Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University

San Jose Museum of Art
San Jose, CA

San Jose Museum of Art
110 S Market St,
San Jose, CA 95113

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Break + Bleed
Friday, June 4, 2021–Sunday, April 3, 2022

Organized by Rory Padeken, curator

The circle and the square. Verticals, swoops, and folds. Flat planes and sensuous surfaces. Colors bright and vibrant. During the late 1950s and 60s, artists began to diverge from the painterly, gestural approaches of Abstract Expressionism in favor of what the American art critic Clement Greenberg in 1964 called “post-painterly abstraction.” Artists moved in a variety of directions, some in pursuit of paintings pure in color and open in composition while others toward structured, linear designs using familiar geometric shapes. Rejecting a loose application of paint, these artists stained their unprimed canvases or created flat planes of color devoid of any distinctive mark making.

Drawn primarily from SJMA’s permanent collection, Break + Bleed features both paintings and works on paper by historically significant artists who exemplify the spirit of post-painterly abstraction through an expansive range of styles including hard-edge abstraction, Color Field painting, Op art, Minimalism, and soft-edge abstraction. Artworks in this exhibition feature biomorphic and geometric shapes, angular and wavy lines, and lively planes of color. The work of Josef Albers—from his celebrated series devoted to the square, exploring the subjective experience of color—may be the most recognizable. For Karl Benjamin, interlocking and sometimes twisted shapes created energetic color associations and incongruous patterns. This exhibition also features contemporary artists like Linda Besemer, Patrick Wilson, and others who are pushing post-painterly abstraction into new territories.

Like the break of a line or page and the bleed of various elements beyond the edge or boundary of a certain area, the artworks in Break + Bleed oscillate between ideas of linearity and geometry and overlapping planes of color and form. The exhibition also features work by Joachim Bandau, Ilya Bolotowsky, Naomi Boretz, Guy John Cavalli, Mary Corse, Tony DeLap, Sam Francis, Stephen French, Sonia Gechtoff, Amy Kaufman, Patsy Krebs, Richard Lodwig, Helen Lundeberg, Brice Marden, John McLaughlin, John M. Miller, Winston Roeth, David Simpson, Frederick Spratt, Ted Stamm, Frank Stella, Amy Trachtenberg, Don Voisine, and Robert Yasuda. Also included are key loans by Nicole Phungrasamee Fein from the Bay Area and Los Angeles based–artist Eamon Ore-Giron, as well as a recently acquired multi-panel painting from 1975 by San Francisco–born artist Leo Valledor.

Break + Bleed is supported by the SJMA Exhibitions Fund, with generous contributions from Mr. Cole Harrell and Dr. Tai-Heng Cheng, Dr. Jan Newstrom Thompson and Paul Goldstein, and Tad J. Freese and Brook Hartzell.

Operations and programs at the San José Museum of Art are made possible by generous support from the Museum's Board of Trustees, a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José, the Lipman Family Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Yellow Chair Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the SJMA Director's Council and Council of 100, the San José Museum of Art Endowment Fund established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and The William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

Barring Freedom
October 30, 2020 – April 25, 2021

co-organized with UC Santa Cruz Institute of Arts and Sciences. Guest curated by Rachel Nelson and Alexandra Moore

Barring Freedom features works by twenty US-based artists that challenge how individuals see and understand our nation’s prison industrial complex—a nexus of policing, surveillance, detention, and imprisonment.

While this group show was conceptualized before the current crises, first COVID-19, with its ongoing and unequal effects, and then the brutal onslaught of police killings of Black people in the United States, these recent events have brought into sharp relief the horrific consequences of mass incarceration in the US, which has the highest number of jailed individuals across developed nations.

With more than two million incarcerated individuals, a majority Black or brown and virtually all from poor communities, the prison industrial complex reveals a troubled nation. Barring Freedom considers the strategies artists use to reveal this racist worldview and the social problems that it effectively creates and obscures. It also highlights alternative visions and future dreamscapes offered by these artists as a counter to the brutalities of our current reality.

Barring Freedom is inspired by the teachings of noted prison abolitionist and scholar Dr. Angela Y. Davis:

“When we are told that we simply need better police and better prisons, we counter with what we really need…We need to be able to reimagine security, which will involve the abolition of policing and imprisonment as we know them…[and] reinvent entire worlds.”

This exhibition underscores the urgency and importance of artists in envisioning a world beyond racist policing, biased courts, and overflowing prisons. Dr. Davis has called for a “great feat of the imagination" to realize dreams of freedom and end the injustices of the carceral system. The artists in Barring Freedom respond to that call.

Featured artists include: American Artist, Sadie Barnette, Sanford Biggers, Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick, Sonya Clark, Sharon Daniel, Maria Gaspar, Ashley Hunt, Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman, Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts, Deana Lawson, Sherrill Roland, Dread Scott, jackie sumell, Hank Willis Thomas, Patrice Renee Washington, and Levester Williams.

Donate to the SJMA Exhibitions Fund
The Barring Freedom website provides digital tools and study guides to further explore issues of art and justice. It includes video interviews with the artists, thematic study guides, an archive of past Visualizing Abolition programs, a special music track by Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science, as well as information about the exhibition and Solitary Garden public art project.

Tim Young
To learn more about Tim Young, our collaborator who is currently in San Quentin State Prison, click here.
Reading List for Barring Freedom

Compiled by librarian Tiffany E. Garcia, Elizabeth Allen, and San José's Public Library’s Racial Equity Team. See the reading list here.

Barring Freedom is supported by the SJMA Exhibitions Fund, with contributions from Glenda and Gary Dorchak and Rita and Kent Norton. The exhibition is made possible with generous support from the Nion McEvoy Family Fund, Ford Foundation, Future Justice Fund, UC Santa Cruz Foundation, Wanda Kownacki, Peter Coha, James L. Gunderson, Rowland and Pat Rebele, UC Santa Cruz Porter College, and annual donors to the Institute of the Arts and Sciences.

South East North West: New Works from the Collection
Through September 27, 2021

To conclude the year-long celebration of its 50th anniversary, the San José Museum of Art (SJMA) presents South East North West: New Works from the Collection through September 19, 2021. Organized by SJMA curator Rory Padeken, this exhibition demonstrates SJMA’s new strategic vision in action, by bringing together notable acquisitions from the past five years and featuring the work of internationally acclaimed artists, including those working in California and the Bay Area, as well as emerging artists garnering critical recognition.
SJMA was founded by a diverse group of artists and community leaders in 1969, during an especially tumultuous moment in US history. These individuals were committed to creating an arts institution that was dedicated to inclusivity, new thinking, visionary ideals, and the same innovative spirit that is found at SJMA today. Propelled by the support and generosity of artists, gallerists, collectors, patrons, and members of the Acquisitions Committee and Council of 100, the permanent collection has evolved over the past five years into one of increasingly greater inclusivity and relevancy.

“We are thrilled that audiences can experience these works for the first time. It represents a great deal of hard work and generosity and we are incredibly grateful to all of our donors who supported our new strategic vision and helped make these acquisitions possible,” said S. Sayre Batton, Oshman Executive Director, San José Museum of Art. “As the only collecting art institution and museum in San José dedicated exclusively to acquiring the art of our times, our permanent collection serves as a valuable resource and public legacy. South East North West shows how art can open audiences’ eyes to cultural, political, and social issues.”

“SJMA’s collections are dynamic—always growing and evolving. South East North West celebrates the diverse artistic achievements of artists in our region and beyond and sparks conversation among visitors,” shared Rory Padeken, SJMA curator. “Adopting the title of a monumental, two-panel mixed-media work by Diana Al-Hadid to symbolize the breadth and depth of the collection, South East North West testifies to SJMA’s adventurousness and ambition of becoming a borderless museum for the future.”

Many artists in the exhibition offer provocative and poetic responses to often-polarizing cultural, political, and social issues. Mona Hatoum evokes the agony of exile in her work Drowning Sorrows (2001–02), which is composed of severed clear glass bottles arranged in a circular formation on the floor. Andrea Bowers, Chitra Ganesh, and Lara Schnitger address ongoing struggles for gender equality and women’s rights to imagine a more just world. In his painting Trauma Eve with Virus Bombs (2001), David Huffman reimagines African American stereotypes in order to reclaim them from prevailing narratives of the Black experience. 

In our twenty-first century digital age, artists such as Petra Cortright, Hayal Pozanti, and Margo Wolowiec push the boundaries of representation and contemporary image making using new media technologies. In contrast, artists such as Tacita Dean and Tony Feher show us that the simplest elements—whether images of clouds for Dean or blue painter’s tape for Feher—can prove to be profoundly pleasurable to the senses. Other artists featured in the exhibition include Firelei Báez, Tony Berlant, Alexander Calder, Tiffany Chung, Russell Crotty, Jay DeFeo, Genevieve Gaignard, Kojo Griffin, Robert Hudson, Yojiro Imasaka, Jitish Kallat, Hung Liu, Frank Lobdell, Vanessa Marsh, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Robert Minervini, Richard Misrach, Ruben Ochoa, Nathan Oliveira, Josephine Taylor, William T. Wiley, and Imin Yeh. 

South East North West: New Works from the Collection is dedicated to the memory of Theres Rohan and her unwavering support for artists and the artistic process. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the SJMA Exhibitions Fund, including generous contributions from the Lipman Family Foundation, Doris and Alan Burgess, Glenda and Gary Dorchak, Cheryl and Bruce Kiddoo, and Diane Jonte-Pace and David Pace.

Programs at the San José Museum of Art are made possible by generous support from the Museum's Board of Trustees, a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José, the Lipman Family Foundation, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, Facebook Art Department, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Adobe, Yellow Chair Foundation, the SJMA Director's Council and Council of 100, the San José Museum of Art Endowment Fund established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and The William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

SJMA is located at 110 South Market Street in downtown San José, California near the Plaza de César Chavez. The Museum is open Friday–Sunday, 11am–5pm. SJMA has implemented a dedicated hour of each day for our most vulnerable guests to enjoy the galleries, inviting seniors, those who are pregnant, and those with underlying health concerns as determined by CDC guidelines, to visit SJMA Friday–Sunday, 11am–12pm. For up-to-date information about SJMA, visit SanJoseMuseumofArt.org. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and free to members, college students, youth and children ages 17 and under, and schoolteachers (with valid ID). For more information, call 408.271.6840 or visit SanJoseMuseumofArt.org. 

Do Ho Suh’s sculpture Karma (2010)
February 7, 2020 through 2022

Do Ho Suh’s sculpture Karma (2010) is a 23-foot tower of bronze male figures, each perched atop another’s shoulders and shielding that figure’s eyes with his hands. Suh—who divides his time between Seoul, New York, and London—often creates meditations on coexistence. The sculpture, on loan from an anonymous charitable foundation will go on view in February on the Oshman Sculpture Court.
February 7, 2020 through 2022

Do Ho Suh’s sculpture Karma (2010) is a 23-foot tower of bronze male figures, each perched atop another’s shoulders and shielding that figure’s eyes with his hands. Suh—who divides his time between Seoul, New York, and London—often creates meditations on coexistence. The sculpture, on loan from an anonymous charitable foundation will go on view in February on the Oshman Sculpture Court.

Pae White: Noisy Blushes

Noisy Blushes embraces visual ambiguity. It simultaneously reflects light and color yet denies its material presence. Although viewable from a multitude of angles, its essence remains fugitive, ever-changing.—Pae White

Pae White’s Noisy Blushes (2020) is a meditation on movement and time, light and color, material presence and the elusiveness of form. Commissioned by SJMA, this site-specific sculpture soars within the Museum’s thirty-foot high atrium and transforms its entrance into an experiential passageway, delivering a sublime experience for visitors. Comprising 12,000 silkscreened, electroplated and polished stainless-steel hexagonal disks arranged into the sphere and suspended from 504 custom-colored cables, Noisy Blushes is suspended behind a glass façade, allowing it to scatter millions of reflections throughout the Museum’s spacious Harold Witkin Convocation Area and Frank L. and Edna E. Di Napoli Skybridge Gallery. Suspended between SJMA’s 19th-century historic wing and modern addition, the sculpture links the outside with the inside, the past with the present while its colors and design fluctuate with the time of day, the seasons, and as the viewer changes their vantage point.

Born in 1963 in Pasadena, California, Pae White celebrates the mundane, the overlooked, and the ephemeral. Transforming humble materials into exhilarating experiences that defy logic yet remain oddly familiar, her alluring work suggests that things may not be as they appear. Tapestry masquerades as architecture. Typography becomes an interface for sculpture and installation. Paper clay emerges as a vessel for painting and embroidery.

In creating her dazzling mobiles or hanging pieces, White looks to the natural world—flocks of birds, schools of fish, drifting clouds—to produce sculptures without volume and to find order in chaos, freezing framing the elusive found in nature through a geometry. She has experimented with different materials: paper, glass, mirror, stainless steel, and most recently with electroplated steel cut and silk-screened at a factory that produces metal business cards.

Selected from 10,000 options designed with custom software, Noisy Blushes is one of the artist’s largest hanging pieces and her most colorful. Sixty-eight colors sweep through the sculpture through an effect White calls a “blush.” Hues of gold, silver, and rose dominate to acknowledge the entwined histories of quicksilver mining in the town of New Almaden in south San José and the California Gold Rush of the High Sierras. White incorporated a few miniaturized versions of large-scale, geometric wall drawings by minimalist artist Sol LeWitt with designs of her own making, imbuing her sculpture with a multitude of references that addresses many things at once.


Pae White’s monumental hanging piece, Noisy Blushes is a gift to the City of San José and a beacon of light offering a moment of reverie to all who see it. Watch artist Pae White talk about what art and beauty mean to her and in her art, particularly in the period of Covid-19.

Pae White’s Noisy Blushes is the most ambitious commission in SJMA’s history. Let’s run the numbers to prove it: 12,000 disks, 1,129 cubic feet, 504 cables, 120 funders, 68 colors, 9 days of installation, 8 exhibition team members, 3 scissor lifts, and 1 artist.

Get up close and personal with a bird’s-eye view of Pae White’s Noisy Blushes! See multitudes of colors and patterns emerge as the camera moves around, above, and below the sculpture.

Commissioned by the San José Museum of Art, in honor of its 50th anniversary, and acquired with funds provided by the Lipman Family Foundation, the Acquisitions Committee, Diane Jonte-Pace and David Pace, the Council of 100, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, and Brook Hartzell and Tad Freese, with additional support provided by the Docent Council, Toby and Barry Fernald, Evelyn and Rick Neely, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, C. Christine Nichols, Dorene Masterman, and Shauna Mika and Richard Callison.

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