Early Influences

“I don’t believe in art. I believe in artists.” Marcel Duchamp installed (1952) “LARGE GLASS”  at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Note 1) where as a young girl Sandrow (1951) found her place in life engaged in the creative process. Drawings, paintings and writings a prism through which to live (Note 2): under the Holocaust’s shadow over a Camden Jewish ghetto (Note 3) amidst sibling’s deaths, molestation by her father’s father. Framed by “an era of dissent” (Note 4), the adoption of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The decade concluded with Sandrow’s high school graduation (1970); and passage (1972) of the Equal Rights Amendment (Note 5) when Sandrow was studying photography and film at Philadelphia College of Art  (Note 6).

Scientific advances, notably human exploration of “space” beginning in 1959 culminated in the first landing, walk on the moon (1969). Parallel to civic unrest (anti war protests) amidst the rise of the youth counterculture “flower children” (Note 7); Sandrow joined after hour gatherings on the museum’s grounds. From the windows, she enjoyed panoramic views of “Center City”: (south) the Franklin Institute, the avenue to City Hall where antiwar protestors gathered; (north) Fairmont Park (Note 8) where her mother’s family gathered for annual picnics; and the first Earth Week celebrations (April 16 - 22 1970) she attended while reeling from rape (Note 9). Sandrow had joined the emerging environmental movement as a high school freshman, in which her mother’s mother Pearl and father Morris involved her. And nominated Sandrow as the inaugural “Miss Cleaner Air Week” (Note 10) held in recognition of the Air Quality Control Act first passed by Congress, setting timetables for states to establish their own quality standards. Why, from an early age, assault on her body linked to that on earth, air and water.

And it was Pearl and Morris, his mother Frieda (Sandrow’s great grandmother) and her mother Rivele (Sandrow’s great great grandmother) legacies of generosity and community engagement a model for Sandrow’s art and life. Rivele’s granddaughter (Frieda’s niece, Sandrow’s grandfather Morris’s first cousin) the renowned “Yiddish Troubadour” Aliza Greenblatt who memorialized the family history in prose “My Grandmother, Fruma Rivele Bremeg” included in At the Window of My Life” (Note 11); letters (Note 12). And shared a collegial relationship with son in law Woody Guthrie - husband to her daughter Marjorie, a dancer in the Martha Graham Company - who composed the 1940’s ballad “This Land is your Land” that reflected Sandrow’s familial beliefs. Similarly expressed in the writings of Pearl’s brother  Dr. Louis C. Zucker, an English Professor (1895 - 1982), and his wife Ethel Kaplan Zucker (1895 -1974).

Sandrow’s art practice often parallels her life experiences. Amongst a culture of systemic abuse she found a promise of place making art; and in the works of Earth Artists Nancy Holt, Ana Mendieta, Robert Smithson, James Turrell (Note13); her friend and mentor Feminist Artist Nancy Spero  (Note 14).

Note 1: The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a landmarked Art Deco building called “the Gateway to Fairmount Park” (opened 1928). Home to “the world’s largest Marcel Duchamp collection”.

Note 2: Inspiring her public art project Artist & Homeless Collaborative arts workshops for children in partnership with the Whitney Museum and MOMA made possible with a Warhol Foundation Grant. Read more: “Making Art, Reclaiming Lives”  by Andrea Wolper in the Bay Press Book edited by Nina Felshin 1995  “The Spirit of Art as Activism: But is it Art?” pages 251 - 282

Note 3: Sandrow’s adolescent history similar to another from Camden County New Jersey: Jewish radical feminist activist and writer Andrea Dworkin (1946 - 2005). Both families Jewish, fathers named Harry, who lived in the city of Camden before move to Cherry Hill (Dworkin 1956; Sandrow 1961) both at age ten where their family homes were two miles apart. Each one mile to the Coles Elementary School that Dworkin describes “In sixth grade, the administration at her new school punished her for refusing to sing "Silent Night" (Heartbreak, pp. 21–22), as a Jew, she objected to being forced to sing Christian religious songs at school”. For the same reason Sandrow was punished with detention. Reflecting the stigma for being Jewish, not Christian or white: recalling lawn signs “No Jews Allowed”, “No Coloreds Allowed”; accused of a tail hidden behind her skirt; horns under her hat.  Her childhood memories aptly represented in the words of Dworkin’s who “described her Jewish household as being in many ways dominated by the memory of the Holocaust, it nonetheless provided a happy childhood until she reached the age of nine. When Dworkin was ten, her family moved to the suburbs of Cherry Hill, which Dworkin wrote (page 3, Life and Death) she "experienced as being kidnapped by aliens and taken to a penal colony”. Both Sandrow and Dworkin graduated Cherry Hill High School West; members of the National Honor Society.The sexual assaults on Dworkin and Sandrow while the perpetrators were not held accountable were a reflection of those times.

Note 4: Era of dissent: political upheaval during the 1960‘s included the assassination  of President John F. Kennedy (1963); (1965-68)  antiwar protests  in which Camden County accounted for 6% of New Jerseys toll of 1500 killed in Vietnam including CHHSW graduates; (1968) assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy; (May 4, 1970) Kent State; !974, (August 8) Resignation by Nixon; September 8 presidential pardon by Ford; Sandrow moves to New York City.

Note 5:  authored by Alice Paul (1885-1977), a Quaker from Moorestown, nearby Cherry Hill,  where her childhood home is a now a National Historic Landmark housing a non profit organization dedicated to furthering her work for gender equality. Establishing the National Woman’s Party (1916): forty-eight years later the ERA has not been adopted as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution: failing state ratification before the 1982 deadline. Update: March 7 2021: Judge dismisses lawsuit by Democratic AGs to recognize ERA

Note 6: Photographer Ray Metzker was Sandrow’s mentor and teacher, who made a best effort to protect Sandrow and (classmate and friend also born in Philly) Deborah Willis from sexual harassment, discriminatory and abusive conduct by his male colleagues, photography and film teachers. View three untitled photographs from Sandrow’s first photographic study, for Metzker’s class:  “Minton Home 1973”.

Note 7: Summer of Love 1967, Woodstock 1969

Note 8: Fairmont is the largest urban park in the nation. The area originally settled by the Lenni-Lenape Native Americans, of the Algonquin Family, before taken by the first English settlers, Quaker followers of William Penn who arrived in the late 17th century.

Note 9: Due to age and societal norms, Sandrow was denied justice for suffering rape by family doctor William Most. And the same injustice suffered deeply through multiple experiences of sexual harassment into this century: life altering assaults revealed by the #METOO movement to be pervasive, common to at least one quarter of women.

Note 10: Read newspaper articles about Ms Cleaner Air Week

Note 11: (excerpt) “She always supported poor people; She became a friend to the lonely; She helped everyone with a good word, with advice. She gave charity with an open hand.”

Note 12: Letters discovered in the files of Eliza Greenblatt, maintained by the Center for Jewish History in NY by Sandrow’s Cousin Hyman Lovitz (1929 - 2019); translated by Barbara Ann Schmutzler with the help of Sandrow’s Cousin Nahma Sandrow; additional support of Cousins Frank Adelman, Roz Elkins, Mina Gobler, Ted Liebman, Hope Sandrow. An excerpt from Abraham Barmach’s (aka Bremeg orphaned as a baby, left on Rivele’s doorstep whom she took in) to Aliza: “If I were poetically inclined, I would sing her (Rivele) praises with beautiful poems. She is engraved in my heart. With her beautiful character, she has implanted goodness inside me. If I have done good to any one in my life, I owe it to your grandmother of blessed memory.”  Rivele had implored family members to contribute monies for Abraham’s ticket to America. After settling in Philadelphia Abraham sent them monies to escape to the US including Sandrow’s great-grandparents Frieda and Tovah with their thirteen children (1901, grandfather Morris age 3). And Frieda continued Abraham’s practice, sending boat tickets bought with earnings from her grocery store back home that enabled escape from pogroms of many family members and neighbors.

Mima (Hebrew baby name meaning is Dove) Frieda” was the name attributed to her life saving work, reflecting the legacy of her mother Rivele. A dinner that commemorated Frieda’s life, a gathering of all those she had helped escape with their children and grandchildren held yearly in a kosher dining hall not far from where they arrived in Philadelphia from Russia... nearby the Smithsonian Affiliate National Museum of American Jewish History (1976) in a neighborhood now called “Society Hill”.

Note 13: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Gardens New Directions 1986 curated by Phyllis D. Rosenzweig :“Toward the Baroque” Robert Morris, Hope Sandrow, Frank Stella, James Turrell

Note 14: Spero participated in Sandrow’s project Artist & Homeless Collaborative . ‘Spero’ translates as ‘hope’.