WTF: We’re Turning Forty in 2020
In 2020, the ICA will celebrate its 40th anniversary – 40 years of presenting world-class contemporary art exhibitions in downtown San Jose. (Oh yeah, for FREE.)
While 40 may seem young to many of us, it’s a major milestone in the lifespan of a mid-sized, non-profit arts organization. Four decades ago, a small band of artists decided that San Jose needed a professionally curated contemporary art space where local, national and international artists could be presented in group and solo exhibitions. And, in October 1980, they incorporated as the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.
Fast forward to today. On the eve of our major anniversary, we are planning a year-long roster of ambitious exhibitions and compelling events that will honor our successes, reflect on our failures, and prepare for our future. Ultimately, we are not only celebrating the ICA, but also considering the importance of the visual arts in our community – honoring the hundreds of contributing artists, board members, staff and volunteers and reflecting on their impact on the Bay Area.
1980 sees the premiere of the first official exhibition at the ICA, featuring the works of San Jose-based photographers Jacqueline Thurston and John Robert Fulton Jr. The exhibition opened to audiences on October 19, 1980 at the ICA’s 377 S. First St. location.
Richard Diebenkorn: Etchings: Process into Form
Richard Diebenkorn: Etchings: Process into Form opens on September 7, 1984. The exhibition featured recent etchings created by Diebenkorn at Crown Point Press in Oakland. Robert Tomlinson, Director of the San Jose ICA, would write in the exhibition catalogue that this show “offers the members of our community an opportunity to view the entire creative process, from casual sketch to finished print, of one of America’s finest artists.” The exhibition travels to the Milwaukee Art Museum in June 1985.
Contemporary Art: 30,000 B.C. – Present
Guest curator Michael S. Bell, assistant director of cultural affairs of the Arts Commission in San Francisco, offers a radical approach to art history with his exhibition Contemporary Art: 30,000 B.C. – Present. Doing away with traditional categories and trends in modern art, Bell proposes a collection of works that exhibit decorative, abstract, and surrealist qualities that transcend boundaries of time and place. A review from the San Jose Mercury News calls the exhibition “a provocative, ambitious show with real strengths.”
The Artist and the Computer
The 1986 exhibition The Artist and the Computer: New Portraiture, developed in conjunction with the 1986 Silicon Valley Festival of Electronic Arts, explores connections between technology and the self. The exhibition features the work of Alyce Kaprow, Ronald MacNeil, Joel Slayton, and Joan Truckenbrod, as well as film and media installations by Richard Lowenberg and Michael Naimark.
Terra Incognita (The Known Earth)
Guest curator Rebecca Solnit brings together works by seven California photographers, all of them women, in the group show Terra Incognita (The Known Earth). These artists subvert the traditions of twentieth-century landscape photography, with its emphasis on untouched, pristine views of the natural world, by highlighting those inhabited, intimate, and transformed landscapes of the present.
Culture and Context
Culture and Context exhibits the works of 11 Southeast Asian artists working in the Bay Area. These artists use contemporary and traditional art forms to share their personal stories of immigration and cultural assimilation. The exhibition also includes Paul Kwan and Arnold Iger’s performance “Tale of Q.”
Border Axes: San Jose Connection connects artists with political and human rights activists to produce a series of works that explore poverty, oppression, immigration, and the occupational hazards of Mexican workers in California. This project grew from discussions about border issues that were initiated by the San Diego’s Border Art Workshop Taller De Arte Fronterizo. The exhibition also marks the ICA’s temporary expansion to a second building at 2 North Second Street in San Jose, the former site of the Johnson Wax Development Corporation.
Sixth Annual Valentine Exhibition and Auction
Views of the T. House
Mind Axis features three installations by Seyed Alavi, Rene Yung, and Cas Lehman. Each installation provokes contemplation on such varied subjects as mysticism, societal banishment, and schizophrenia.
Mirror, Mirror: Gender Roles and the Historical Significance of Beauty examines the politics of beauty, and artists’ investigations of the ways in which women and men are “constructed” by media and culture. The 17 artists in this exhibition address the objectification of women and the male gaze, responses to cultural ideals of body image, and the dynamic between sexual desirability and cultural morality.
Monotype Marathon Begins
Monotype Marathons, an annual fundraiser that ran until 2010, allowed artists from all backgrounds and expertise to experiment with printmaking. Artists were invited to create monotypes that were donated to an auction hosted by the ICA.
Salt and Pepper
Salt and Pepper, a collaborative exhibition between the ICA and the Association for Viet Arts, opens at the ICA. The title of the exhibition references a Vietnamese expression for aging—the “salt” represents the older generation while the “pepper” represents their younger counterpart. The eight artists included in this show represent both generations. Curator Lan Nguyen writes that these artists “constitute the innate, dependent cycle of growth, survival, and rebirth as a new generation emerges from their revered predecessors. Their works unite the past and present with an inspiring boldness of tomorrow.”
Ellen DeGeneres Comes Out Publicly
In 1997, Ellen DeGeneres came out through her sitcom character Ellen Morgan; becoming the first openly gay woman to have her own sitcom. Ellen had to play the role of a straight woman for four seasons before she, and her character, came out in a two-part, late-season episode. Although her career took a hit and her show was cancelled, she came back with her own television talk show called Ellen.
The Female Gaze
The Female Gaze: Women Looking at Men was produced in collaboration with the South Bay chapter of the Women’s Caucus for Art. Challenging the long tradition of the male gaze in Western art, this juried exhibition invited women artists of the Bay Area to enter their own takes on the male figure. All depictions of men (the good, the bad, the ugly) were welcomed.
Sol LeWitt: Works on Paper
Sol LeWitt: Works on Paper brings together works by the acclaimed New York based conceptual artist Sol LeWitt. This major exhibition showcases the artist’s prints and works on paper, many of which begin with the formal elements (geometric cubes, stars, rectangles, etc.) that mark his three-dimensional works, before diverging into structural systems of line and color.
Northern Exposure: New Art from Japan
Northern Exposure: New Art from Japan features the work of 14 contemporary artists from the Narita to Hokkaido regions of Japan. To present this multi-venue exhibition, the ICA formed a unique partnership with Santa Clara University and Applied Materials, bringing together cultural, educational, and corporate institutions to exhibit works by acclaimed international artists.
The Start of the Euro
The Euro is introduced, creating an economic and monetary union between all EU countries.
Shut Up and Love Me
Shut Up and Love Me: A 75-minute performance by Karen Finley performed on March 9th and 10th at the ICA. Finley’s performances often blend elements of theater, spoken word, and visual art. Shut Up and Love Me explores a woman’s journey through dysfunctional companionship and psychosexual lust “without apology.” Her book, A Different Kind of Intimacy was published in November of the previous year, a few months before the performance.
First Night Moves
The first Night Moves event featuring Perpetual Labor by Chris Eckert, a San Jose State graduate student, premiers at the ICA. Night Moves is an after-dark program that presents installation works in the front window of the gallery’s façade. The City of San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affairs granted the ICA the funds to purchase necessary equipment.
Nigel Poor: Found
An exhibition of 365 gelatin silver prints, each representing a day out of Poor’s yearlong project combing the streets of San Francisco. The exhibition was organized and presented in a pattern resembling a calendar, with diary pages accompanying the prints. In her own words, the artist described the process as “a journal of time, the environment, and myself.”
First Talking Art
The first Talking Art event takes place at the ICA. The description on an early brochure reads: “Talking Art is a series of salon-style discussions about the business of being an artist. These gatherings will attempt to unlock the mysteries of the art world.”
Bytes and Pieces:The Art of Contemporary Collage
Bytes and Pieces: The Art of Contemporary Collage is an exploration of collage in the age of digital media, emphasizing the relationship between art and technology especially present in the Bay Area. The exhibition features 14 artists and was organized in conjunction with Cut, Copy, Paste at the de Saisset Museum in Santa Clara, an exhibition featuring earlier Bay Area collage artists like Bruce Connor and George Herms. Bytes and Pieces also marks the ICA’s first artist in residency program where artists hosted small public workshops.
Ornamentation: The Art of Desire
Ornamentation: The Art of Desire – A group exhibition examining the historical and metaphysical use of pattern inspired by the tradition of ornamentation.
NextNew and Lift Off
The launching of the NextNew and Lift Off series, both of which highlight emerging students and local artists. Lift Off: Glim Glom Glam showcases works by San Jose State University’s MFA students.
Rio de Historias/River of Stories
Rio de Historias/River of Stories: Drawings, Prints and Artists’ Books by Gustavo Ramos Rivera, a solo exhibition featuring the San Francisco-based artist. The exhibition opens in May in conjunction with another solo exhibition of his work at the San Jose Museum of Art.
Opening of The Print Center
Along with its new exhibition space, the ICA opens The Print Center. It accommodates up to six printers and is the first of its kind in the South Bay. The Print Center offered an ongoing schedule of workshops led by professional printers for artists of all levels, as well as open studio days for artists.
Landscapes of War
Landscapes of War: A group exhibition concerning the complexities and politics of war, inspired by the writings of Rebecca Solnit. This exhibition evolved from a panel discussion at Headlands Center called Landscape of War: Transformation of the Familiar moderated by Solnit. 2007:
Open Shutters Iraq
Open Shutters Iraq: A collaborative exhibition with the Montalvo Arts Center, curated by British photojournalist Eugenie Dolberg. The exhibition features a photographic series of diary entries written by 12 Iraqi women, revealing the deteriorating landscape of a country at war as well as the poignant portraits of some of its citizens.
The Space Between
The Space Between: A six-artist exhibition stylistically focused on minimalism, geometric abstraction, and optical art. Featured at right is a large-scale optical wall drawing by Linn Meyers. Other artists include Freddy Chandra, Brent Hallard, Gay Outlaw, Mel Prest, and Nancy White.
Timothy Horn: Medusa
Timothy Horn: Medusa: Australian artist Timothy Horn exhibits Medusa, a massive chandelier made of silicone rubber and fiber optics. The work was inspired by the ornate jellyfish illustrations of nineteenth-century German zoologist Ernst Haeckel. Both monstrous and beautiful, Medusa’s organic and glowing form follows Horn’s interest in the history of ornamentation.
Manuel Neri: The Figure in Relief
Manuel Neri: The Figure in Relief – A comprehensive exhibition of painted sculptures, maquettes and works on paper by preeminent Bay Area sculptor Manuel Neri. Neri is known internationally for his life-size sculptures in plaster, bronze, ceramic and marble, as well as for his association with the Bay Area figurative movement during the 1950s and 1960s. This exhibition marks the first time that this body of work has been shown together in California.
It’s Not Us. It’s You
It’s Not Us. It’s You: An exhibition that explores the inevitability of rejection in our lives. Guest curated by artist Ray Beldner, It’s Not Us. It’s You features artists who respond to the reality of rejection with subversion, self- reflection, humor and brutal honesty. As part of the exhibition, Beldner compiled a book of artist rejection letters, which were displayed in the ICA galleries. An open-mic session for rejection confessions also took place during the exhibition’s opening reception.
Christel Dillbohner: Ice Floe
Christel Dillbohner: Ice Floe: Dillbohner’s majestic site-specific installation Ice Floe was comprised of thousands of suspended cones dipped in crisp white, blue and green pigmented wax. Motivated by her research of the melting glaciers and pack ice in the Arctic and Antarctica, Ice Floe evokes topographies of extreme climates and transformation.
Libby Black presents her immersive sculptural installation Work Out, made from paper, paint, and hot glue. Black’s installation explores the relationship between fitness, beauty, and consumerism, with a room full of Prada stationary bikes, Louis Vuitton bench press, a Burberry punching bag, and Chanel weight belt.
Tony May: Old Technology
Tony May: Old Technology marks a comprehensive 40-year retrospective exhibition of May’s paintings, sculptures, and installations as well as recreations of past temporal, interventionist and sitespecific projects that have been lost or destroyed over time. Tony May is a highly respected artist in the Bay Area, best known for a teaching career that spanned more than 40 years at San Jose State University from 1967 to 2005.
By a Thread
By A Thread includes 16 emerging and mid-career artists who create unexpectedly nostalgic, poetic and provocative works using thread as their primary medium. From large-scale, site-specific installations to intricately detailed minuscule illustration, traditional notions of threadwork are replaced with innovated methods and techniques that truly bend the dynamics of the medium.
Bernie Lubell: Conservation of Intimacy
In partnership with the 01SJ Biennial, the ICA exhibits Bernie Lubell: Conservation of Intimacy, an interactive environment where every person’s participation matters. Lubell’s low-tech wood installations required the cooperation of people in order to work, powerfully suggesting that by engaging with each other and our surroundings, we can solve problems and reenvision our world.
Actor Steve Martin Donates Art to the ICA
Actor, comedian and musician Steve Martin is invited to the annual auction through a Facebook campaign because the ICA’s Auctioneer’s name is also Steve Martin. Martin, the actor, does not attend but he does donate a “mixed media performance piece” entitled A Snowball’s Chance in Hell.
Mike Rathburn: Urgency
Entering Mike Rathbun’s Urgency, a monumental installation of sculptural wooden forms, is like stumbling down a rabbit hole. This bizarre world recalls the magical darkness of the Brothers Grimm and the wondrous imagination of Maurice Sendek’s Where the Wild Things Are. As visitors move into this strange environment, they are swallowed up by its monumental scale and dwarfed by a menacing forest of thorns that appear to burst out of the gallery’s ceiling.
One Thing Leads to Another
The artists in One Thing Leads To Another use repetition and serial procedures to systematically and sometimes playfully create a series of related works. By imposing constraints on their process, (which may dictate materials, dimensions, subject matter or involve organizational principles like alphabetical or numerical systems) they explore the endless variables within their framework, so that one work will inform the next one and so forth.
World’s First Malaria Vaccine
The eleven artists in The Office explore the absurdity of objects, ecosystems, culture and characters familiar to offices everywhere. In so doing, the work serves as a refreshing reminder that creative expression exists everywhere – especially in the office. Like its namesake television series, The Office playfully examines the everyday workspace that we all take for granted and provides ample opportunity to creatively reconsider the “daily grind.”
Charles Ginnever: Rashomon
Charles Ginnever: Rashomon borrows its title from the Akira Kurasawa film of the same name, which presents widely differing accounts of four witnesses to the same crime. Reflective of the film’s plot, Ginnever’s installation consists of identical units, each of which is capable of assuming 15 distinct positions. Every angle of a Ginnever sculpture presents us with a different work of art; as one moves around the sculpture, the piece is transformed, evolving at a different pace and in a different way. According to Ginnever, “My work sits motionless and is only activated by the viewer moving around it – only then does it start to perform.”
Chico & Chang
Chico & Chang explores the impact of Latino and Asian cultures on California’s visual landscape through sculpture, painting, and video installations. The exhibition features the work of 12 contemporary artists and is guest curated by Kevin B. Chen of Intersection for the Arts.
Val Britton: Intimate Immensity
Val Britton: Intimate Immensity premieres as the first Sandbox Project, a new exhibition program that provides opportunities for local and emerging artists to create and display experimental site-specific installations at the ICA.
Terry Berlier: Erased Loop Random Walk
Terry Berlier’s work is rooted in experimentation, risk taking, and problem solving. Many of the works incorporate kinetic features and sound elements and some require participation and collaboration from the audience. A combination of lowend tinkering and high-end technologies are utilized in the creation of the sculptures and her work is often composed of an amalgamation of parts that are found, repurposed, fabricated, crafted, and/or purchased. From the inception of ideas to the completed installation of her sculptures, Berlier is committed to providing a full sensory experience for the gallery visitor – much like the way we experience life.
Amy Ellingson: Iterations and Assertions
Amy Ellingson’s work explores the dichotomy between digitally rendered imagery and traditional painting. She systematically and sometimes playfully uses repetition to create a body of related works. By imposing constraints on her process, she is able to explore the endless variables within her framework, so that one work will inform the next one and so forth. Ellingson’s work was created specifically for this exhibition and the ICA’s gallery space, including the artist’s first-ever mural installation.
Poetic Codings explores the relationship between art and technology through the use of wall projections, interactive installations, and tablet computer apps. Artists include John Baldessari, John Carpenter, Jason Lewis, Lia, Erik Loyer, Casey Reas, and others.
Relics is comprised of work by a wide range of artists from the Bay Area and beyond whose works document, examine, deconstruct, repurpose and critique recently obsolete technologies. Typewriters, pagers, 8- track tapes, walkmans, vinyl records, paper maps and more serve as inspiration for these artists’ creative practices.
Bruce Conner: Somebody Else’s Prints
Bruce Conner: Somebody Else’s Prints presents major works on paper by an internationally recognized artist. This exhibition explores Conner’s printmaking, including his first etchings and lithographs made while the artist was a young student in Kansas to the inkjet prints he later made at Magnolia Editions in Oakland, California, during the last decade of his life.
Naomie Kremer: Age of Entanglement
Naomie Kremer: Age of Entanglement marks the second exhibition of the artist’s work at the ICA. Shown a decade later, Age of Entanglement offers the rare opportunity to present the next chapter in the artist’s oeuvre and provides visitors with the chance to see the evolution of the artist’s career from one decade to the next. The exhibition title refers to the blending of disparate elements in Kremer’s work, including her hybrid combinations of painting and video, text-based pieces with video and music, and video works that incorporate multiple perspectives.
Jim Campbell: New Work and Collaborations with Jane Rosen
Jim Campbell’s custom electronic sculptures and installations have made him a worldwide leader in the use of computer technology as an art form. His pioneering research in HDTV and LED lighting, technologies that he uses to reduce visual information to the bare minimum, produce low-resolution works that explore what fellow artist Chris Salter describes as existing “in the limen between clarity and obscurity, the ephemeral and the concrete, the human and the technical.” His collaboration with Bay Area sculptor Jane Rosen further explores the territory between perception and cognition.
NextNewPaper continues the ICA’s recurring series of exhibitions dedicated to exploring emerging artists and art practices. In this iteration, 19 Bay Area artists use paper as their medium, creating works that highlight the endless ways that this seemingly ordinary material can be transformed.
Nintendo debuts Pokémon Go
On July 6, Niantic, Nintendo, and the Pokémon Company release the augmented-reality game Pokémon Go. In the game, players use their mobile phones’s GPS to locate, capture, battle, train, and trade virtual creatures. In 2016, it was one of the most used apps, having been downloaded more than 500 million times worldwide by the end of the year.
Kate Rhoades: Karen
The ICA screens Karen, a video work by Oakland-based artist Kate Rhoades. In the same year, the ICA expands the visibility of its Sandbox Project by establishing a call for proposals in April 2017, posting the opportunity across social media platforms and alumni programs in the Bay Area, and distributing it to more than 4,000+ email recipients.
Tamara Staples: Side Effects May Include
Tamara Staples: Side Effects May Include addresses the struggles of mental illness sufferers with a focus on medication. In 2012, Tamara Staples’ sister committed suicide by using drugs that had been prescribed for her bipolar disorder. After her death, Staples asked her sister’s husband to send her the contents of her medicine cabinet. There were 114 medications in all, and in some cases a variety of brands within that count. Staples sorted the thousands of pills, arranged them in patterns and photographed them. The deceptively alluring and decorative display immerses the viewer in a cacophony of images that slowly and powerfully reveal the tremendous scope of the polypharmacy epidemic in this nation.
The group exhibition Detritus examines the leftover scraps and byproducts of the art-making process from a multitude of Bay Area artists’ studios. By featuring no works of art, guest curators Kevin B. Chen, Lisa Ellsworth and Lordy Rodriguez invite both viewers and participating artists alike to consider their own valuation system when looking at and thinking about art. The display of materials gathered from more than 100 artists offers a glimpse into the time and labor spent in producing their work and shifts the focus from art as commodity to the core value of art making.
Chris Eckert: Privacy Not Included
Eckert is a California-based artist who uses technology and machinery—media that are often thought of as cold and impersonal—as vehicles for exploration and introspection. This exhibition presents two large installations, Blink and Babel. In Blink, Eckert installs a row of mechanical eyeballs peering out from the wall. The individually articulated eyes follow gallery visitors, tracking their every move. Babel, which consists of several small writing machines, is programmed to write a message in different handwriting styles and languages. Together, the two works reflect the conundrum we face in our contemporary society: appreciating the joy of convenience and technology’s ability to provide us security and safety, versus negotiating between the disconcerting, constant surveillance and intrusion in our lives.