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Fall 2004 Arts Guide:
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Milk Man: Robert Arneson's portrait of Harvey Milk is part of the museum's new acquisitions.

Aging Report

The San Jose Museum of Art turns 35

By Michael S. Gant

THE BIG NUMBER for the fall visual-arts season is 35. That's how many years the San Jose Museum of Art is counting off. To mark the occasion, the museum presents "It's About Time: Celebrating 35 Years," which opens Oct. 2 with a caviar gala.

Katie and Drew Gibson chief curator Susan Landauer explains that the exhibit will showcase a wide selection of new acquisitions for the museum's permanent collection. "We nearly doubled the value of our collection in the past two years," Landauer notes.

The focus, as in the past, she says, "is on the West Coast art," and California art in particular, a special interest for Landauer, who wrote a major study on the Bay Area abstract expressionist movement of the 1940s and '50s. "We don't offer the same franchised experience that other cities have—strip mall art. We want to focus on the specialties of the area."

Those specialties include ceramic sculpture, which will be represented in the show by David Gilhooly's Ark de Triumphe, to mention one of the more notable among the UC-Davis-based ceramicists who elevated a craft form to an art form and injected large doses of satire and humor in the process.

In recognition of the museum's location in the heart of Silicon Valley, its collection also leans heavily toward new-media works. Landauer cites Tony Oursler's "creepy surrealistic fantasy" Slip, which combines fiberglass sculpture and DVD players, as a strong example of what the future holds. Jennifer Steinkamp's Untitled, a computer-projection piece, was created especially for the museum.

In a historical vein, the exhibit also highlights some of the major players of the West Coast scene, from surrealist Helen Lundeberg to Ruth Asawa and Joan Brown, from abstract figurist Nathan Oliveira (with two large paintings) to Stanford stalwart Frank Lobdell and usual suspect Wayne Thiebaud. Landauer is particularly pleased with Elmer Bischoff's Two Figures in Vermillion Light from 1959, which she calls "one of his best paintings."

The works-on-paper section of the exhibit will include pieces from the Shoe Tree series by Jay DeFeo, whose fame as the creator of The Rose, one of the seminal abstract paintings of the second half of the last century, makes her possibly the most famous artist ever to grow up in San Jose, where she attended high school and took some art classes at San Jose State.

San Jose Museum of Art
110 S. First St., San Jose; 408.294.2787.
It's About Time: Celebrating 35 Years—Oct. 2-Feb. 13

Cantor Arts Center
Stanford campus; 650.723.4177.
In addition to its experimental show in museum dynamics, "Question," the Cantor also opens a companion show this fall. "Women on the Verge: The Culture of Neurasthenia in 19th-Century America" (Oct. 20-Feb. 6) draws on the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum for depictions of women—in both high (paintings) and low (advertising) genre—diagnosed with the 19th-century's disease of choice for women who deviated from society's norms.

De Saisset Museum
Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real; 408.554.5125.
Pressing Pleasures: Recent Prints by Matt Phillips—Sept. 18-Dec. 3
Peaceful Painter: Hisako Hibi—Sept. 18-Dec. 3, and Jan. 22-March 11

Legion of Honor
100 34th Ave., Lincoln Park, San Francisco; 415.750.3600.
The museum's big-ticket show for the fall (which just opened last week and runs till Jan. 2 of next year) is "Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya." This project, a collaboration with the National Gallery of Art and the government of Mexico, boasts an impressive array of objects created for the royalty of the Mayan empire. The real draw is that the show brings to light recent finds from Palanquin that haven't been seen in the United States before.

510 S. First St., San Jose; 408. 998.ARTE.
Counter-Representations, works by Richard Godinez—Sept. 15-Oct. 30

Montalvo Gallery
15400 Montalvo Rd., Saratoga; 408. 961.5800.
Animal Instincts, a group show of young artists working with animal motifs—runs through the fall

Oakland Museum of California
Tenth and Oak streets, Oakland; 510.238.2200.
Not many museum exhibitions include a lounge with boxes of Kleenex and journals for visitors who break down emotionally during the course of the visit. But "What's Going On: California and the Vietnam Era," through Feb. 27 at the Oakland Museum of California, collects relics of a war that seems far from dead and buried. The museum has assembled items from the Vietnam War and the nationwide protests against it. The more ephemeral the pieces found, the more fascinating they are: letters pleading for conscientious-objector status, collected by an Army officer; graffiti found aboard a mothballed troop ship; souvenir items made by refugees in a California resettlement camp: "To My Dear Little Hao," hand-engraved into a spoon shaped from aluminum scrap. There is also a button I would have loved to have owned in 1986: "To Hell With Rambo and Everything He Represents."

Palo Alto Art Center
1313 Newell Rd., Palo Alto; 650.329.2366.

The center opens three deeply introspective shows simultaneously on Sept. 26: "Revisit the Mirror," an exhibit of artists' self-portraits; "To Mirror History," a joint show by Santa Cruz artists Ian Everard and Hanna Hannah; and "Other Selves," watercolor self-portraits by Dominic Di Mare of Tiburon.

San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art
451 S. First St., San Jose; 408283.8155.
Following its annual Fall Auction (which opens for viewing Oct. 1 and culminates in a bidding frenzy among art buyers on Oct. 23), SJICA takes a look a look at the career of Jaap Bongers, whose vision encompasses sculpture, installation pieces, mixed media and photography. All of Bongers' work is deeply influenced by a mid-'80s brush with death that left him temporarily blind.

Triton Museum of Art
1505 Warburton Ave., Santa Clara; 408.247.3745.
Terry St. John, Bay Area landscape painter—Sept. 9-Dec. 5.

WORKS/San Jose
30 N. Third St., San Jose; 408.295.8378.
Starting Sept. 28, the independent gallery offers "Beginnings and Endings," a three-artist (Anne Wolf, Lisa Levine and Cariadne Mackensie) show probing the big issues of birth, death and life. The media range from photography to textiles and assemblage.

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From the September 8-14, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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