Sunday, September 19, 2021 | 11am–2pm
ADMISSION: Free with Museum admission; Outdoor celebration is free and open to all
Join us to celebrate the opening of the highly-anticipated exhibition Experience Leonard Cohen with a day of music, poetry, and more in Jessie Square Plaza. The celebration will feature music and remarks from Sylvie Simmons, author of international best-seller I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, performances by acapella Cohen choir the Conspiracy of Beards, artist Marshall Trammell performing Ebonics Native Land Acknowledgement (ENLA) for solo percussion, and indie rocker Mayya Feygina, and readings by poets Alia Volz, James Cagney, Renny Pritikin, and Lee Herrick.
Museum admission is $16 for adults, and $14 for students and senior citizens with a valid ID. Members and Youth 18 and under always get in free. Outdoor events in Jessie Square Plaza are free and open to all.
Marshall Trammell performs Ebonics Native Land Acknowledgement (ENLA) for solo percussion
Musical welcome by The Conspiracy of Beards
Opening remarks with The CJM’s curatorial team, artists, and trustees
Music and remarks from Sylvie Simmons, author of I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen
Readings of “love” poems by Alia Volz, James Cagney, Renny Pritikin, and Lee Herrick
Music by Mayya Feygina
Musical closing by The Conspiracy of Beards
San Francisco’s Conspiracy of Beards is a thirty-member male choir that performs dynamic, original, a cappella arrangements of the poetic songs of Leonard Cohen. Transforming Cohen’s lyrics and simple melodies into complex four- and five-part harmonies, and with a wide variety of small ensemble and full choir pieces, Conspiracy of Beards achieves a sound that is both robust and tender. The unique arrangements that choir members create capture all of the emotion and humor of Leonard Cohen’s original music.
James Cagney is a poet from Oakland, CA. His poems have been published in Alta, Poetry Daily, and Patrice Lumumba: An Anthology of Writers on Black Liberation, among others. Cagney's first book, Black Steel Magnolias In The Hour Of Chaos Theory, won the PEN Oakland 2019 Josephine Miles award. It is now available from Nomadic Press. His second collection, Martian: The Saint of Loneliness, is due in September 2021. Visit TheDirtyRat.blog for more.
Mayya Feygina was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and grew up in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. Inspired by anyone who is unapologetically themselves, she aspires to create a positive environment through her melodic, energetic music. Her debut album, Tea & Chocolate, released in May 2013, has been followed by a steady stream of inspired releases—including six albums and two EPs to date. Feygina has shared the stage with the likes of Deerhoof, Mike Watt, Kid Congo Powers, Tim Presley, The Avengers, Downtown Boys, Jeffrey Lewis, and more.
Lee Herrick is the author of three books of poems: Scar and Flower, Gardening Secrets of the Dead, and This Many Miles from Desire. He is co-editor, with Leah Silvieus, of The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit (Orison Books). He served as Fresno Poet Laureate from 2015–2017. His poems appear widely in literary magazines, anthologies, and textbooks including The Bloomsbury Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, The Normal School, The Poetry Foundation, Seeds from a Silent Tree: Writing by Korean Adoptees, HERE: Poems for the Planet, with a foreword by the Dalai Lama, and more. Herrick is on the advisory board of The Adoption Museum Project and has traveled throughout Latin America and Asia, as well as given readings throughout the United States. He was born in Daejeon, South Korea, adopted at ten months old, and raised in California. Herrick lives with his daughter and wife in Fresno, California. He teaches at Fresno City College and in the MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College.
Renny Pritikin retired in December 2018 after almost five years as the chief curator at The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. Prior to that, he was the director of the Richard Nelson Gallery at UC Davis and the founding chief curator at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts beginning in 1992. For eleven years, he was also a senior adjunct professor at California College of the Arts, where he taught in the graduate program in Curatorial Practice. Pritikin has given lecture tours in museums in Japan as a guest of the State Department, and in New Zealand as a Fulbright Scholar, and visited Israel as a Koret Israel Prize winner.
Sylvie Simmons is a London-born, California-based music journalist, named as a "principal player" in Paul Gorman's book on the history of the rock music press In Their Own Write (Sanctuary Publishing, 2001). A widely regarded writer and rock historian since the late 1970s, she is one of the few women to be included among the predominantly male rock elite. Simmons is the author of a number of books, including the international best-seller I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen. Simmons is also a singer-songwriter, ukulele player and recording artist.
Marshall Trammell (b. Oahu, Hawaii) is an experimental archivist, percussionist, conductor, composer, and self-styled Music Research Strategist. His aesthetics and activism are centered in social change interventions and generate new local and global ecologies that embrace improvisation as a collective, movement-building tool in the creation of post-capitalist imaginaries. Trammell conducts Insurgent Learning Workshops (ILWs) instigating renderings of alternative economics and anti-violence, community accountability frameworks as Creative Improvised Music.
Trammell was a fellow at Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY from 2004–06, and was recently an Intercultural Leadership Institute fellow (2018–19). In 2016, he published “Music Research Strategies” for Sound American and is currently documenting ILWs for publication. He is a member of In Defense of Memory, featuring Laura Ortman and Carlos Santistevan. He is known for such projects as Black Spirituals, Mutual Aid Project, Black Fighting Formations and collaborations with John Tchicai, Roscoe Mitchell, Pauline Oliveros, Saul Williams, Raven Chacon, Thurston Moore, and many others.
Alia Volz is the author of the new memoirHome Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020), winner of the Golden Poppy Award for Nonfiction from the California Independent Bookseller Alliance, and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography.
Volz is a homegrown San Franciscan. Her work has been published in The Best American Essays, The New York Times, Bon Appetit, Salon, and The Best Women’s Travel Writing. Her family story has been featured on Snap Judgement, Criminal, and NPR’s Fresh Air.
Through his poetry, novels, songs, and lyrics, Leonard Cohen expressed the complexities and desires of body and soul—a compelling metaphor for the twenty-first century Jewish experience. An observant Jew, Cohen also deeply explored Buddhism and various other worldviews. His commitment to questions of spirituality and existence shines through in songs such as “Suzanne,” “Bird on a Wire,” and “Hallelujah,” which masterfully combine mystery and universality with sacred and profane, and are now imprinted on our collective memory. Experience Cohen’s legacy like never before—through the eyes of contemporary artists George Fok, Judy Chicago, Candice Breitz, and Marshall Trammell.
Lead Sponsorship of Experience Leonard Cohen is generously provided by Craig Newmark Philanthropies.
The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) thanks Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt, The Bernard Osher Foundation, Suzanne and Elliott Felson, the Irving and Eleanor Jaffe Foundation, the John Pritzker Family Fund, Taube Philanthropies, Kendra and Tom Kasten, and Jessica Silverman for generously supporting the exhibition.
Media Sponsorship is provided by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Public Programs at The CJM are made possible thanks to generous support from Grants for the Arts and the Walter & Elise Haas Fund.