Contemporary Jewish Museum Tzedakah Box Invitational

The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, one of my favorite museums, is now featuring one of my favorite exhibits.

The Dorothy Saxe Invitational, a biennial exhibit whereby artists are asked to interpret a Jewish ritual object, is on view through May 17.

 In the past, artists have been asked to interpret Purim masks, menorahs, Kiddush cups, spice boxes, trees for Tu B’Shevat and Seder plates.

 For this year’s invitational, the museum asked 38 West Coast artists and contemporary craftspeople to reimagine the tzedakah box. Participating artists were encouraged to interpret this unique object from a contemporary perspective, exploring its ongoing relevance. Working in a wide range of media, from wood to glass to paint and graphite, the artists have explored many facets of the tradition.

 The tzedakah box is traditionally a humble container found in synagogues, Jewish homes, and institutions in which charitable donations are deposited. This ritual object relates to one of the most important obligations in Judaism—to give to those in need regardless of your means. Hebrew for “righteousness,” “tzedakah” is an act of charity in Jewish culture and faith, and the tzedakah box is a physical reminder of this commitment.

 “The Dorothy Saxe Invitational embodies the museum’s mission of presenting artistic excellence, exploring contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, and providing opportunities for artists to examine traditional Jewish concepts,” says Lori Starr, executive director of the CJM.

 All the tzedakah boxes on exhibit will be available for purchase in an ongoing silent auction beginning Thursday, April 9. If you’re interested, you can get more information and register here.

 There’s a catalog for sale in the museum store with full color plates of each work along with related essays.

 Below are some of my favorite boxes from the show. If you live in San Francisco or are visiting, the show is a must see! And if you can’t make it to the show, you can buy the exhibition catalog online.

Terry_Berlier, The 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational: Tzedakah Box. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

Terry Berlier, Variation on Soma Cube: Empty Center, 2015. Wood: walnut, maple, cherry, ash, red oak, ipe, basswood,  Photo by Johnna Arnold.

3_Tony_Berlant The 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational: Tzedakah Box.The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

Tony Berlant, The Light That Never Fails, 2013. Found & fabricated printed tin, plywood, & steel brads, Photo by Johnna Arnold.

Leah_Rosenberg The 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational: Tzedakah Box. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

Leah Rosenberg, Everyday, a Color, 2015. Colored paper, plexiglass, mirror, custom pencil, Photo by Johnna Arnold.

Nancy_Selvin, The 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational: Tzedakah Box. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

Nancy Selvin, Tzedek, 2015. Etched glass, shredded U.S. currency, steel (stand). Photo by Johnna Arnold.

Richard_Shaw, The 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational: Tzedakah Box. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

Richard Shaw, Pushke, 2015. Glazed and painted porcelain with over-glaze decals, Photo by Johnna Arnold.

Cybele_Lyle, The 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational: Tzedakah Box. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

Cybele Lyle, (de)(re)construct(ion)(ing), 2015. Acrylic, paint, screen print, Photo by Johnna Arnold.

Lisa_Kokin, The 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational: Tzedakah Box. On view April 9–May 17, 2015. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

Lisa Kokin, Dark Money, 2015. Thread, wire, and shredded money. Photo by Johnna Arnold.

Stephen_Kaltenbach, The 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational: Tzedakah Box. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

Stephen Kaltenbach, Eternal, 2014. Steel, dimensions variable, each box. Photo by Johnna Arnold.

Amy Franceschini, The 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational: Tzedakah Box. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

Amy Franceschini, Flatbread Society Seed Archive: Vavilov Collection: Rye, 2014. Glass, canvas, pencil, linen string, Rye seeds, ink on paper. Photo by Johnna Arnold.

Bella Feldman, The 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational: Tzedakah Box. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

Bella Feldman, Bella Feldman Tzedakah Box, 2014. Fabricated steel, Photo by Johnna Arnold.

Yvonne_Escalante, The 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational: Tzedakah Box.  The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

Yvonne Escalante, Your Turn, 2015. Brass, resin, acrylic sheet, felt, and found objects, Photo by Johnna Arnold.

2_Gail_Antokal, The 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational: Tzedakah Box. On view April 9–May 17, 2015. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

Gale Antokal, V’natnu (and they gave), 2015. Graphite, latex, “F” style quart solvent can, Photo by Johnna Arnold.

Anzfer_Farms The 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational: Tzedakah Box. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

Anzfer Farms, Untitled, 2014. Old-growth redwood, paint, & neon plexiglass, Photo by Johnna Arnold.

****Next week is a roundup of my favorite traditional tzedakah boxes.****

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6 Comments on Contemporary Jewish Museum Tzedakah Box Invitational

  1. Mark
    April 19, 2015 at 9:02 pm (2 years ago)

    Great show, and well worth visiting the Museum to take a look…and maybe put in a bid!

    Reply
    • Julie Levine
      April 20, 2015 at 12:55 am (2 years ago)

      Yes, I agree!

      Reply
  2. Liz Rueven
    April 20, 2015 at 12:35 am (2 years ago)

    Thanks for the heads up on this fascinating exhibit. It’s inspiring to see such a range of creative expression. Will definitely check out the items available for sale. I only wish I could make it to your coast to see this exhibit. Sigh……

    Reply
    • Julie Levine
      April 20, 2015 at 12:55 am (2 years ago)

      Maybe worth a trip to SF?!!!

      Reply
  3. Judy Bloom
    April 20, 2015 at 1:59 am (2 years ago)

    Can’t wait to see it although I am so busy right now as 2015 Filoli Flower Show co-chair, Exhibits (www.filoli.org/flower-show/) that I do not know when I can get there.

    Reply
  4. David
    April 20, 2015 at 2:09 pm (2 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing.. Do you have a favorite?? And why??? Any interesting artist stories?? Any new artists who have not exhibited for??

    The ones you highlighted all look spectacular!!!!

    Reply

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