The Jewish Museum’s Purim Ball at the Armory on Park Avenue.

NEW YORK - Last week the Jewish Museum's Purim Ball made waves with its hip new venue The Park Avenue Armory with record attendance (900 guests), and its ultra-hip satirist of the Purim Story, Lena Dunham (of the television show Girls, and daughter of artists Laurie Simmons and Carol Dunham).

Lena Dunham retells the Purim Story.

On Sunday the Council of American Jewish Museums opened their annual conference with a crackling dialogue about the city as muse. David Karnovsky, General Counsel to the New York City Department of City Planning, recalled for us the roots of Lincoln Center, with its mission of transforming the neighborhood, while asserting New York City’s stature as a purveyor of high culture (Opera, Ballet, etc.). How different from the ideas behind development projects like the High Line and the Whitney Museum’s move downtown, where the mission is to draw inspiration FROM the neighborhood.

Manon Slome of No Longer Empty documented her extraordinary program, which brings art projects to empty or abandoned urban spaces across the boroughs, "giving voice" to the site and its neighborhood population, and promoting cultural tourism. "The spaces we work with are not a blank slate,” Slome says. “They have a history. If the city is your muse you have to treat it as a muse. You have to listen, and not offend."

David Karnovsky with image of Lincoln Center.

Charles Renfro (of Diller Scofidio+Renfro) gave us a sneak preview of the new downtown Whitney and the projected Hudson Yards Culture Shed at the end of the High Line.
In the afternoon, three young up-and-coming Israeli artists presented projects which all drew upon the urban environment. Inbal Abergel, Naomi Safran-Hon and Tom Pnini's projects, even when viewed in PowerPoint, all exuded an intensity so common to Israeli artists. Tom pointed out that "people ask me if my work is political. The background is political, but my work is romantic." Their presentation was sponsored by Artis, a nonprofit organization that supports and promotes contemporary artists from Israel internationally.

Tags:New York, Museums, Events, Judaica