First Friday on South First Street, November 7, 2008
By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

The enigmatic female forms of Manuel Neri at the San Jose ICA

First Fridays are alive and well as a social event and an occasion for art. Friends, art lovers and the curious turned out in healthy numbers on the evening of November 7, filling the streets of San Jose’s Sofa District, and ducking in an out of the galleries. Opera joined the mix in Caf√© Trieste.

Holyoke-Hirsch’s foray into abstraction is colorful and graphic.

At Anno Domini, Know Hope and Maxwell Holyoke-Hirsch filled the gallery with elements of installation, painting and drawing. The inauguration of Holyoke-Hirsch’s debut solo show, A Season in Hell, revealed a playful, colorful approach to drawing and design, not really too hellish. Stylistically, his figures hearken to the influence of the important na√Øve painter, Bill Traylor. A large montage of unframed works on paper included many charming drawings and paintings at great prices. Some of his work was rather abstract, yet played with shapes seen in the figurative work.

This grade school drawing, expressing the theme of Hopes and Fears, was sold out of the Works exhibition.

Works Gallery, always in precarious straits, maintains it presence on South First with a show of grade school art curated by Works Board member, Brande Barrett. These works on paper were selling like hotcakes as I perused the show. In the rear window installation space were Fanny Retsek’s illuminated translucent black columns of rabbits with endless hatch marks marching across each print. It’s about soldiers in war, death, and perhaps the unending numbers of wars and the unending numbers of people willing to go fight in them.

An illuminted installation in the rear window by Fannie Retsek, Artist-in-Residence at Works

Therese May’s quilted Pizza, at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles

At the Museum of Quilts and Textiles, Jane Przybysz presented a broad selection of textile art works on sale for $500. or less. An excellent selection of work from garments to jewelry and wall hangings was prompting on-site sales and bare spots on the walls. In the gift shop, more tempting wares were being examined by a horde of shoppers.

At MACLA, Efrain Huerta’s photographs of the streets and buildings of downtown San Jose

At Macla, the young photography students of Alejandra Chaverri showed their work, revealing a great deal of sophisticated vision and discipline. Focusing on family, neighborhood and San Jose’s downtown, they found plenty of material to frame a viewpoint.

A living room illusion creted by Chris Dorosc at the San Jose ICA

Finally, the capstone of First Fridays had to be the dual installations of work by Chris Dorosc and Manuel Neri at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art. Dorosc creates the illusion of a complete living room defined by a sofa, end table, lamp and other miscellaneous furniture, all in floating globs of acrylic paint suspended in space by monofilament strings from an overhead grid. Viewers were captivated.

Manuel Neri’s life-size female forms in relief: classical Neri!

Manuel Neri’s recent works (studies) on paper and grand sculptural reliefs of the female form — emerging half realized out of giant vertical slabs — are classical Neri and more wonderful than ever. This exhibition, accompanied by a catalogue, is perhaps the most prestigious and stunning accomplishment yet by the ICA’s director, Cathy Kimball. For the cognoscenti of Bay Area art history, this is an historic show that merits a drive from anywhere in California.

Comments are closed.