Sunday, January 25, 2009

Upside Down Jelly Fish

There's some kind of lesson here...

Long, Good Day

What a great day! It started early, with lil E time and making challah french toast, then i took lil E out to his grandparents, so Karen and I could spend the day in SF, invited to cultural stuff -- a Tehiyah Day School Leadership event at the new Cal Academy of Sciences and a MAGNES lecture at the CCA campus in SF.

At the Academy we were toured around by Tehiyah Day School parent Kang Kiang. it was a great tour. And it was my first visit to the Academy, though Lil E's been several times already with his grandparents and mom.

We got a little lost making our way to CCA. I almost always get lost looking for that campus, and never remember to take the directions. We had to ask for help at the Slow Club. And they were VERY helpful -- GREAT place!

The MAGNES/CCA program included:

Alla Efimova, PhD, MAGNES Acting Director and Chief Curator
Dora Apel, PhD, Wayne State University, Author of “Memory Effects: Holocaust and the Art of Secondary Witnessing”
Naomie Kremer, Artist, CCA (MFA 1993)
Gale Antokal, Artist, CCA (MFA 1984)
Lisa Kokin, Artists, CCA (MFA 1991)

The panel was crafted by MAGNES intern Analisa Goodin. It was a great discussion.

A slight and interestingly unfortunate point was that all the artists were striving to recreate fictional first-hand encounters and Apel was wrapped up in a media driven second-hand accounting [phrase mine] theory, wrapped up in Norman Kleeblatt's brillaint Mirroring Evil; Nazi Imagery/Recent Art at The Jewish Museum, New York from like ten years ago.

Myself, I hated the show then and getting to know Norman, only after I started working at MAGNES five years ago, and then reading the catalog opened my mind in many ways.

Apel didn't really do Mirroring Evil justice. She covered old ground. Still, she was great. The whole group was. And, basically, MAGNES, on-the-ground, schoalrship in-motion is exceeding printed it should. I wasn't able to stick around for the discussion though.

Hey, Leah Garchik was there -- which always floats my boat. I figure, since Leah's the SF Chronicler of where to be, when she is where you are you gotta feel like you are where you are supposed to be.

A dear friend Monte Toole has passed away and I had to be ready to be at the first shiva for minyan with his family at his house in Mill Valley.

At the minyan at Monte's house I saw my friend Dan Schifrin whose work with Josh Kornbluth at San Francsico's Contemporary Jewish Museum just got a write up in The New York Times!

Dan just wrapped up an oral history of Monte, working with the MAGNES.

I prayed the evening prayers with a room full of people, a silent amidah in Mill Valley. It made for a strong, circumspect closure to a rich day. We were gathered for a man I respected greatly, to be with his family at that time. It's a mitzvah. On the ride home there was a show on NPR called "The Good Death."

Gale Antokal's "Procession 3", which she showed during her presentation, is about spilled milk. It is a deeply beautiful work.


Quiet night in Marin.

There's a minyan in Mill Valley.

Another soul sleeps quiet now.

The City plays off on the horizon like Whistler's fireworks.

Friday, January 23, 2009

sad irony?


Here's a shout out to Ari Rinzler and the whole gang at Zeum. This is one of the VERY best things about the Bay Area!! YehBOI!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

OpEd KCRW - Ed. Goldman Art Talk

I must confess, I did not know this portrait existed. Click the pic to hear the Slavic mellifluous ramblings of an Art Talk on KCRW.

Obama as a champion of the arts.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy/ Elaine de Kooning,1963/ Oil on canvas/ National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution/ © Elaine de Kooning Trust

for more info go to the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery blog on it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Magnes Web Life Giving

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:
Magnes Web Life Giving
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: museums social)

This was a presentation I gave up in Anchorage last fall -- having fun with SlideShare. I joined SlideShare because of an upcoming WebCast, then got advertised for more info. on LinkedIn, posted an old presentation, got sent to SlideShare home to set up an account then was asked if I wanted to Blogger the Event, too. Neat.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Better Late than Never...

So after a quick trip to the Mac store to get the ol'Mac checked out before coming into the stretch for my MBA, whereat I got a new battery, the Jacguar and external drive for back ups through Time Machine...the baddest thing is we FINALLY got iChat!! Thanks to twitter buddy @TomCee we hooked up the external camera last night and this morning -- magic. Ah, thanks for waiting for us...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Friday Was...

...a magical end to a wonderful week!

There were acrobats in the morning.

And work at MAGNES went well. There was a lot of good news this week -- kinda rained as it poured...

After work we went to the Downtown Berkeley Central Library.

And as we exited the Library, MAGNES Atheon lit up the felt like magic, really.

Jews of the Fillmore

Peter Stein, now Director of the SF Jewish Film Festival did a documentary called The Fillmore in 2001. The documentary will be part of the MAGNES installation with the working title Jews of the Fillmore due to open in late spring 2009 at the Jazz Heritage Center.

"Because the neighborhood in its prime was primarily African American and working class, it was often ignored or dropped from mainstream city history and photo records," says Peter L. Stein, the program's producer and writer. "On top of it, the Fillmore was largely bulldozed in the 1960s -- so in many senses we are telling the story of a lost world. But I've come to believe it is one of the great object lessons in American urban life."

The film's web site does a nice job giving an overview of the history of the Fillmore:

The Fillmore chronicles key chapters in the neighborhood's history, starting with the great earthquake and fire of 1906. The Western Addition (as the neighborhood is often called) was spared from devastation; for a brief time it became the city's central commercial district, boasted a vibrant Jewish immigrant culture and eventually became home to one of the most ethnically diverse populations of any neighborhood in the nation.

But World War II dramatically changed the district. Some 5,000 Japanese residents were forcibly relocated within weeks of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor -- only to be replaced by thousands of African Americans coming to San Francisco for war jobs. The Black population of San Francisco grew tenfold between 1940 and 1950, and made the Fillmore San Francisco's first large -- and visible -- black community.

Out of these circumstances, the neighborhood took on a brand-new character as "the Harlem of the West," with its own churches, theaters, grocery stores, restaurants, nightclubs and newspapers. The documentary shines a spotlight on the jazz heyday in the Fillmore, which drew the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday into its clubs. The nightspots of the era, such as Bop City, the Long Bar, the New Orleans Swing Club, the Blue Mirror and the Booker T. Washington Hotel, to name a few, put the neighborhood on the map.

But even as San Francisco was discovering, for the first time, its black voice, the Fillmore was being labeled a "slum," and much of the neighborhood -- 64 square blocks -- was targeted for "urban renewal." A massive federal program in cities across America during the 1950s and 1960s, urban renewal hit the Fillmore hard, making it one of the largest redevelopment projects in the Western United States. Coming less than 20 years after the neighborhood's Japanese residents were forcibly removed, the first wave of redevelopment displaced some 6,000 residents, to make room for the Japan Trade Center and the massive boulevard along Geary Street. The second wave affected nearly 14,000 more. The documentary retraces the battle that erupted between San Francisco Redevelopment Agency director M. Justin Herman and Fillmore District residents, who watched the neighborhood's decline into a troubled inner-city zone marked by dozens of leveled blocks sitting vacant for more than a decade.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jewish Fillmore: A Walking Tour

More on this VERY SOON, gotta bluethooth some pix to the laptop back home an' nab some more shots from friends, and write a bit...but had to mobile blog in the moment - what a GREAT day!! I do love the tenor of the shot from my Palm Treo, they have this fuzzy seventies feel -- instant nostalgia.

O.K., so earlier this week, together with other staff and friends from the MAGNES we did a walking tour of the Fillmore.The tour was lead by Dr. Lara Michels, Head Archivist and Librarian at the MAGNES. We did it as part of the development of the forthcoming exhibition at the Jazz Heritage Center with the working title Jews of the Fillmore. The lead funding right now on the project comes from the Koret Foundation. Koret Program Officer Adam Hirschfelder joined us on the walk. Adam's been one of the driving forces behind this cool project.

After the 1906 fire San Francisco moved into the Fillmore. The area around Fillmore Street become the city's Civic Center for a period of time. California is young. San Francisco was really just getting its groove on when the earthquake and fire hit. I mean, what? it was like 60 years old? It's a life or two from back then. And that was only one hundred years ago. And that's a life or two now.

It's interesting because a lot of California's history is: one, not really told so much and two, still really intimate.

According ot the MAGNES web site:

The Bay Area is home to the third largest Jewish community in the United States. Jews settled in Northern California since the Gold Rush and played a very significant role in the economic and cultural development of the West. Western Jewish History Center is the world's largest repository of materials documenting the contribution of Jews to the life, experience, and history of the American West up to the present.

So much of this is so personal. It reminds me of my own life, albeit from back east and very different, but the idea of memory is a shared concept. What is significant and of-interest are the communal and universal themes that arise whenever you focus on a particular "group," ethnic religious or otherwise.

More also, personally I have had the chance to hear the reminiscences of many supporters first-hand. The tiny little Central Hebrew School, pictured here for example, is a spring board for a lot of folks. Now it is a Korean Center. The MAGNES has a collection of oral histories on the subject, along with others.

The City of San Francisco did do a project at one point to place historical markers along Fillmore Street to demarcate places where local merchants once were. Many of these merchant went on to become leaders in the city's rich, cultural landscape. It made for an interesting part of our walk, to feel like you were standing "right there."

The other thing that was SUPER cool is that when we were walking around we stopped for a while to have a look at a building that was once home to the the Emanu-El Sisterhood for Personal Service.

There was a small showcase exhibition back at the MAGNES in Berkeley a couple years ago about this service agency, so I knew a bit about the story and had "lived" with it, in a sense, for a while but within the museum context.

The Emanu-El Sisterhood for Personal Service was organized by San Francisco's well-healed, often more Germanic Jewish women to help the younger, more recently arrived central European immigrant Jewish women.

Many of these young women had left their families back east because they could no longer support them and wanted them to find opportunity out west. It was a settlement house. There the young found warmth and were trained in how to entertain, read even and, well...find a spouse. Look, the real socio-sexual-political interests and issues at play here are FASCINATING. I mean these are "women doing it for themselves."

Well, anyway, we linger for so long out in front of the building that some guy comes over and says, "Do you want to come in?"

We did and it was like walking through the looking glass. It's now the Chateau Tivoli, and we were lucky to have the manager come out and engage us.

It's opulence has now been polished to a fine gaudy and it'd be a great place to stay in San Francisco.

Linda Waterfield, who was on the tour did some sweet shots from the day and posted some of them in her Flickr photostream.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Go, John, Go

As some of you read here in the past, my friend John Maccabee's been developing ARGs for a while through his company City Mystery.

His most recent project Ghosts of a Chance, just got a FANTASTIC mention in a piece last night on NPR.

The NPR piece also covered Wikipedia Loves Art, which was all the twitter on twitter last week in museumish spheres.

Here's a sampling from one of the institutional instructions for Wikipedia Loves Art:

Guidelines for Shooting at the Brooklyn Museum:

Shots must be taken in existing light only (no flash) and tripods cannot be used.

We ask that you shoot each work twice. First time shoot the object with an index card in the frame that displays the object's accession number, your team name, and category name so we can assign points. Second time shoot the object again, but this time without the card. Submit both shots to this group. Brooklyn Museum staff will use the information on the index card to properly caption the image with the correct object information and credit line (less work for you!) and the second, clean shot will then be used for Wikipedia.

Shots must be tagged brooklynmuseum and and so we can easily sort them. Brooklyn Museum staff may add other tags as needed to help keep track during the hunt.

We would love to see you at one of our meet-ups. Questions? Contact or flickrmail us.

D'ja get that?...

The other freaky thing was that the one of the people interview I had JUST been "introduced" to by a friend through Facebook, like the night before -- Elizabeth Ellen Merritt.

Merritt's the Founding Director of the Center for the Future of Museums at the American Association of Museums.

The Center for the Future of Museums is working with things like superstruct to solve the worlds problems and see how group work can solve them thru wikis.

wow. ...say that 10 times fast!

All very interesting this bridging-digital-and-bricks-'nd-mortar stuff.

Also fascinating to see the blurring of lines between art/culture/media/profit/nfp/mission/pure fun/learning...etc., etc., etc.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Rabbi

Facebook profile for Abraham Joshua Heschel. And status updates below, including a comment by Moses Maimonides, also known as Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (Hebrew: משה בן מימון‎), the Rambam, and Musa ibn Maymun (Arabic: موسي ابن ميمون‎), was born in Cordova, Spain on March 30, 1135, and died in Egypt on December 13, 1204.[6][7].

One of the greatest Torah scholars of all time, he was a rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Spain, Morocco and Egypt during the Middle Ages. He was the preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher.


Happy Birthday, Reb Heschel.

If there's one thing better than having you here with us, through the wonders of Facebook, it's RAMBAM chiming in a "Yom Huledet Sameach."

May there be more peace for us and all Israel

Letter to The New York Times

Dear Mr. Cotter you GOTSA give @brooklynmuseum props

Dear Holland Cotter,

Above is the twitter message I sent to Shelley Bernstein and all the myriad intertwined museum professionals dedicated to delivering meaningful engagement and educational content on-line.

The Brooklyn Museum has taken the lead in this effort. The initiative is in-line with all that you put forward so eloquently in the article I read in my morning's New York Times.

It's just a little too bad that you did not call out all the work that Brooklyn has cultivated to this end on-line -- one of the first all on-line membership groups "1stfans," a show curated through flickr and member driven YouTube content/advertising competitions.

This is museum new; and it speaks to Brooklyn's environs on so many levels and reaches a greater audience than could have ever been dreamt of at the Museum's creation.

With Newark, you invoke the spirit of John Cotton Dana, one of the seminal masters of museum practice who continues to lead museum professionals today.

Frankly, I think he would be thrilled to see what's happening on-line and happening in direct response to all the issues you bring up.

Thanks for giving time in The Times to museums as a professional calling, as you do at times.

And thanks, too, for continuing to plug the arts of Africa, etc. You are a national treasure.

much respect,

James G. Leventhal
Director of Development and Marketing
Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley, CA

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sweaty Palm

I've been using Palm since I first needed to strategized about moving to California. Then Palm had the best wireless handheld device.

I could keep up with wrapping-up work back at the Met in nyc while meeting with folks at the de Young or the Stanford Museum. I vividly recall a train ride to Palo Alto doing metmuseum mail en route. It was kinda of new then for a pda, eight years ago. It served me well. I looked like a hero back in nyc and got the job at the de Young...eventually. So I have an emotional bond to the O/S.

In my tiny universe I was an early proponent of Windows in the handheld world, having purchased one of the bulky HP things that ran Windows CE. But as I was getting ready to travel the i705 provided the most elegant solution. I even got the external keyboard.

Now I like Palm, because my device does not need to plug into the wireless web to really work, so my phone stays a phone. I am not bound to data charges by RIM or the ATT signup for the iPhone.

It's purposefully retrograde.

I am not emailable everywhere, no longer constantly either deleting trash of passing the proverbial buck to delete things somewhere else -- a somewhere that does not exist, so every information store has irrelevant saved messages by the thousands.

I am interested in the latest and hope the company does not fold, just cuz, I guess...and for some reason Bono agrees.

Twitter Wins Best Startup Founder

Bringing People Together

I just love that the "tools" of today's world have bestowed new meanings to relationships.

I saw this on my facebook screen today. These two "friends" -- Peter and Simone -- come from such different ends of my life. But it is so beautiful to see them united in facebook.

Fifty years ago this kind of thing could have only happened in a dream and I would have woke up saying, "Wow. Peter and Simone were together on Bush's last day. And there was this ominous cloud of destruction hovering behind the President."

Now it's in my waking dream. Neat.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Extreme Work

The phrase "extreme work" was introduced to me through a class at JFKU where I am wrapping up my MBA (with a minor in Museum Studies).

I may be part of a panel or roundtable at the Western Museums Association that will be focused on the 24/7 work week and sustainable work. Or I might just help pull the roundtable discussion together. I do see pros and cons here.

Below is a clip from a 2007 article in USA Today. (Second USA quote on blog in a month, hmmm??...)

Hi, I’m Joan, and I’m a workaholic:
Technology enables rise of extreme workers, on job 60 hours or more

By Stephanie Armour, USA TODAY

"...Extreme work is real. The technological age has exacerbated this problem beyond belief," says Ken Siegel, of Beverly Hills, Calif., president of The Impact Group, a group of psychologists who consult with the management of leading global companies. "You can take work into the shower or the bath. There's no escape. (Extreme workers) often feel like if they don't work like that, they'll fail or their performance will suffer. They focus externally on the next goal, the next task."

A study in the December issue of Harvard Business Review provided new information on the rise in workaholics: Of extreme job holders, 48% say they are working an average of 16.6 more hours per week than they did five years ago.

About 60% of high-earning individuals work more than 50 hours a week, 35% more than 60 hours, and 10% more than 80 hours. Add in a typical one-hour commute, and a 60-hour week means leaving home at 7 a.m. and returning at 9 p.m. five days a week. Using the definition of extreme worker, the researchers found about 20% of high earners surveyed have extreme jobs..."

Friday, January 02, 2009

Two Women in Today's NYTimes Art in Review

Lenticular print, 34 x 48 in.
Edition 5/7

In Farida Batool’s photographs, lenticular prints (the image changes with the viewing angle) become a metaphor for complex political realities. In “Nai Reesan Shehr Lahore Diyan (There Is No Match of the City Lahore)” a girl skips rope in front of burned-out buildings — the aftermath of arsons committed by religious extremists. And in “Line of Control” the torsos of a naked man and woman press together to form a border as controversial as the one that runs through Kashmir.

Farida Batool, LINE OF CONTROL (2004)
Lenticular print 34 x 62 in.
Edition 3/7

Keltie Ferris (b. 1977, Louisville, KY) lives and works in Brooklyn. She received a MFA from Yale University in New Haven, CT and a BFA from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD). She has been included in exhibitions at Artspace, New Haven, CT; Jack Tilton, New York; Markus Winter, Berlin; and numerous exhibitions organized by Simon Watson of Scenic. Her work has recently been discussed in L.A. Weekly and Details. She is the recipient of both a Jacob Javits Fellowship and a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant. “Dear Sir or Madam” is the artist’s first New York gallery show.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

One OH-8 Blog Thing I Regret...

I always meant to write something (in)significant about our visit to the British Museum; something that'd've been at home here; something that'd've been better than Museum News, which can often be a drag; something that'd've...oh, I dunno, made me happy?

'Til then I just leave the pix below, and consider this a Delicious moment, to be bookmarked and returned to. I'll do more on all this soon. The trip was great, really great. A highlight of 'o8.

OH-8 Things for Which to Be Thankful Part V


OH-8 Things for Which to Be Thankful Part IV


OH-8 Things for Which to Be Thankful Part III

US 3