Bizarre, fun, colorful; there are so many words to describe Maira Kalman’s exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. Entitled “Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World),” nothing is lost on Kalman for whom the everyday charm of a nicely wrapped package holds as much interest as the state of democracy in America today.

I loved watching the video of Kalman explaining a segment of paintings that were all the result of outings that particular day, such as the people she saw, funny stories she heard, or even a piece of colorful furniture spotted on the side of the road. She is the Queen of Quirky!

Exhibition on View: July 1 – October 26, 2010

An award-winning illustrator, author and designer, Maira Kalman, is an original and witty commentator on contemporary American society. Her famed New Yorkistan cover for The New Yorker is just one of 100 works on paper that span her 30 years of smart and delightful art making.

Kalman personifies a traveler in seeing the little things in life as constant adventure. “I was out walking the dear dog and I saw 500 things that made me want to make art.”

The 100 works on view showcase her eclectic observations of life, from text to drawings to textiles.

“The nature of curiosity is both about how people live their lives and about the bigger picture of how the world works,” says Kalman. Us, Tango Divas, can definitely relate to that!

Events Calendar:


Throughout the exhibition, the CJM will present a series of MILTONs – conceptual spaces for “whimsy and exchange” (from music and poetry to card-playing or even ironing) inspired by Maira Kalman.

Thursday, July 1, 5-6 PM: Maira Kalman will inaugurate the Museum’s first MILTON.

For more MILTONS and performance events, check out the calendar.


Sunday, October 10; 12 – 5 PM and Monday, October 11, 3-8 PM: An all-day reading of Kalman’s works – with interruptions for music, dance and other distractions.


Second Sundays of the Month | Free with Museum Admission, Youth 18 and Under always Free

Great events for the kids (and you!) with workshops and lots of art-making and musical fun! Check out the upcoming events here.