Tag Archives: Adam Mirkine

Danny Fein’s “Litographs”

Some people read books as hardcovers or paperbacks. Others read them on Kindles or Nooks.

Danny Fein wants you to read them as beautiful, 24 x 36-inch posters. The entire text of classics — The Great Gatsby, Alice in Wonderland, Pride and Prejudice, even The Origin of Species — is there, on one gorgeous “litograph.”

The complete "Hamlet" text -- surrounding a skull -- hangs on a wall.

The complete “Hamlet” text — surrounding a skull — hangs on a wall.

Though the print is tiny, it is sharp and fully legible. What makes litographs special is that each design is unique, and comes directly from the book.

Siddhartha, for example, portrays Buddha. The Bible is inscribed on stained glass. The Art of War (Danny certainly covers the gamut) shows Chinese characters.

Danny is a 2006 Staples High School graduate. He also earned degrees from Harvard and Penn.

He founded Litographs because, he says, “I love books. I can’t imagine growing up without them. I want to do everything I can to make sure that students and communities around the world have access to literature and learning materials.”

A zoomed-in view of some of "Hamlet."

A zoomed-in view of some of “Hamlet.”

So in addition to providing handsome wall hangings — suitable for homes and classrooms! — Danny has partnered with the International Book Bank. For every poster he sells, he sends one new, high-quality actual book to a community in need.

New posters — in color and black-and-white — are released every Tuesday and Thursday. They’re available as t-shirt designs too (though you would not want to actually read those).

Ilene Mirkine framed Moby Dick for the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection. Her sons Adam and Matt donated it to Staples, where it hangs — appropriately — near the English department.

Directly underneath a Permanent Art Collection painting of a whale.

For Danny Fein’s litographs, the writing is truly on the wall.

(To see all the litographs — and for ordering information — click here.)

Adam Mirkine stands next to the "Moby Dick" litograph. Above it is an illustration of a whale.

Adam Mirkine stands next to the “Moby Dick” litograph. Above it is a painting of a whale.

The "Peter Pan" t-shirt.

The “Peter Pan” t-shirt.

Adam Mirkine’s Summer Of Service

It’s tough to knock community service.  But — despite its worth — too many teenagers do it for the wrong reasons.  They think it looks good for college.  Or because everyone else is doing it.

Or — and this is not their fault — they join a group that parachutes in to some needy spot, does a few days’ work, then packs up and leaves.

That’s not what Adam Mirkine wanted this summer.

The Staples junior spent a solid 6 weeks working on several important projects.  He got to know the families whose lives he was impacted.  He understood that both “community” and “service” are equally important terms.

Adam Mirkine and a Smoketown friend.

Through the American Jewish Society for Service, Adam worked with Youth Build in Smoketown — the Louisville neighborhood where a young Cassius Clay learned to box.

The organization helps high school dropouts earn GEDs.  Adam’s group of 16 teenagers and 4 counselors tutored, but also worked side by side with the participants on work projects like gardening and demolition.  The idea is that both education and job skills help transform lives.

During the 1st project — building a playhouse for a girl with mental and physical disabilities — Adam was peppered with questions.  He was the 1st Jew many of the participants had met.

Education is a 2-way street, of course, and Adam learned a lot too.  He met a former heroin addict who now works with drug abusers, and discovered ways of life unfathomable in Westport.

Another project — this one through Habitat for Humanity — involved renovating houses used by meth addicts.

After 3 weeks, the AJSS group went on the road.  They spent 5 days in Birmingham, working on tornado relief.  “Those people’s homes were totally demolished,” Adam says.  “They appreciated what we were doing to the point of tears.”

They visited other service projects in Nashville and Memphis, then returned to Louisville for more work.  The governor of Kentucky awarded them a special — and rare — citation for volunteerism.

There was another component to Adam’s summer:  religion.

Adam and his supervisor take a break.

“I got bar mitzvahed, but I really didn’t know much from a Jewish point of view,” he admits.  “This summer there was a lot of connections between our work, and Jewish values.”

An example:  While they worked at a water purification plant, they studied a Torah portion involving water.

The group observed Shabbat — no travel, electronics or excessive work — and kept kosher.

“From a social perspective, every place I worked in was definitely not Westport,” Adam says.

“There was lots of poverty — broken glass, overgrown lots, gang signs.  But also, people in Smoketown had never gone 5 miles away.”

A Youth Build counselor noted, “Everyone in this room will go to college.  That’s expected.  But for the kids we’re working with, it’s not probable.”  Adam said he’d never heard that difference explained so starkly.

Returning to Westport, Adam says he has a strong desire to keep his Jewish ideals.  He also has a renewed respect for his school, community, and the resources he enjoys.

At Staples, Adam is assistant director of Players’ fall production of “West Side Story.”  He plays water polo too.

But, he says, he’s looking for his next community service project.  This winter, he hopes to go to New Orleans.

He says, “This is the kind of thing that once you start, you never want to stop.”

Adam Mirkine and his crew.

Facebook Characters

After Staples Players director David Roth casts a show, he makes sure his actors understand their characters.  Last fall, for example, everyone in “Guys and Dolls” wrote biographies, describing their character’s parents, hometown, childhood, economic status and other “personal” details.

Sounds like info you’d find on Facebook? Adam Mirkine thought the same thing.

Adam Mirkine (right) directs Max Samuels. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Adam is just a 9th grader, but this spring he’s co-assistant director of “Book of Days.”  The production — which opens next week — is a challenging look at the clash between theater and religion.  “Getting each person to actually be his character is key,” Adam says.

To help the process along, Adam asked each actor to create a Facebook account for his character — including information like marital status, interests and favorites.

Now anyone on Facebook can find — and friend — people like “Boyd Middleton,” “Ruth Hoch” and “Walt Bates.”

“The script has nothing about their favorite quotations, books, music, movies and TV shows,” Adam says.  “But they know their characters so well, they fill in what they like.”

"Boyd Middleton"'s Facebook photo.

Some actors did even more.  Matt Van Gessel plays director Boyd Middleton, so he took a professional-type picture for his profile.  Jake Yarmoff’s photo of Conroy Atkins — a small-town sheriff — sports a cowboy hat.

“Sheriff Atkins” is particularly good at updating his status.  The other day he wrote:  “Conroy Atkins is alerting the residents of his hometown about the presence of a sex offender in the community.”

The fun project has helped bring the cast together, Adam says.

There’s only 1 problem:  Staples’ internet filter blocks Facebook access.  So any “Book of Days” cast member wishing to add a friend, change a relationship status or post a photo must do it at home.

(“The Book of Days” will be performed in the Staples Black Box Theater on May 13, 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m., and May 16 at 3 p.m.  Tickets are available at www.StaplesPlayers.com, or at the door 30 minutes before curtain.  For more information, call 203-341-1310.)