THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 4 artist Xanti Schawinsky



“The Longest Ride” by Nicholas Sparks

Author Nicholas Sparks explores two very different relationships that are separated by many decades in his latest bookThe Longest Ride (Grand Central Publishing). The story of Ira Levinson starts quickly, as the elderly man is involved in a one car accident on a snowy road in the North Carolina mountains. Even though Ira is alone in the vehicle, as he drifts in and out consciousness, he envisions his late wife, Ruth, who comes to visit him and offer encouragement. Ira’s injuries, along with his advanced age, make survival seem unlikely, but Ruth’s visit prompts him to remember their courtship and the troubling times they had during their decades long love affair. Her goal appears to be to keep Ira occupied until help arrives. Their back story is told throughout the book and is juxtaposed with another courtship, of a much younger couple, Sophia and Luke.

Sophia is a college student who is recovering from a failed relationship with a former boyfriend. She is trying to get her life back on track when she meets Luke, a young rancher/bull rider. Their initial encounter is not pleasant, as Sophia’s former boyfriend (and problem drinker), Brian, is harassing her at a party until Luke intervenes. Soon thereafter, Luke and Sophia strike up a quick friendship and agree to meet again soon. However, Luke has more than one secret and enough drama in his life to scare some folks away. Regardless, the youngsters fall in love, but have to overcome many obstacles along the way, not unlike Ira and Ruth.

Nicholas Sparks explores both relationship is great detail, from the early 20th century meeting between Ira and Ruth, to the modern day one shared by Luke and Sophia. As a result, Sparks uses world history, much of it centered around the time of the second World War, and also art history, to further flesh out the older characters. Both Ira and Ruth become art lovers over the years and several artists are mentioned throughout the book, including Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol, among others. I suspect readers familiar with modern artwork will appreciate the numerous references and philosophy surrounding the various artists.

Faithful readers of Sparks’ many best selling novels will find the familiar setting of North Carolina as the backdrop for the two intertwined stories. While I have seen a few films based on the author’s previous work, this is my first exposure to his writing and I found the descriptions of various cities, including Durham, Greensboro and Asheville, to be comforting. The use of four principal characters allows readers to get to know each of them intimately and they are all likable, but certainly flawed in some respects, which humanizes them and makes them easy to root for them. In addition, Sparks has a gift for writing interesting and realistic conversations, which I preferred to the descriptive nature of other parts of the book. The Longest Ride, which refers to a couple experiencing the ups and downs of life together, is a enjoyable read that held my attention throughout and will likely be appreciated by the author’s core fan base and romantics alike.

Britt Robertson The Late Late Show 2015 02 27

Xanti Schawinsky, approx. 1924

Black Mountain College

Uploaded on Apr 18, 2011

Class Project on Black Mountain College for American Literature

Stage Studies, Spectodrama, approx. 1938


Xanti Schawinsky in his play Olga Olga, 1926


It has been my practice on this blog to cover some of the top artists of the past and today and that is why I am doing  this current series on Black Mountain College (1933-1955). Here are some links to some to some of the past posts I have done on other artists: Marina AbramovicIda Applebroog,  Matthew Barney,  Allora & Calzadilla,   Christo and Jeanne-Claude Olafur EliassonTracey EminJan Fabre, Makoto Fujimura, Hamish Fulton, Ellen GallaugherRyan Gander, John Giorno,  Cai Guo-QiangArturo HerreraOliver HerringDavid Hockney, David HookerRoni HornPeter HowsonRobert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Martin KarplusMargaret KeaneMike KelleyJeff KoonsSally MannKerry James MarshallTrey McCarley,   Paul McCarthyJosiah McElhenyBarry McGeeTony OurslerWilliam Pope L.Gerhard RichterJames RosenquistSusan RothenbergGeorges Rouault, Richard SerraShahzia SikanderHiroshi SugimotoRichard TuttleLuc TuymansBanks ViolettFred WilsonKrzysztof WodiczkoAndrea Zittel,


The third post in this series was on Jorge Fick. Earlier we noted that  Fick was a student at Black Mountain College and an artist that lived in New York and he lent a suit to the famous poet Dylan Thomas and Thomas died in that suit. Both Susan Weil and Robert Rauschenberg were featured in the second post in this series and both of them were good friends of the composer John Cage who was featured in my first post in this series. The fourth post in this series is on the artist  Xanti Schawinsky and he had a great influence on John Cage who  later taught at Black Mountain College. Schawinsky taught at Black Mountain College from 1936-1938 and Cage right after World War II.

Anke Kempkes wrote in December 2009:

Born in 1904 in Switzerland, to a Jewish family of Polish decent, Alexander “Xanti” Schawinsky worked for three years in Theodor Merrill’s Cologne architecture office before enrolling at the Bauhaus in 1924 where he studied with Walter Gropius, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, Oskar Schlemmer and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Schawinsky had a significant presence at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau….

In 1936, Hans Albers secured Schawinsky and his wife safe passage to the United States to teach at the later legendary Black Mountain College in North Carolina. In charge of theater arts, Schawinsky expanded his ideas for experimental theater to a multi-media “total experience.” His production of Spectrodrama and Danse Macabre at the Black Mountain College demonstrated these ideas and importantly laid the foundations for the work of John Cage and others at the College in the post-war time. It can clearly be argued that Schawinsky brought the radical and avant-garde Bauhaus theater to the United States, a relation that has been receiving special attention recently. Irene Schawinsky also contributed to the College. She collaborated with Anni Albers on clothes designs and she create paper sculptures which became iconic props of Xanti’s Spectodrama plays (in the following years Irene used these paper sculptures for shop window designs in New York).

Fully Awake: Black Mountain College Introduction

Uploaded on Jul 27, 2009

FULLY AWAKE is a 60 minute documentary film about the legendary Black Mountain College (1933-1957), an influential experiment in education in Western North Carolina that inspired and shaped 20th century modern art. The film uses narration, archival photography, and interviews with former students, teachers, and historians to explore the schools beginnings, its unique education methods, and how its collaborative curriculum inspired innovation that changed the very definition of art. For more information, please visit or to purchase the film, please visit

Walter Gropius & Xanti Schawinsky, Ascona, 1930


Lux T. Feininger, Xanti Schawinsky in Bauhaus Musical Group, 1928

Collage with Bauhaus Jazz Band, approx.1938

Xanti Schawinsky at Broadway 1602

January 29th, 2010


Xanti Schawinsky at Broadway 1602

Artist: Xanti Schawinsky

Venue: Broadway 1602, New York

Exhibition Title: Beyond Bauhaus, Faces of War

Date: January 9 – February 20, 2010

Xanti Schawinsky at Broadway 1602

Xanti Schawinsky at Broadway 1602

Xanti Schawinsky at Broadway 1602

Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.


Images courtesy of BROADWAY 1602, New York

Press Release:

The rediscovered oeuvre of first generation Bauhaus artist Xanti Schawinsky offers the contemporary consciousness a valuable untapped reservoir of aesthetic memory in the midst of the new century’s multi-front wars and financial turmoil.

His subtle, intimate, but powerful work from the 1940’s particularly draws attention to the not yet explored dimensions of the afterlife of Bauhaus ideals subject to the pressures of war and forced immigration. It is an aesthetic with a more existentialist and dystopian face, far from the positivism and bravura of the Bauhaus architects’ further achievements in the US after the decline of the influential school in Europe.

Born in 1904, in Switzerland, to Polish Jewish parents, Alexander “Xanti” Schawinsky worked for three years in Theodor Merrill’s Cologne architecture office before enrolling at the Bauhaus in 1924 where he studied with Walter Gropius, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, Oskar Schlemmer, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Schawinsky had a significant presence at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau. He was particularly active in the theater department and strongly inspired by Schlemmer, whose position as teacher he took on and developed further. Photos from the early years of the Bauhaus show Schawinsky as a dynamic figure in many of its experimental extra-curricular activities. Among them was the influential Bauhaus Jazz band where Schawinsky introduced his “Step Danse-Step Machine” style of mechanical music and dance to pounding rhythms coupled with dramatic lighting effects and performance elements.

Schawinsky’s protean role at the Bauhaus was documented in the original 1938 MoMA Bauhaus exhibition organized with the help of Herbert Bayer, fellow Bauhaus student and teacher, and Walter Gropius, founder and director of the famed 20th c. school. This pivotal show of MoMA’s early days included a prominent group of Schawinsky’s theater and architecture paintings, his experimental photography, innovative graphic designs, ultra modern costume, set and exhibition designs, and his avant-garde theater and music work.

During their 20’s, most people build foundation skills, beliefs, and a firm positive sense of identity from their experience with teachers and mentors in a relative secure environment. While having the privilege to learn many technical skills in an exceptional avant-garde environment, Schawinsky also observed and experienced anxiety and persecution. He saw his Bauhaus undergo political pressure and ouster from the very cities that hosted it, saw the leaders he admired forced to leave, and the school, itself, compelled to close. He had seen the school, in an effort to survive, shift emphasis from handicraft, Expressionism, and the “the spiritual in art” to partner with industry, design for mass production, and embrace the machine aesthetic. As a Swiss/Polish “foreigner” and a Jew, the rise of Fascism was a perilous time. What Schawinsky learned in the anxious years between the two World Wars was that survival was an anxious process of constantly changing locations, creative styles and identities.

In 1936, Albers secured Schawinsky and his wife safe passage to the United States to teach at the legendary Black Mountain College. In charge of theater arts, Schawinsky expanded his ideas for experimental theater to be a multi-media “total experience.” His production of “Spectrodrama” and “Danse Macabre” at the Black Mountain College, demonstrated these ideas and laid the foundations for the work of John Cage and others at the College.  In 1938 political in-fighting among the faculty led him to move again, this time to New York City. There he collaborated on pavilion designs for the 1939 World’s Fair with colleagues Gropius, Bayer, and Marcel Breuer.

In New York among the tight-knit ex-patriot cultural community centered on the activities of avant-garde gallerist Julien Levy, Schawinsky for the first time experienced a sense of safety and integration. His new-comer status afforded him unique new perspectives on his life and the arts. He had the freedom and burden of confronting his own identity and purpose in “life during wartime.” At the same historical moment that the French philosopher Gabriel Marcel was coining the term “existentialism,” and Jean-Paul Sartre began to lecture and write about it, Schawinsky began to compose his own existential works with images which speak as clearly as words.

From work Schawinsky did for the “Visual Problems Unit” of the Army Air Corps designing anti-aircraft targeting patterns for artillery manuals, he conceived his 1942 series The Faces of War. In these imaginative tempera and graphite drawings Schawinsky expressed a fundamental despair that  “the machines” of the utopian Bauhaus theater had become the machines of mass destruction in the dystopian theaters of war. He made each a camouflage-painted robotic golem – a man/machine – at turns a threatening enemy or a powerful avenger. In his series of photo collages, Theme and Variation on a Face: Walter Gropius, he reflected upon his creative father/mentor and friend, presenting the architect in positive and negative versions integrated with linear architectural forms (culture) and tree forms including roots (nature and history). In the photo collages The Variations on a Face Series (Woman,) he confronted the enigmatic disembodied face of a woman, floating in a variety of spaces – landscape space, night sky space, topographically diagrammed space. However, Schawinsky extended his meditations using the portrait head motif still further.

Kurt Schwitters said that during the war years artists had to rebuild themselves from scraps and Schawinsky, possibly inspired by Czech poet Vít?zslav Nezval’s 1937 poem The Man Who Composes His Own Portrait With Objects, did so in his 1943 Character Head Series of graphite drawings of potential identities thematically pieced together from elements of nature, culture, and trade in the world around him. In a style related to the “paranoiac-critical” imaging methods of Salvador Dali, Schawinsky worked through his own need to make himself one with his environment by literally re-making himself from his environment.

The pastel drawing Untitled from 1945, though, is perhaps a summation of the artist’s existentialist experience of wartime, immigration and the post-war era. Two abstract featureless figures float in a dark nebulous space filled with light linear vortexes inspired by flight and targeting patterns the artist had designed for the army. The larger, a head and shoulders patterned in a regular grid suggesting the all-glass curtain-wall façade of a Modernist skyscraper, confronts a smaller golden yellow silhouette that stands framed in a doorway of bright yellow, violet, red-orange and green planes drawn in forced perspective.

In this vivid eerie scene of the existential aftermath of the war Schawinsky gives form to his anxiety and brings to bear his visionary experience as a synthesizer of the man-machine of the Bauhaus aesthetic into multi-media performance – an aesthetic picked up emblematically by Kraftwerk and other musician/artists in the 1970s as an expression of the climactic phase of the cold war.

Anke Kempkes, Larry List
New York, December 2009

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Xanti Schawinsky in Ascona, Sul Ponte Maggia, 1933


Human, Space, Machine – Stage Experiments at the Bauhaus

Nov.12,2014 – Feb.22,2015

  Bauhaus (1919-1933) as an Art & Design educational institution had a great influence on the development of the 20th century art, architecture, textile, graphic, industrial design and typography. Bauhaus was aimed to reach the total work of art and operated to educate new artists who could bring social changes.

From the early stage of the Bauhaus, they explored the role and function of art that closely related to our daily life in modern technology civilization through various workshops such as metal, textile, design and architecture under each meister. Their experiment and instruction method was not just purposed to develop the individual’s creativity and ability, but also guided to reach a total art through workshops by members of the Bauhaus.

Particularly, they mainly dealt with dynamic role of stage as space of harmony among human, space and machine. For this, their study about ‘total theater’ as a playground for primary experimentation was proceeding from the beginning of the Bauhaus. The Bauhaus stage workshop was established by Walter Gropius in 1921 and it was led by Lothar Schreyer, director, until 1923 and taken over by Oskar Schlemmer, painter and choreographer, in 1929.

The leading role of the Bauhaus, such as Walter Gropius, Oskar Schlemmer, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Xanti Schawinsky, Paul Klee, Wasily Kandinsky experimented synthesis among human, space and machine not only in their own area, but also on the stage. They believed that their research about mechanical and abstract stage design, costume, doll, dance, humorous movement, light and sound could even make a change of the modern human body and mind. Thus, we could readily understand a characteristic of stage experiments at the Bauhaus that tried to develop a new idea of modern man collectively by Johannes Itten’s word “Play becomes work, work becomes party, party becomes play.”

Human Space Machine-Stage Experiments at the Bauhaus was planned in collaboration with the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation since 2012. This exhibition deals with the Bauhaus’s experiments about new type of human response to changes of a new era, from World War I to early 1930s. Exhibitions about architecture and design of the Bauhaus were often shown, but this is the first full-scale exhibition ever to focus on stage experiments in Asia. The exhibition is organized in seven sections; Section one ‘Body of Harmonization’, section two ‘Atmospherical Devices’, section three‘Constructivist Figuration’, section four ‘Eccentric stage mechanisims’, section five ‘Sculptural choreographies’, section six‘Total theaters’, section seven ‘Programmed collectives’. In this exhibition organization make possible to recognize characteristic of the Bauhaus as an arena of creative and experimental idea toward multiple approach of art.

In addition, this exhibition presents six Korean contemporary artists; Na Kim, Paik Namjune, Ahn Sangsoo, Oh Jaewoo, Cho Sohee, Han Kyungwoo to show an enormous creativity and imagination of the Bauhaus also thrive in 21th century Korea contemporary art. Their artworks influenced by Bauhaus both directly and indirectly reminds us the Bauhaus movement was not a particular tendency within a certain period, but closer to the intrinsic manner of artists.


I found the Bauhaus movement very interesting and the article above even noted:

The leading role of the Bauhaus, such as Walter Gropius, Oskar Schlemmer, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Xanti Schawinsky, Paul Klee, Wasily Kandinsky experimented synthesis among human, space and machine not only in their own area, but also on the stage. They believed that their research about mechanical and abstract stage design, costume, doll, dance, humorous movement, light and sound could even make a change of the modern human body and mind.

What exactly were some of these artists attempting to do and why does this statement finish with the bold assertion “could even make a change of the modern human body and mind”?

Let me tell you what at Wasily Kandinsky (who was seen in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) and Paul Klee were attempting to do. They wanted to make a connection with art and find a word of direction from art from their lives. They were secular men so they were not looking for any spiritual direction from a personal God. However, the Bible clearly notes that God exists and we all know He is there. Romans Chapter one asserts, “For that which is KNOWN about God is EVIDENT to them and MADE PLAIN IN THEIR INNER CONSCIOUSNESS, because God  has SHOWN IT TO THEM…” (Romans 1:19).

Every person has this inner conscious that is screaming at them that God exists and that is why so many of the sensitive men involved in art have been looking for a message to break forth. Here we see something similar with the life and quest of the artist Paul Klee. I read on January 15, 2007 the blog post “Strolling Through Modern Art,” and I wanted to share a portion of that post:

This particular drawing came to mind while I was looking at the Art Institute of Chicago’s website and I came across some artwork by Joan Miro, who is exhibited at AIC. Vee Mack’s drawings generally demonstrate better draughtsmanship than this drawing displays but I thought that the concept was amusing and the implied commentary worth considering. Are you a fan of Joan Miro, Piet Mondrian, Paul Klee, Jackson Pollock, Willem De Kooning and Vasily Kandinsky?What does this elderly gentleman think of his stroll through the paramecium of the artworld? Francis Schaeffer noted in “The God Who is There” that Paul Klee and similar artists, introduced the idea of artwork generated in a manner similar to how a Ouija Board generates words from outside the artist’s conscious intent. Schaeffer observed that Klee “hopes that somehow art will find a meaning, not because there is a spirit there to guide the hand, but because through it the universe will speak even though it is impersonal in its basic structure.” [page 90] Why would an impersonal universe have something to say? What does meaninglessness have to communicate? Schaeffer explains that “these men will not accept the only explanation which can fit the facts of their own experience, they have become metaphysical magicians. No one has presented an idea, let alone demonstrated it to be feasible, to explain how the impersonal beginning, plus time, plus chance, can give personality . . . As a result, either the thinker must say man is dead, because personality is a mirage; or else he must hang his reason on a hook outside the door and cross the threshold into the leap of faith which is the new level of despair.” [page 115]Vee Mack’s sketch demonstrates the paradox of an average man viewing images, which represent the nonsense of Dadaism and chaos. It is the overeducated who will look at something that is inherently meaningless and try to find deep meaning in it, while the average man sees it and observes with reasonable common sense that this or that is an absurd waste of time.By the way, while it may appear as though I am favoring one artist for these posts, I am not receiving the variety of artwork that I had hoped for from other artists and I happen to have ample access to much of Vee Mack’s unpublished portfolio. Therefore, until I receive other artwork, I will have to rely on what I have on hand.

Posted by at 4:35 PM
Paul Klee

Michael Gaumnitz : Paul Klee The Silence of the Angel (2005)

Published on Aug 17, 2013

PAUL KLEE: THE SILENCE OF THE ANGEL is a visual journey into the work of a major painter of the 20th century by Michael Gaumnitz, an award-winning documentarian of artists and sculptors. Like Kandinsky and Delaunay, Klee revolutionized the traditional concepts of composition and color.

Herbert Bayer, Xanti Schawinsky and Walter Gropius.

Gropius with Béla Bartók and Paul Klee in 1927

Practitioners at Black Mountain College

Willem de Kooning

(1904-1997) Abstract Expressionist Painter, Sculptor

Elaine de Kooning

(1918-1989) artist, art critic, portraitist and teacher.

Robert Rauschenberg Dmitri Kasterine

(1925-2008) Painter, sculptor, printmaker, photographer and performance artist

Cy Twombly American painter Cy Twombly at the Louvre museum in Paris. Twombly has died aged 83. Photograph: Christophe Ena/AP

(1928-2011) Painter, draughtsman, printmaker, sculptor.

John Cage photo: Susan Schwartzenberg

(1912-1992) composer, philosopher, poet, music theorist, artist, printmaker.

Buckminster Fuller Buckminster Fuller at Black Mountain College with models of geodesic domes, 1949 © Buckminster Fuller Institute

(1895-1983) Philosopher, designer, architect, artist, engineer, entrepreneur, author, mathematician, teacher and inventor

Annie Albers © 1947 Nancy Newhall. © 2003 The Estate of Beaumont Newhall and Nancy Newhall, Courtesy of Scheinbaum and Russek Ltd., Santa Fe, New Mexico

(1899- 1994) textile designer, weaver, writer and printmaker

Mary C Richards

(1916-1999) Poet, Potter and writer

Since I am profiling the Jewish artist Xanti Schawinsky today I thought this article below was quite fitting.

How Nicholas Sparks Came To Write His First Jewish Characters

‘I sometimes think to myself that I’m the last of my kind.”

And thus begins “The Longest Ride,” Nicholas Sparks’s latest novel. Sparks has written seventeen novels, eight of which have already made it to the silver screen.

What makes this Nicholas Sparks novel different from all other Nicholas Sparks novels? Well, the speaker continues:

“My name is Ira Levinson. I’m a southerner and a Jew, and equally proud to have been called both at one time or another.”

Levinson, 91, is trapped in his car, which has skidded down an embankment. He has no idea when or even if he will be rescued. In his delirium, he keeps up a conversation with Ruth, his wife of 55 years, who died nine years ago.

The Levinsons are Sparks’s first Jewish characters. “I wanted to do something to keep my stories fresh and original for the reader,” Sparks explained in a telephone interview from his home in New Bern, N.C. “I think they’re going to love these characters. They’re just great, great characters.

“It was something I hadn’t done before and I thought people would like it. Also, not a lot of people know there are Jewish people in the South. We all know there are a lot of Jewish people in New York and other big cities. Not a lot of people realize how prominent they are in the history of the South. New Bern is the home of the first synagogue in North Carolina.”

Though he has never written Jewish characters before, the Levinsons are typical Sparks creations in at least one important way. The protagonists in all his books — from “The Notebook” in 1996 to later titles such as “Message in a Bottle,” “A Walk to Remember” and “Nights in Rodanthe” — find a fairy tale love and happiness.

And so it was with the Levinsons, whose marriage was seemingly bashert. He was the son of a Greensboro, N.C. haberdasher. She was the descendant of refugees from post-Anschluss Vienna by way of Switzerland.

They met when she was 16, shortly after she arrived in the States. Ruth and her mom walked into the Levinsons’ store, and it was kismet. They went to the same synagogue and walked home together on the Sabbath. There was never any doubt that they’d be married and live happily ever after. Their love would ultimately impact the relationship of the novel’s two other principal characters, Sophia, a senior art major at Wake Forest University, and Luke, a rancher and professional bull rider.

Though romance is a constant in his work, Sparks, 47, does not consider himself a romance writer. “It’s an inaccurate term to describe my work,” he said. “Romance novelists have a specific structure and very strict rules they follow.

“My books don’t fall into what romance novels are. Family dramas, Southern literature, love stories, are a lot of terms that are more accurate.”

I told him that the term “romance” was not meant in a pejorative way. Certainly his books are full of romance. He agreed, sort of.

“Romantic elements are part of my books,” he said. “But I write novels that cover a lot of different emotions and my goal really as a writer is to accurately reflect all of those emotions — happiness, fear, loss and betrayal. I want to make all of these emotions come to life so that the reader feels he knows all of these characters.”

I asked if he was familiar with the word bashert, and explained that it’s often used to refer to one’s predestined soul mate. I wondered if he believed in that kind of love outside of novels.

“I think romance is alive and well,” Sparks responded. “I think that feeling is a universal human experience. When you meet the person you are meant to be with, there’s this overwhelming feeling that this was preordained.”

“I can tell you that from my own experience. I met my wife on spring break in Florida. I was down with my friends, and I saw her walking through a parking lot. If we had stopped for one more red light, we never would have met. Was that preordained?”

Sparks’s father was a college professor who taught business and public administration. Sparks was raised Catholic and attended the University of Notre Dame on a full track and field scholarship.

Yes, he had Jewish friends growing up. And yes, he attended several bar mitzvahs — “though strangely I’ve never been to a Jewish wedding,” he remarked.

Sparks said that Ira Levinson was based on someone extremely close to him, a Jewish man who became almost a surrogate grandfather. After Sparks’s grandparents divorced, his grandmother moved to San Diego, where she kept company with a Jewish gentleman.

“They went to Israel together, they had lunch together. We didn’t have a lot of money, so we’d vacation in San Diego and stay at Grandma’s house. I became very close to him. He was almost like a grandfather to me. He taught me how to snorkel. He taught me how to body surf, and was very much part and parcel of my life.”

“Ira was modeled on him, probably less in the religious aspect than the generational aspect. He was born in 1920, as was Ira.”

Sparks was already familiar with the Shoah. “I’ve always read a lot of history and World War II is one of my favorite periods of study. I certainly consider myself fairly well-read on the Holocaust.

“We started [the Epiphany] school here in my home town. The basis of it is love in the Christian tradition, and what we mean by that is you shall love God and your neighbor as yourself, which comes from Leviticus and the Gospel.

“Our sophomores read the ‘Diary of Anne Frank’ and ‘Night’ by Elie Wiesel. We fly them to Poland and they visit the Krakow Jewish quarter and Schindler’s factory and Auschwitz. It’s an independent school in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

Interestingly, the school’s headmaster is Saul Benjamin, who is Jewish. In fact, Sparks works with numerous Jews, including his attorney and several of his agents. He used them to vet the authenticity of the Levinsons.

“My attorney told me, ‘My gosh, you wrote my parents.’ That was a wonderful feeling that I really got this right.”

Curt Schleier, a regular contributor to the Forward, teaches business writing to corporate executives.

The Longest Ride Extended TV SPOT – Let’s Go (2015) – Melissa Benoist, Britt Robertson Movie HD

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March 24, 2015 – 12:57 am


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