Today on lunch I wandered over to the Contemporary Jewish Museum. I have spent more than one lunch hour in their lovely courtyard, but have never been in before.
Today I went in, primarily to see:
It was a fun exhibit – showcasing artifacts from Houdini’s life and career (example: show posters and the milk jug & steamer trunks he escpaed from) and short film clips of his escapes – which, even silent and grainy, are very impressive. They also looked at his cultural impact, with him as a character in books like Ragtime and Kavalier & Clay, and modern magicians building on his legacy.
One of my favorites, was a photograph by Bruce Cratsley –
Hat & Wand of Houdini at the Louvre
I think the shadow of the photographer on the case allows the photo to evoke Houdini’s spirit and memory in his remaining artifacts.
I would recommend checking out the exhibit before it closes.
The CJM Building is also pretty cool – buildt on the existing Jessie Street Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Power Substation, a 1907 landmark designed by architect Willis Polk. According to the CJM website: “The architect [Daniel Libeskind] based the extension’s conceptual organizing principles on the two symbolic Hebrew letters of “chai” (life), the “chet” and the “yud.'”
On display as well was Hagar in the Desert (1969)
The semi-abstract piece depicts Hagar and her son Ishmael. The best part of seeing this piece was the excellent analysis on the centuries of interpretation on the story of Hagar – from ancient and modern Jewish scholars, Muslims and Christians. I learned a lot about this story from the bible, and the interesting cultural implications it has had down the line. Very cool, and very well done.