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The Contemporary Jewish Museum Exhibition Schedule 2018

(San Francisco, CA, October 30, 2017) 2018 is The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s (The CJM) tenth anniversary year in its distinctive Daniel Libeskind-designed building. The many innovative exhibitions that will be part of a yearlong celebration include:

Jewish Folktales Retold: Artist as Maggid

Through January 28, 2018

Sixteen diverse contemporary artists act as modern maggids—interpreting traditional Jewish folktales and characters in new, commissioned works inspired by the rich Jewish tradition of stories that incorporate cautionary tales, traditional wisdom, and the supernatural.

Sabbath: The 2017 Dorothy Saxe Invitational

Through February 25, 2018

In its latest iteration of the Dorothy Saxe Invitational exhibition, The CJM asks fifty-seven artists, both local and national, to interpret the day of rest. Continuing the Invitational’s commitment to the art of craft, each work is three-dimensional in a wide range of materials such as ceramic, wood, and glass.


Opening in 2018

Contraption: Rediscovering California Jewish Artists

February 22–July 29, 2018

Many people are familiar with pioneer Californian Jewish family names such as Haas and Hellman. Contraption: Rediscovering California Jewish Artists argues that Jewish leadership was paralleled by a less recognized contribution: Jews constitute a considerable number of the artists who have built the artistic reputation of California, and a significant percentage of these were inspired by the notion of the machine, especially the improvised machine. The exhibition includes the work of sixteen artists including contemporary artists Bernie Lubell and Bella Feldman, the twentieth century’s Boris Deutsch and his city-as-machine cubism, painter Irving Norman, and sculptor Annabeth Rosen.

The exhibition is organized by CJM chief curator Renny Pritikin and guest curator Mark Dean Johnson, professor of art at San Francisco State University. The exhibition was organized in association with San Francisco State and its Jewish Studies Department. Contraption: Rediscovering California Jewish Artists is accompanied by a 96-page fully-illustrated hardcover catalog co-published by The CJM and Hirmer Publishers, with contributions by Rachel B. Gross, Renny Pritikin, and Mark D. Johnson. 


The Art of Rube Goldberg

March 15–July 8, 2017

The Art of Rube Goldberg explores the career of Rube Goldberg (1883–1970), one of the most celebrated and influential cartoonists of all time. Marking the first comprehensive retrospective exhibition of Goldberg’s work since 1970 and making its only California appearance at The CJM, the exhibition brings together never-before-exhibited original drawings and preparatory sketches alongside rare photographs, films, letters, and memorabilia from the Goldberg family archives.

Highlights include one of Goldberg’s earliest existing drawings, “The Old Violinist,” from 1895, an original concept drawing of Boob McNutt and Bertha from the 1920s, as well as original artwork for such daily and weekly comic strip series as Foolish Questions, Mike and Ike—They Look Alike, Lala Palooza, and Boob McNutt from the 1910s and 1920s.

Of particular note are Goldberg’s invention drawings. Showcasing over thirty original works, this section of the exhibition explores the development of these iconic inventions—overly complicated chain-reaction machines designed to perform simple tasks. Also on view are two of Goldberg’s earliest animated films, as well as examples of Goldberg’s published books, rare color postcards, collectibles, and memorabilia based on Goldberg’s early cartoons.

Rube Goldberg was born in San Francisco in 1883 and died in New York in 1970. He was part of an established Jewish family—his father Max was Sheriff of San Francisco County in the 1890s. Goldberg graduated from Lowell High School in 1900 and UC Berkeley in 1904, in engineering. After working as an engineer for the city briefly, he left to do sports cartoons for the San Francisco Chronicle. He relocated to New York in 1907.

This exhibition was organized by Jennifer George, the granddaughter of Rube Goldberg.

Lew the Jew and His Circle: Origins of American Tattoo

July 25–December 2, 2018

This is a CJM original exhibition based on material from the collection of San Francisco artist and tattoo legend Don Ed Hardy. In it, The CJM examines the work of “Lew the Jew” Alberts (born Albert Morton Kurzman, 1880-1954), one of America’s most influential tattoo artists at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Alberts, the son of two Jewish immigrants living in New York, learned tattooing as a member of the armed forces overseas during the Spanish-American War and was the original creator of what is now known as tattoo flash, ready-to-go tattoo design sheets that could be purchased by other tattoo artists. This exhibition centers on artistic correspondence from the late 1940s and early 50s between Alberts and two Bay Area Jewish tattoo artists, Brooklyn Joe Leiber (1888–­1953) who was working in Alameda and C.J. “Pop” Eddy in San Francisco.

Veiled Meanings: Fashioning Jewish Dress, from the Collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

August 30, 2018–July 6, 2019

In the first comprehensive US exhibition drawn from the Israel Museum’s world-renowned collection of Jewish costumes, more than 100 articles of clothing from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries are showcased, arranged as complete ensembles or shown as stand-alone items. A sumptuous array of apparel from over twenty countries on four continents offers an exceptional opportunity for American audiences to view many facets of Jewish identity and culture through rarely seen garments.

The extraordinary range of textile designs and clothing illuminates the story of how diverse global cultures have thrived, interacted, and inspired each other for centuries. Jewish communities from Afghanistan, Algeria, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, Germany, Georgia, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, Israel, Italy, Libya, Morocco, Poland, Romania, Tunisia, Turkey, the United States, Uzbekistan, and Yemen are represented. Showcasing color, texture, function, artistry, and craftsmanship, the exhibition also offers an incisive and compelling examination of diversity and migration through the lens of fashion.

Veiled Meanings: Fashioning Jewish Dress, from the Collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem will focus on how clothes balance the personal with the social, how dress traditions distinguish different Jewish communities, and how they portray Jewish and secular affiliations within a larger societal context. Historical, geographic, social, and symbolic interpretation will be included within the context of four thematic sections: “Through the Veil,” “Interweaving Cultures,” “Exposing the Unseen,” and “Clothing that Remembers.”


Also on view in 2018

In That Case: Havruta in Contemporary Art—Oxossi Ayofemi and Risa Wechsler

July 25, 2018–January 6, 2019

The Contemporary Jewish Museum repurposes the centuries-old practice of havruta—the study of religious texts by people in pairs—for the contemporary art community. Artist Oxossi Ayofemi will collaborate with physicist Risa Wechsler, Stanford Professor in Physics, to explore dark energy and alternate models for economy through experiments in energy, scarcity, and hidden sources of abundance. The artist's research includes Tesla's notebooks, the Tesla factory, deserts, cities, waterfalls and other sources of continuous energy.

Ayofemi is a San Francisco–based artist fascinated by open-source systems, including pattern language, urban gardens, and pop music. Ayofemi’s practice explores latencies in everyday material. She has presented her work at the Kadist Art Foundation, SFMOMA, Southern Exposure, The Carpenter Center, The Wattis Institute, the Asian Art Museum, The New Museum, and Chicago's Rebuild Foundation. Ayofemi has an MFA in Art from Stanford and is a Harvard Design Fellow in architecture and urban landscape.


About The Contemporary Jewish Museum

With the opening of its new building on June 8, 2008, The Contemporary Jewish Museum ushered in a new chapter in its twenty-plus year history of engaging audiences and artists in exploring contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas. The facility, designed by internationally renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, is a lively center where people of all ages and backgrounds can gather to experience art, share diverse perspectives, and engage in hands-on activities. Inspired by the Hebrew phrase “L’Chaim” (To Life), the building is a physical embodiment of The CJM’s mission to bring together tradition and innovation in an exploration of the Jewish experience in the twenty-first century.

Major support for The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s exhibitions and Jewish Peoplehood Programs comes from the Koret Foundation. The Museum also thanks the Jim Joseph Foundation for its major support of innovative strategies for educating and engaging audiences in Jewish learning. Additional major support is provided by an Anonymous donor; Alyse and Nathan Mason Brill; Carbon Five; the Helen Diller Family Foundation; Suzanne and Elliott Felson; Gaia Fund; the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund; Walter and Elise Haas Fund; the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties; Wendy Kesser ; Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt; Nellie and Max Levchin; Millennium Partners, the Bernard Osher Jewish Philanthropies Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund; The Lisa and John Pritzker Family Fund; RayKo; Dorothy R. Saxe; Seiger Family Foundation; Taube Philanthropies for Jewish Life and Culture; and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

General Information

The Museum is open daily (except Wednesday) 11am–5pm and Thursday, 11am–8pm. Museum admission is $14 for adults, $12 for students and senior citizens with a valid ID, and $5 on Thursdays after 5pm. Youth 18 and under always get in free. For general information on The Contemporary Jewish Museum, the public may visit The Museum’s website at or call 415.655.7800. The Contemporary Jewish Museum is located at 736 Mission Street (between Third & Fourth streets), San Francisco. 

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