Message from the Director

From left to right: Kathryn Wade, curatorial associate; Rory Padeken, associate curator; Oshman Executive Director, S. Sayre Batton; and Lauren Schell Dickens, curator.

As we enthusiastically look forward to our fall 2019 celebration of the Museum’s 50th anniversary, we also look back at our unique history.  In 1972, three years after the Museum’s founding, San José Museum of Art adopted an official policy stating that exhibitions would seek art works that are “interesting, informative, and enlightening to the community,” and that the Museum would not shy away from issues including “race, nationality, political viewpoint,” or censor work “because of partisan disapproval.” We recognize that artists have a unique perspective on the social and political landscape and their work can reshape our understanding of the world—and that is why they inspire everything we do at SJMA.

In keeping with this legacy, we present the For Freedoms Reading Library, a partnership between SJMA and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library (the main branch of the San José Public Library), and part of a nation-wide campaign by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms 50 State Initiative, which uses art as a means of inspiring civic participation. Our Library comprises an on-site reading room and book lists of literature and resources on equity, diversity, and civic action developed by librarians at King Library in response to issues addressed by artists in SJMA’s exhibition Rise Up! Social Justice in Art from the Collection of J. Michael Bewley (thru September 30, 2018). The reading lists, which are available on the Museum’s website, are being distributed nationally to more than 200 arts organizations and schools, the largest creative collaboration in the history of our country.  

We will also present the program Lunchtime Lecture: For Freedoms Town Hall on Wednesday, September 5, 2018 at 12 PM. This town hall activates SJMA’s participation in the national For Freedoms conversation, and we hope you will attend. 

SJMA’s intention is to advance diversity and gender parity as cornerstones of its permanent collection and exhibitions. Dinh Q. Le: True Journey Is Return opens to the public on September 14, launching an ambitious new series of groundbreaking exhibitions that travel, accompanied by scholarly publications. The artist will present his vision of Vietnamese life before, during, and after the Vietnam War, and his work questions the viability of collective memory. A robust schedule of public programs will accompany the exhibition, including lectures and conversations led by Lê and cultural practitioners.  We are so grateful to our generous sponsors who support our efforts to present artists of global significance who push the boundaries of narrative in contemporary art.  

Our summer exhibition Won Ju Lim: California Dreamin’ serves as the theme of this year’s gala. Please come celebrate with us at The Wonder Ball, California Dreamin’ on September 22, we have the honor of toasting our patrons Toby and Barry Fernald, and the artist Hung Liu.  

SJMA’s tradition of cross-disciplinary, collaborative projects in the San José and Silicon Valley community continues apace with New Terrains: Mobility and Migration, connecting with over thirty area partners, north from the Cantor Art Center at Stanford University and Palo Alto Art Center and south to the UC Santa Cruz Institute of Arts and Sciences. SJMA opens its own New Terrains exhibition Other Walks, Other Lines to highlight the work of artists who examine walking—a fundamental act increasingly threatened in our current car culture. Opening November 2, 2018 and continuing through March 10, 2019, the exhibition features the work of Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, Francis Alys, Ana Teresa Fernandez, Glenn Kaino, Pope L., and others; and performances by Brendan Fernandes and Lara Schnitger.  See for details on participating arts and culture organizations, openings, readings, lectures and performances.  

Collaboration is tantamount to our emerging strategy to become a borderless museum, and we invite you to celebrate a milestone achievement on October 12 at the Hammer Theatre in downtown San José. SJMA will proudly receive the 2018 Cornerstone of the Arts Award for our permanent gift to the community—El Mac’s mural Sophie Holding the World Together. This collaboration with The Propeller Group as a part of Viêt Nam The World Tour will be honored with the Creative Impact Award for its significant and long-lasting impact on San José’s art and cultural landscape. Our partners the Children’s Discovery Museum and Empire 7 will be there with us to receive the award, and we hope you will be too.

S. Sayre Batton
Oshman Executive Director