Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
The Jewish community in which Asher grows up is populated with a jewelry shop owned by Asher’s Uncle Yitzchok Lev, Reb Yudel Krinsky’s stationery store where Asher buys art supplies and learns about persecution of the Jews in Russia, a yeshiva where Asher attends school, and a synagogue where the family worships. This part of Brooklyn is filled with the people whom Asher first learns to draw and admire. In this place his talents begin to emerge, and he feels his future is tied to this community. When given the opportunity to travel to Vienna with his parents, ten-year-old Asher fights to stay in Brooklyn, where he knows the parks and people.
While his father is away, Asher’s mother takes him to the Parkway Museum for the first time. There, he learns about painting and also encounters scenes depicting the crucifixion of Christ. Although Asher is cautioned by his father against looking at such paintings, he sees in these crucifixion themes a curious portrayal of profound suffering and love, a theme Asher ultimately incorporates into his own painting of his parents and himself.
Lev home. Because Asher’s mother, Rivkeh Lev, loses her brother in an automobile accident while he is traveling for the Rebbe, she is constantly filled with anxiety about her husband’s travels and her son’s delays in returning from school. She often stands by the window of the small apartment and watches for the return of her family. The window frame around her becomes symbolic of Asher’s artistic vision of his mother’s anxiety over life. This window figures prominently in what become Asher’s crucifixion paintings of his family.
*Manhattan. New York City borough to which Asher Lev goes to study art with Jacob Kahn. By the age of thirteen, Asher is identified by the Rebbe as a young man destined to be a great artist, even though Asher’s father cannot accept art as something more than foolishness in his son’s life. The Rebbe assigns Asher to Jacob Kahn as a mentor for teaching the young Asher how to develop his gifts. Kahn’s studio is on the fifth floor of an Upper Manhattan loft building with an excellent skylight and serves as a meeting place for learning art, as well as arranging shows through Anna Schaeffer, Kahn’s sponsor and art agent. There, Asher is initiated into the world of modern art, especially abstract expressionism, and the painting of nudes, which his father has taught him to shun. Asher’s first show is given at Anna Schaeffer’s gallery on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue, and he learns to deal with the highly varied criticisms of newspaper reviewers.
*Provincetown. Massachusetts coastal town in Cape Cod to which Jacob Kahn takes Asher to stay in a beach cottage during several summers. There, the two artists study light and sand and paint. Asher comes to understand the light as seen by Edward Hopper, Paul Cézanne, and other great artists. Kahn also introduces Asher to a variety of artists in this community that has not yet become a tourist town. In this new setting Asher begins to discover the value of traveling to new places to improve his ability to see creatively.
*Paris. French capital city in which Asher reaches his maturity as an artist. After a second successful show, Asher travels to Florence, Italy, to develop new ideas. He especially studies Michelangelo’s David and his Duomo Pietà. This Pietà profoundly shapes Asher’s imagination and later becomes the inspiration for his own crucifixion paintings, which include him and his parents. After a trip to Rome, Asher returns to Paris to continue painting and studying art, not realizing that this city is to become his home after his parents and their Ladover Hasidic community reject his artwork and the Rebbe banishes him from his Brooklyn community.