Time to get SUPER at the JMM!

Posted on January 9th, 2013 by

A blog post by Program Manager Rachel Cylus.

It has been one year since I began working at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, and in that year I have learned a lot about… food.  Basically if I described my job to most people it would sound like I work in a food museum or some type of community restaurant.  We have organized taste tests, food demos, cooking competitions, programs about the history of foods and food traditions – all in all it has been a delicious year.

But just as all good meals must come to an end (generally with some kind of tasty dessert), so must all good exhibits.  And now it’s time to switch gears from working in a food museum to working in a Superhero museum.  Lucky me!

Step one of working in a Superhero Museum – Read up on superheroes.  Ok, maybe I needed some help with this one (nods to Rachel Kassman, and her comic book library).

Step two – Talk to superhero experts.  To successfully complete this task, several of us took a field trip to Geppi’s Entertainment Museum (GEM), located just across the inner harbor from the JMM at 301 West Camden Street.  GEM was started by Steve Geppi, a local entrepreneur and comic book aficionado.  He is also a comic book publisher and distributor.  Basically everything you could ever hope to learn about comic books is located within the walls of GEM, not to mention all types of other pop culture memorabilia, and a hall of fame of local Baltimore heroes.  (Fun fact: I learned that the flat bottom ice cream cone was invented in Baltimore.  See, I am still preoccupied with food facts!)  The docent at GEM was kind enough to show us around the museum and put me in touch with the museum’s curator Andy Hershberger who put me in touch with the former curator, Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg.

Dr. Blumberg is – get this – a professor of comic books and zombies (seriously, he teaches courses on these subjects at UMBC and University of Baltimore. Amazing!)

Step three – Contact a real live superhero.  It’s not every day that you make a phone call at work and the person on the other line answers, “Hello, Batman speaking.”  But that is truly what happened when I phoned Lenny Robinson (oh no, first rule of superheroes has been breached – never discuss the superhero’s real world alter ego).  Robinson is a Baltimorean who visits charities, hospitals, and other events around the country as the Caped Crusader himself.

With the JMM’s transformation into the Jewish Museum of All Things Superheroes nearly complete, we invite you to get in on the fun (particularly steps 2 and 3 of becoming a Superhero Museum)  In just a few weeks we will open the exhibit ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938 – 1950, and everyone is invited!  We will be holding two opening events.  On Saturday, January 26th from 7-9pm, we will have an exclusive members-only preview event of ZAP! POW! BAM!  Meet Dr. Blumberg and hear from him all about the history of comic books and how they have informed his life’s work.  If you want to attend this event, but you are not yet a member, never fear, Sue Foard our membership coordinator is here to save the day!!!  You can contact her at sfoard@jewishmuseummd.org or call 410-732-6400 ext. 220.

At the public opening on Sunday, January 27th, the exhibit will be open from 10am – 5pm.  From 11am – 1pm you can meet BATMAN (in his Batmobile, weather permitting)!  This event is free for members and free for kids in superhero costumes.  The event is included in the cost of admission for all other attendees.

We have lots of exciting programs planned for this spring, and we hope to see you here at the JMM to be super with us.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

In Each Other’s Shoes: Exhibition Opening

Posted on February 16th, 2011 by

Nearly 400 people visited the JMM yesterday (Sunday, February 13) for a spectacular event, the opening of Loring Cornish: In Each Other’s Shoes. This art exhibit features local artist, Loring Cornish whose impressive large scale mosaics, paintings, and sculptures incorporate found objects, symbols, and words that probe the notion of identity and memory and often refer to major historical events such as the civil rights movement, slavery, and the Holocaust.

Photo by Will Kirk

The audience in attendance at yesterday’s event included a broad cross section of Baltimoreans – black, white, Jewish, Christian, artists, students, young, old, families with young children, first-time visitors to the JMM, and long time members. The diversity of attendees truly reflected the inclusive vision of Loring’s work echoing his expressed desire to use this exhibition as a way to “bridge the differences between people.” A brief program included remarks by JMM president, David Liebman; program director, Ilene Dackman-Alon; MICA professor and curator, Dr. Leslie King-Hammond; curator Karen Falk; and executive director, Avi Decter. Everyone spoke eloquently about the impact and importance of Loring’s work.

The main focus of the opening, was, of course, on the artist himself who even managed to look like one of his artworks, dressed in a jacket with coins adhered to its fabric.

Artist Loring Cornish. Photo by Will Kirk

Loring wowed visitors for hours as he talked inside the gallery and provided impassioned explanations of the works on display and his rationale for creating art that explores the shared (and often painful) history of African-Americans and Jews. He talked about works such as Just Words (one of my own personal favorites). Loring created this piece after a “five minute” welding lesson. The sculpture is an assemblage of welded metal that form letters that make up ten words such as “Jew”, “Negro”, “Hope”, and “Love”.  Part of the joy of viewing Loring’s work is in discovering their many layers. As you look at the same work over time, you notice new symbols, words, and objects. This is especially true of Just Words where new words appear as you circle around the sculpture and study the many different pieces of metal that form letters in different style scripts.

"Just Words" Photo by Harriet Lynne

Loring talks about "The First of Life." Photo by Will Kirk.

The Museum buzzed as visitors shared their admiration for Loring and his artwork. Overheard again and again were comments such as “amazing”, “wow!”, “I can’t wait to attend his next open house”, and “I need to bring my husband/wife/friend/child to see this exhibit!”

In the lobby. Photo by Will Kirk

Loring Cornish: In Each Other’s Shoes will be on display at the JMM through July 17, 2011. For more information or to schedule a visit, please contact the Museum at (410) 732-6400 x229 / info@jewishmuseummd.org.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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