For San Jose, a Memorable Evening – Part Salon, Part One Day Art Fair

By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

Graduating from their spacious home, where three previous art parties have showcased local artists and lavishly hosted the art community, Sconberg and Henderson moved this year’s event to their vacant warehouse off Alma Street. Although the “art party” is officially a party for friends and family, that features the art of friends and family, most would agree that the Sconberg-Henderson network has grown exponentially since the first festivities a scant four years ago. This unbelievable extravaganza, perhaps even better than a Bienale, featured tons of art in numerous galleries, bands performing on several stages with ample dance floors, lots of fire, outdoor sculpture, and catered food and drink.

At least a thousand people jammed in to see the art, to be seen (many in the costume theme “Moulin Rouge meets Mad Max”), to party and support the Arts Council Silicon Valley, to the tune of $15 to $50 on a sliding scale. There were over 900 works of art, a lot of it grand in scale, and around 120 artists. It is rumored that artists sold from 30 to 50K of their work. Sconberg and Henderson did not keep track nor take any percentage, as they emphasize, “This is not a gallery operation, and we have no desire to get approach the party as a commercial vehicle. Everyone did it for fun and for free.”



Fire, art cars, dancing and outdoor sculpture colored the night outside the Alma Street Warehouse.

Guests ride an Andrew Hedges kinetic sculpture entitled Big Pig

There were several curators, each contributing their own flavor to the group of artists showcased in the rambling space. Sconberg and Henderson curated the vast majority of the art that was seen, visiting artists in their studios and personally selecting the individual works. They provided for installation of the hanging walls and their own collection of track lighting purchased from friends and off of Craig’s List over the years. They hung the art and did most of the physical work themselves. With additional input and help on the project received from friends and sponsors Georgie Huff and Jim Gordon, the warehouse took on, for the most part, the format of a regional art fair and first rate entertainment was provided for free. Shelby Smith curated a section of the show.  Karen Gutfreund curated the big Piano Lounge within a romantic ambience. Outside, San Jose’s Empire 7 Studios presented an overview of the artists they plan to show in the next year. Throughout the building, other individual artists curated small galleries that highlighted their own art and that of some more friends.

Works ranged from metal sculpture, ceramics, prints, mural sized paintings, installations, photographs and jewelry to small collages. Some of it was a bit hokey. Anne Sconberg says, “We drew the line at puppies and sunsets.” Most of it was first rate, very professional, and generally the impression of Silicon Valley’s visual arts scene had to be a big Wow! Certainly everyone that had time, in the midst of socializing, to look at the art found surprises and inspiration.


Ben Alexy’s Salvation #4, a mural-sized painting on paper


Shelby Smith’s Above and Below was one of many of his works seen at the art party.


Brian Coleman’s colored neon painting intrigues a guest.


Champs Elyses Clemenceau, a photo montage by Kathryn Dunlevie

I have been pinching myself since Sconberg and Henderson arrived on San Jose’s art scene. They have been helpful and generous to many of the local visual arts organizations. They modestly offer the art party as a vehicle to celebrate the visual arts with family and friends, but it is so rare that such generous and innovative patrons of the arts are artists themselves, and seem to know just how to tap into the needs of the community. Without the kind of private galleries that promote a stable of local artists and manage their careers, San Jose and Silicon Valley’s visual artists have felt invisible. Further, visual artists are rarely part of a group or organization that has the strength in numbers, power or resources of the performing arts to make themselves visible to the community. The art party has been a stunning event in this void.


Rose Sellery’s Union of Two Soles was part of a larger

installation evoking some of the enigmas loved by Duchamp.


Lucy Traeger’s painting, Preschool, Hong Kong


Small colorful relief collages by Lisa Hochstien

There were so many works I wanted to take home. I tried to photograph as many as I could but the lighting of such an extensive body of art was understandably erratic. Margaret Wherry’s abstract gestures and black/white/earth compositions were elegant. Tobin Keller’s life-sized portraits of male nudes were fascinating. The artists like Robert Larson, Giancarlo Paolozzi, Ben Alexy, Shelby Smith and Sarah Ratchye (among many others) who have been shown in this event every year never disappoint me. Philo Northrup always brings something fun and on-the-edge in the form of arts cars. Tessie Scharaga’s installation of beach with ocean waves video was a peaceful escape from the crush. The rooms full of artists-with-pseudonyms from Empire 7 Studios was an earthy contrast to the more established styles throughout the main building.


Photos by Bean Roulette were a preview of his upcoming exhibition at Empire 7 Studios


Ocean Lullaby, an installation by Tessie Scharaga


She Stirs, by Tim Christensen, gives us another side of the ocean.

Is the Art Party an event that the visual arts community can expect to grow and reincarnate itself every year? Anne Sconberg reveals that every time the art party is over, she and Mark say “Well, this was the last one!” They are exhausted and these are uncertain times. This wonderful warehouse ambience is not a promising context for future art parties. Ann Sconberg has noted that it either will be rented next year or owned by the bank. I hope she was joking about the latter. At the same time, she offers, “But we have a partner who thinks he may be able to connect us with a different space in the future. We just need to partner up with some more sponsors to host the event at this scale, if we do it again!” Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

In any case, there is nothing more fun and energizing for art lovers than an enormous warehouse full of art, showing a lot of local talent that turns out to be great! For more views of this event check out the web site:

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