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Graphic designer Pat Hamou first spotted a mug shot of Murder Inc. hit man Abe “Kid Twist” Reles in the New York Daily News about four-and-a-half years ago. Struck by the mobster’s face, he drew a portrait of the Jewish gangster using a rapidograph pen and watercolors just for shits and giggles. But “one project turned into another,” Hamou says, and since then, he’s sketched more than 50 gangsters from early-20th-century New York’s Jewish organized-crime community. Each of Hamou’s cross-hatched drawings in his “Real Machers” exhibit is accompanied by a detailed description of the gangster’s activities. Among the notables is Bald Jack Rose, the completely hairless master poker player who later converted to Christianity and became a highly in-demand evangelist on the criminology circuit. Many of the other “machers” (Yiddish for someone who has connections) met violent ends—some were executed by the state, others by fellow mob men, and still others died in prison.
THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW SUNDAY TO THURSDAY, 10 A.M.–10 P.M., to MAY 17 IN THE ANN LOEB BROFAN GALLERY AT THE D.C. JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER, 16TH & Q STREETS NW. FREE. (202) 518-9400.