Rubenstein—who lives in the Town of Somerset, a Chevy Chase municipality—studied neuroscience at the Weizmann Institute of Science, and he's designed large-scale metal sculptures—some with moving parts, some with water elements—that can be seen around the Washington, DC, region and across the country (such as Skybound, at the Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Ohio).
And, he played an important role in designing the new $100 bill, which—should you be so lucky—could end up in your wallet some day.
Rubenstein's involvement with the $100 bill redesign began in 2002, when he was contacted by the National Academies to be on the $100 bill redesign committee commissioned by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
For three years, the committee of 14 met about four times a year, in different parts of the country, to make recommendations about the bill. All 14 committee members participated on a volunteer basis, but their travel expenses were reimbursed, Rubenstein explained.
At the end of three years, the committee put together a document of recommendations about how the new bill should be designed. They focused on coming up with ways to make the bill easier to read (particularly for visually impaired people), easier to verify and more immune to counterfeiting, Rubenstein told Patch. (Unfortunately, introducing Braille into the bill was too difficult, Rubenstein said.)
Then, the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing spent six years coming up with the new bill based on the committee's recommendations.
Rubenstein was perfect for the committee. He holds a doctorate in neuroscience, and has studied brain perception. He also was the only artist on the committee, he said.
One of Rubenstein's most easily recognizable contributions to the design of the new $100 bill is the thick line—a blue ribbon with bells on it—down the middle of the bill (to the right of Benjamin Franklin's face), he said.
If one tilts the bill back and forth while focusing on the blue ribbon, one will see the bells change to 100s as they move. And, "when you tilt the note back and forth, the bells and 100s move side to side. If you tilt it side to side, they move up and down. The ribbon is woven into the paper, not printed on it," the website for the new bill states.
The ribbon helps people tell that the bill is real, and not counterfeit, Rubenstein explained.
In time, the new design will be used on all bills, but they started with the $100 bill because that bill is used widely around the world. It's important to give the world a sense of security with a bill that defies counterfeiters, Rubenstein said.
The actual artwork on the bill was done by artists at the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which the committee toured during one of its meetings, Rubenstein said. The committee also met with Crane & Co., which produces the paper for all U.S. money bills.
Rubenstein's large-scale metal sculptures can be seen around town, and a few new ones are in the works, including one at 8711 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring (the as-yet-unfinished Premier Apartments), which will be installed in early 2014.
Rubenstein recently created Moonlight Over Sinai as a gift for the Adas Israel Congregation (2850 Quebec St. NW, Washington, DC), of which his family has been a part for four generations.
He also has current commissions from other parts of the country, including in North Carolina and Florida. Now that the recession is winding down, people are starting to build again, and commissions for public artwork are more plentiful, he said.
Editor's note: This post was edited to mention that Rubenstein resides in the Town of Somerset, a Chevy Chase municipality.