San Jose Museum of Art, California

Right after class Laura and I decided to visit some of the attractions in downtown San Jose. We were feeling a little bit artistic so we visited the closest Art museum in SJSU and that was the San Jose Museum of Art. The interesting fact about this place was the building, but before I talk about the location here is the history of the museum and how it came to be.

“The San Jose Museum of Art (SJMA), founded in 1969, is widely recognized as a leading institution in the Bay Area dedicated to the art of our time. SJMA has earned a reputation for acquiring works by pivotal artists very early in their careers; for its longstanding support of California artists; and for its commitment to the work of groundbreaking, independent thinkers.

Old Post Office

Over the course of the Museum’s history, the City of San Jose has metamorphosed from an agricultural community into the capital of Silicon Valley, a hub of innovation and global thinking. Accordingly, SJMA has expanded the scope of its collections to reflect the high-tech interests, dynamic cultural diversity, innovative spirit, and international scope of its communities.

The permanent collection includes more than 2,400 works of art: paintings, sculpture, installations, new media, photography, drawings, prints, and artist’s books. SJMA has a history of attracting significant gifts of artwork from generous collectors and artists. Over 95% of the works in the collection have come to SJMA via generous donations.”

There was more history on the website with the link provided below.  We were lucky enough to get FREE Admission that day and since its mostly modern and contemporary works, we were not allowed to take pictures until into some areas. Here is a background about the old and new wings of the museum.

California Marker

“The museum’s historic wing was originally designed by architect Willoughby J. Edbrooke and built as the San Jose post office in 1892, then served as the city’s library from 1937 to 1969. The building was then converted by The Fine Arts Gallery Association, reopening as the Civic Art Gallery. In 1972 the building was named a California Historical Landmark (#854), and in 1973 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The “New Wing,” comprising the majority of the current exhibition space, opened in 1991.”

There was nothing much to see in the old building so we went to the new one. There we looked at some of the exhibits and took some pictures. While admiring the artwork we got to learn some of the artists.

Hung Liu (Born 1948, Changchun, China) Lives in Oakland, California

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Chinese Profile II (1998)

Dale Chihuly (Born 1941, Tacoma, Washington) Lives in Seattle

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Various Chandelier Turquoise, Yellow and Red (1995)

Nathan Oliveira (Born 1928, Oakland, California) Died 2010, Stanford, California

Nathan Oliveira returned to painting the human figure in the late 1980s. Many of these images were sculptural and generalized to the point of being unidentifiable. Called “Stelae,” these paintings engaged Oliveira for almost a decade and reflect his interest in monoliths created by various cultures throughout the world.

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Imi I (1989)

Imi I follows in the tradition of the “Stelae” series, but the identity of the figure is known. Imi was Oliveira’s graduate student at Stanford University. She modeled for him once or twice a week for almost three months. Oliveira made more than one hundred wash drawings of her, many done rapidly in response to the model’s changing positions. In the painting, however, Oliveira carefully outlined and defined several areas of Imi’s body using light and dark shades in order to separate her from the ambiguous space that surrounds her.”

Jitish Kallat Lives in Mumbai.

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Epilogue (2010-11)

Jitish Kallat honors his father in Epilogue (2010-11), a deeply personal, reverential sequence of photographs of the traditional circular flatbread roti, a staple of daily life in India. In Epilogue, each roti represents the phase of the moon on each day of his father’s 62-year long life. These 22,000 moons, in which his father may have gazed, bear witness to his time on earth. The poignant memorial is a metaphor for nourishment and a meditation on time. Kallat is attentive to the universal theme of art, birth, death, survival; he places the space and scale of one human life within a cosmic context.

Donald Roller Wilson (Born 1938, Houston) Lives and works in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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Cookie dress for the night

Peter Shelton (Born 1951, Troy, Ohio) Lives and works in Venice, California

Peter Shelton makes sculptural objects and architectural environments that respond to a given space. Inspired by the form and shape of the body and its various parts-bones, intestines, blood vessels-Shelton creates art that walks the line between figuration and abstraction, architecture and sculpture, organic and inorganic. His iron, steel, bronze and fiberglass sculptures take on human qualities as they parallel our own physical states and responses to our surroundings.” 

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Opensleeve (1988-2005) Bronze

In Opensleeve, Shelton focused on the polarity of heaviness and lightness. The sculpture suggests a heavily starched shirt with holes for head and arms left open to the air. Despite being heavy bronze, it seems to float in space.

Fritz Scholder (Born 1937, Breckenridge, Minnesota) Died 2005, Phoenix, Arizona.

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The Odyssey #2 (1977)

Fritz Scholder depicted the tensions between contemporary culture and traditional ways of life through the figure of the Native American.  By birth part Native American, Scholder learned about his native cultural traditions only when he started teaching art to Native American students in Santa Fe in 1964. In 1967, he began to use expressionistic brushstrokes and garish hues of blue, orange, violet and green that contrasted sharply with the immediate environments of his Native American subjects. Scholder used these devices, coupled with images and ideas called from popular culture, to challenge stereotypes of the “American Indian.” In The Odyssey #2, Scholder relied on Homer’s underlying messages regarding struggle, temptation, loss, and perseverance to address modern-day realities faced by Native Americans living in and around the reservations.

Roberto Matta (Born 1911, Santiago, Chile) Died 2002, Targuinia, Italy

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So that was it for our tour of the Museum of Modern Art in San Jose. We had a great time looking at those artworks and maybe in the future, we might come back again.

Here are the links for more information

Say Cheez!


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