STROLLING UP SAN JOSE’S SOUTH FIRST STREET
By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero
October, 2007

Now a popular event that draws crowds, First Fridays can keep the gallery visitor busy for hours. Here are some highlights of my gallery hopping on October 5, through the six institutions that run from First and Reed Street up to San Carlos.

At the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, the annual Fall fundraising invitational auction drew a large audience including Mayor Chuck Reed, who said a few words to the crowd, and District 3 Councilman, Sam Liccardo. Sam is a regular at First Fridays.

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Darren Waterston’s Night-in-Gal, 2001, at the ICA

The exhibition/auction includes works by major artists of the Bay Area: wonderful works that make an old professor living on retirement income fill with desire. I loved Oliver Jackson’s small figurative etching on a brown field and Darren Waterston’s Night-in-Gal, an etching and woodblock on paper. Many works by emerging artists and artists whom I did not know were handsome and equally desirable: works on all scales and in all media. Ursula O’Farrell’s Mood Swing, and Susan Wexler’s June’s Journey were side-by-side and drew a lot of attention. Katherine Westerhout’s Richmond II was another favorite.

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Westerhout’s Richmond II, 2002, is a pigmented print on canvas.

<www.sjica.org>

The Museum of Quilts and Textiles was preparing for a weekend fundraiser, so the main galleries were closed, leaving one to explore the always fascinating and tempting gift shop, and quilts from Mendocino in the front hallways.

<www.sjquiltmuseum.org>

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Digital photography by Nina Castro at MACLA

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Angelica Barrera’s digital photo, Peace Out, 2007 at MACLA

At MACLA, young photographers from a workshop under the direction of Nora Raggio and Alex Olivas show their exceptional outcomes. It is a delight to see individual styles and a remarkable degree of focus on conceptual development embodied in the work. These young artists are learning a lot about the possibilities of digital development and manipulation of the image, as well.

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Kevin Guerrero’s digital work, Good Times, 2007, at MACLA

<www.maclaarte.org>

In Works Gallery, several artists explore the nature of branding. Binh Danh takes a rather literal look at the illusions behind branding in his Ikea bag – ostensibly of Scandinavian design, manufactured in Viet Nam and marketed in the USA. His Buddha altar explores the unscrupulous manipulation of the sacred to endorse, brand and market anything and everything.

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Binh Danh’s Ikea Bag

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Chris Elliman’s ironic Subjugation Vanquished through the Acceptance of Love, seen art Works, San Jose

Chris Elliman’s fascinating, unending projection/installation, looks at the many negative brands we put on ourselves, our unfortunate postures toward the world, such as violent, or suicidal, or alchoholic, etc. Was there a pun intended in the act of projection?

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Angelica Muro investigates the stereotypes that are branded on agricultural workers, in the Works exhibition.

Angelica Muro looks at the ongoing “branding” of farm-workers as less than normally intelligent – through such acts as poisoning their working environment, and the further insults embodied in simplistically worded informational warnings.

<www.workssanjose.org>

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Black Death by Micheal Page at Anno Domini

At Anno Domini, Micheal Page’s exhibition Hope Leaves is a cynical series of adventures in which the major actor must, frequently, be the artist himself. His stylized, carefully rendered figures and landscapes are from a youthful school of painting that draws on animation, cartoons and popular culture for form, and the generational experiences and emotional challenges of the artist for content.

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Shawn Barber’s Portrait of the Artist, Todd Noble Holloway at Anno Domini

AD is also showing Skin Vandals, “the cross pollination between 35 tattooers, graffiti writers and fine artists”. Shawn Barber paints, among other subjects, the portraits of tattoo artists whose bodies are also a canvas for tattoos. Portrait of the Artist, Todd Noble Holloway was subtle and moving.

<www.galleryad.com>

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All About Life #1 by Keiko Nelson at Green Rice Gallery

At Green Rice Gallery, Jenny Do’s exhibition of works by and about breast cancer survivors is held-over. It was so packed at last month’s First Friday opening that many visitors could not get in to see the art. I especially liked the mixed media works on paper by Keiko Nelson.

<www.greenricegallery.com>

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