Will Wonders Never Cease? – Harry Houdini

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.'”

My Photo of the Stephen & Maribelle Leavitt "Yud" Gallery

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.

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