Special event animates exhibit, draws in new crowd
THE SANTA CLARA
October 23, 2014
Visitors wore fake bloodstained clothes and meandered through galleries, creating a pleasantly disorienting atmosphere, as the grandiose melodies of alternative hard rock band, Picture Atlantic, reverberated throughout the halls .
The San Jose Museum of Art hosted their monthly event on Oct. 16, “Third Thursday.” The museum stayed open until 9 p.m.
“Sometimes people are intimidated by museums,” said Sherill Ingalls, director of communications and marketing for the museum. “We wanted to offer a chance to experience the museum in a low-key, low-pressure way.”
The event featured live music and a zombie fashion show. The models’ faces were painted like Día de los Muertos skulls, their arms tattooed and their dresses corseted. They staggered onstage in unique zombie movements, pausing only to pose for photos.
“That is the type of attraction that I seek out in the cultural wasteland of San Jose,” said junior Chiara de Blasio.
De Blasio echoes the sentiments of other students who complain about the lack of arts, music and entertainment in Santa Clara’s metropolitan neighborhoods.
In addition to the live entertainment of the event, visitors could explore the different exhibits in the museum.
The current galleries on display offer stark contrasts with one another. Downstairs, there are a series of vivid, impressionistic portraits of 1920s Californians done by painter Robert Henri, entitled, “Realism, Race, and Region.”
There is also “Post Portrait,” a collection of photographs from a variety of artists that offer a gritty reality to compare against Henri’s stylized idealism. The pictured subjects feature historically outcast groups such as transgender people, carnies and Vietnamese prostitutes.
Upstairs, “Momentum” is dedicated to favorites from the permanent collection and features a collaboration by 10 different “interveners” or experts in unconventional fields of art like comedy, calligraphy and body painting.
The other exhibit upstairs is “David Levinthal: Make Believe.” Levinthal is a photographer who arranges action figures and dolls in life-like situations, depicting events like “The Catch” by Willie Mays.
“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. “‘Momentum’ takes to a new level the notion of making the 21st-century museum open to interpretation.”
The organizers hope that visitors are drawn in by the novelty of the event, but will be enraptured by the exhibits.
“I haven’t been to this museum for five years, but then Zombie-O-Rama (a San Jose Zombie musical group) posted they would come here,” said museum visitor Lexy Williams. “So I came to be a zombie, but then decided to check out some art.”
The next Third Thursday is Nov. 20 from 7 to 10 p.m. and will feature live music accompanied by swing, Latin and standard ballroom dancing lessons and performances.
“You can learn a little, dance a little, and see some art in between,” Ingalls said.
With exhibits like “Momentum” and special events like Third Thursday featuring zombie fun, the San Jose Museum of Art plays against what is expected.
Perhaps their slogan says it all: “See what you think.”
Contact John Flynn at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4854.