Message from the Director

Hung Liu. Photo by Drew Altizer.

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

“Always a trendsetter, California today is the United States of tomorrow. That scares plenty of people. It relieves others....[California] is the most diverse state in the country, by measures of geography, economy, culture and demographics.”            

—John Branch, The New York Times, November 19, 2018

Happy New Year and welcome to the future!  

The San José Museum of Art proudly launched its 2019–2023 Strategic Plan last fall with the overarching goal to become a borderless museum, essential to creative life throughout the diverse communities of San José and Silicon Valley. The innovative ethos of Silicon Valley informs who we are, and those we serve, locally and globally, as we reimagine ourselves as a Museum for the audience of the future, with reach far beyond SJMA’s walls.​

How do we get there? We start by walking. Inspired by wanderlust and the desire to present views of walking by artists from the Bay Area to around the world over the last thirty years, we opened the exhibition Other Walks, Other Lines on November 2, 2018. SJMA’s contribution to the South Bay collaborative effort New Terrains: Mobility and Migration, continues well into the New Year with nearly 40 cross-disciplinary partners. Other Walks, Other Lines includes exceptional performances through March 10, 2019, starting with Lara Schnitger’s Suffragette City on Saturday, January 12. Join us on this march through downtown San José to proudly celebrate the achievements of women in challenging political times.  

Continuing through April 7 is the ambitious exhibition Dinh Q. Lê: True Journey Is Return, the first large-scale examination of this world-renowned artist in ten years, a Viêtnamese refugee whose education and career launched in Los Angeles and New York, before he returned to his home country. This project also launches the film series Stories from the Farther Shore: Southeast Asian Film from March 20-24, co-presented with the Asian Art Museum (AAM), San Francisco with twelve films screened at the AAM, the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, and locations throughout San José.  

Public programs proliferate this season. We open our doors to Contemplative Walking with Kathleen Callan on January 2, Creative Minds: Tender Table with She Who Has No Master(s) on January 13 and Brendan Fernandes’ Inaction: A Performance with the New Ballet Studio Company in the galleries on February 21 and 23.  

In Spring 2019 we launch our 50th anniversary celebration with solo exhibitions of four visionary women artists: Jay DeFeo, Catherine Wagner, Rina Banerjee, and Pae White. Undersoul: Jay DeFeo, opening on March 8, will proudly display SJMA’s four DeFeo works from the permanent collection along with rare or never before seen photographs, collages, and drawings from the rich holdings of The Jay DeFeo Foundation.

Since our founding by artists nearly 50 years ago, the San José Museum of Art supports artists as visionaries, and as problem solvers. The Museum recently elected the artist Hung Liu to join the Board of Trustees, as we recognize that artists have a unique perspective on the social and political landscape. With a new Strategic Plan in place, our creative and empowered staff, dynamic Board of Trustees, and devoted volunteers are working together to building a culture of innovation, inclusion and teamwork that radiates outward, across borders, into the future.


S. Sayre Batton
Oshman Executive Director