At a recent donor dinner at the Skirball, these sculptural centerpieces showcased beautiful photographs of our campus, designed by Moshe Safdie. You can also spot one of the vivid green metal art panels off the Taper Courtyard, created by Vera Ronnen.
A common feature of Moshe Safdie’s projects is his integration of open-air spaces into his very monumental concrete and granite buildings. [In this ArtInfo interview, Safdie explains how the landscape influenced his design for the Skirball campus.] Here at the Skirball, Safdie created a series of courtyards that harmoniously link each building so that as you work your way from Winnick Hall (home to Noah’s Ark at the Skirball™) at the south end of our site toward Ahmanson Hall and Herscher Hall at the north end, you encounter blue skies and lush landscapes. As the Skirball’s founder, Uri D. Herscher, has said, Safdie “married his architecture to the hills.” The natural is as important as the architectural in creating the open, welcoming environment we have at the Skirball.
Recently the Skirball hosted an evening gala for our founding donors to celebrate the completion of our campus. The sculptural centerpieces we produced for the event are a love letter to the Skirball’s architecture. We worked with designer Gabe Gonzales at Astek Wallcovering—the firm that created the whimsical wallpaper for our recent exhibition Gary Baseman: The Door Is Always Open—to develop the build of the sculpture. Essentially each centerpiece features thirty-four interlocking round disks. Twenty-six of them display a different image on each side. Depending on how you look at the double-sided disks, you can see four different sets of images. Here are the other three views of the centerpiece: Continue reading
My colleague Doris Berger, Skirball curator, explained that she chose the Ruby Gallery as the exhibition space for Voices & Visions in part because “this gallery is a communicative space that is open to all the visitors free of charge. It is a space that is being walked through by staff and visitors alike and literally invites you to stop for a moment.”
When I first learned about the exhibition Voices & Visions and took a look at some of the names involved in the project, I geeked out a little bit. Just as there are celebrity architects like Moshe Safdie (who designed the Skirball) and Frank Gehry, there are celebrity graphic designers like Milton Glaser (of the famed I <3 NY logo), Ivan Chermayeff—perhaps best known for designing, together with Tom Geismar, television network logos like the current iteration of the NBC peacock—and Pentagram Partner Paula Scher. All of them have poster designs on display in the exhibition. Scher designed, among other things, the identity for Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, where I worked as an intern and assistant on web projects before I joined the Skirball. Because of this connection, I was especially interested to see her Voices & Visions poster design.
Paula Scher, Master's Series 2012. Quote by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Harold Grinspoon Foundation, West Springfield, MA.
For Voices & Visions, the creative brief was straightforward: The Harold Grinspoon Foundation sought out contemporary Jewish artists to visually interpret the words of great Jewish thinkers. Each artist was to create a thought-provoking poster based on the Jewish text for a universal audience. As Doris Berger put it, the series “highlights humanistic values that are rooted in Judaism.” They are values and ideas we can all relate to, whether we are Jewish or not. The creative director of the project, ad-man and designer Arnold Schwartzman, was the Foundation’s connection to all of these amazing graphic designers.
The thinker for Scher’s poster? Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. One of the few in his family to narrowly escape the Nazi invasion of Poland, he was a great philosopher and writer who stood up for spiritual freedom, civil rights, and an end to war. In his book The Prophets, Heschel describes prophets not simply as individuals who can foresee the future, but as “the men whose image is our refuge in distress, and whose voice and vision sustain our faith.” Heschel could have easily used this definition not only to describe himself, but to describe the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. During the Civil Rights Movement, Heschel courageously supported King and marched by his side to Selma in 1965. [Audrey’s Museum Store at the Skirball carries a great children’s book about Heschel and King’s common purpose, entitled As Good As Anybody.] Continue reading
A portrait of my great-grandma Sarah “Sally” Goldbaum, which is now part of the Jewish Homegrown History online archive. The companion exhibition is now on view at the Skirball.
My name is Sarah Goldbaum, and Goldbaum is my great grandmother’s maiden name. Does that make me Jewish? I guess it depends who you ask.
For a long time, all of us in our family were unfamiliar with our Jewish roots. As far as I knew, my mother and grandparents were Catholic. Growing up, I’d heard the story of my grandfather Al changing his last name from his father’s surname, Molina, to his mother’s, Goldbaum. It was part of family lore.
Two summers ago, I began sorting through a box of old family photos. I talked to my mom, aunt, and grandmother, eager to find out who the people in the pictures were, where they came from, and so on. I was hoping to piece together whatever we could from memories, scribbled photo captions, and Ancestry.com. Based on information from the U.S. Census and the University of Arizona Bloom Southwest Jewish Archives, we discovered that we were Mexican on my maternal grandmother’s side and Prussian Jewish on my maternal grandfather’s side.
Soon we were able to fill in some of the blanks. After just a couple of months, I was contacted by another Goldbaum on Facebook. He lives in Ecuador. “I think we’re related,” he wrote in a direct message. There are so many Goldbaums that I figured we probably weren’t, but sent him a link to some family photos anyway. I was amazed at his response: “We are definitely related!”
My family tree, from the Prussian Jewish brothers listed up top, down to me and my new Facebook friend, Roberto.