JMM Insights: Here Comes Rhymin’ Simon

Posted on August 21st, 2015 by

Raised in Queens. Enshrined in Cleveland. Loved in Baltimore.

It’s official.  This October the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s exhibit, Paul Simon: Words and Music, which celebrates the life of one of America’s greatest singer/songwriters, will make Baltimore its first stop on a nationwide tour.  READ THIS ARTICLE TO LEARN HOW YOU CAN RESERVE A SPOT AT OUR EXCLUSIVE MEMBERS’ PREVIEW AND CONCERT ON SATURDAY NIGHT, OCTOBER 10.

Paul Simon

Paul Simon

Paul Simon: Words and Music features autobiographical films, videos of select performances and more than 80 artifacts, chronicling the life, career and creative inspiration of two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Paul Simon. Included is original narration by the artist, recorded specifically for the exhibit and unavailable elsewhere, as well as costumes, film clips, letters and memorabilia associated with his career.

“We wanted to give Paul Simon the opportunity to tell his own story. We interviewed him for hours and asked him how he got started, his creative process, and how he came up with some of his songs,” said Karen L. Herman, Vice President of Curatorial Affairs for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “His stories provide context to the places where his music intersected with our culture, from Simon & Garfunkel to Saturday Night Live. We used that to really define how the exhibit would work, with much of the footage used to guide visitors through his life and career.”

Simon's guitar

Simon’s guitar

Among the exhibits artifacts are guitars like Simon’s 1967 Guild F-30-NT-Spec, used to write and record most of Simon & Garfunkel’s canon, and Simon’s first guitar, personal summer camp correspondence between Paul and Art, jackets, rare photos, and handwritten lyrics to songs like The Boxer (starting with notes made on an in-flight magazine) and the album Graceland (scratched out on a yellow pad). It covers all the genres of Simon’s work – folk, rock and world music.

And the main exhibit is just the beginning:

> We are also preparing a small pop-up exhibit “An American Tune:  Jews and Folk and Folk-Rock”.  Did you know that Arlo Guthrie was trained for his bar mitzvah by Rabbi Meir Kahane?  Find this and other surprises in our special lobby exhibit.

> Both exhibits will be used as platforms for an outstanding series of JMM programs including:

Scott Bernarde speaking on Jewish rock stars on Oct. 11; Cantor Solomon and Cantor Klepper in a performance/lecture on folk music and Jewish liturgy on Oct. 18; Nora Guthrie talks about Woody’s Hanukah songs on Nov.22;  a film festival on Tuesday nights in November, featuring Under African Skies, A Mighty Wind, Inside Llewyn Davis and Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune;  Joanie Leeds returning for a special Hanukah performance and a dozen other lectures and performances.

You will find a full list of events and program details in our Sept. 4 edition of Museum Matters.

> In November, we’ll be adding a “Sounds of the Synagogue” Tour to our menu of special Lloyd Street Synagogue adventures.  The tours will be on Sundays at 3pm.

> The education team has also prepared a curriculum for school groups at grade levels from elementary school to high school to go with the Paul Simon exhibit that combines humanities and the arts.  At upper levels students will be asked to compare the America of the 1960s that Simon wrote about, with Baltimore today.  They will be asked to prepare their own topical lyrics about the challenges of our times.  If you know of a teacher that wants to take advantage of this opportunity, please connect them with our Visitor Services manager, Graham Humphrey (ghumphrey@jewishmuseummd.org) and he’ll make all the arrangements.

AND NOW THE MAIN EVENT

Most of the people who receive this newsletter are JMM members.  One of the benefits of JMM membership are invitations to exclusive member previews for all our exhibits.  And the preview for Paul Simon on October 10 is so special that we’re asking members to make advance reservations.

The Guthrie Bros.

The Guthrie Bros.

In addition to being among the first to see this great new exhibit, we have arranged a Simon & Garfunkel Tribute Concert by the Guthrie Bros. (no relation to Woody, but great musicians – see more here: The Guthrie Bros.  To maximize the number of people who can see this concert, we’ve moved it into the Lloyd Street Synagogue.  Overflow and accessible seating will be in the JMM building with live remote video.  Doors will open at 7:30, and the concert begins at 7:45pm

Because we anticipate high demand for this member’s only event, we’ve set up a special reservations mailbox:

reservations@jewishmuseummd.org

Total capacity in the Lloyd Street Synagogue is 220 seats, so you will want to reserve early.  Tickets will be distributed on a first come, first served basis so we request that you only make reservations via the special reservation mailbox.  Individual members will be able to reserve one ticket, “senior couple” members will be able to reserve two, and family members can reserve up to five tickets. For more information please contact Trillion Attwood at tattwood@jewishmuseummd.org or 410.732.640 ext.215.

 

 

 

 

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Fievel and the Tooth Fairy visit the JMM

Posted on August 20th, 2015 by

This past Sunday, JMM Features continued, the second in a series of free movie screenings accompanying this summer’s exhibit Cinema Judaica. The classic animation An American Tail  drew a great crowd. Everyone seemed to enjoy the movie and there was plenty of popcorn to go around! It was especially wonderful to see lots of new faces.

The event included fun activities for the whole family. Children and parents learned how to draw their favorite Jewish cartoon characters. Other activities included creating Fievel out of pipe cleaners and illustrating modern cartoon version of An American Tail, considering the challenges faced by immigrants today.

The crowds gathering before the movie starts

The crowds gathering before the movie starts.

Learning how to draw Fievel

Learning how to draw Fievel.

My favorite activity -  making Fievel with pipe cleaners.

My favorite activity – making Fievel with pipe cleaners.

We also had a visit from an unexpected guest, the Tooth Fairy! Adam and his family, visiting from Ohio, joined us for the movie. However, while watching Fievel on his adventures, Adam’s wiggly tooth came out. We have welcomed guests from around the globe but this may be a first.

Adam

Adam

If you haven’t had a chance to join us yet for JMM Features you have one last chance this week. On Sunday, August 23rd at 8:00 p.m. we will be holding a free screening Gentleman’s Agreement in the lot in front of the JMM. Again this is a BYOC (bring your own chair) event but we will supply the popcorn. If you feel like making an evening of it, bring a picnic, or even grab something from one of the wonderful local restaurants.

I hope to see you on Sunday!

 

 

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The Alliterative Adventures of an Archivist and her Assistant

Posted on August 19th, 2015 by

While doing background research for our current exhibit Cinema Judaica, I came across a surprising number of photos in our collections showing Hollywood stars in and around Baltimore.  Most of these made obvious sense: people who owned homes nearby, or who were in town to raise funds for Israel Bonds or promote a film. One photo in particular was a little harder to parse, however: a publicity shot of Pearl White, silent movie star.

Headshot of actress pearl white.

Pearl White, 1916. Donated by Richard Millhauser, JMM 1995.88.27

In the 1910s, Miss White (1889-1938) was the daredevil heroine of film serials with fabulous titles like “The Perils of Pauline” and “The Exploits of Elaine.” You know the film cliché of a distressed damsel tied to the railroad tracks, cowering from a mustachioed, black-hatted villain? Though this specific trope is more common in later cartoons and spoofs than it ever was during the silent era, the broader notion of action-packed, anything-goes filmmaking in the 1910s and ‘20s is thanks in part to Miss White – who was famous for doing her own stunts – and her endangered-heroine films, including the occasional stint on a railroad tie. Please enjoy this thrilling advertisement for “The Fatal Ring” (1917):

Movie poster for The Fatal Ring

So many thrills! “The Fatal Ring” by Pathé Exchange (film) – Internet Archive. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

…But back to our collections, and the reasons Miss White appears in them.  As best I can tell from published material, such as her autobiography, Miss White was not Jewish, nor was she from Maryland.  What’s she doing in my archives?

With internet research, a field trip to the Enoch Pratt Free Library, and the assistance of intern Kaleigh, the question was easily solved. To start with, the back of our photograph is inscribed in pencil, “To Mr. David Millhauser – The man who got my life history – Sincerely, Pearl White – in Baltimore July 3 ‘16”.

Handwritten note on back of photograph.

Reverse of JMM 1995.88.27

David Millhauser (1892-1992) worked as a reporter for the Baltimore American.  Bits and pieces in our collections indicate that he covered political and industrial news around the city.  For example, here’s his U.S. Customs “Pass to Piers, Waterfront or Vessel” from 1918, listing his occupation as “newspaper reporter” and his employer as C.C. Fulton Co., the owner of the American.

Scan of customs passport

Donated by Richard Millhauser. JMM 1991.133.1

Pearl White filmed a now-lost movie, “Mayblossom,” at Carrollton Hall (Howard County, Maryland) in 1916.  On July 3rd of that year, she was photographed and interviewed at Baltimore’s Hotel Kernan by unnamed representatives of the Baltimore American; her photo appeared in the paper on July 4th, and a longer interview was published on July 9th.

Scan of newspaper image of Pearl White.

“Popular Movie Actress Here. Miss Pearl White, the daring and popular Pathé star, who is in Baltimore to take the leading role in a picture to be staged here. The photograph was taken in front of the Hotel Kernan yesterday afternoon by a member of the Art Department of The American.” From The Baltimore American, July 4, 1916, accessed at the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Though the July 9th article – which consists almost entirely of Miss White’s own words, detailing her poverty-stricken background, her adventurous career, and her refusal to divulge her age – is unattributed, the source interview on July 3rd coincides neatly with the date noted on the photo given to Millhauser; unless there was some other way he elicited her life story on a Monday in Baltimore, I presume that he was the American’s interviewer.

Was a chat with an actress something of a departure from Millhauser’s regular beat? Based on the cursory nature of the article’s descriptions – Miss White is noted simply as “wearing a big blue hat fastened under her chin with a rubber band” – I’m inclined to think this kind of gossipy publicity piece wasn’t really in the author’s line. We’ll have to do some more research in the American’s archives to find out for sure… but in the meantime, there is one more connection to be made with Baltimore’s movie history.  In the 1910s David’s father Moses Millhauser owned the Elektra, a movie theater on North Gay Street in Baltimore.  The whole family, including David, took part in the theater’s operation, from managing the lobby to providing voiceovers for the silent films on the screen. Perhaps this connection is what garnered Millhauser the assignment of interviewing one of the most popular movie stars of the day. Whatever the reason, thankfully he held on to the personalized photo for many years, until it eventually made its way to our archives – providing just a hint of adventure and glamour to those who stumble upon it.

Entrance of the Cinema Judaica exhibit

The fanciful façade of Moses Millhauser’s Elektra Theater greets visitors to “Cinema Judaica”, open through September 6, 2015 at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Photo by Will Kirk.

JoannaA blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

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