Neve Shalom Gallery

The Work of Dan Weaks, aka Weeks

by Rabbi James Stone Goodman

The photographs in our present exhibition, the third exhibition we have hosted at the gallery at Neve Shalom, is dedicated to the work of photographer Dan Weeks. As in all our shows, there is a mixture of image and text. There is a story told on texts also hung among the pictures.

Dan's story has thrown several new shoots, even since I have been following it. We hung the show on Saturday, February 28 th , 2004. I found out quite by accident that Dan was in town that day, and for a few days more. Dan was present for the opening, on March 2 nd , 2004. At that time, he talked about how this show was a kind of comma, or period, to his life. Actually, it becomes important to the story whether it is a comma, or a period.

Late the night of the opening of Dan's show, after Dan and most everyone had left, someone showed up looking for him in a pick-up truck with Illinois plates. We found out later that he was carrying all of Dan's negatives in the truck, having been instructed to pitch them at a dump site. He came to see Dan's work, the work he couldn't bring himself to pitch, late that night.

We are picky about the art that qualifies for our gallery space. I want new art, experimental art, visionary art. I want outsider art, fringe art, art that might never find its way onto the walls of another gallery or museum. I want to display the artist who is burning for his art form but has no idea how to get her work known. Or I want the artist who has never been seen, because life intervenes and changes our best intentions.

Dan Weeks, for example. The last I heard from him, he called me from a truck stop in Idaho . He is presently driving an eighteen-wheeler on the expansive highways of the United States of America . These days, Dan Weeks is a truck driver.

The story from then to now, from the Amazon jungles to Dan driving a truck across America, that too is evoked on our walls, as well as a poem that I have written to honor Dan, his work, the entire journey, all of it, that which is told that which remains untold, because if it were not for us and our modest gallery of outsider art, none of this would be seen and the wonder of even a part of the story would be known only to a few of us. That is another unique feature of our gallery: the surprising, inspiring, ascendant, beautiful stories that are told there. All art is transformative, that which is seen that that which is unseen. With the stories that we tell, we also tap the unseen, the deep story.

I sat with a dancer once on a windy night after my teacher told a beautiful tale. "I need this," she said, "it completes me."

-- jsg