At this year’s Celebration of Fine Arts in Scottsdale, two of the 100 artists selected to participate in the annual show kept bumping into each other. Finally, Loren Yagoda overheard Lisa Skyhorse utter a Yiddish word and they got very chummy very fast.

Skyhorse, who believes she may be the only Jewish woman saddle maker in the world, has always loved horses and leather art work. She put herself through UCLA working with leather and selling it at street fairs.

When she finally had the chance to move out of Los Angeles to the countryside, she got her own horse and found someone who took her on as an apprentice.

“Fifty years ago it was a good old boy and macho kind of work, but this guy became my mentor and we were fast friends,” she said. “I was lucky because with the first saddle I ever built I knew it was what I wanted to do and it’s what I’ve been doing every since.”

She met her husband, a biologist, three years after she started building saddles and taught him the trade. The two have been working together for nearly half a century.

“He’s my Shabbos goy,” she joked. It’s something he tells any Member of the Tribe who looks at their work, which really cracks them up, she said.

Most of her customers are shocked to discover that she’s Jewish. It’s not the kind of art they expect from a Jewish woman. The couple live and work in Durango, Colorado. They sell their saddles and leather art mostly through their website, and don’t do many art shows anymore. But this show has a great reputation and is a juried show, she said.

For her part, Yagoda does art that’s meditative and spiritual. When she first started painting she was married to a cantor and was drawn to his collection of tallit. She saw beauty in them and incorporated them into her work, most of which has stripes.

Her palate is neutral, full of black, tan, beige, brown, camel and white.

“It’s all very abstract and quiet,” she said. “I’ve always been a black and white person, in photography and as a collector. When I was an interior designer I stuck to neutral colors. It’s one look that is me.”

She remembers distinctly flying to Israel on an El Al flight and seeing people wrap their babies in tallit to comfort them. She was inspired by the meditative nature of it. For a time she used tallit decoratively in homes, but when she started painting, it took her a long time to recognize that they were also inspiring the artwork on her canvas.

A group from Phoenix’s chapter of Brandeis National Committee came to admire her work and during the course of the conversation she realized what she was painting.

“The more I talked, the more emotional I became. It helped me put it into perspective and they asked great questions,” she said.

Yagoda’s work is also displayed in Restoration Hardware galleries everywhere and can be found on her website

For more information about Celebration of Fine Arts, visit



This post has been contributed by a third party. The opinions, facts and any media content are presented solely by the author, and JewishPhoenix assumes no responsibility for them. MORE