Wednesday, March 13, 2024

SATURDAY: Sketch the Central Synagogue

Sketching the Central Synagogue
Created and Hosted by Susan Hurwich

My walking path to get to the High School of Art & Design Draw-a-thon usually takes me past the Central Synagogue on Lexington Ave.  The place always fascinated me. The architecture (Moorish Revival) is unusual.  We've never attempted sketching the exterior. Each year, as I walked past, I observed that the surrounding tall buildings kept the sunshine from creating the beautiful shadows we all love to sketch.   How unfortunate, I’d think, and then, as an afterthought I always wondered what it looks like on the inside.

Susan Hurwich  arranged for a special sketching opportunity this coming Saturday.  We will arrive after the morning Sabbath service and will sketch at the Synagogue until mid afternoon.  I am so curious to see the interior.  It looks gorgeous.  

Pay attention to the details, - the times for this sketch are different from our usual plan.


Central Synagogue was designed by Henry Fernbach, a prominent Jewish American architect in 1871. The style is Moorish Revival.  The dramatic design was the subject of much debate during the construction.

Options for (pencil sketching only) include::

1) Stained Glass -  The side walls of the Sanctuary feature 12, 2 story stained glass windows created in 1948, and the northeast roundel has glass salvaged from a 1998 fire dedicated to the firefighters who saved so much of the building.

2) Stencil Work - The synagogue’s interior covers the walls with highly patterned, colorful designs – historic and elaborate floral and lattice work patterns.

3) The Wonderful Details -  The pews are made of intricately carved walnut and ash. 40,000 encaustic tiles make up the floor tiles in a wide range of colors, patterns and sizes.


WHAT:  We will be sketching the interior of the Central Synagogue

WHEN:   We’ll start our day on March 16, 2024 at  11:30  AM and we’ll need to leave at 2 PM

WHERE:  The Synagogue is located at 652 Lexington Ave.  Our entrance is on 55 th street off the corner of Lexington Ave. It has a lobby with security guards.  Meet there at 11:30.  The morning service in the Sanctuary ends at that time. 

HOW:  We’ve been asked to limit our sketching to pencil only.  I’m thinking that the brilliant stained glass windows demand color, so I’ll be bringing colored pencils.

LUNCH:  Come well fed.  We only have a short time there so we have no lunch planned.

SHOW and TELL:   2:00 PM.  Without knowing the place it’s hard to say where.  We’ll figure it out on site.  This is the social part of our sketching day, when we share our artwork and talk about the things that interest artists.  (Best conversations of the week!)


-  Although I always suggest bringing a stool, we’ll probably be able to use the pews. 

Can't find us?  

Call or Text Mark - 973-809-9128

There are no fees or attendance taken. 

All drawing skill levels are welcome

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