"I traveled throughout Arizona and New Mexico, following the bread crumbs. I found my people in this tiny New Mexican town. It was by mistake, I wanted a snack and needed gas. I pull in.

They looked like me, everyone smiled.

I stayed a night there, knowing there was something people wanted to tell me.

The next morning was beautiful, warm, I slept great. A knock on the door, it was breakfast time. I was invited to come have delicious coffee and pastries. The hotel owned smiled warmly.

An elder whispered to me....

"The entire town is hidden Jewish", they recognized me, as I them.

We talked about family, names, and how we might be related.

She looked so much like my Bubu.

My peoples, my heart. My eyes teared up. Baruch HaShem!!


"New Years, Underground: Sevilla, Spain 1491

(Secret location)"
Watercolor on Paper
9” x 12”

“Wandering Again”
9” x 12”
Ink on Paper

Ink on paper
24” x 36”

Pastel on Paper
24” x 36”

"We did not want to give up our wonderful lives in Spain, a place for generations we had called home. But it was this, forced conversion or death. How many perished in those days we still do not know. BDE"



Acrylic on Canvas
48” x 60”

misTaken Identities

an exhibition of paintings and drawings

by Michael B Schwartz

inspired by stories of

Jewish invisibility in the Southwest

Exclusively at MBSarts Virtual Gallery

August 30 - October 2. 2020


"Tucson Shabbat"
Acrylic on Masonite
24” x 36”


"do you remember, do you forget, did we remember to close the door? wandering, sailing - through these centuries we are."
Pastel on paper
24” x 36”

"My ancestors and elders spoke to me as a child, reminding me of who I am, my people and our story…. whisper, whose voice is this i have summoned?"


"The Mashhadi Jews, The Hidden Jews of Iran, were forced to pretend to convert to Islam from 1839 to 1925. For 200 years they hid their identity."

Watercolor on Posterboard
10” x 10”


"Wandering the beach"
Acrylic on Canvas
18” x 24”


Ink on Paper
24” x 36”

"We should have known, in 1369 physician and astrologer Abraham ibn Zarzal was called into doubt for no reason at all, what was it with these accusations!"


Acrylic on Canvas Board
12” x 16”

“we pretended to assimilate, so we could be part of the community, but every Friday night we close the door and light the candles.”


Watercolor on Paper
10” x 10”

“1492, the order came, banishment, death, conversion or some such combination. we gathered what we could, we knew this day was coming, it was in the air.”
Ink, Acrylic on Paper
24” x 36”

Ink on Paper
5” x 14”


"Torah Hug"
Pastel on paper
18” x 24”


"Crypto Jews, Lost, part 12: maybe Nebraska?"
Sketch: Ink on Paper
24” x 36”



Ink on Paper
24” x 36”



Acrylic on Canvas
24” x 24”

Special Exhibition Events

Opening Interview: misTaken Identities

LIVE 2pm Sun Aug 30

MBSarts on Common Good Radio
KVOI 1030 AM

Join the discussion HERE

Gallery Talk

Thursday Sept. 17, 2pm
Live On Zoom

Register Here (TBA)

Acrylic on Canvas
30” x 48”

"Sevilla, Spain 1371"
Acrylic on Wood
24” x 36”


"An Astrolabe"
Acrylic on Canvas
30” x 48”

“People frequently associate astrolabes with navigation. Although the instrument used in navigation was a simplified version of the more complex planispheric astrolabe and its use did not start until the 15th century, I would like to keep this image of seas and new lands associated to our research; for the astrolabe is bringing us  a new insight into many aspects of the life and interests of medieval Jews, and some discoveries.”

 Dr. Josefina Rodriguez Arribas

"Tucson has a mesmerizing ambiance. There have been people at these crossroads for thousands of years, farming in milpas, raising families, building homes and a life. The stories, songs and legends that permeate the dinner tables and camp fires, the names of streets, founders and organizations all have clues to this history. As I listened carefully I realized clues were being dropped, bread crumbs for me to follow.

 “My people got lost on their long journey from León” one friend told me with a wink. A student quietly wishes me “Shanoa Tova Mr.” and rushes off with a smile. “The way my grandmother wove dough for bread on Fridays was different, she braided it” a Barrio elder once told me. “You are my people” I asked. “Yes”, he responded gently.

These fascinating stories started to make sense when I began visually researching the forced expulsion of Jewish and Muslim peoples from Spain in 1492. In graduate school I was blessed to befriend Arizona Daily Star sports writer Abe Chanin (BdE 1921-2014) who founded the Southwest Jewish Archives at the University of Arizona. Abe guided my initial learning on this subject. He had created an anonymous hotline that people could call in and share their stories. The response was mind boggling. His challenge to me was to somehow tell this story through the arts. Thus began a long journey.

The Jewish “Sepharad” came to be known as Conversos or Moranos. The Sephardic diaspora spread people throughout the Ottoman Empire, North Africa, and the Americas. Here in the US Jews wandered north from places such as the recently colonized “New Kingdom of León” (Mexico), to escape deadly inquisitional courts. Today evidence of this Anusim is evidenced throughout the Southwest. In bakeries, gatherings, on signs, landmarks, graveyards and street names.

This work in this exhibit revolves around the general theme of the Hidden Jewish Communities, specifically the Sephardic and references to the Mashhadi experiences.

* Most of these works are available for purchase.

Mixed Media on Paper
24” x 36”

All Content copyright 2020. Michael B. Schwartz. All rights reserved. All digital images in this Web site are under license by Michael B. Schwartz and are available to any person for the express purpose of viewing the Web site. No image or portion of any image may be reused without the express written permission of Michael B. Schwartz. All physical artwork is owned solely by Michael B. Schwartz and are subject to United States and International copyright laws.


Ink on Paper
24” x 36”

we brought seeds, spices, devices and books, things we could travel with and essential to starting a new life in an unknown place….

Prior to the development of the sextant, astrolabes were instruments, produced by craftspeople, used to make astronomical measurements, typically of the altitudes of celestial bodies, and in navigation for calculating latitude. There were Jewish craftspeople who created astrolabes, which were inscribed in Hebrew.


"Had we been without our stories and navigational equipment all would have been lost, somehow we had to find a ship to stow away on, to reunite with our community, oh if only we could find a way home."
Acrylic on Wood
12” x 16”