Maira Kalman at the Jewish Museum

Last week my friend, Alyssa, who’s an independent art curator, invited me to an art / law celebration at the Jewish Museum. The Jewish Museum really knows how to put on a party! They had the most splendid array of hors d’oeuvres, two big carving and sushi stations, and a full bar (not just wine and champagne). I hadn’t been to the Jewish Museum since I saw a Marc Chagall exhibit there I don’t know how many years ago. So, in between nibbling on mini Tuscan pizzettes and sipping Glenmorangie, I wandered into the main exhibit, which is currently featuring the work of Maira Kalman.

Kalman’s mainly a painter and illustrator but is also an essayist and performance artist; kind of an artist at large. She illustrates a lot for the New Yorker. The top picture is from an illustration from that mag.

I really love this one, though. It’s called Grand Central Station. I love it because it evokes the kind of sentiment I was going for in the closing line of Swallow (which I’m not giving away :) )

Then I came across a couple of illustrations of dancers, which of course excited me.

I don’t know who the dancer in the first illustration is, but the bottom is of Pina Bausch. The little explanatory caption below the illustration said that Kalman had a deep admiration for Bausch, got along well with her, and, before Bausch’s death, had wanted to collaborate with her on a dance.

As I walked through the exhibit, I happened upon a couple of sets of videos. In one Kalman, who seems to be quite a character, was collaborating on a performance piece with Nico Muhly and an opera star (whose name I forgot). Muhly was his usual slightly whacked self. Fun! Kalman’s also been involved in a lot of social projects, such as helping to design and create art work for a new library in Harlem. And, much of her work features her dog (below).

Hehe, I was so excited when I saw this. I actually have this picture, clipped from a old New Yorker copy, hanging above one of my bookcases at home. That’ll teach me to look at the name of the illustrator more often!

Anyway, it’s a very good exhibit, and I recommend it. It’s at the Jewish Museum through the end of July.

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