Jottings from a pop culture junkie

Artist Fred Terna is a Holocaust survivor. It is no surprise that much of his work centers on the trauma of that experience, and of surviving multiple concentration and work camps. A new show at Manhattan’s Czech Center Gallery at the Bohemian National Hall consists mostly of 1980s pieces, plus a few more recent ones.

Titled “Flame Paintings,” it is a stunning, soul-wrenching exhibit curated by his son Daniel Terna, a photographer and artist in his own right. Riva and I are fortunate to number Fred and his family among our close friends. I try to visit Fred’s studio whenever we are at their house, to see what he is working on. Having recently turned 99, he is still climbing the stairs almost daily to his third-floor studio and actively painting.

I know his work. Our daughter wrote his biography. I know his life story. Nonetheless, seeing this selection of works displayed so forcefully, in a stark white hall under the auspices of the Consulate General of the Czech Republic puts these Flame paintings in a very special context, with a resonance for our times that should not be underestimated.

The opening on Tuesday night was crowded; I plan to go back to reflect on each piece and on the cumulative impact of seeing them gathered in this way. I hope you have the opportunity to go as well.

The Gallery is on the 2nd floor at 321 E. 73rd St.; the exhibit is on through December 9th. For more information about the show, visit…/flame-paintings….

To see more of Fred’s work, visit

To see a selection of Daniel’s work, visit

For information on “Painting Resilience,” a biography of Fred, visit

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