Sunday, December 27, 2009

Into The Void | The New Republic

Into The Void | The New Republic
this old article popped into my Google Alert...bookmarking here for later!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

NYC Dept of Sanitation ID

NYC Dept of Sanitation ID, originally uploaded by levenj.

There are some things that never found a home in an album or garbage bin over the years. Flickr's the stream of them in my life now.

Odd to think they're then the property of Microsoft, right?


toogoodtobe, originally uploaded by levenj.

...loaded some old drawings on to flickr

, before pads when into boxes.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Magnes Goes to U.C. Berkeley

Magnes Collection to U.C. Berkeley | j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California

After decades as an independent Berkeley institution, the Judah L. Magnes Museum is currently negotiating with U.C. Berkeley to donate its entire collection to the university some time next year.

Many details about the future of Magnes’ finances, board of trustees, staff and location remain undetermined.

What is certain, however, is that a long-planned move from the Magnes’ stately home on Russell Street in the Elmwood District to a new location in the heart of Berkeley has been scrapped, as Magnes has sold the downtown property at 2222 Harold Way.

The negotiations with U.C. Berkeley coincide with Magnes chief curator, Alla Efimova, being named the museum’s new director. Efimova said the pending U.C. Berkeley deal should prove to be a net plus for the Magnes.

In an interview with j., Efimova said the move would make the collections “accessible to a much broader community of scholars worldwide.”

Magnes board president Frances Dinkelspiel expects the changes to benefit both institutions. “This was more a question of what was in the best interest of the Magnes in the long term,” she said. “We thought having a partnership with U.C. Berkeley was the best way to have the Magnes continue for the next 50 to 100 years.”

Negotiations between the Magnes and U.C. Berkeley are expected to wrap up by year’s end.

To read more click here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

That's Entertainment

A police car
and a screaming siren -
A pneumatic drill and ripped up concrete -
A baby wailing and stray dog howling -
The screech of brakes and lamp light blinking -

That's Entertainment.

A smash of glass and a rumble of boots -
An electric train and a ripped up 'phone booth -
Paint splattered walls and the cry of a tomcat -
Lights going out and a kick in the balls -

That's Entertainment.

Days of speed and slow time Mondays -
Pissing down with rain on a boring Wednesday -
Watching the news and not eating your tea -
A freezing cold flat and damp on the walls -

That's Entertainment.

Waking up at 6 a.m. on a cool warm morning -
Opening the windows and breathing in petrol -
An amateur band rehearsing in a nearby yard -
Watching the tele and thinking about your holidays -

That's Entertainment.

Waking up from bad dreams and smoking cigarettes -
Cuddling a warm girl and smelling stale perfume -
A hot summer's day and sticky black tarmac -
Fedding ducks in the park and wishing you were far away -

That's Entertainment.

Two lovers kissing amongst the scream of midnight -
Two lovers missing the tranquility of solitude -
Getting a cab and travelling on buses -
Reading the graffiti about slashed seat affairs -

That's Entertainment.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Glenn Somnab!tch ?

Photo_110809_001, originally uploaded by levenj.

Is this guy really dressed as a Nazi? Can this be real?! Is it actually in my Barnes & Nobles??

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Innovation #wma09

Innovation #wma09, originally uploaded by levenj.

Lori Fogarty, Director, Oakland Museum of California; Douglas Fogle, Chief Curator and Deputy Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs at the Hammer; Ted Russell, Senior Program Officer for the Arts, James Irvine Foundation; and Angelina Russo, Associate Professor, Faculty of Design, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia

Monday, November 02, 2009

Somehow I Felt A Lot of Upside Here for America's Future

Two articles in my Sunday New York Times made me feel very postive about America's future for some reason. And so I wanted to paste them here for exploration later.

Harry MacAvoy lauds the merits of having been born specifically in 1957 here.

And RoseLee Godlberg who I studied with briefly at NYU "When asked her age, Ms. Goldberg said:

'I’m old enough to have gone to my first Bienniale and Documenta in 1972 and to have a 28-year-old daughter.')" Adding about the creation of PERFORMA: “I really wanted New York to have that feeling again,” she said. “The sense that creative people own the city, and that everything is possible.”

makes you feel like anything's possible and us Gen Xers, the DIYers ain't even where they're at yet...nice to be 40.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

His new show at the National Museum of the American Indian, called "Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort"

Brian Jungen, Prototype for New Understanding #1, 1998. Image:

I remember seeing Brian Jungen work in Canada when Karen and I were in Montreal many years ago, and was TOTALLY taken by it, like a totem, right? I mean all he need do is make one and have that one magick item have a lingering, magical, even transformative effect.

To view some elegant pix in a gallery by the Washington Post, click here. Gopnik writes on DC show here:

When Jungen made "People's Flag," a huge scarlet banner sewn together from red clothing, red umbrella skins and other mass-produced red textiles, it was to show at the Tate in 2006. The piece paid homage to the long history of popular protest and to England's left. "It seemed awkward for me to make some sort of statement about the native condition in London," Jungen recalls.

But as it hangs in his show at the NMAI, Jungen has discovered that "People's Flag" is being interpreted as the flag of a united Red Nation of Indian peoples -- a concept that doesn't really exist in Canada, he says, where native groups tend to retain their separate identities. (Here in the United States, we've got such things as, a Web site for Indian issues, and the Red Nation Film Festival in Los Angeles.)

And there's a great dialogue on this blog here, View on Canadian Art, check the comment space:

as a member of the peanut gallery, I think one can and should reconsider Jungen’s work, especially the more recent pieces. Some of it is amazingly terrible. The golf bag totem pole’s demonstrate how the “critique” is back-firing into exactly this bad faith “party-line” that Gopnik sees as problematic to the critic’s missteps. These more recent works are totally formulaic, predictable and devoid of any nuance which could be found in the Prototypes for a new understanding and lawn furniture whale skeleton pieces.

I would like to be surprised and stimulated by him again, but it feels to me like the current work is more about the symptom of a vampiric art market.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Another One of These -- "I KNOW These People?!..." Moments

Using Natural Language Processing and Social Network Analysis to study ancient Babylonian society

By Patrick Schmitz, IST–Data Services

March 10, 2009

In Near Eastern Studies, as in other areas of Humanities, researchers often study corpora of administrative and legal texts to understand economic, administrative, and societal structure, considering the activities of individuals and their interactions with each other. This is often painstaking work, as, for example, in studying ancient Babylonian texts where scholars must first be able to read Akkadian, and then must assemble all the references to people and activities by hand. This process is formally known as prosopography, and is used by many scholars across a range of Humanities research. Now, Professor Niek Veldhuis and Dr. Laurie Pearce are working with IST–Data Services' Patrick Schmitz to apply some more modern approaches to the problem. They are applying techniques from the fields of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Social Network Analysis (SNA) to extract the names and basic familial relationships of people mentioned in texts, and then to assemble the social network of the people based upon the activities described....

I had a meeting with Patrick a couple of weeks ago and Dr. Laurie Pearce told me about this project as it was developing a while ago. It's an amazing concept. You gotta read more and to read more click here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lil E in The Rain House at The New Children's Museum

The New Children's Museum, San Deigo ROCKS!

Ernest Silva, The Rain House, 1994/2008

The Rain House

As a long-standing component of NCM’s programming, and a carryover from the Museum’s previous facility, Silva’s Rain House, is both playhouse and home to projects key to NCM’s bi-national programming. For Animal Art, Silva has created new foam puzzle-piece furniture to augment the way young children love to play house in The Rain House’s soothing interior. And, in the “back yard” Silva has created a new interactive felt mural. Children are invited to create their own flying creatures and use Silva’s templates to add birds to his avian menagerie that flies freely blithely ignoring the physical and political ramifications of our border region.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

From Bloomingdales to G-dcast!

With Magnes as an institutional lender, I went to the opening of As It Is Written: Project 304,805 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, or the "CJM," a somewhat new museum on the SF cityscape designed by Daniel Liebeskind.
For me and my host, after grabbing a bite at 'wichcraft, the evening started at Bloomingdales, and it's astounding how much the retail space of the Westfield Mall related to the lines of sight and kinda of empty signifiers in Liebeskind's architecture.

And, in fact, I think Liebeskind is quite purposeful to this end, reaching for a lingua franca of the spaces we share in -- malls and museums. I cannot get out of my mind the clips from Warhol where he would talk about how wonderful the synergies between shopping malls and museums were. "I just love it," I think he said in some T.V. clip I saw once. I wish I could find the video. And that kind of Warholian euphoria informed the evening as well.

Below is the description of this "living exhibition" from the Museum's web site. I will try to write more about that later. I did "take in the show," but am writing more about the opening public program and its speakers. exhibition centered around a soferet (a professionally trained female scribe) who while on public view will write out the entire text of the Torah over the course of a full year. She will be one of the few known women to complete an entire Torah scroll, an accomplishment traditionally exclusive to men. As the soferet works within the gallery, she will actively engage in dialogue during a scheduled time each day, answer questions, and share the mysteries and tools of her trade. In this groundbreaking, living exhibition, the Museum will be the first public institution to reveal this traditionally private process unchanged by time for thousands of years. Visitors will have an unprecedented opportunity to learn about one of the world’s foundational religious texts and the spiritual and ritual essence of an enduring scribal art.

The soferet Julie Seltzer was the first to speak at the program. She dedicated her talk to her mother, whose birthday it was on that day. Then she moved through a discussion of eish dat, noting it's an example of "kri-and-ksiv" -- a word that is pronounced (kri) one way, but written (ksiv) in the Torah scroll a different way. These two ways of reading the word also imply different shades of meaning. And she went on to quote Rashi, "Before the creation of the world, the Torah was written with black fire on white fire." She gave a sweet, informed a poignant talk about male dominance in summation, creating her own 'kri-and-ksiv' and connecting "control" and "heart." This was some pretty heavy "drash" delivered in this context openly, effectively and in a slow -- almost petite -- and moving manner.

The next speaker was David Henkin, a UC professor of U.S. History and regular Torah reader at the Mission Minyan. Professor Henkin was introduced as the author of City Reading: Written Words and Public Spaces in Antebellum New York, Columbia University Press, 1998. Henkin spoke boldly about the relationship between reading and performance. His book is available on Google books here. And I have to think that the relationship between his concepts and the potential popularization of scholarship of his sort through Google books, might make ample fodder for more books. My favorite part of his talk was when he said how important that performative nature of the collective Torah reading is, namely it was not about walking up to the bima, looking of the text silently, nodding, scanning then going, "OK. Got it..." It was funny. Henkin went on to point out that both the Hebrew word for reading and the English word read have derivations related to performing speech, not a solo act, per se.

Following Henkin came the most earnest speaker. She sang. Elana Jagoda, performed in a skirt and knit tights. I couldn't get her outfit out of my mind. It just so reminded me of things my sister usta wear. And I think that's OK. She has this really sweet tune about creation, with this "...And it was good" refrain. It felt so sexual. I am not so sure that was OK, at least on my part. It was all supposed to be so pure.

Then she did this song she'd written for G-dcast on the Parsha Kedoshim and that was fantastic, because it brought together the popular tone of the presentation over all, still it was strident, but you couldn't overlook the innately arcane and essential nature of the pursuit of Torah.

Lastly came Matthue Roth and Sarah Lefton, co-founders of G-dcast, a real Jewish response to popular Christian videos...or, more, a Jewish response to real Christian videos..or, maybe, a Christian response to Jewish real videos? I dunno. You decide. Nonetheless, they're good, the videos...or little flash movie things, or whatever they are.

And Matthue and Sarah seem real good, too. Matthue's got payos and his tzitzit was showin' and was so energized it was amazing. And Sarah seemed real together and real pregnant. He's written several books and been included in a bunch of anthologies. And he's young. And to learn about her go to what she calls leftonia, where she describes herself as having "...a wicked head for stuff that gets attention in social networks, TV and the real world," adding "I can work the networks you care about and get the word out fast." Matthue and Sarah, they needed this show not so much I don't think. They're successful on their own. And Jewish, too.

And I guess that was sort of my "take away," is that people involved in Torah don't really need this show. So it's for those who don't "have Torah," in a way, I guess. But if you weren't Jewish, why would you go to a museum called the Contemporary Jewish Museum. It's for contemporary Jews, right? or is it about contemporary Jews?

The message kinda seemed to be that in the end everyone's a cartoon, a pastiche...maybe even Torah. And, with a three-year old at home, and a world being instructed by Dora the Explorer, I don't know if that's bad in this particular context, or not.

P.S. Then I just read my newspaper this morning to find that Marge Simpson will be on the November cover of Playboy...

Friday, October 02, 2009

Swimming Lessons

How great is this?!...

Nick Cave @ybca

The Nick Cave show at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts was a real sleeper/hit...this vid of a buncha guys strolling what looked like Central Park in whacked out African suits was just TOO MUCH!

Ruth Eis

Hangin' with Gran'Pa

June 2009

3-D Movies: All the Rage

So far we have seen Ice Age 3D and last night it was Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

This pix's from earlier this summer and Ice Age 3D viewing.

Love My Life: Thaknfulness

Kevin Starr on Magnes

First Day. Second Year.

Ghosts of Dennis Gallagher

Kenneth Baker, Chronicle Art Critic
Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dennis Gallagher, a San Francisco sculptor known for his work in ceramic media, died Monday after an extended hospital stay. He was 57.

The day that he died was his birthday.

A poignant tribute compiled by his wife just opened at the Rena Bransten Gallery in San Francisco last month.

Visitors to Memory Lab

September 18, 2009
David Silver, Assistant Professor: Media Studies & Davies Professor, University of San Francisco with Francesco as host and Albert Stankowski, Virtual Shtetl, Museum of the History of Polish Jews and his interpreter from the State Department Marek.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Josiah McElheny: Yard (Junkyard), 1961/2009

Sometimes it really seems like Allan Kaprow may have been the Alpha and the Omega...


Josiah McElheny: Yard (Junkyard), 1961/2009
On view through October 04, 2009

Yard (Junkyard) is a ten-day event at the Queens Museum of Art, an attempt at re-inventing the ethos of Allan Kaprow’s Yard, in particular the first variant of the work, from 1961.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Boston Jewish Community: A New Report Recommends Consolidation

By Steven Rosenberg
Globe Staff / September 20, 2009

...As Jews north of Boston prepare to celebrate the second day of their new year, Rosh Hashana, many are thinking about how the local Jewish community will survive in light of a recently released independent report that calls for sweeping changes in area synagogues, community centers, camps, and the largest Jewish charity north of Boston.

In perhaps the hottest button in the report, prepared by the Jewish Communi ty Task Force, comprising Harvard Business School professor Carl Sloane and four Harvard researchers, it recommends that five Conservative synagogues - in Swampscott, Marblehead, Salem, Peabody, and Beverly - consider merging into two temples...

To read more click here.

Aquaerobics at the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore in Marblehead, which has lost 20 percent of its members in the past year. (Michele Mcdonald for The Boston Globe)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday at the Museums with Lil E

Love This! Thanks, Advanced Human Technologies

LOL. I'm a human being.

Met's Velázquez a Self-portrait?!

“...The picture was thinly painted and never intended to be finished,” said Mr. Christiansen, who says he believes it was actually a study. “It was a sitting done from life, which gives it great immediacy. The figure of the man is more finished than the costume or the background.”

The figure’s face, tired eyes and nose bear an eerie resemblance to the man looking out at the viewer from the far right of Velázquez’s “Surrender of Breda” (1634-35), which he painted to commemorate the Spanish victory over the Dutch. That painting, which is in the Prado Museum in Madrid, dates from around the same time as “Portrait of a Man,” made when Velázquez was 35.

But at this point nobody knows for sure if the figure in “The Surrender of Breda” or the man in the Met’s canvas is the artist himself. Other depictions of Velázquez, in “La Meninas” at the Prado, for instance, were painted when he was 57.

“Why not be a self-portrait?” Mr. Christiansen said. “It might be fun to put it on a blog on the museum’s Web site and ask people to take a vote.”

An Old Spanish Master Emerges From Grime
By Carol Vogel
The New York Times
September 9, 2009

[I love Keith Christiansen!]

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Loves Me Some Museum 2.0

...Nina -- Late in the book, you introduce Crawford and Mathew’s value matrix of five essential consumer values: access, experience, price, service, and product. You note that their research showed that the most successful businesses seek to dominate in only one area, be distinguished in another, and acceptable in the final three. Museums are very used to trying to be all things to all people. How do you recommend institutions prioritizing their focus?

John: I was quite taken by Crawford and Mathew’s notion that to try to be excellent at everything is a recipe for bankruptcy...

Read more here!


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A Great Birthday Present

Fred Isaac gave a reading at Afikomen on my birthday from Jews of Oakland and Berkeley through Arcadia Publishing, a project I helped him get started on.

A lot of the pictures come from the Magnes archives, and Magnes itself as a catalytic, Jewish cultural organization also plays a central role, with all credit to Rebecca and Seymour Fromer.

A Great Birthday Weekend