Spring Exhibition Preview from Executive Director Lori Starr

Julius Shulman, Kaufmann House designed by Richard Neutra (Palm Springs, CA), 1947. Gelatin silver print. Julius Shulman Photography Archive, Research Library at the Getty Research Institute. Copyright © J. Paul Getty Trust.

Spring is a time of renewal. Here at The Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) we renew our passion for making the diversity of Jewish life relevant for a twenty-first century audience through our exhibitions and programs. In our beautiful jewel of a building—a former power station that broadcasts big ideas—we’ll be celebrating Passover with free admission all eight days of the holiday—as we reflect on the age old story told in the Haggadah of the Jewish exodus from Egypt.  Freedom is hard won and never guaranteed even in a democracy. Our exhibition of all forty-eight original pages of the most famous Haggadah in the world—The Szyk Haggadah, is a reminder. The glorious retelling of the story through magnificent, complex illuminations and hand-painted calligraphy also sounds a warning to the world of 1940 when Szyk’s masterpiece was first published about the growing threat of Nazism to the world. Did the world hear? At this time of year let’s open our ears and eyes to celebrate hard won freedoms but also to keep endeavoring to repair the world where so many people are still threatened and enslaved.

Arthur Szyk, The Seder Plate, 1935. Watercolor and gouache on paper, 7 ½ x 5 ½ in. Courtesy of The Robbins Family Collection. Copyright © The Arthur Szyk Society, Burlingame, CA

There is a famous Jewish prayer where the phrase “how good are your dwelling places” is a remark. Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism opens on April 24. This landmark show—the first major traveling exhibition organized by The CJM and accompanied by a fascinating and lavishly illustrated catalogue—is the first to look at the contribution of many Jewish designers, architects, patrons, and merchants to that exciting, accessible design aesthetic and its popularization through the domestic that emerged from the post WWII modernist movement. We look at the cultural context in which many Jewish émigré architects and designers from Europe in the 1930s and 1940s were welcomed and embraced into the creative communities that sprang up around the US—including Black Mountain College, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and even here at Pond Farm—to create a truly “American style.” The story we tell in this exhibition also gives remarkable insight into Jewish assimilation into American society.

Eichler model home advertisement, c. 1960. Photographic print of original color postcard image, 8 1/32 x 10 in. Courtesy of the Local History Collection, Orange Public Library, Orange, CA.

As always, our exhibitions and special programming would not be possible without you.

I look forward to seeing you at The CJM!

About the Author
Lori Starr is the Executive Director of the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) in San Francisco. Starr came to the CJM from the Koffler Centre of the Arts, Canada's only multidisciplinary, contemporary Jewish cultural institution. Starr also served as Vice President for Culture for the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. Prior to her time at the Koffler, Starr served as Senior Vice President and Museum Director of the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles; Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the J. Paul Getty Trust and J. Paul Getty Museum; and has held key management and education positions in the School of Fine Arts, University of Southern California and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She was also a Rockefeller Fellow in Museum Education and Community Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.


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