Early Influences

“I don’t believe in art. I believe in artists.” Marcel Duchamp installed (1952) “LARGE GLASS”:  at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where as a young girl Sandrow (born 1951) found a place in life engaged in the creative process. Her drawings, paintings and writings reflecting life and the natural world a prism through which to live under the Holocaust’s shadow over a Camden Jewish ghetto amidst sibling’s deaths, molestation by her father’s father. As a teen joining the emerging environmental movement in which Sandrow’s mother’s mother Pearl and father Morris involved her through their participation (and nominated Sandrow as Miss Cleaner Air Week). Attending the first Earth Day (Fairmont Park, Philadelphia 1970) celebrations and events a turning point in her life. Why societal policies inflicting harm on our earth, air and waters associated with assault on her rights and body (Note 1).


And it was Morris, his mother Frieda (Sandrow’s great grandmother) and her mother Rivele (Sandrow’s great great grandmother) legacies of generosity and community engagement a model for Sandrow’s art and life. Rivele’s granddaughter (Frieda’s niece, Sandrow’s grandfather Morris’s first cousin) the renowned “Yiddish Troubadour” Aliza Greenblatt memorialized the family history in “My Grandmother, Fruma Rivele Bremeg” included in At the Window of My Life”, excerpt: “Besides her (Rivele) own children, she always cared for widows and orphans; She gave them dowries and married them off; She always supported poor people; She became a friend to the lonely; She helped everyone with a good word, with advice. She gave charity with an open hand.” And in letters (Note 2) : an excerpt from Abraham Barmach’s (aka Bremeg orphaned as a baby, left on Rivele’s doorstep whom she took in): “If I were poetically inclined, I would sing her (Rivele) praises with beautiful poems. She is engraved in my heart. With her beautiful character, she has implanted goodness inside me. If I have done good to any one in my life, I owe it to your grandmother of blessed memory.” Rivele had implored family members to contribute monies for Abraham’s ticket to America. After settling in Philadelphia Abraham sent them monies to escape to the US including to Sandrow’s great-grandparents Frieda and Tovah and their thirteen children (her grandfather Morris age 3). And Frieda continued the practice of sending tickets, bought with monies earned from her grocery store, back home that enabled the escape from pogroms of many, many family members and neighbors (Note 3) . Aliza’s daughter Marjorie, a Martha Graham dancer, who’s husband Woody Guthrie composed the 1940’s ballad “This Land is your Land” reflected the family belief and practice: that inspire Sandrow’s art making and social practice. That often parallels her life experiences investigating a culture of systemic abuse. With a promise of place in the works of Earth Artists Nancy Holt, Ana Mendieta, Robert Smithson, James Turrell (note 4); her friend Feminist Artist Nancy Spero  (Note 5).


Forty-eight years later the Equal Rights Amendment has not been adopted: passed by Congress on March 22, 1972 when Sandrow was a photography and film student at Philadelphia College of Art (Note 6). Paralleling her, feminists artists, ongoing struggle of presenting art works who’s subject matter to them personally, to more than half the global population.




Note 1: Due to her age and societal norms, Sandrow was denied seeking justice after being raped by the family doctor William Most


Note 2: Letters discovered in the files of Eliza Greenblatt, maintained by the Center for Jewish History in NY by Cousin Hyman Lovitz (1929 - 2019); translated by Barbara Ann Schmutzler with the help of Sandrow’s Cousin Nahma Sandrow; additional support of Cousins Frank Adelman, Roz Elkins,  Mina Gobler, Ted Liebman, Hope Sandrow


Note 3: “Mima (Hebrew baby name meaning is Dove) Frieda” was the name attributed to her life saving work, reflecting the legacy of her mother Rivele. A yearly dinner that commemorated Frieda’s life, a gathering of all those she had helped escape with their children and grandchildren in a kosher dining hall not far from where they arrived from Russia... now called Society Hill (Philadelphia, Penn.).


Note 4: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Gardens New Directions 1986 curated by Phyllis D. Rosenzweig :“Toward the Baroque” Robert Morris, Hope Sandrow, Frank Stella, James Turrell


Note 5: Spero participated in Sandrow’s project Artist & Homeless Collaborative


Note 6: Photographer Ray Metzker was Sandrow’s mentor and teacher, who made a best effort to protect Sandrow and (classmate and friend also born in Philly) Deborah Willis from the discriminatory and abusive conduct of conduct of his male colleagues, photography and film teachers. View three untitled photographs from Sandrow’s study “Minton Home 1973”.