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02 February 2013 @ 10:12 am
San Jose's South First Friday  

Last night, Jeannie and I decided to try something new.

Every month, San Jose has an art walk on the first Friday of the month.  As they describe it, South First Friday is "a self-guided evening tour through galleries, museums, and independent creative businesses featuring exhibitions and special performances."  Although I often heard about it while I was at SJSU, I never actually went - I was always too tired after work or I had homework to finish.  But it's a new year, and we're trying to be more artistic - so Jeans and I made the effort to go downtown.  Although there are nineteen participating venues, we only hit a couple of them for our first time.  Gotta ease our way into that contemporary art scene, y'know.

Our first stop was Works San Jose, a gallery that debuted their latest show last night: Beyond Gaga, described as "a juried exhibition of fun, sexy, provocative, and deliberately unsettling sculpture and installation art. The call to artists, from curator Lynne Todaro, was to be shocking, awesome, sublime, and outrageous—to push their imaginations to the edge and beyond."  Some of which had a rather distant relationship to the pop star while others had no discernible connection - although perhaps I just don't know enough about Gaga to figure it out.  My favorite piece was Bow Teak, a sculptural piece of furniture based on Gaga's infamous hair bow.  I wish I'd taken a picture of it - it would have made a great bar. Sadly, I didn't, and now I have no idea who the artist is.  Oh well.  Here's an example of the modern sorts of pieces found in the show:

After the indoor sculpture garden, Jeans and I continued to Higher Fire, a ceramics studio and gallery.  The theme of the evening was cups, and there were many different handcrafted mugs on display.  There were also several artists at work, and as we watched them we realized that we would have to explore ceramics at some point in the near future.  (We've already committed to glassblowing this year, so exactly when ceramics will happen is unknown.)  I picked up a class schedule just in case either of us suddenly comes into money.  One good thing: at least ceramics is cheaper than glass!

Our last stop for the evening, because we spent so much time inside, was the Museum of Quilts & Textiles.  They had an art project for visitors: create a mola, a highly-decorated panel of cloth derived from the traditional costume of the Kuna in Panama/Columbia.  While the Kuna use a reverse applique technique to create their mola, we cut out pieces of felt and glued them together for our creations.


A traditional mola


Our mola - mine on the left, Jeans on the right

I wanted to make a snake, but he turned out far more dragon-like.  (At least that's what I have to assume, since everyone who commented on it said 'dragon'.)  It probably doesn't help that I put some flames around him, but it needed some sort of background decoration!  The executive director was taking pictures of participants, and she took a picture of my project while it was in progress.  I should have talked to her about internship/collection care opportunities, but I was in my art-making zone.  Jeans described her work as "juvenile" but I think it has the tidy, clean aesthetic that she brings to all her projects.  It did have a tendency to confuse viewers, though.  They'd tilt their heads and say, "It's kinda like Captain America's shield" and Jeannie would nod and sigh because clearly, no one is as much of an Iron Man 2  fan as she is.

After finishing our art, we toured the current gallery show.  In one room, they had beautiful quilts hanging on the walls, some of which dated all the way back to the mid-19th century.  In the other room, ethnic costumes from around the world were displayed in their colorful, heavily-embellished glory.

South First Friday turned out to be a fun night!  I'll definitely have to make the effort to turn this into part of my monthly routine.