Message from the Director

S. Sayre Batton
Oshman Executive Director

Instagram photo by @cavacolleen

Welcome back from a long, relaxing summer and get ready to join us for a dynamic fall season at the San José Museum of Art.

This summer, we honored Hildy Shandell for her service as President of the Board of Trustees from 2013– 2017. She led the museum through tremendous organizational change and growth—including a 33% increase in attendance—and jump-started strategic planning. We thank Hildy for her many contributions, including her intelligence, savvy business acumen, and sense of humor. Ensuring a smooth transition, we welcome Tad Freese and Cheryl Kiddoo as new co-presidents of the Board of Trustees. They will work closely with the staff and Board as we embrace a new vision for a museum of the twenty-first century.

Jump into the frame this September with This Is Not a Selfie: Photographic Self-Portraits from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection. The exhibition marks the first time SJMA is partnering with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Drawn from LACMA’s world-renowned collection of artists’ self-portraits, it takes a serious look at the subject of creative selfrepresentation in the “age of the selfie.” Mark your calendars for the opening on September 27, 2017, and please join us for the insightful talk by guest curator Deborah Irmas.

This Is Not a Selfie inspires the theme of SJMA’s annual gala, The Wonder Ball, on September 16, 2017: “Picture Yourself Here.” This year we fête our wonderful supporters Beverly and Peter Lipman, inspirational visionaries for the Museum’s permanent collection and so much more. The evening will be artist-centric in celebration of the Lipman family’s support for more than eighty major artworks in the Museum’s holdings. Not to be missed is The Mirror Ball: an after-party that immediately follows the gala, where you can kick off your heels, dance to a live DJ, and enjoy a late-night cocktail.

The generosity of Beverly and Peter Lipman is also celebrated through our presentation of Louise Nevelson: The Fourth Dimension, which opens September 15, 2017. Focused on Nevelson’s iconic sculpture Sky Cathedral (1957), generously given to SJMA by the Lipmans, the exhibition will include important new acquisitions of Nevelson’s work on view for the first time. Don’t miss curator and scholar Elizabeth Smith, director of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, who will speak on Louise Nevelson and the women artists of her generation on Sunday, November 19, 2017.

In October, we bring the synergetic collective The Propeller Group for its first major West Coast presentation. This cross-disciplinary group of artists (Phunam, Matt Lucero, and Tuan Andrew Nguyen) creates ambitious art projects that blur the line between branding and propaganda: they are a “collective that pretends to be an advertising company,” as Bomb Magazine wrote. This first major survey of The Propeller Group’s work opens October 26, 2017, with an artists’ talk with curator Lauren Dickens. The exhibition is organized by the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the Phoenix Art Museum. Unique to our presentation, SJMA will commission a new public mural in downtown San José—a collaboration between The Propeller Group and renowned mural artist El Mac.

And please join us on November 17, 2017, as we open Crossroads: American Scene Prints from Thomas Hart Benton to Grant Wood, a collection of superb prints from the collection on view for the first time together since 1985. These artists were largely sponsored by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). As funding for arts and culture is under siege, we present these stellar works of art to honor the proud, century-long tradition of US government support for artists and the creative class.

As we look back at the work of Louise Nevelson and the American Scene artists of the twentieth century, we reflect upon how continuity gives us roots. With the avant-garde artists of This Is Not a Selfie and the cuttingedge vision of The Propeller Group, we remember that change gives us branches. At SJMA we believe that change will help us stretch, grow, and reach new heights. Thank you for your support.

S. Sayre Batton
Oshman Executive Director