The Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco opened this June and I had been wanting to see the William Steig exhibit for weeks. I had seen it in New York last December with my older son, and wanted to have my little one share the experience. You probably know William Steig from his hilariously sharp social commentary as a New Yorker cartoonist. His work spanned more than half a century. Bill Steig lived next door to me as a child in Greenwich Village, and was my godfather of sorts. I remember watching him draw in his back studio and he always let me look at his latest creations. It’s one of my great pleasures as a parent to share his work with my my children. I love reading his smart, decidedly sophisticated, always colorful children’s books but most of all I was thrilled his work was being recognized, albeit posthumously. He, after all, created Shrek, and as the story goes, he only got $60,000 for it!
The exhibit From The New Yorker to Shrek: The Art of William Steig runs through Sept. 7, 2008. The museum is magnificent! A whimsical fountain garden greets the visitors and I thought I’d never get my four-year-old inside.
New clean lines, unusual architecture and furniture and an extraordinarily friendly staff make the experience wonderful. The day we went it was not crowded at all, perhaps because of its newness, who knows, but it was glorious. Kids are offered a free art pack upon arrival. We had fun with it drawing cartoon faces and discussing what my son saw and felt about the exhibit. I perused the other exhibits quickly while my son sat with my dad drawing. The exhibition spaces are open, spacious and unusual. The gift shop is impressive, full of great books, toys and art artifacts. We didn’t stop at the cafe, but next time I’ll make sure to check it out.