BILL GOULD DESIGN

Bill Gould, the architect, is a beloved and charismatic figure in the San Jose art scene. Outspoken, with an outrageous sense of humor, Gould cannot be missed in the crowd. On the serious side, Gould served for eight years on the Board of Directors of the San Jose ICA, and his contribution of pro bono architectural design to the emerging gallery district on San Jose’s South First Street has had an immense and indelible impact.

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A painting by Jason Adkins and wine served at the opening at Bill Gould Design

When Bill Gould Design – Art and Architecture moved from Los Gatos to Umbarger Road in San Jose in 2003, another venue for sophisticated shows in an unusual space joined the San Jose mix. Gould maintains his own workshop as a public artist (Lizard Skins Studios) in the large warehouse where his architects’ offices are situated and rotating exhibitions are seen. Such is Gould’s passion for art that, rather than display self-congratulatory photos of the firm’s projects, every square inch of possible exhibition space is devoted to art. He strongly believes that architecture is inspired by art. Marketing Director Heather Cresap says, “You cannot visit Bill Gould Design without a guided tour. Bill is so enthusiastic about the art, he always insists on it.” With a laugh, she adds, “Sometimes it seems like architecture is the stepchild to art here.”

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Ben Alexi’s Cows hangs in the offices of Bill Gould Design

Gould hires a professional curator, Kathryn Funk, and pays a stipend to the artists whose work he is showing. The shows now rotate annually, with an enormous party marking the arrival of a new exhibition. On these long-anticipated occasions, architects, clients, artists and patrons of art all mix and find out that they have a great deal in common. (See ARTSHIFT, San Jose -Spring 2007)

Bill Gould Design <www.bgdesign.com>

GREEN RICE GALLERY

Jenny Do is an attorney, and an artist. She was asked to curate exhibitions that showcased the art of Vietnamese artists, first at a charitable event at Stanford University, and later for the organization Humanity Through the Arts at the Martin Luther King Library in San Jose. Do knows personally the struggles Vietnamese artists endure in order to be seen and recognized in the art world. With an expanding network of Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American artists to call upon, she decided to open Green Rice Gallery in downtown San Jose.

Do sees the gallery as a place to show paintings she felt were important to be seen, and to create community and dialogue. She believes the gallery has served to instill pride in both the artists and the Vietnamese community. Visitors have expressed their longing for the arts in a culture, in a life where they are still engulfed in the challenge to gain an economic foothold. The gallery has been instrumental in generating a heated debated over the nature of the Vietnamese visual language.

The name Green Rice refers to aspects of the nurturing staple – green rice – that grows Viet Nam and surrounding areas of Southeast Asia. There are two kinds of green rice: young green rice and dried or dehydrated. The young sprouts yield a grain that, when chewed, spurts out a sweet milk. Another special rice that is dried to make a special desert and can be stored for winter is “co^’m”. Com is also green.

Green Rice Gallery takes on varied issues of social importance in its programming. Do reaches out to another immigrant community and to women in an upcoming show of women artists from Iran that touches on cultural and historical themes. A previous exhibition dealt with issues of human trafficking. Do has bravely announced to the art world that her battle with breast cancer is the subject of one of the upcoming exhibitions, and she invites other artists whose work is related to this subject to join her in the September exhibition.

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Jenny Do and visitors celebrate at the opening on September 7, 2007

If Do’s original intention is to serve and nurture the Vietnamese community, she has done that well, generating interest and inquiries from artists and the Vietnamese community on a national level. Clearly, she has reached out to the larger community and enriched the downtown gallery scene, as well. Located on South First Street in the Chamber of Commerce Building, Green Rice Gallery adds to the richness and surprises of a gallery crawl, especially on First Fridays when art lovers have plenty of time to visit the many sites available.

For a number of reasons, and like so many new beginnings in the alternative gallery world, Green Rice Gallery is open on a limited basis. At this time, Do says the gallery will be open for inaugural receptions and on First Fridays.

Naylene Lunati, curator of the cancer show <naylene@arttopix.com>
Green Rice Gallery <jennydolaw@gmail.com>

OVERPASS GALLERY

Al Preciado is a veteran of the alternative gallery business. Preciado, a graduate of SJSU’s School of Art and Design, was active in the San Jose art scene, serving on the Board of Works before moving to Jersey City. There he cofounded Pro-Arts with Charles Kessler. Later, in Los Angeles, he and girl friend Kelly Griffin opened the Mecca gallery. Preciado credits his experience at San Jose State, showing in the student galleries, for instilling his “make it happen” attitude. Returning to San Jose, and now teaching at Bellermine College Prep, Preciado decided to rent a building from the school and open another gallery next to the Taylor Street Overpass. Preciado likes the many possible meanings of the name, “Overpass” Gallery. It launched in March of 2006, with a format of visual arts, poetry and music.

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Al Preciado and friends at the Overpass Gallery

Overpass gallery, like many upstarts, relied on the energy of friends to get organized. Preciado confesses that they were a bunch of bachelor artists who thought the gallery would be a venue where they would meet women. The shows that transpired ultimately included a healthy mix of male and female artists: Tim Cottengin, Bob Mengenetti, Bea Garth, Paul Gonzales, Monica Rose, Linda Churchill, Diane Levinson, Betty Linderman, Anabella Piñon, Julie Batista, Ron Bowman, Elizabeth Tarashkis, Salvador Arreiola, David Larimore, Joe Miller, John Tupper and many more participated. Artist, poet and musician John Kyrtika was the catalyst for openings that mixed poetry and music with viewing the art. Poets such as Roberto Durant, Chris Arcus, Greg Hall, Barbara Simmons and Evelyn So read for the event, an occasional flute, harmonica or guitar provided music and the evening concluded with a drum circle.

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Vic Bagno and friend enjoy an outdoor exhibition opening

May 2007 was the last show the Bellarmine site. Overpass Gallery is in hiatus now while Preciado reorganizes finances, and looks for a viable way to relocate and reopen. He feels optimisitic that it will happen. He speaks with admiration for the creative ideas of the artists he has worked with and a conviction that artists are empowered to get it done for themselves.

Al Preciado <apreciado@bcp.org>

ART ARK COMMON HOUSE GALLERY

On South Fifth Street, in the heart of Martha Gardens, by the Citadel artists’ studios and the SJSU art foundry is the Art Ark, a residence built to attract a community of artist residents. The Common House Gallery is a beautiful space that is just beginning to find its pace. Artist-in-Residence at the Art Ark, Val Raps, coordinates exhibitions and is working on the logistics of making the Common House Gallery a focal point in Martha Gardens. At this point the hours are irregular and have to conform to the available hours of volunteers. Raps plans to open the gallery for Sunday morning coffee receptions that will be attractive to local artists, members of the community and gallery goers.

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The Art Ark’s Common House Gallery, next to Bestor Art Park

Art Ark’s first show was a handsome survey of art by residents, and San Jose State graduate students. A new show, which focuses on art and artists from the Martha Gardens community, will open in July. The Grand Opening is scheduled for Thursday, August 9, 11:30 – 1:30 pm. Future plans include a neighborhood arts festival that merges indoor and outdoor art experiences, with the Art Ark Common House Gallery as a focal point. Art, open studios and related hands-on activites will introduce possibilities for community-building in the Spartan Keyes neighborhood.

Art Ark Common House Gallery, Valerie raps <valraps@gmail.com

12 & TAYLOR GALLERY

A recent and amazingly successful gallery to arrive in San Jose is 12 & Taylor. Co-founder and curator, Justin Marsh, works with seven other recent graduates of the BFA program at San Jose State, to produce the shows. They get their work out to the public using the limited resources they have at hand: exhibition know-how, a little cash, willingness to work together and parts of Marsh’s rented house on North 12th Street. They decided to show their own work as well as that of invited artists whose work interests them. Exhibition announcements are printed, but this is essentially an underground event, because unless you get directions to the gallery, it is well concealed.

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Liz, Richard and friends listen to Shelby Smith explain his art in the Gazebo Gallery

Their first opening brought out a large crowd for a group show that was presented in a garage gallery, gazebo sculpture space and the “open studio” basement gallery. They began to sell art! For 12 & Taylor, the openings are really it. It’s the installation of art in a surprisingly effective setting, an abundant array of snacks and an art party. And then it’s gone until the next showing a month or so later. July 13th’s opening will feature the work of invited artists Stan Welsh, Shay Church and Derek Weisberg, along with Ben Alexi (from the 12 & Taylor Committee).

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Mike Oechsli talks about his work with guests in the Garage Gallery

Marsh talks about the goals of the gallery in such terms as “provocative” and “edgy” art. 12 & Taylor “sells”, but Marsh keeps reminding himself “there is a difference between critical and commercial success.” He wants to show work that is fresh and on the cutting edge of contemporary art, which is exactly where recent BFA graduates ought to be in their thinking, “examining the deeper existential and philosophical content of their work.” “My complaint with San Jose is that there is a lot of solid art here, but it doesn’t have enough bite.” Marsh also ponders future possibilities for the gallery. Where will it go when it has to move out of the backyard? Will the principals of 12 & Taylor stay here or go on to graduate school elsewhere? How long can the group hold together? Does San Jose’s current momentum toward a really energized art scene have staying power? Should 12 & Taylor look forward to non-profit status? For gallery goers there is only one answer: Catch it while it’s hot!

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Ben Hunt’s sculpture seen in the Garden Gallery

12 & Taylor Gallery, Justin Marsh <jdubsfu@hotmail .com>

THE ART PARTY and THE FIRE HOUSE GALLERY
Anne Sconberg loved the art parties she used to have in London. When she and Matk Henderson decided to hold an art party to celebrate the purchase of their still-empty new home on South 16th Street, they hired a caterer and began contacting friends and family who were artists. Soon they were including artists from the graduate program at SJSU to fill the three stories of rooms with art. They appointed Matt Isble to install the art. The party was a festive contribution to the art scene, with a professional presentation of a wide survey of art by South Bay artists.

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Matt Isble (right) with Mike Oechsli installing art at the San Jose ICA

Matt Isble, preparator at the San Jose ICA, is also the director/curator and installer at Fire House Gallery, “set in the heart of Suburbia”, bringing “the extraordinary into the ordinary”. The Firehouse Gallery is Isble’s home that temporarily transforms into a gallery, as Isble indulges his “hobby”. His profession, hobby and passion are one: presenting the work of artists he admires. Isble has joined forces with ameeja who prepares gourmet fare for the openings and deejays Tomatsu and Anoush Ella to provide the sounds. The Fire House Gallery’s first exhibitions have been, like those at 12 & Taylor, a one-day event. The cognoscenti fete the artists and schmooze at an art party, and then eagerly await news of the next show’s opening.

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The interior of the Firehouse Gallery, showing art in a suburban setting

Isble’s first exhibition was “Plants, Animals and Monsters”, and showed the art of twelve emerging and mid-career artists. His second show, “Mentors and Mentored: the art of installing art” showed the art of Doug Glavoski, Steve Peters, Ryan Jensen, Thanh Banh, Richard Karson and Michael Oechsli. This was a tour de force of Isble’s installation executions, including a maquette suspended from the ceiling. Isble is currently planning the next exhibition “Construction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction” to occur sometime in August or September. It will feature work by Philo Northrup, Kathryn Dunlevie, Sarah Friedlander and perhaps other artists.

Matt Isble is, himself, an artist. He plans to continue events at the Fire House Gallery when he is able, along with his work at the ICA and entry into a graduate program in museology at JFK University.

Matt Isble <www.info@firehousegallerysj.com>, <matt@sjica.org>

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