SJMA’s Fall Exhibition Explores Permanent Collection Favorites — And Invites Artists to Disrupt the Status Quo

Release date 
Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ten creative “interveners,” including a ballet dancer, a cartoonist, a bicycle designer, and a standup comedian, to respond to the works in the permanent collection in Momentum: an experiment in the unexpected, opening October 2

SAN JOSE, California (September 2014) — As part of its continuing 45th-anniversary celebration, the San Jose Museum of Art will present an exhibition that showcases popular works from SJMA’s collection and disrupts the museum’s status quo. Momentum: an experiment in the unexpected, on view October 2, 2014 – February 22, 2015, takes as its premise the idea that artworks are animated by viewers’ responses as well as by the artist’s intention.

This project begins with a curatorial selection of works from the permanent collection around the general theme of movement, by artists such as Alexander Calder, Jennifer Steinkamp, Jim Campbell, and Leo Villareal. To further animate the exhibition, SJMA has invited ten “interveners” from a variety of creative fields (design, dance, comedy, calligraphy, cartooning, music, poetry, bodypaint, yarn-bombing) to respond to a work of their choice. Their personal artistic re-takes on the collection take many forms: installation display, text, sound, video, sculpture, performance—all on view in the galleries. Visitors, in turn, will be invited to talk back both to the works in the collection and to these innovative interventions through open-ended activities.

Momentum will include favorite works from SJMA’s collection, including some that are rarely seen and several recent acquisitions on view for the first time. New media works that are set in motion through digital or mechanical means include Campbell’s Home Movies 300-3 (2006), Tony Oursler’s Slip (2003), Alan Rath’s Info Glut II (1997), and Villareal’s Untitled (for San Jose) (2012). Sculptural works like Tam Van Tran’s flamboyant Most Secret Butterfly (2009) and Alvin Light’s torqued July 1963 (1963) impart a sense of motion, as do the sweeping gestural lines and repetitive mark-making of Sonia Gechtoff, Il Lee, Ellen Carey, Fred Spratt, and Hassel Smith. The installation Burnt Patch by Andy Goldsworthy, an expansive site- specific work created for SJMA in 1995, will go on view in November.

The “interveners” are: Craig Calfee, bicycle designer; David Perez, poet laureate of Santa Clara County; Carl Rohrs, calligrapher and typographer; John Edmark, inventor and product designer; Dhaya Lakshminarayanan, stand-up comic; yarn-bombing street artist Streetcolor; sound artist Marc Weidenbaum and his online collaborative project Disquiet Junto; Trina Merry, body paint artist; Lark Pien, cartoonist and graphic narrative artist; and Damien Smith, principal dancer for the San Francisco Ballet.

“We invited these creative professionals to disrupt and, we hope, wildly animate the exhibition with their hands-on, personal responses to the works from the collection, in whatever medium, format, and scale they choose,” said Susan Krane, Oshman Executive Director of SJMA. “Familiar objects that SJMA’s visitors havecome to know and love over the years will trigger—and inspire—the makings of these creative minds. This hybrid exhibition promises to be open-ended, liberated from habits of pristine display, and impossible to predict. Momentum takes to a new level the notion of making the 21st-century museum open to interpretation.”

Kat Koh, curatorial associate at SJMA and curator of Momentum, says “Art is animated by actual movement, implicitly animated by the felt presence of the artist’s dynamic process, and continually animated by viewers’ ongoing participation in making meaning.”

As part of the call-and-response approach to the exhibition, visitors to Momentum are invited to add their own responses. Opportunities in the galleries will include Etch-a-Sketch drawing, a dance floor, a slow art challenge, and an interactive station to electronically annotate images from the exhibition with words or drawings. Visitors can see each other’s “interventions” in the galleries or on the Museum’s website,

Momentum: an experiment in the unexpected is sponsored by the Walter and Karla Goldschmidt Foundation, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, Doris and Alan Burgess, and the Susan and Bruce Worster Foundation.


Craig Calfee is a leading designer of bicycles based in Santa Cruz, CA. His inspiration is the sculpture Emmanuelle (2013) by Chris Fraser, a recent acquisition that will be on view at SJMA for the first time. Fraser directed an LED light at a surface of glass microspheres, plate glass, and aluminum. The optical experience of the sculpture changes with the viewer’s vantage point. Calfee’s riff on Fraser’s design includes a bicycle wheel, reflected light, and shadows.

John Edmark of Palo Alto, CA, is an inventor, designer, and artist who teaches at Stanford University. He selected Alexander Calder’s sculpture Big Red (1959). While Calder designed his mobiles to respond to natural air currents, they often move very little in climate-controlled museum galleries. Edmark will use lights and a scrim to create the illusion that Big Red is moving.

Dhaya Lakshminarayanan is a venture capitalist turned standup comedienne who was voted Best Comedian of 2013 by the readers of the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Inspired by Alan Rath’s Info Glut II (1997), Lakshminarayanan will develop a one-act play in which she will portray three characters. A video of her play will be shown alongside Rath’s work.

Trina Merry is a bodypaint artist from San Jose who recently moved to New York and gained national attention for her series in which models were camouflaged with bodypaint to blend into that’s city’s landmarks. She will create a bodypaint performance coinciding with the installation of Burnt Patch II (1995) by Andy Goldsworthy.

David Perez of San Jose is the poet laureate of Santa Clara County and has chosen to address the content of Jim Campbell’s Home Movies 300-3 (2006). He will disrupt both the typical, rarified way we consume poetry and how we experience the piece, the imagery of which coalesces only at a distance. Perez will display a recording of the keystrokes he made as he composed the poems on digital tablets mounted on the wall. As he reveals the intimacy of his creative process—backspaces, edits, and all—he also forces the viewer to get up- close and personal with Campbell’s work.

Lark Pien is a cartoonist and author of the minicomics Stories from the Ward (1997-2002), Mr. Boombha Goes for a Walk (2001), and Long Tail Kitty (2001-2006). Inspired by Il Lee’s use of simple materials, scale, and intense mark-making in Untitled #204 (2004), Pien plans to augment Lee’s work with her own. Her narrative intervention occurs in three parts, two of which will be in the gallery and the third on the Museum’s website.

Carl Rohrs is a calligrapher and typographer who lives in Santa Cruz, CA. He has chosen to respond to the photograph Solstice (1998), by Susan Manchester because, coincidentally, he owns a classic Thonet cane chair like that Manchester depicted in the photograph. He will replace the missing caning of his chair with calligraphy, cut paper, and brocade letters in a design that will change depending on the viewer’s vantage point.

Damien Smith is a principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet. His intervention relates to the painting Grenholm (1965) by Fred Spratt. Smith has been experimenting with ways to the make the execution of movement and dance more tangible, visual, and lasting. His intervention will involve the creation of a painting using his feet, dipped in paint, as he performs an original dance in response to Spratt’s work. The dance will be captured on video and shown on the wall alongside Grenholm, while his movement, captured on canvas, will be shown on the gallery floor, seen from the dancer’s perspective.

Streetcolor is a street artist who works with yarn bombing, a temporary and non-destructive form of graffiti. She will knit a response to Tam Van Tran’s Most Secret Butterfly, a wall-hung sculpture constructed of paper, canvas, and staples, and also create a project on the street outside the Museum.

Marc Weidenbaum is an author and sound artist based in San Francisco. Through his online collaborative project Disquiet Junto, he is collecting original works of music and sound from colleagues around the world to present on multiple small devices alongside the silent video Untitled #8 (2004) by Josh Azzarella.


SJMA plans a variety of public programs related to Momentum, beginning with an opening reception on Wednesday, October 8, at 7 PM. Tickets to the reception are $15 (free to members). Kat Koh, curatorial associate and curator of the exhibition, will give a gallery talk on Thursday, November 13, at noon. On Sunday, November 16, from 1 to 4 PM, the program “Art 101: Mobile Making” will give visitors the chance to make a mobile inspired by Alexander Calder’s Big Red (1959). The Museum’s after-hours series ArtRage will continue on Thursday, November 20, from 7 to 10 PM. Additional performances by the exhibition’s interveners will be announced. Details and tickets are available at


Momentum is the centerpiece of SJMA’s 45th-anniversary season. Also on view this fall will be Robert Henri’s California Portraits: Realism, Race, and Region, 1914 – 25 (September 18 – January 18); the contemporary photography exhibition Post-Portrait (October 9 – January 18, 2015); and Sleight of Hand: Painting and Illusion (October 2 – February 22, 2015).

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 San Jose Museum of Art is located at 110 South Market Street in downtown San Jose, CA. The Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 AM to 5 PM, and until 8 PM or later on the third Thursday of each month. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens, and free to members and children under 6. For more information, call 408-271-6840 or visit


Programs at the San Jose Museum of Art are made possible by generous operating support from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the Lipman Family Foundation, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, the Koret Foundation, a Cultural Affairs grant from the City of San Jose, and, with support for exhibition development, Yvonne and Mike Nevens.