There’s a background story here. In 1981, when Stewart and I lived in New York, Stewart often worked as an actor. He was also a budding artist at the time and when on a film set, he’d occupy his down time by painting. In this movie, “THE CHOSEN” based on the book by Chaim Potok, directed by Jeremy Kagan, Stewart was cast as a Chasid.
Stewart’s folksy painting combined the essence of several scenes in this complex story about friendship, cultural and religious differences, and Jewish history, with an all-star cast that included Rod Steiger, Robby Benson, Maximillian Schell, and Barry Miller. When this award-winning film wrapped, Jeremy Kagan purchased Stewart’s painting. This was the first painting Stewart sold and in doing so, he realized that his journey was to be an artist and story-teller rather than an actor. (Although he did work as an actor in many more films!)
Fast forward to now – there was an article about Jeremy Kagan in The Forward newspaper that caught my eye. Jeremy Kagan had gone on to become an award-winning Film and Television Director, Writer, Producer, Artist, and Judaic Scholar. He is also the founder of the Change Making Media Lab, Professor at the School of Cinematic Arts, USC, and Chairperson of Special Projects for the DGA.
Stewart had gone on to be a recognized and accomplished artist, founder of Center for Folk and Community Art, a non-profit outreach organization with a nationally recognized model program “Telling Stories Through Visuals“, and Producer/Host of Alive on South Beach, an internet video show connected to Syndicated News Network (SNN.bz).
So, Stewart took a chance and contacted Jeremy, with no expectation that he would have any idea who Stewart was. After all, 40 years had passed since THE CHOSEN was a hit movie.
But Jeremy did remember Stewart. In fact, Jeremy sent Stewart a photograph of the painting Stewart had done while on the set. It was sitting atop Jeremy’s mantlepiece along with his many awards.
Both Jeremy and Stewart agreed that their reconnection was serendipitous (bashert). This is their uplifting conversation:
Alive on South Beach, CONVERSATIONS, a Center for Folk and Community Art production, is made possible thanks to the following:
Special Thanks to Carlo DiTucci