Dr. David M. Milch Foundation
Introduction to "Lives Eliminated, Dreams Illuminated"
I first encountered the powerful works of artist Lauren Bergman on March 15th, 2019 at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. At the time I was invited by my good friend Ambassador Ido Aharoni to attend and participate in a weekend event in support of the newly founded Museum of Eternal Faith and Resilience.
I am the son of Holocaust survivors from Poland, Bernard and Lusia Milch. Like others from the second and third generations, the horrors and triumphs of my family history are blended into my being in so many ways, some obvious and others not yet fully understood.
The shared stories, the sense of identity with and connection to the past, the complicated ways this history echoes into the present and resonates into the future, are always with me.
Notwithstanding all of this prelude, I was not prepared for the impact that Lauren Bergman's works would have on me.
During one of the event breaks, I was picking at some food on the sumptuous hors d' oeuvres platters when I noticed across the room and down some steps a painted canvas displayed on a stand.
Having grown up in a home suffused with art and culture, my eye was caught and I began to walk over.
As I got to the steps leading down to the display area, I realized there were in fact a few paintings.
I remember my first impression that these were well-executed colorful portraits with some interesting additional elements completing the compositions.
I entered the gallery space and approached one of the canvases...of a cute young girl sitting coyly on a grinning crescent moon with stars in the sky and a spotted cat on a ladder, paw touching the moon.
I then noticed a small black-and-white photograph, attached to the display stand, of the girl seen on canvas, and remember thinking how accurately the artist had captured the face on the photo, and how excellent her craft was.
It was only then that I read the associated photo caption..."Picture made in a studio before deportation to Terezin in November 1941."
I froze. Like a ton of bricks had just dropped. I looked around quickly at the other canvases. Each of a young child and each with a small photo attached. Each photo with a caption. Each caption a terse description of a life eliminated. Each canvas an evocation of lost dreams illuminated. I was stunned. And still am.
Subsequently, I met with Lauren Bergman many times. I have come to know of her essentially secular Jewish upbringing and appreciate even more fully the way her unique artistry imbues these paintings with an extraordinary power. I was able to introduce her to my cousin, the brilliant Israeli composer Ella Milch-Sheriff, and to my wonderfully creative colleague Ohad Ashkenazi. Together the idea of an exhibition of Lauren's portraits emerged, 20 in the full collection and all accompanied by an original composition from Ella, curated and organized by Ohad, with the assistance of other ever helpful individuals (Phyllis, Archie, Tal, Aviv, and more), and this vision is now being realized, with further exhibition plans to come.
Our family is honored to bring this powerful experience to the attention of all who care for life, for art, and for the shared humanity that links us all together.
Dr. David M. Milch
New York City
About Dr. David M. Milch
Dr. Milch is a Harvard-trained physician and venture capitalist. He has invested in a wide array of companies in the area of life sciences and medical technology. As a patron of theater arts, Dr. Milch has participated in the production of such shows as "Avenue Q", "In the Heights", "West Side Story", "Finian's Rainbow", "Night of the Iguana" and many others. He recently founded and serves as President of the New York film-production company, MiLa Media, and is the executive producer of a number of documentary and feature films, including Avi Nesher's critically-acclaimed drama "Past Life", based on the family story of composer Ella Milch-Sheriff.
In 2010, Dr. Milch decided to establish a foundation that would serve "tikkun olam" (healing the world) in two major areas: the use of arts for social impact ("Ars Veritas Initiative"); and youth mentorship to help fashion the leaders of tomorrow. As a seed philanthropist, Dr. Milch has helped initiate and shape strategies for a number of new artistic initiatives, including "Lives Eliminated, Dreams Illuminated." The Dr. David M. Milch Foundation has also been deeply involved in activities related to helping youth navigate through current social and economic challenges, including those posed by COVID-19.