Our simultaneously abusive and dependent relationship with water has made it an international battleground not only of environmental issues, but also of humanitarian concerns. The Darkened Mirror complements the pristine waterscapes on view in the exhibition Fragile Waters by presenting recent work by international artists who address our conflicted relationship with water today. From their twenty-first-century points of view, they reveal an essential resource that is no longer merely threatened, but actively besieged: it is a troubling reflection of the contemporary moment.
As consumers, we are often oblivious to the humans who perform the hard, physical work that brings food to our tables. One champion of this labor force, the United Farm Workers (UFW), has fought for the rights of migrant farm labor since 1962. San Jose was home to the UFW’s founder, the well-known activist Cesar Chavez. In the fifth installment of SJMA’s exhibition series “Beta Space,” artist Victor Cartagena will collaborate with the Salinas chapter of the United Farm Workers Foundation to create new work that will spotlight the lives and stories of the people who help feed populations across the United States.
Water is very much on the minds of Californians after six years of drought. Fragile Waters celebrates this precious, essential resource and encourages dialogue about water conservation. One hundred and seventeen black-and-white photographs by three artists whose works span a century create a powerful collective statement. The exhibition will feature thirty-seven works by Adams— including rarely seen historic images from his family’s private collection—along with photographs by Ernest H. Brooks II and Dorothy Kerper Monnelly.
Diana Al-Hadid is fascinated by boundaries, where something begins and ends. How do we define a space—be it architectural, sculptural, or experiential? Drawing on a panoply of art-historical and scientific references, she explores the space between two-dimensional mark-making and three-dimensional sculpture, the imagined and the real, interior and exterior, belonging and alienation, the ruin and the yet-to-be-completed.
This exhibition is an experiment. Your Mind, This Moment: art and the practice of attention presents works of art as objects of meditation. With input from an advisory group of artists who are also meditators, the gallery will be designed as an intimate space that encourages quietude. Short guided audio meditations, created for this occasion by Bay Area mindfulness teachers, will be available for visitors. Related public programs will offer an array of opportunities to explore the intersection between the practice of looking and the increasingly widespread practice of mindfulness meditation.
SJMA is the only West Coast venue for the latest global overview of design today, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s popular contemporary design triennial. The New York Times heralded the exhibition as “an exciting opportunity to meditate on the perennially confounding questions: What is beauty? And what is it good for?” With projects ranging from experimental prototypes and interactive games to fashion and architectural structures made feasible by material innovations and nanotechnology, “Beauty” will feature more than 200 works by 63 designers from around the globe.
Milton Rogovin (1901–2011) shed light on important social issues of the time: the plight of miners; the decline of the once-robust steel industry in upstate New York; the everyday struggles of the poor and working class in Buffalo, New York, where he lived. Life and Labor marks the public debut of these photographs, which were gifted to the Museum’s collection in 2011.
The precarious relationship between nature and humanity is the subject of this exhibition, drawn from SJMA’s permanent collection. For over two generations since Rachel Carson’s landmark book Silent Spring (1962) triggered the modern environmentalist movement, contemporary artists have been similarly moved by a primal reverence for nature and thus also prompted to raise questions about our rampant impact on the earth’s fragile ecosystems. For example, Anne Appleby uses the spare language of minimalism to record the subtle beauty of nature in Sage (1993), in which each monochromatic panel (built up of translucent layers of color) relates to the annual life cycle of a sage plant—and to Appleby’s observant, poetic take on the perennial succession of life, death, and renewal.
At first thought, artistic and scientific practice might seem unrelated: one is focused on expression, the other on data. Yet the similarities between the way artists and scientists work far outweigh their differences. The scientist’s laboratory and the artist’s studio are places where learning is achieved through open-ended inquiry, a never-ending cycle of thinking and doing, and the belief that failure is an inherent part of the process. This exhibition celebrates artists represented in SJMA’s permanent collection who thrive at the interface between art and science.
By the 1960s, San Jose was in the midst of rapid-fire transition from a small agricultural community to a sprawling metropolis. The tech industry was swelling, and by the end of the decade the population had grown five-fold. This era also brought to town a new, innovative community of artists, many of whom were recruited from across the country by San Jose State College (now San Jose State University). Fresh from top graduate schools and conversant with the radical artistic thinking of the time, this generation of artists brought new vitality and a proclivity for experimentation to town.
Through the lens of art, photographer Richard Misrach and composer Guillermo Galindo give presence to the thousands of undocumented immigrants who cross into the US each year and encourage a humanitarian perspective on the plight of all immigrants. By bringing the border down to human scale, and by putting politics in the context of individual human lives, Border Cantos offers a provocative response to the polarizing discussions around immigration reform that have dominated local and national politics, both today and throughout the history of this country.
Imagine these ever-changing environments: Apartment buildings open to reveal the very private and sometimes strange lives of their occupants; behind a curtain of long, flowing dark hair, arteries feed blood to a pulsating heart and a throbbing brain slips off the edge of a table; a hanging lamp morphs into a full moon, which morphs into a manhole that swallows the contents of the room.
William Wegman is best known for his heartwarming and amusing photographs of his dogs. Artists Including Me: William Wegman introduces another very personal side of this widely loved artist. With his signature quick wit, Wegman reflects on his life as an artist and on his artistic heroes. Here, he reimagines arthistorical masterpieces and art-world scenarios. Wegman’s alternative versions are part homage, part visual pun, and part parody.
Dixon and Barbara Farley shared their Marin home with an impressive, constantly growing collection of modern and contemporary art. Dixon Farley’s dedication (in particular to the work of Bay Area artists) never faltered, and he added new works to his collection up until his death in 2011. He had long wanted this carefully selected group of works to find an appreciative and appropriate public venue and, in 2000, he and Barbara made a promised gift of seventy-three artworks to SJMA—“a terrific home for my collection,” he said. Now, fifteen years later, the San Jose Museum of Art has the honor of exhibiting this intimate collection for the first time.
The ceramic sculptures in this exhibition are wildly inventive expressions of the human figure; they range from earthy abstractions to larger-than-life busts and whimsical characters. The exhibition draws from the Museum’s collection and also includes two loans by Bay Area artists from a new generation who are continuing this region’s legacy of prominence and innovation in the medium.
On Saturday, September 12, the San Jose Museum of Art holds “Full Spectrum 2015: Steam Powered,” our annual gala and benefit auction. The artworks on view in this gallery have been generously donated for sale at the auction by gallerists and artists. Many of these artists may be familiar to you: their work is represented in SJMA’s permanent collection or has been featured in recent exhibitions. Proceeds from the auction and the gala fund the Museum’s education programs for youth and for adults, both at SJMA and in the schools.
As we pass the second anniversary of shocking revelations about widespread, international data collection, security and privacy have become everyday concerns. Covert Operations is the first survey of work by artists who are responding to the uncertainties of the post-9/11 world. They employ the tools of democracy to bear witness to attacks on liberty and to the abuse of power: they reveal previously unreported information and government actions that may limit civil rights.
One of the esteemed Los Tres Grandes Mexican muralists, José Clemente Orozco (1881 – 1949) is best known for monumental fresco cycles that present dramatic, epic narratives. Yet throughout his life, Orozco was also an avid draftsman who had a masterful understanding of the musculature and the inherent expressiveness of the human body. This exhibition includes more than twenty figure studies generously loaned by the Michael Wornick Collection. Many of them have never been exhibited before.
Long interested in the mysteries of the night sky and the natural world, internationally-recognized artist Diana Thater is fascinated by the dung beetle and its relationship to our galaxy. Inspired by a recent scientific study that revealed how the jewellike beetle uses the Milky Way for nocturnal orientation, Thater developed an entirely new kind of film and video installation to ponder the vastness of the universe and to convey aesthetically the sublime aspects of the cosmic imagination
Two generations after the exultation of Independence and the concurrent horrors of Partition, contemporary Indian photographers reclaim and reappraise the history of colonialism in their country. These artists look closely and critically at historical Indian photography and draw on diverse sources of inspiration. They take matters of history into their own hands, redefining the iconic historical images of India and investigating the complex relationship between traditions of representation and contemporary image-making.
The act of making (whether it be artistic or scientific) with the goal of producing a more beautiful and better world is part of the human impulse. Makers demonstrate an “I can do it” attitude. They use materials in new ways, upcycle discarded objects, challenge familiar ways of doing things and invent new ones. Sometimes creativity, a force inherent in all of us, just needs a little inspiration. In this spirit, we invite you to the Koret Family Gallery: view artworks made of new materials in new ways, take a maker challenge, and rekindle your creative spark.
City life has fascinated artists for hundreds of years. Early twentieth-century artists in the United States often depicted the physical and social realities, as well as the potential emotional disconnect, that can accompany urban density. In recent decades, artistic focus shifted to the ramifications of climate change, localism, and globalization. City Limits, City Life encourages audiences to think about urbanism in a larger context and coincides with collective efforts to enliven and transform downtown San Jose.
This group exhibition of contemporary portraiture explores the aesthetic, psychological, and emotional implications of the gaze in photography today. Here, the traditional view of a portrait is subverted: instead, a dynamic and ambiguous relationship between object and subject develops. The power of the gaze is blurred the moment the sitter becomes a partner in the art-making process.
This exhibition showcases some of the public’s longtime favorite works from the Museum’s permanent collection, in celebration of SJMA’s forty-fifth-anniversary year. Sleight of Hand asks visitors to look carefully at the allure of style and to further explore artists’ use of mesmerizing detail and similitude.