HARDLY STRICTLY WARREN HELLMAN

Warren Hellman. ©2008, Jay Blakesberg.The Contemporary Jewish Museum celebrates the legacy of one of San Francisco’s greatest and most beloved benefactors in a new exhibition Hardly Strictly Warren Hellman. Warren Hellman (1934-2011) was an investment banker, philanthropist, musician, and music enthusiast who believed in the importance of community arts. Among a host of business and philanthropic accomplishments, Hellman may now be best recognized for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival (HSB), which he founded in 2001. Held annually in Golden Gate Park, the free festival draws more than 700,000 people.

Hardly Strictly Warren Hellman will center on film footage from HSB’s archive of live performances—making hundreds of hours available to the general public for the first time. Special, resonant personal objects will also be included—such as Hellman’s Star-of-David rhinestone studded jacket and signed banjo—along with HSB ephemera, and a station for exploring his well-loved joke collection.

Born into a prominent California family, Hellman created his own enduring legacy. Described by The Bay Citizen as a “Republican who supported labor unions, an investment banker whose greatest joy was playing songs of the working class in a bluegrass band, ” Hellman was a distinctly San Franciscan iconoclast and uniquely Jewish figure.

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