Message from the Director

In Silicon Valley, to be local is to be global. Our demographic is multinational and cross-cultural; our tech products aim to impact the world; our innovations can trigger far-reaching social change. There are few regions that are so assertively anti-parochial—yet have a zeitgeist so clearly their own. Here, the local and the global are not polarities, but rather currents that often run together.

This spring, you see the results of SJMA’s decision several years ago to embrace the worldliness that underlies so much of the character of this place: to reflect more fully the spirit and the nature of its communities. For many years prior, the Museum had been recognized above all for its strong commitment to Bay Area art and regional art history. SJMA’s programming now purposefully also reflects the fact that today the flow of artistic creativity to and from this locale thrives because it has no bounds: artists, ideas, and audiences are interconnected dynamically, virtually, and well beyond time and place.

And so, within the bricks-and-mortar model of the museum, SJMA intends to be a node—a point of transmission within a bigger network of activity—for art of international currency that has particular local relevance as well. It’s about scope over scale.

“New Stories from the Edge of Asia” is a series of exhibitions (launched in 2010) that looks at new narrative approaches in new media among artists from Pacific Rim cultures. Tabaimo: Her Room is the first in this series to feature work by an artist of such prominence in the international art world. In fact, Tabaimo was recognized recently by the Wall Street Journal as one of a select few Tokyo artists who are “bringing the city to the global fore in the realm of digital art.” The Museum is proud to present her first major museum exhibition in the United States here in San Jose, home to both one of the oldest Japanese- American communities in the country and a vital digital art scene.

Border Cantos: Richard Misrach | Guillermo Galindo looks south to the US-Mexico border and at the subject of immigration, which has defined and regularly redefined the country—and this region—for centuries. Today, an estimated 13.3% of the US population is foreign born. Misrach and Galindo (both residents of the East Bay) focus on this prescient topic and on the harsh realities of the flow of people across borders. According to the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “The rise in global mobility, the growing complexity of migratory patterns and its impact on countries, migrants, families and communities have all contributed to international migration becoming a priority for the international community,” be it from the perspective of immediate humanitarian concerns or long-term economic benefit.

In concert with SJMA’s exhibition, dozens of area organizations and community groups are presenting a constellation of programs related to immigration, e.g. concerts, writing workshops, and even a comedy on family memories, local history, and issues of social justice. Watch for the schedule here.

It takes the energy of many individuals to build a local arts community that has critical mass. Artists in Residence: San Jose’s 20th-Century Vanguard is presented in tribute to one such person in San Jose—Stephen French (1934–2014). Steve was a beloved professor of art at San Jose State University, former chair of the San Jose Arts Commission, a longtime trustee and member of the Acquisition Committee at the Museum, and always a ready advocate for art and artists. This exhibition honors Steve’s work and that of his peers. Together, they advanced an adventurous spirit of artmaking and, as a generation, planted the possibility for a big-thinking cultural dialog, rooted in San Jose yet branching far afield.


Susan Krane
Oshman Executive Director