The Baruchs: Art must engage the viewer

From the moment it opened in 1967, the Baruch Gallery established itself as an intellectual salon for artists and collectors eager to see and discuss not only the work on display, but the ideas and emotions reflected in the art. Jacques was a Continental figure, dashing in his ever-present ascot; his carefully groomed, intentionally witty, mustache kept him stage-center and he was a legendary raconteur. His cultivated voice was soft and mesmerizing, ideal for the educator he was and well-suited, too, for regaling guests with surprisingly "blue" stories. He was an unapologetic and outrageous flirt; Anne described him as a "typically European male."

Anne was soignée, always simply dressed in black to set off any accessory she might add; she wore her ebony hair in a smart chignon. Her bright red lipstick was her "signature" and could be spotted a block away. She had a rich-sounding, memorable, throaty laugh I can still hear.

They were a compelling couple, handsome, interesting, elegant and earthy. Their exhibitions presented new and challenging, even confrontational, art; sometimes daunting, confusing, difficult to understand at-a-glance. Music was essential but not intrusive. The cerebral atmosphere in the gallery was balanced by the rich aromas of Anne's always-simmering soups or stews. The kitchen was never without a salami hanging from some hook or knob, adding a hint of garlic to the already heady mix.

Anne agreed with Jacques' assertion that, to be considered important, art must engage the viewer. It was usually Anne who opened the door wide as an invitation to step inside and partake of the visual and earthly feast. It is hoped that this website will enable any visitor to connect with the art and discover, engage and partake of the myriad rich images. Fifty years ago Jacques was already thinking about and working on alternative fuels; he was so brilliantly creative and inventive that I suspect he might have devised some way for a computer to actually transmit the aromas which permeated the gallery. Alas, no website is yet equipped to do so. Even lacking the running commentary the Baruchs always provided, any viewer will be well-rewarded by taking a self-guided tour.

-Merle Kharasch Gross