Words and Music

Posted on September 21st, 2015 by

In a recent phone conversation, my sister, the Sahmnambulist, was telling me about the road trip her family took from their home in Indiana through the Midwest.

“When we went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” she started to say,

“Oh! Oh! Oh!” I interrupted, “Did you see the Paul Simon exhibit?”

“Oh my god, yes! I can’t believe I didn’t tell you about it before! It was amazing!”

“Em, that exhibit is coming to MY MUSEUM!” I exclaimed, because naturally, five months of employment here makes the Jewish Museum of Maryland, my museum.

We went on to talk about Paul Simon, “The Boxer” and Graceland which, inevitably, led to talk about our dad.

Tracie and Dad

Tracie and Dad

In 1986 when Graceland was released, Emily and I were seven and 10 respectively. That year and the several years following, that album was on permanent repeat whenever we were with our dad. I remember conversations with our grandmother about how diamonds on the soles of your shoes would surely scratch the floor (“Mom, it’s just a metaphor,” dad would say). There were very serious conversations between we two sisters, trying to understand the implications of some of the lyrics, (“but why would Betty call him Al? Is that his name or isn’t it?”). The music video with Chevy Chase was both hysterical and confusing (wasn’t Paul Simon the singer? Why was Chevy Chase doing all of the singing?). And there was nothing better than the three of us belting out the lyrics in the car (back then, kids still got to sit in the front seat. I always got shotgun (thanks, Em!)).

Fast forward these thirty years, and Emily and I are both parents ourselves (my daughter is 3, her sons are 5 and 2), and our dad is no longer with us. It’s bittersweet having the ephemera of this album—the soundtrack to my childhood relationship with my dad—coming to my workplace. Dad’s been gone nearly two and a half years now, yet I find myself regularly thinking, “wow, gotta tell Dad about this!” If he were still living, he’d be getting a copy of the exhibit catalogue for Christmukkah this year. (I may buy myself a copy in his honor.)

Tracie and her sister Emily, outside in the snow.

Tracie and Emily

When Marvin told me about the show (plans were already in the works for hosting this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit when I started at the Museum back in April, 2015), I quickly started to realize just how much of my life is backed by the sound of Paul Simon’s music.

In addition to the Graceland connection with my dad, Mom used to sing me “Feeling Groovy” as a lullaby. As a result, I, too, sing “Feeling Groovy” to my little one (I change the final stanza so that instead of singing “Life, I love you, All is groovy” I sing “Ruth, I love you.” It blew her mind when the song came on the radio and it didn’t have her name in it.)

Like so many other teenagers, I felt angsty recognition in “I am a Rock” and “The only living boy in New York” (even though I was a girl in Baltimore). And I held a grudge for years against the college friend who scratched my “Rhythm of the Saints” CD.

The subtitle of the Paul Simon exhibit is “Words and Music,” two things I deeply love. I love words when they’re used to express and build feelings, to express and build art. I also love music (though I’m not a musician). It’s no wonder, then, that Paul Simon—the master wordsmith and master musician—holds such a special place in my heart.

Graceland album cover


I’m realizing that he has a similar place in the hearts of a huge portion of Americans. I’m surprised and delighted by the attention that this exhibit is garnering my museum. Whenever I mention that the exhibit is coming, people’s eyes light up—and that reaction seems to independent of race, religion, even age.

And so, as the activity increases and Joanna works with our partners to unpack, arrange, and install the exhibit, I find myself excited and grateful: Excited to see the exhibit and visit with my dad, if only in my own head; grateful to the JMM for bringing me Paul Simon (and by extension my late father) and grateful to Paul Simon for giving more people from all over the region a good reason to come and see what a great resource is here, in my museum.

Tracie Guy-DeckerA blog post by Associate Director Tracie Guy-Decker. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE.

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The Vote of 1952

Posted on October 5th, 2012 by

A blog post by Executive Director Marvin Pinkert.

I grew up with a family club like the one portrayed in the movie Avalon….with one important difference:  the Pinkert Family Club was made up exclusively of my grandparents, their children and the spouses of their children.  My dad had 10 brothers and sisters who survived to adulthood and this proved to be more than enough to create a stable club with a President, Treasurer and Secretary.

From the end of World War II until the late1960s, they met about once a month to settle matters of important family business (like allocating gifts, planning parties and holiday events) and to tease each other.  The eldest brother, Uncle Joe, held the permanent post of President and for most of these years my mom (an in-law!) was the sarcastic Secretary.  This is how I came to inherit the minutes of the meetings, my most prized archival possession.

While my parents’ generation was not nearly as prodigious as my grandparents, the family expanded rapidly.  I have 56 first cousins, counting spouses.  The growth of the family was a frequent topic of the club’s meetings as seen in these minutes from April, 1952 – a meeting which began with an electoral contest about who in the room might be pregnant:

Meeting April 24th 1952         Gertrude and Aaron’s Home

Meeting was called to find out who was the proud stockholder of the latest dividends.  A vote was taken and Florence barely made it by three votes.  Her husband Al may be on the sorta quiet side and “ztu di ztoris” a TV addict – but he does get things done (in due time)

Meeting started at 9:35

Secretary read minutes.

Treas. Report – Approx. $77 –

Old business was the discussion of the last Seder at Rodfei Zedek.  Everyone thought it was nice – especially for the children – but next year we would like to have a more private one. 

New business was Marshall Patinkin’s Bar Mitzvah gift… a portable radio was decided upon and Irv was appointed to purchase it and have it sent to him.  Mother’s Day Gift – Mae, Lottie and Naoma were appointed as committee to take care of same.

Flash – our President – brother Joe – was accepted into the Quadrangle Club.  Mae announced donation given to ORT in honor of Shirley Lennon’s farewell party.

Charles told joke.

Meeting ended with snack by host and hostess.

Respectfully Submitted,


Attached to the minutes is the actual vote tally.  As “Mother” (my grandmother) was well past sixty at the time, I think we can conclude that those votes weren’t serious.

I chalk this up as my first electoral victory.  I am living proof that the right candidate was selected.  Next Tuesday I will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the successful outcome.

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A Visit to the MET

Posted on April 23rd, 2012 by

A Blog Post by Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink

While I was home for Passover, we went to New York City to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

My AAM card got me in for free (saving $20 suggested admission fee). My dad used in old teacher’s pass and he, Jordana and Eric also got in for free.

We specifically went to see The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Paris Avant-Garde. This temporary exhibition occupies nine galleries on the third floor and is absolutely amazing! Gertrude Stein and her brothers Leo and Michael, and sister-in-law Sarah lived in Paris during the early 20th century. Although they did not have a lot of money, they were interested in purchasing art. They amassed a tremendous collection of works by young, talented, and virtually unknown artists including Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.

The Steins hung the works salon-style in their 460 square foot studio in Paris at 27 Rue de Fleurus, represented in a full size at the beginning of the exhibition.  In order to accommodate new acquisitions, they frequently moved and rearranged their artwork. Fortunately, the Steins also took photographs of their various installations. The curatorial team relied on over 400 photographs to curate the exhibition. Eric particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of the exact paintings that were documented in the large photomurals in each of the galleries.

The Steins opened their apartments on Saturday afternoons, allowing visitors to see their collection, shaping art appreciation for future generations. When the Steins found themselves low on funds to buy more art, they would sell pieces of their collection. Clara and Etta Cone of Baltimore were frequent buyers, and thus it was not surprising that several pieces on display were on loan from the Baltimore Museum of Art.   http:///www.artbma.org/collection/overview/cone.html 

Picasso’s famous portrait of Stein reminded me of a line from The Paris Wife by Paula McLain where Gertrude Stein plays prominently in shaping Ernest Hemingway’s writing career. In the book Hadley and Ernest wonder, “How much do you think Gertrude’s breast weigh?”  My father used the audio tour and found that it provided more information than the text panel about the rift between Gertrude and Leo.

Photography is not allowed in the exhibition, but the link below will provide you with highlights from the exhibition.


After the signing exhibit me I’ll when I separate ways and explore different parts of the museum. My dad was enthralled with the painting of Napoleon at battle.  http:///www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/110001498 

Eric spent two more hours in the hall of armor.

Eric poses with Henry VIII armor

My sister and toured the American Period Rooms –installations of original furnishings and structures from of the most impressive homes in the country. My sister was particularly taken by and tables and other large furniture created by the Harter brothers, well I enjoyed paintings by Thomas Dewing, Tiffany lamps and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style home.

This is the side of the Vanderbilt library table with mother-of-pearl inlay by the Harter brothers.

We all enjoyed the temple of Dendur installation – an actual in Egyptian temple that was saved in 1965 before the Nile River was intentionally flooded.


As you can see, even if you don’t have a free pass, the museum is well worth it!


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