Fiddler on the roof
New York, NY
I met Adam Kantor ("Motel" in the 2016 revival of Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway) through my realtor. Adam looked at my apartment in the East Village of Manhattan when it went on the market in early 2016. He donated $18 to the initiative after visiting the apartment (which I thought was a very strange amount to donate at the time). He didn't get the apartment, but I contacted him and asked him if he was interested in helping out the bees. I also asked him why he donated $18 and he said that 18 is good luck and blessing in the jewish tradition. He said yes to helping out with the bees, so I met him at the stage door one night between shows to discuss possibilities. And before I go on, I have to say that Adam Kantor is one of the most genuine, earnest people I have ever met. His kindness and presence are palpable the moment you are standing next to him. As we walked around Times Square it seemed like we were in a bubble talking about bees and life and faith. He told me a story about the first day of rehearsals for the new cast. The actors came from varying levels of relationship to faith and Judaism, so the producers brought in a rabbi to talk with them about it. And the rabbi described faith as a "radical awe." As soon as Adam said those words, it hit me as exactly what I feel when I am standing in the presence of an active beehive. I told Adam a little more about my journey and he generously offered the walls of his dressing room as a canvas. We later had to modify that and paint on canvas because the theater has pretty strict rules about painting on the walls. But no matter, I was certain our piece was going to “Cultivate Radical Awe.” But after seeing the show I couldn’t stop thinking about “To Life!” The song, to me, rang deeply. So I made two paintings in the end. Both are a celebration in their own way and both speak to the deepest human desire to live and celebrate faith and life even in the face of tremendous adversity.