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Jan. 15, 2003
OSWEGO -- "A Voice Silenced" -- depicting the life of Viennese-born Frankfurt opera singer Leonore Schwarz Neumaier, who was a victim of the Nazi Holocaust -- will be one of two exhibits opening in Tyler Art Gallery at SUNY Oswego on Thursday, Jan. 30.
A reception in the gallery from 5 to 7 p.m. Jan. 30 will introduce "A Voice Silenced" and "The Henricksen Collection of Chinese Painting." The public is invited. Both exhibitions will run through Feb. 22.
Neumaier's granddaughter Diane Leonore Neumaier, a professor of art at Rutgers University, developed the exhibition with her father John Neumaier, professor emeritus of philosophy and social theory at SUNY's Empire State College and former president of SUNY New Paltz. As a newspaper columnist, Jeff Neumaier wrote extensively about the Holocaust, his mother and her fate, and his experiences and firsthand observations of life in Nazi Germany before World War II.
Leonore Schwarz Neumaier pursued her operatic career in Austria and Germany in the early part of the 20th century, singing with opera companies in Graz, Nuremburg, Magdeburg and Frankfurt am Main, where she was engaged as the first contralto from 1917 to 1921.
Following her marriage in 1921 to Otto Neumaier, a Frankfurt businessman, and the birth of their son Hans (now John), Leonore appeared mainly on the concert stage.
The rise of Nazism in the 1930s and the growing repression of German Jews restricted her appearances to Jewish groups and organizations associated with the Judische Kulturbund. When family efforts to obtain emigration papers to the United States for her proved unsuccessful, she was forced to remain in Frankfurt. In 1942, the Gestapo deported her to the Majdanek death camp near Lublin, Poland.
The show includes photographs of Leonore Schwarz in operatic roles, opera posters, rosters of opera performers and concert programs. A recording of her voice will play in the gallery. An arrangement of family snapshots, taken by John Neumaier as a teen, reflects the values and experiences of a young Jewish boy growing up in Nazi Germany. Some of the images are of relatives who met their deaths in the camps.
Diane Neumaier will be on campus for the opening and will present a lecture titled "Recapturing a Voice Silenced: My Father's Youth in Nazi Germany and the Fate of Leonore Schwarz Neumaier" in Room 102 of Tyler Hall immediately following the reception.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Student Art Exhibition Committee, funded through the Student Association, and is part of the college's Oswego Reading Initiative, a yearlong program of events connected to the campus-wide reading of Ruth Gruber's "Haven."
"A Voice Silenced" is scheduled to be shown in the Frankfurt Jewish Museum's Borne Gallery in Germany this summer.
Tyler Art Gallery hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays, or by appointment. All gallery events are admission free. Those with special needs should contact the gallery at 312-2113 in advance; Tyler Hall is wheelchair-accessible.
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