created a piece of Jewish art entitled, “From Generation to Generation”.  This was a three-dimensional collage and assemblage depicting various facets of Jewish Life and the Jewish Home.

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As viewers engaged with this particular piece I kept hearing the same comment over and over, “Each time I look at your work, I see something I hadn’t noticed before.”

It took a while before I had my “light bulb” moment.

Finally, it dawned on me that I needed to create art based on the childhood game that many of us used to play on family road trips, “I spy with my little eye”…and then you had to find it as well.  The twist is that in Chai Spy® there are no lists of objects to find.

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You look.  You see.  You find.  You share.  You talk.

The special spin on the game is that there is a miniature Chai on each page hidden in each of the pieces of art.  They are hidden in plain sight for you to find.  That’s the common thread throughout.

As for the Chai from the book’s title there are 18 pages of art, each of which hold objects that go with the Jewish holiday or Jewish place…all of which are part of a Jewish journey through life.

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I have always loved dollhouse miniatures, collage, and multi-dimensional works of art.  Most of my art incorporates all of these in some way whether the piece is Jewish or secular.

In fact, the first art show I was in as a child was a collage for which I won a blue ribbon.  I was so into collage that I actually collaged the back of the laundry room door in our home with various images clipped from magazines back in the 1960’s.  I’m not at all sure that my mother appreciated it, but then it WAS on the BACK of the door after all!!  Not everyone was subjected to my creative talents.

While I may have an eye for putting things together visually; it is our daughter who is the poetic writer in the family.  She gets all of the credit for the rhyming verse corresponding with each art work.  And, although some of the objects are referred to in her poems, the real idea behind the poetry is to give the reader a flavor for the subject matter.  It doesn’t serve as a list of things to find, however, it does serve as a great conversation starter.

Most people assume that Chai Spy® is for young children.  Yes.  While young children will certainly enjoy this book, children of all ages and stages will do so as well.  The poems are lively and educational.  The art is saturated with color throughout.  The high quality of publishing is immediately apparent.  And, there is no perfect age group or level of Jewish observance that is necessary to enjoy anything Chai Spy®.  The less you know, the more you’ll learn.  The more you know, the more you’ll be able to “connect the dots.”

Chai Spy® is indeed a book, but it is also a brand.  The brand currently includes a line of Jewish holiday gift cards as well as blank note cards for gift giving or for the writing of personal notes…seemingly a lost art which is undergoing a renaissance.  We anticipate expanding the line to include puzzles, playing cards, card memory games, baby bibs, placemats, men’s novelty ties and bowties, posters…an ever-expanding list!

As many of you know, there is a high correlation between art and memory.  In particular it is our hope that elderly Jewish with or without cognitive impairment will enjoy and benefit from the book.  Chai Spy® is a conversation starter for those memories which are tucked way back inside of the brain.  Art is the key to unlocking those memories.  Memory care facilities are also wonderful outlets with whom we hope to form valuable partnerships as they use Chai Spy® for art and other creative therapies.

Years ago I participated in an art training program which was based on the Artists for Alzheimer’s program in NYC.  Afterwards, I volunteered with the elderly living in assisted living and full-time care, some of whom struggled with memory challenges.

One of the workshops that I gave was beach themed.  The participants used seashells, sea glass, textured papers, and various other ephemera to create collages.  Suddenly, one of the gentlemen shouted out, “I remember when I was a kid and we went to Miami Beach…with my mother and my brothers and sisters…”  Something about the creative process and touching/feeling the seashells brought those memories rushing back to him.

That’s the beauty of art.  That’s the beauty of memory.  When you put the two together it’s a powerful thing.

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*At the present time, Chai Spy® may be purchased in a soft cover version online at Lulu.com, the premier online website for self-published books.  A hard back version will be available later this summer as well as a number of signed, numbered, upscale collector’s copies in limited edition.

Feel free to contact me directly for more information at:  ellen@chai-spy.com

Website:  www.MyPetitsTresors.com

 

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A Few of My Favorite Things

a.k.a. I love lists!

Rescue dogs
Chocolate chip cookies
Beach waves
British telephone boxes
Antiques
Snow globes
Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade
Carousels
London
Ice skating
Paris
A roaring fireplace
Roller coasters
Old cars
San Francisco
Charm bracelets
Baby grand pianos
New York City
Lap pools
People watching
Small towns
Honesty
Key lime pie
Humor
Hot cocoa
Laughter
Music
Photography
Art Deco
Friends and Family
Art Nouveau
Long walks
Architecture
Sunrises
Sunsets
The smell of freshly cut grass
Quotes
Foreign accents
Typography
Motherhood
Creativity

How about you? What’s on YOUR list?

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A Book Review – For Me…and You!

“This past weekend my adult children were busy for over half an hour looking through the book and challenging each other to find pictures that were hidden. Such a fun time was had by all. Last night my 3 year old granddaughter opened her Chanukah present- Chai Spy, and spent hours looking through the book and announcing the different pictures she found. This is a book that truly is great for all ages!”

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Happy 2017!

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No. It’s not a boy. It’s not even a girl. It’s a registered trademark. So excited. Nice accomplishment with the help of a few others along the way. Hoping to build on the Chai Spy® brand this year. Looking forward to new and exciting adventures along this journey which I hope you will share with me.

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New Year, New Name

New Year, new name.

2nd ed.

Ayelet Filreis marries Dovid Ribakow.

Text now by Mrs. Dovid Ribakow a.k.a. Ayelet Ribakow.

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Mazel Tov! It’s a Book!

CHAI SPY ® – A Visual Journey Through Jewish Life

Oh my gosh…it’s here at last! Yes. We wanted it to be perfect. It’s totally beyond our expectations. Now, YOU can order your own copy on www.lulu.com.

We’re sending our baby out into the world. It’s an incredible feeling.

To all of you who have supported us and shared the journey with us…feeling such gratitude…you know who you are. Thank you.

Please take a moment and view the sample pages on the Chai Spy ® tab.  This has been a collaborative labor of love between mother and daughter.

The book is published Print-on-Demand, hot off of the press, just for you upon placing an order.  Please allow up to 2 weeks to receive your copy(ies).  Great for Chanukah gift giving, Afikomen presents, birthdays, or yontif…or, for no special reason at all.

It’s a book for the entire family.  Young to old are sure to delight in the educational poems and eye catching assemblage art.  Anyone who is Jewish will find joy in this book…from interfaith to religiously observant…the entire Jewish spectrum.

We hope you will share the “Journey” with us.  We know you will enjoy the book every step of the way!

All the best,

Ellen Filreis, artist

Ayelet Filreis, author

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Art For A Cause

It gives me great pleasure to announce that I will be donating 20% of the sales proceeds from the original work of art pictured below to Releash Atlanta, an organization dedicated to saving the lives of and finding a forever home for dogs and cats.  Releash Atlanta is a non-profit pet adoption group located in Atlanta, Georgia.

Shouldn’t we all ‘Wag more and Bark less’?!!

This is a light hearted, playful piece on attitudes and on how to look at the world through a humorous, less serious lens.  It is available in a variety of colors and may be purchased in my Etsy store.

The sentiment is clear, “Wag more, Bark less;” you have the dog’s tail and hind legs to put a smile on your face to do just that!

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I hope that you will join me in supporting this wonderful organization and the important work that they do…day in and day out.

Releash Atlanta will receive 20% of the sales proceeds, you will receive a “tiny treasure”.  Win-Win!

TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Warmly,

Ellen

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Passion

Passion (from the Latin verb patī meaning to suffer) is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion compelling, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.

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What are you passionate about?

Is passion expressed by emotion?

Is it a color?  Is it a feeling?

Are you passionate about something you do?  Something you enjoy?

I’m most passionate about family and friends…and pets.

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Color Our World

Here in Atlanta, we usually have so many rain filled or rain soaked days during the summer and with the additional rain we’re about to get we seem to be living up to the Atlanta tradition of “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes” because it’ll change. I can’t remember when the trees and the foliage have looked so lush and healthy.

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Everything seems to be green…which got me to wondering what colors mean the most to you?

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet and the multitudes of colors in between.

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Each of the Colors of Our World seem to invoke a strong response from the viewer.

My favorite color is silvery green.  It is not only a color that I see with my eyes but is also a color that I feel from deep within my being.  I smell the green of freshly cut grass.  I smell the rain on the lush leaves.  It seems to cause me to reflect upon where I have been and where I am going to.

What’s your favorite color and why?  Is it just the color or does it bring back a memory?  Do you see your color?  Do you smell your color?  I’d love to know the story of ‘your’ color.

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A Room of Her Own…My Creative Playground

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It has been an exceptionally busy time…cleaning up, cleaning out, organizing, and reorganizing art supplies in my art studio.  As of late, my studio had become the proverbial bottomless pit.

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That’s one thing about being a mixed media collage and assemblage artist…I collect every thing!  (Or, perhaps it is just the Gemini in me.)  Well, I do think that I have finally shoveled out enough stuff to be happy where I am at the moment.  Better put…this is about as good as it gets…for now!

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You know, when you use found objects to embellish and create your art you never want to throw anything out…because it usually turns out that the very last thing you threw out while you were reorganizing is the very first thing that would have made a great addition to your next creation.

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Anyway, I thought you might enjoy seeing my little corner of the world.  This is the place where I go to disappear and be creative.  It’s MY playroom!IMG_0369

Please share photos of YOUR art space with me.  It’s always nice to connect with others who are traveling along a similar path.  Having “friends” to share that creative connection with along life’s journey makes the journey all the sweeter.  There’s so much that we can do together!

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