The Propeller Group anchors its ambitious projects in Vietnam’s history and its paradoxical present. Based in Vietnam and Los Angeles, the art collective extends its reach to address global phenomena, from street culture to international commerce to traditions shared across cultures. In multifaceted projects, The Propeller Group blurs the lines between modes of cultural production and embraces the formats of branding campaigns, television commercials, Hollywood movies, and music videos to explore the complex ideologies that drive global commerce, war, and cultural and historical memory. One highlight of the exhibition is The Living Need Light, the Dead Need Music (2014), a visually lush film that follows funerary traditions of the Mekong Delta. It combines documentary footage, staged reenactments, and fantastical scenes to explore slippages between real and imagined rituals shared across cultures. The film is accompanied by sculptures inspired by traditional Vietnamese funerary objects: a carved jackfruit wood snake with gold fangs and an adorned water buffalo skull.
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.”
While the selfie can be considered a common version of the self-portrait genre, it is often a vastly different from the self-portrait in the hands of an artist. By blurring the distinction between reality and fantasy, artifice and authenticity, and public and private imagery, the artists whose work is included in This Is Not a Selfie carefully fabricate photographs that expand the domain of self-portraiture.
In 1957, Louise Nevelson (1899–1988) installed one of her first “Sky Cathedral” sculptures in the lobby of her brother’s hotel, the historic Thorndike Hotel in Rockland, Maine. It hung there for ten years until it was acquired by the pioneering collectors of American sculpture Jean and Howard Lipman. The Lipmans displayed the massive wooden assemblage of black painted boxes in Howard Lipman’s Manhattan business office. Sky Cathedral (1957) became a central piece in the family’s collection when in the 1970s they moved to Arizona and built a new house to accommodate its monumental scale. Their son Peter, along with his wife, Beverly, generously donated the sculpture to the San Jose Museum of Art in 2010.
Louise Nevelson: The Fourth Dimension brings this important work in SJMA’s permanent collection together with personal objects and ephemera from the Peter and Beverly Lipman Collection.
The interactive learning labs in the Koret Family Gallery are a place to make observations, ask questions, and participate in creative experimentation. This installation reflects the math-focused curriculum of SJMA’s award-winning education program Sowing Creativity and includes artworks by Ron Davis, David Pace, Clare Rojas, Lordy Rodriguez, and Shirley Shor.