Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shim's Pic of Me an' Lil E

DSC_0067, originally uploaded by simone.roark.

I just love this picture -- maxxin' and relaxxin' with Lil E back in Boyds. Thanks, Simone!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Exile on Main Street: Robert Frank

I learned at the CJM Contemporaries Fisher Collection Visit that the Stone's Exile on Main Street cover is a Robert Frank photograph?! How come I never knew this? Warhol and the Stones? Richard Hamilton and the White Album?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Old Slideshow and New Message

A colleague from many years ago was looking through old presentations I had up in slideshare and wrote the following:

Among the many charms and pithy paradoxes of your slideshare presentations, today I enjoyed responding in a new and, I hope, insightful way to your slide that says "The Poetry of Process / The Beauty of Bureaucracy." That's one I would like to have heard your witty words on in the moment you put the slide up.

Would I be right to take that as brightening the hue of Max Weber's sociological lament on the "iron cage" of bureacracy? As in, learn to work with it? Even, "Love it All?" Enjoy the art and craft in the human side of organizational life. Make a vigorous sport out of winding through mazes on tilting floors. Appreciate the complexity of forming alliances for shared and individual aims. Rather than whine about bureaucracy and "process", why not sing a soulful ballad -- an ode to human toil and striving in mission-rich organizations.

Is that kind of it?

After all, we're awfully lucky to get paid -- and paid nicely -- to work for such wonderful places. We spend our days tending to the bright side of life. And that's a big part of why we attract major donors who underwrite our museums with their money, their time, and their good names. So let's work inside our organizations with the same kind of care we direct outside: let's be discerning, be appreciative, and be strategic with museum colleagues as well as donors and volunteers.

Am I getting it?

Quite a slide there! The first time I saw it a few months ago, I laughed a bit. This time I stopped and thought more. I like the second viewing!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ford Bell DVM and President AAM at the Portland Children's Museum

Ford Bell, President of AAM and trained veterinarian at the Pet Hospital installation at the Portland Children's Museum as part of the Western Museums Association Annual Meeting 2010 in Portland, OR

Monday, October 04, 2010

Check out givezooks! - online fundraising for nonprofits and grassroots campaigns

I want you to take a look at: givezooks! - online fundraising for nonprofits and grassroots campaigns 

Tehiyah Board President Adam Mizock writes:

Marathon for Tehiyah

My goal is to run the California International Marathon on December 5, 2010 in Sacramento and to raise $10,000 for Tehiyah Day School. I hope to encourage friends, family and the East Bay community to join me in giving to Tehiyah.

Tehiyah has enriched my family's life through its education of our children and its impact on our community. I am currently in my fifth year as President of Tehiyah's Board of Trustees. I have been inspired by the way our students and graduates take the Tehiyah curriculum to heart as they engage in lifelong learning (l'midah), social justice and giving to those in need (tzedakah) and making the world a better place (tikkun olam). Tehiyah's curriculum is brought to life by our students and teachers through interactive experiential learning. This year I decided to stretch my own experience and endurance by aiming to run a marathon for the first time. Until this summer, I had never run more than six miles. But, with Tehiyah's mission in mind, I've been pushing myself to run farther and farther.

I have pledged to give $50 for every mile I run. If I complete the marathon, that will be $1300. The company I work for will match my gift, so I'll be more than 25% of the way toward my goal of $10,000.

Please join me with a per mile pledge of any amount!
$20 per mile = $520
$10 per mile = $260
$5 per mile = $130
$1 per mile = $26

Be a lead sponsor: Everyone will be recognized for their gift, but if anyone pledges more than $1,000 (at least $40 per mile), I will put your name on my shirt and wear it proudly for the entire marathon.

I am training for the marathon with Benjamin Marcus, a parent at Oakland Hebrew Day School. Ben is also fundraising for OHDS. Together, Ben and I hope to strengthen the East Bay's Jewish day schools. Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Audience Feedback 2.0: Intrinsic Impact at the CJM

Thanks to Theatre Bay Area, Alan Brown walked us through his study findings Stop Taking Attendance and Start Measuring the True Impacts of Your Programs Major University Presenters’ Value & Impact Study, Presentation by Alan Brown and Jennifer Novak at the Arts Presenters Conference (January 11, 2008) to download presentation click here.

One of the primary messages is that you have to balance readiness and impact. Marketing can help create that level of anticipation.

Captivation and Personal Involvement!

The Hypothesis:

“Readiness to Receive” + The Performance Experience = Intrinsic Impact

Alan Brown draws our attention to the University of Florida's Performing Arts annual report, which actually includes intrinsic value in its annual report:

Although our mission is not defined in terms of ticket sales and financial metrics, we previously reported only those figures to funders, foundations, university administrators, board members and staff. Anecdotal evidence of the transformative and non- economic impact is evident and reliable. During in-depth interviews conducted at the Philips Center during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons, patrons frequently cited childhood experiences with the performing arts that they carried with them long into adulthood. The intrinsic impacts of the UFPA 2007-08 season include captivation, intellectual stimulation, emotional resonance, spiritual value, aesthetic growth and social bonding.

University of Florida Performing Arts ANNUAL REPORT 2007-08 p. 14

Robert Sweibel of the BerkeleyRep said it well, when he said that what they really want at the BerkeleyRep is a "take-home experience" where "the whole ride is a good ride," which I thought was a really good way to characterize Alan Brown's findings. And maybe why BerkeleyRep seems so successful.

Alan Brown mentioned that some organizations such as the Walker are bringing feedback into their overall program with the "SpeakEasy": "SpeakEasy Meet at the back of the Balcony Bar after every Saturday dance and Out There performance for an
informal dialogue with a Walker tour guide and a local choreographer or theater artist. Think book club, but with a performance. Jump into the discussion or just listen in as others hash it out after the show. Your questions. Your answers. Risk-free."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Collecting the Impossible

Collecting the Impossible, originally uploaded by levenj.

I was at ybca, because I've come ot know and really respect Catharine Clark. I got to know Catharine, because Ken Goldberg is doing an installation at the CJM to be entitled Are We There Yet? And Catharine represents Ken's work through the Catharine Clark Gallery.

Initial funding for Are We There Yet? came in the form of one of those amazing collaborative grants from the Creative Work Fund. According to the Creative Work Fund web site, four principles guide the Fund:

  • Artists’ creativity merits philanthropic support.
  • Individual creativity is the source of cultural richness and diversity.
  • The arts can be a powerful vehicle for problem solving and community renewal.
  • Collaborative efforts among artists, organizations, and their constituents can generate a productive exchange of ideas and bring the arts to new audiences.

    How fantastic is that?!

    Collecting the Impossible

    Well, anyhow, as part of getting to know Catharine Clark, she tells me she's going to be on a panel with collectors Jeff Dauber and Dennis Scholl about digital art, which I later discover is to be moderated by Richard Rinehart, Digital Media Director & Adjunct Curator at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and that Lynn Hershman Leeson is going to be a part of it as well. Rounding out the participants is Jason Kaufman, Chief US Correspondent for The Art Newspaper.

    The history of computer-based art practice goes back to at least the 1968 Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition at the ICA in London, yet digital art is only now starting to attract the attention of collectors in greater numbers. Digital art milestones such as; Listening Post by Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen, the thrilling public spectacles of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, and the break-through LED works of Jim Campbell have been collected by a few pioneer institutions and brave individuals, but these works and others like them can be daunting to collectors. They present new and unusual technical, legal, and maintenance obstacles that can inhibit collectors and thus the market and thus support for a whole class of artists.

    The collectors echoed beautifully the kind of thinking articulated in the Creative Work Fund's four guiding principles. Scholl talked about his support of the work of Paul Pfeiffer. Catharine Clark talked about Nina Katchadourian's Talking Popcorn, which apparently caught fire in one installation. What do you do about that? And Scholl went on to add how the Linda Pace Foundation, on whose Board he sits, is an essential sustainer of the work of Isaac Julien, and how essential that support is.

    A really lively and beautiful dialogue ensued, especially to hear explorations into the heart of what digital art is -- how much it is or isn't like it's own documentation, or its own "liveness," as Lynn Hershman Leeson put it, or how much it needs remain part of its initial technical makeup, and whether it need have residual object value beyond the validity of the technology.

    I kept thinking about all those lost-object black-and-whites from art history books, the lost Lorenzo Lotto, or others often lost to wars (now being reclaimed and repatriated in some cases rediscovered and redocumented, thanks to new digital inventories) and how much that work is so much no longer what it was when first made. Yet these predella panels, paintings or objects still hold an important historical and aesthetic position. With time, they have also taken on a conceptual stance well beyond original intentions, and maybe even quite contrary to the original context, being re-placed into a seemingly heretical world.

    I also thought of the Maestà of Duccio, once heralded in Siena as unique and powerful, magically religious even, now many of the panels are distributed or lost. But each component piece, when you come across it talks back to its source.

    What's the technological biosphere that keeps all this going? Audience member Michael Naimark had the next to last word, thanks to Rick Rinehart, and he pointed out that he "wrote the report," and it's called "Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Money:
    Technology-Based Art and the Dynamics of Sustainability."

    The whole talk was part of 01SJ Biennial:
  • Creative Commons Salon: Participatory Culture Offline

    Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Jaron Lanier, Wild Thing

    by James G. Leventhal

    Jaron Lanier came to speak at the Contemporary Jewish Museum as part of the Museum's LINK program,, a Jewish, Art, and Technology initiative at the CJM.

    Jaron Lanier purposefully positions himself as archaistic. He wants you to read a book. He wants you to think before you "tweet." He is also sometimes credited with inventing virtual reality. That's right, inventing virtual reality. And he has helped to craft some of the finest future visioning in a Philip K. Dick film, yet, as a creative consultant on Minority Report. He has jammed with "Q," Ornette Coleman, and been on tour with Yoko Ono.

    Jaron Lanier, Wild Thing, originally uploaded by levenj.

    Hearing Jaron Lanier speak at the CJM was a thrill for me.

    I'd been reading Lawrence Lessig and Chris Anderson, and was all excited about the 'wisdom of the crowds' and the potential of mass collaboration and social media's power to build networks and layers of meaning.

    So I was excited to dig into You Are Not a Gadget, figuring it would be an apt counterpoint; but, instead found something of an indictment of this Clay Shirky Here Comes Everybody way of thinking:
    The new twist in Silicon Valley is that some people -- very influential people -- believe they are hearing algorithms and crowds and other internet-supported non-human entities speak for themselves. I don't hear those voices, though -- and I believe those who do are fooling themselves.

    Jaron Lanier, You Are Not a Gadget p. 39

    Wow. it stopped me in my tracks and made me question a lot that had informed my now-and-future world view. Lanier's not really throwing out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak; but he is encouraging a consistent "turning off" or "tuning out." Go for the individuated longplay.

    There's another important layer that has to do with ownership of knowledge and the fact that "the corporation" owns all this "sharing." Lanier is keenly attuned to this, even invested in it, as he points out. There is something chilling about who owns what we are creating and sharing so openly. A question, I think, as yet unresolved in its implications; especially as, in my opinion, these new sharing spaces being driven by corporations have added such tremendous good in the world so far. And it may be only in our quietest of moments that we truly own our own thoughts. Isn't value defined in exchange? How then do we determine value outside of those known channels? This blogging space is run by Google, for example.

    And when it's all said and done, Lanier's really speaking about moderation. He's a champion of technology and it's sort of like the new book Hamlet's Blackberry, where the author reminds us that these are in fact age-old questions, finding the balance from the natural distraction from humanity that technology can offer.

    Sit back, relax with your laptop, or smart phone. Play the video. And dig the opening instrumentation.

    There's a lot up in there -- what do you think?

    LINK, a Jewish, Art, and Technology initiative, opens the CJM as a laboratory to explore practical applications for forging new paths in Jewish education. LINK is a multidimensional initiative which brings together a monthly speaker series exploring the intersection of Judaism and new technologies, a year-long educator fellowship, and an innovative exhibition with web, gallery, and classroom components.

    LINK is made possible by a generous grant from the Covenant Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Koret Foundation and The David B. Gold Foundation.

    Education and Youth Programs at the CJM are supported by Koret and Taube Foundations; Jim Joseph Foundation; Alexander M. and June L. Maisin Foundation; The Wallace Foundation; Bank of America; The Skirball Foundation; Target; The James Irvine Foundation; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; Pacific Gas and Electric Company; Wells Fargo Foundation; Citibank; The David B. Gold Foundation; Macy’s Foundation; Morris Stulsaft Foundation; and Union Bank of California Foundation.

    Tuesday, August 03, 2010

    Living Tableau at Impressionism Show: Degas

    A Friday evening at the de Young with young dancers and gentleman as Degas and dancers as part of programs on Friday evening free public programs on July 30, 2010 for exhibition Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay (May 22, 2010 - September 6, 2010)

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Saturday, June 12, 2010

    SF Gay Men's Chorus Presentation

    SF Gay Men's Chorus Presentation, originally uploaded by levenj.

    These guys seem to have had a transformational experience art #artslabsf from this to this pic above now, giving a persuasive and hilarious presentation about how Social Media's now working for them!

    such a thrill....

    Wednesday, June 09, 2010

    Tuesday, June 01, 2010

    Wolf-Brown's Findings

    Wolf-Brown's Findings, originally uploaded by levenj.

    As a culmination of the Fund for Artists' grant program administered by The San Francisco Foundation and the East Bay Community Foundation, Wolf-Brown presented their findings on reasons for giving -- value statements on donor motivations!

    Monday, May 31, 2010

    Kickin' It

    Kickin' It, originally uploaded by levenj.

    OK. now we are off-and-running...from here on out it's all, "I can't believe he has reached this stage.." Woohoo!

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    @rossparry and James Lin of

    @rossparry and James Lin of #djump #aam10

    Thursday, April 29, 2010

    Photographer I

    Photographer I, originally uploaded by levenj.

    High Schoolers in "Our Struggle"

    High Schoolers in Our Struggle, originally uploaded by levenj.

    Here at the CJM...this is one of those "I frickin' love my job" moments...glad my cell phone got a perfect, blurry pic so I could get the feel for the kids in the galleries without any real faces without permission.

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Sunday, April 18, 2010

    More on Rocco

    To follow up on an earlier post -- excited about being a part of Rocco Landesman's visit to SF, The New York Times ran a great article about Landesman's work. One of the pix is of Landesman and crew looking at the CJM...squint, you can seem it gleam in their eyes :)

    (Image: Jim Wilson/The New York Times "In San Francisco with his wife, Debby (behind him) and James Canales of the James Irvine Foundation."

    Was jazzed when he was first appointed...

    In the Kunstmuseum Basel

    Photo_072308_001, originally uploaded by levenj.

    "The Kunstmuseum Basel, the world’s first public museum, began with the city’s purchase of a private collection in 1661...."

    Jews on Vinyl: The Parvarim

    Jews on Vinyl, originally uploaded by levenj.

    Known as Israel’s Simon and Garfunkel, the duo split up like their American role models when one of them become Ultra-orthodox

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    Thanks for EVERYTHING, John!

    Goodbye, John.

    John Killacky has been an important mentor for me during my time out here in the Bay Area. He has been an important mentor for SO MANY people and had a really profound impact on the arts in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Burlington, VT is a very lucky place!

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    Robert Janes and the Center for the Future of Museums

    Heard Robert Janes speak at JFKU and will be guest blogging for the Center for the Future of Museums. Here's Dr. Janes from December 2009.

    Saturday, April 03, 2010

    Gay Men's Chorus at Leveraging Social Media @jewseum #artslabsf

    Gay Men's Chorus, originally uploaded by cambodia4kidsorg.

    this are the guys from my earlier post, as pictured by Beth Kanter in her photostream on the event..what a great day!


    At Natural History (Passover 2010)

    life is beautiful.

    The Whole Group at Leveraging Social Media with Beth Kanter

    Spectra Gram Session, originally uploaded by levenj.

    This was part of the Spectra Gram portion where Beth Kanter asked the participants to place themselves along a line from Social Media "Flyer" to "Crawler" then the group engaged and presented across the spectrum. It was a great activity.

    What an amazing day...To see Beth Kanter's slides click here.

    To view the twitterstream click here -> #artslabsf

    Friday, April 02, 2010

    Hewlett Foundation Artslab Slides

    Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

    Magic Moment Working with Beth Kanter #artslabsf

    I just had this totally amazing experience. Working with Beth Kanter and a host of others (esp. -- SF Foundation! Hewlett! Grants for the Arts! Wallace! Theatre Bay Area! Koret!), we've got this great program Leveraging Social Media (READ MORE HERE) going @jewseum.

    I am sharing a table with two men from the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, the oldest Gay Men's Chorus in the country.

    And as we went around with introductions, one of the men representing the SFGMC said something like - we are still not sure if there's value in using Twitter.

    I did a quick search for "gay mens chorus" on Twitter - part of the "listening" Beth Kanter encourages as Stage 1. The results early on included the "tweets" below for Gay Men's Choruses around the country.

    WOW! Read: "Beth's Work Has Impact."

    Thank you, Beth.

    ...and it's not so much about the money, right? it's actually about 'influencers' and meaningful messages around your mission. Things like this, right?:

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Rocco Landesman @ ybca (after visit to CJM)

    Rocco Landesman @ ybca, originally uploaded by levenj.

    Leah Garchik writes about it here

    "A tour of the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Contemporary Jewish Museum was, Landesman affirmed, an object lesson in that kind of urban revitalization.

    Read more: here.

    Noelle, Merritt and Deborah in the Galleries

    I may have just had one of the best weekends of my life at the meeting of the Western Museums Association's Program Committee at the Getty Center (March 19-20, 2010) thanks to co-chairs Merritt Price and Jacqueline Cabrera, preparing for WMA Portland75.

    It also happens we sold our house on Friday, and found a great place we put an offer down on. Karen and Lil E did Disney.

    Sunday, America's Healthcare Bill passed. Dad's latest operation seemed to have been a great success.

    All around a great, great weekend. I feel fortunate and ever grateful.

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Thank you, Jim Tharp!

    Jim Tharp sent me The Fran Lebowitz Reader and it was such a relaxing, well-crafted distraction. Both classic and nostalgic, a few quotes leapt out for sharing and as tribute to Jim:

    On Communism – “The common good is not my cup of tea – it is the uncommon good in which I am interested…” (35)

    On Popular Music – "We attired ourselves in shiny garments so as to accurately reflect the hopes and dreams of the general public. We entered elevators, cars, planes, telephones, and just about every place you couldn’t think of. We were an inescapable influence on the culture and inspired a fanatical devotion, for we made a joyful noise unto the bored." (122)

    On Nature – “Now, nature, as I am only too well aware, has her enthusiasts, but on the whole, I am not to be counted among them. To put it rather bluntly, I am not the type who wants to go back to the land – I am the type who wants to go back to the hotel.” (233)

    On Apartment Hunting in Downtown New York – “Tuesday: Let desperation get the best of me and went to see an apartment described as “interesting.” “Interesting” generally means that it has a skylight, no elevator and they’ll throw in the glassine envelopes for free. This one was even more interesting than usual because, the broker informed me, Jack Kerouac had once lived here. Someone’s pulling your leg, I told him; Jack Kerouac’s still living here.” (276)

    Sunday, February 28, 2010

    Purim 2010: Rabbi Bloom Doing a Really Good Kurt Cobain fact, it's right after the Purim Spiele at Lil E's school. The Rabbi had just done his part as Queen Esther -- always a crowd pleaser. Heading over to pick up his guitar and keep the kids singing, he looked just too much like Kurt Cobain. To round it out, he actually did a Purim song to the tune of Green Day's "21 Guns."

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    Vos makht a yíd?

    Click here to download a copy of Dovid Katz, Grammar of the Yiddish Language, 290 pp. Gerald Duckworth and Co: London 1987.

    Coffee before Inside the Activists Studio

    Michael Krasny and Panel at Inside the Activists Studio

    Great Frickin' Day!

    Right before I start for-real and full-time at the CJM I went to Inside the Activists' Studio with panelists including:

    - Caitlin Sislin, Advocacy Director for Women's Earth Alliance
    - Erin Potts who created the Tibetan Freedom Concerts with the Beastie Boys and is now
    - Daniel Kaufman, Founder and Director of the One Percent Foundation
    - Jon Gilgoff, L.C.S.W., Founder and Executive Director of Brothers on the Rise

    It ends up Erin Potts (who gave a serious shout out to Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat [please see #7 here], well Fugazi actually) is married to Jon Voss of Look Back Maps, so we finally met, because he was there, too.

    There's so much more to say in terms of how this is EXACTLY what museums are to be encouraged to do right now. And all kinds of other things about motivations; what Erin Potts had to say about "culture" and "change"; how the up-and-coming generation has been so positively impacted by media that they are sometimes fresh-of-face and really ready to believe in the innate interconnectedness of us all...

    Had to run before the workshops started, but it was just a great frickin' way to get things started.

    Oh, and before I got there, I went to the brand new Grove and got coffee. Go check it out!