SJMA Receives Gift of 12 Artworks from J. Michael Bewley, Including Works by Robert Arneson, Enrique Chagoya, Lesley Dill, and George Herms

Release date 
Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Donations from the noted South Bay private collector are highlights of the year’s acquisitions, alongside SJMA’s purchase of work by Diana Thater, Won Ju Lim, Imin Yeh and others. 


SAN JOSE, California (July 25, 2016)—The San Jose Museum of Art has received a major gift of twelve works of art from the collection of J. Michael Bewley of San Jose. Among the highlights is Robert Arneson’s Five Times for Harvey (1982), a series of five mixed-media portraits of the late LGBT activist and San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk that hung prominently in Bewley’s law office. Also included in his donation are works by Christopher Brown, Squeak Carnwath, Enrique Chagoya, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Lesley Dill, George Grosz, George Herms, Italo Scanga, and Fritz Scholder. The gift from Mr. Bewley, a former trustee of SJMA and longtime member of the Museum’s Acquisitions Committee, is among 22 works acquired by SJMA in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. 


“For many years, Mike Bewley has been one of the most forward-looking, knowledgeable, and adventurous collectors of contemporary art in our community,” said Susan Krane, Oshman Executive Director of SJMA. “His passion for art dates back to his days as an undergraduate at Princeton University, when he frequented the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia. It is no wonder that his art collection today reflects his core, humanistic ideals and his deep belief in social justice. Bewley has watched the San Jose Museum of Art’s collection grow in breadth and ambition over the years. His generous gift thus means all the more to us. It critically expands our representation of key artists’ work and furthers our holdings of socially engaged art as well. Mike’s donation reflects his legacy of support for challenging art that does not shy away from tough personal and political topics. It’s our honor to receive these artworks into the collection and to share them with the public.” 


Of his gift, Bewley said, “As a longtime collector, it is a wonderful feeling to be able to give back to the community with this donation of certain pieces from my collection. I have been drawn to art that reflects the human face or form, and that confronts issues such as race, gender, gender identity, cultural identity, and inequality. The San Jose Museum of Art is the right place for this gift because it reflects the openness and diversity of the Bay Area. It is very important to me that significant works such as Robert Arneson’s Five Times For Harvey and Enrique Chagoya’s Powerful Hand continue to be seen by future generations. There is much to be learned!” 


In addition to Five Times for Harvey, Bewley’s gift includes Arneson’s lithograph Pic (1980) and brings SJMA’s holdings of works by this important California artist to twelve. His donation of the paintings Didactic Retablo (Powerful Hand) (1992) by Chagoya, an internationally known artist who currently teaches at Stanford University, and of No. 4 Insomnia (1987), by Carnwath, of Oakland, California, professor emerita at University of California, Berkeley, similarly deepens SJMA’s representations of these influential Bay Area artists. 


In addition to Bewley’s gift, the San Jose Museum of Art acquired ten works for the collection between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016, including those by Firelei Báez, Steve French, Won Ju Lin, David Middlebrook, Diana Thater (which will debut in the exhibition Indestructible Wonder opening August 18), William Wiley, and Imin Yeh. 



The San Jose Museum of Art celebrates new ideas, stimulates creativity, and inspires connection with every visit. Welcoming and thought-provoking, the Museum rejects stuffiness and delights visitors with its surprising and playful perspective on the art and artists of our time.

The Museum’s burgeoning permanent collection includes over 2,000 modern and contemporary works of art: paintings, sculpture, installation, new media, photography, drawings, prints, and artists’ books. Widely known for supporting California artists, SJMA has earned a reputation for acquiring pivotal artists early in their careers. As San Jose has grown from an agricultural community into the capital of Silicon Valley, SJMA has expanded the focus of its collection to reflect the high-tech interests, dynamic cultural diversity, and international scope of its communities. The Museum remains committed to the work of California artists, yet now also strives to bring greater national and international context to the collection for the future. The collection includes works by Elmer Bischoff, Joan Brown, Jim Campbell, Enrique Chagoya, Andy Goldsworthy, Bari Kumar, Markus Linnenbrink, Louise Nevelson, Catherine Opie, Tony Oursler, Tino Rodriquez, Ben Rubin and Mark Hanson, Alison Saar, Jennifer Steinkamp, Masami Teraoka, and William T. Wiley. 


The San Jose Museum of Art is located at 110 South Market Street in downtown San Jose, California. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 AM to 5 PM. For more information, call 408-271-6840 or visit