A Trip to the Jewish Museum

January 27, 2007

After thoughtful consultation by the Museum’s Trustees and management, and with the endorsement and support of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, we embarked upon the experiment of opening the exhibition galleries on Saturdays, on a trial basis, [from May 12] through September 16, 2006. In observance of the Jewish Sabbath, Saturday admission is free, the shops and café are closed, and interactive electronics are not available. We are wholly committed to providing an educational and contemplative experience in a way that respects and honors the Sabbath spirit.

It isn’t the biggest museum in the city, nor the most famous, nor the site of the biggest, splashiest exhibitions. It doesn’t have the best-known collection, make headlines with controversial shows or plaster the city with racy posters, so even though it is located on Fifth Avenue’s Museum Mile, many people never think about walking through the doors of the Jewish Museum.

Recently, the museum’s directors have taken a few steps to increase the number of visitors, including remaining open on Saturdays, offering free admission on Saturday (adult admission is usually $12), and hosting exhibits featuring well-known artists and popular culture. (Note to management: allowing visitors to use cameras would be a nice next step.)

I took advantage of the free Saturday policy to see the current shows as well as a permanent display, Culture & Continuity: The Jewish Journey. The exhibit consists of a series of videos, playing continuously on a row of televisions, which reflect five themes from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: A time to be born and a time to die; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to love and a time to hate; a time of war and a time for peace.

Masters of American Comics
September 15, 2006 – January 28, 2007
Originally exhibited in Los Angeles, this show, the first major museum examination of one of America’s most popular forms of art, was split into two sections when it came East: comic strips from the first half of the 20th century went to the Newark Museum while comic books from the 1950s and later were exhibited at the Jewish Museum.

Superheroes: Good and Evil in American Comics
September 15, 2006 – January 28, 2007
Superheroes examines how, in the 1930s and 1940s, young artists and writers (many of them Jewish immigrants who had suffered as victims of oppression) created a new comic book genre—the superhero. This superb exhibit shows how these innovators melded characters from Greek mythology and biblical narratives with the immigrant experience of America to create superheroes: personages who, while seeming to be ordinary people, were actually powerful figures dedicated to fighting for “truth, justice and the American way.”

Light x Eight: The Hanukkah Project
November 25, 2006 – February 04, 2007
In honor of Hanukkah, the Jewish feast of lights, the show features the work of eight contemporary artists exploring lights’s ability to change in form, appearance and structure.

Alex Katz Paints Ada
October 27, 2006 – March 18, 2007
Prominent Brooklyn-born painter Alex Katz has spent most of his career depicting a single subject, his wife, model Ada del Moro. The show includes 40 paintings Katz created between 1957 to 2005, all of them featuring Ada. According to a sign posted at the exhibit, “Ada’s sense of style is timeless and unassuming and she … has a knack for wearing outfits that would make anyone else look dowdy.”

From Light x 8: Alyson Shotz’s Coalescence
Originally uploaded by annulla.

From Light x 8: Teresita Fernández’s Vermillion Fragment
Originally uploaded by annulla.

From Masters: Devil Dinosaur
Originally uploaded by annulla.

From Masters: Chris Ware’s Superman Suicide
Originally uploaded by annulla.

From Superheroes: Will Eisner drawing with corrections
Originally uploaded by annulla.

From Superheroes: Will Eisner’s The Spirit
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Zap Comics #1 by R. Crumb
Originally uploaded by annulla.

From Alex Katz: Black Scarf
Originally uploaded by annulla.

From Alex Katz: Ada Ada
Originally uploaded by annulla.

NY Times: Masters of American Comics
The Jewish Museum: Masters of American Comics
The Jewish Museum: Superheroes
The Jewish Museum: Light x Eight: The Hanukkah Project
The Jewish Museum: Alex Katz Paints Ada
The Jewish Museum
Museum’s Exhibition Galleries To Open On Saturdays

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