Wednesday, June 12, 2024

“Jerusalem Sunrise,” an oil on canvas painting by Michael Bogdanow, is representative of the colorful, religion-inspired works going on display Oct. 31 in Central Square.


Moses wandered in the desert for 40 years, which is how long artist Michael Bogdanow has been pursuing the same Biblical themes in his paintings. But if Moses had a thriving law practice, family and sideline in playing keyboards in rock bands like Bogdanow, he wouldn’t mind the consistency either.

“Some artists hate being in a niche, but for me the niche works,” Bogdanow told The Jewish Advocate in 2010.

Those niche themes — music and dance, women, love and life, groups, time, spheres, skies and the universe, the Torah, Bible and other ancient texts — will be on display from Oct. 31 to Nov. 30 during a display of Bogdanow’s work at Cambridge Community Television. An opening reception will be held Nov. 8 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Bogdanow’s art has been exhibited widely and used on the covers of and within numerous books, including “Zohar: Book of Enlightenment,” “Wandering Stars: An Anthology of Jewish Fantasy and Fiction” and others, as well as the cover of Peri Smilow’s recording, “The Freedom Music Project.”

After a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis, master’s from Columbia University and stint teaching high school art back in Massachusetts, Bogdanow opted for the law instead. He graduated Harvard Law in 1984. His biography at the Boston firm of Meehan, Boyle, Black & Bogdanow says he enjoys tackling many different types of cases, including personal injury litigation (among his most prominent cases: the Ted Williams Tunnel ceiling tile collapse that killed a woman in 2006, after which he represented the victim’s family) and is the author of a 1993 text on tort damages still used widely by personal injury practitioners and judges.

But the biography also makes prominent mention of his painting and sculpture. “Law is more analytical, more verbal, more social and more direct,”  Bogdanow said. “But there still is overlap. As an attorney I often find myself tapping into my skills as an artist. I try to view each case individually and to be as creative as possible in addressing the client’s needs.”

(Unmentioned in the law firm biography but noted in the Advocate from back when he lived in Lexington: “Bogdanow is also a musician, playing piano in a contemporary Jewish band the Guys and in the rock band Titanic All Stars.”)

Bogdanow, a Linnaean Street resident, told the Advocate that his sideline as an artist surged after friends saw what he’d painted based on the Torah reading his son was to give at his bar mitzvah. The commissions began rolling in “to create paintings for their children’s bar or bat mitzvahs and for weddings and temple sanctuaries.”

He never quite turned the page on the theme, although he also doesn’t adhere to it, well, religiously.

“When I use biblical texts, I let them inspire a piece, but my goal is always to create a unique painting that transcends the text that inspired it and communicates as a work of art regardless of the viewer’s religious background or knowledge,” Bogdanow said. “I have the same goal with the other themes and inspirations — to create moving, original works that communicate through the universal language of visual art.”

He’ll be exhibiting in the Karen Aqua Gallery at Cambridge Community Television, named for the Cambridge artist and animator who died last year. The gallery, in CCTV’s community media center, 438 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square, is open to the public Monday through Thursday from noon to 9 p.m., Friday from noon to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 4 to 9 p.m.