Museum exhibits engage the senses and mind
THE SANTA CLARA
January 15, 2015
Santa Clara students treat the de Saisset Museum like a dull grandmother — they don’t visit.
The reopening and new exhibits will make you rethink the way you see this elderly member of Palm Drive.
“When you go into our collection you find Picasso, Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol (and) Goya. You find a lot of really well-known artists and you find work that’s equally good by people who you just don’t know the name,” said Lindsey Kouvaris, assistant director of Exhibitions and Programs. “You don’t have to know the name of someone for them to make good artwork.”
Of the museum’s two floors, the bottom houses a collection of art and artifacts from the Santa Clara area, highlighting various items including a tule reed hut blessed by the Ohlone tribe and a gold medal from the 1924 Paris Olympics won by a Santa Clara rugby player.
“I was surprised most by how much of a hidden gem the pieces are,” said said junior Dave Leavy. “The basement has stuff from the original Spanish mission that I think everyone should see.”
This year marks the museum’s 60th anniversary. A member of the de Saisset family funded the building, tributing her deceased brother Ernest, a painter and Santa Clara alumnus. His self-portrait hangs in a corner of the museum.
“In 1955, the museum opened its doors with a collection of just over 100 objects,” said Kouvaris. “Today, we have about 11,500.”
The main floor features “Keep, Care and Collect On,” which displays some recent acquisitions of the museum.
Another featured exhibit, “Rewind,” features video art, a medium Santa Clara pioneered.
According to Kouvaris, when video art came about in the ‘60s and ‘70s, the de Saisset was one of three centers within the United States that was collecting and commissioning that work. The other two centers were in Los Angeles and New York City.
The piece on display, “Clutch,” features artist Terry Fox lying still on the floor as sunlight moves away from him, symbolizing the passage of time.
“It’s very meditative. It’s a slow video,” said Kouvaris. “It’s a very different pace than what we’re used to in our contemporary society, but I think the message there, the passing of time and the awareness of that, is something that is relevant to us or should be relevant to us.”
The final exhibit, “Creative in Common,” displays the work of five pairs of related artists in hopes to engage the Santa Clara community.
One featured artist, Sam Francis, is displayed next to his son, Shingo. The two had a strained relationship, but shared a love for vivid abstraction that is prevalent in Sam’s energetic swirlings and splotches and Shingo’s meticulously blended layers.
In the Francis’ gallery, there are two purposefully placed couches and a coffee table.
“We did furnish it as a living room,” said Kouvaris. “We want to make a comfortable and inviting opportunity to come face to face with a caliber of artwork that maybe a lot of people don’t realize we have here.”
John Flynn is a junior English and sociology double major.