This exhibition highlights the generous 2016 donation to SJMA’s collection by J. Michael Bewley, as well as works from Bewley’s personal collection. Bewley, a retired employment lawyer in San José, was committed to combatting social injustices in the workplace. Spanning nearly a hundred years of artistic production and encompassing various mediums including painting, sculpture, collage, photography, and textile, these works are united by a strong social and political motivation.
In The House Imaginary, the house is a lens through which artists explore memory, identity, and belonging in an increasingly itinerant world. The house can be a lightning rod in which social policies around immigration, homelessness, urban planning, race, and gender intersect with personal histories and fictions. After the horrors of World War II, theorist Theodor Adorno famously declared, “dwelling, in the proper sense, is now impossible…. The house is past.” He was claiming that personal security can no longer be considered apart from the systemic oppressions and omissions necessary to retain that security. This recognition is achingly urgent today in an era of global migrations, heightened awareness of inequalities, and San José’s own housing crisis.
Crossroads: American Scene Prints from Thomas Hart Benton to Grant Wood focuses on early twentieth-century American culture and society through lithographs, etchings, and wood engravings. The fifty-seven prints in this exhibition, produced between 1905 and 1955, encompass a broad range of art styles collectively known as “American Scene.”