Faculty Notes: Research, Recognition and Recent Publications

Robert Dawson photographing the Main Library, Detroit, Mich. (Courtesy of Dawson)

Robert Dawson photographing the Main Library, Detroit, Mich. (courtesy of Dawson)

Photographer Robert Dawson, a lecturer in the Department of Art and Art History, published The Public Library – A Photographic Essay (Princeton Architectural Press). Over the past 18 years, he has traveled the country, photographing libraries large (the New York Public Library) and small (Tulare County’s one-room library, built by former slaves) to compile the most comprehensive visual survey of American libraries ever published. Accompanying Dawson’s photographs are essays, letters and poetry extolling libraries by Amy Tan, Bill Moyers, Barbara Kingsolver and others.

San Jose State Precision Flight Team

San Jose State Precision Flight Team (courtesy of the team)

Department of English Lecturer Kelly Harrison, who also serves as coach and faculty advisor of the San Jose State Precision Flight Team, celebrated her flight team’s second-place finish in the National Intercollegiate Flight Association Regionals, held in Arizona in February. Teams compete in ground and flying events that range from computer accuracy to short field approach and landing. SJSU’s team is now eligible to compete in the NIFA Nationals Tournament to be held at Ohio State University in May.

School of Library and Information Science Lecturer Michelle Holschuh Simmons, Assistant Professor Michael T. Stephens and Lecturer Melba Tomeo received Excellence in Online Teaching awards from the Web-based Information Science Education (WISE) consortium. All three teach in the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program, which is delivered exclusively online. This is the fourth win for Simmons, who teaches courses in information literacy and information resources.

Claire Komives

Claire Komives (Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering photo)

Professor of Chemical Engineering Claire Komives received a 2015 Fulbright Scholar research grant. She will spend the academic year working at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. Dr. Komives’ research will focus on developing a low-cost antidote for snake envenomation. The highly competitive Fulbright grants, one of the most prestigious awards programs worldwide, provide international educational opportunities for a select group of students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists.

CommUniverCity San Jose, led by Executive Director and Department of Urban and Regional Planning Department Professor Dayana Salazar, received the Bold Steps for Children Award at the 2014 Santa Clara County Children’s Summit. The Children’s Summit is sponsored by Kids in Common, Santa Clara County’s child advocacy organization. Started in 2005, CommUniverCity engages SJSU students in local, service-learning initiatives that help to build community and solve neighborhood issues.

Susan Shillinglaw

Susan Shillinglaw (Peter Caravalho photo)

Susan Shillinglaw and Assistant Professor Nicholas Taylor, Department of English, read and signed their latest books at Barnes and Noble in San Jose on March 19. Steinbeck scholar Shillinglaw’s On Reading The Grapes of Wrath (Penguin Books) is described by Bookpage as a “concise, penetrating study.” Kirkus Reviews calls Taylor’s The Setup Man, written under the pseudonym T.T. Monday, “a treat for readers of mystery or baseball novels.” Both authors also published books in 2013. Shillinglaw contributed the dual biography Carol and John Steinbeck: Portrait of a Marriage (University of Nevada Press), and Taylor, under his own name, published a historical novel, Father Junipero’s Confessor (Heydey).

Assistant Professor Elizabeth (Elly) Walsh, Department of Meteorology and Science Education, published a peer-reviewed article in the April issue of Nature Climate Change, an interdisciplinary journal devoted to climate change and its impacts. In “Social Controversy Belongs in the Climate Science Classroom,” Walsh argues the importance of including social context and cultural values when teaching climate change in K-12 and college classrooms.


San Jose Mercury News: Walt Disney Museum Exhibit Focuses on Bold Colorful World of Mary Blair

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News March 11, 2014.

By Robert Taylor

You may not know the name of artist Mary Blair, but you know her work: the design elements of “Cinderella” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Peter Pan,” which brought Disney animation into the modern era. She was also behind the vigor of Disney’s World War II-era “Saludos Amigos,” “The Three Caballeros” and the charming illustrations for Golden Books, treasured by adults and children alike.

And as a culmination of her travels, her zest for life, her innovative, international style, there’s the musical journey that Walt Disney himself recruited her to design. Perhaps you’ve heard the theme song: “It’s A Small World.”

“She was very proud of it — thrilled, because it would make so many children happy,” recalls Blair’s niece, Jeanne Chamberlain who, with her sister Maggie Richardson, is carrying on Blair’s legacy. Richardson notes that, though the song by the Sherman brothers “can make people crazy,” the project was always a part of Blair’s life.

And there’s so much more, from California landscapes that tell dramatic stories in watercolor to tropical-looking Maxwell House coffee ads to window designs for Bonwit Teller in New York. Blair was even the “color designer” for the eye-popping musical film “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

It’s all ready to be discovered — much of it for the first time by the public — in “Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair” at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco’s Presidio. (Beware, your GPS device may take you to Montgomery Street in the financial district, instead.) The exhibit, opening today and running through Sept. 7, includes more than 200 drawings, paintings, designs and photographs.

The exhibit was originally proposed by the late Diane Disney Miller, Walt Disney’s daughter, and represents something of a homecoming for Blair’s artwork. Born in McAlester, Okla., in 1911, Blair moved with her family in the early 1920s to Morgan Hill, south of San Jose. She studied art at San Jose State College from 1929 to 1931, then won a scholarship to the prestigious Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles.

Read the full story. 

Faculty Notes: Research, Recognition and Applied Learning

Ryan Carrington

Lecturer Ryan Carrington, Department of Art and Art History, holds an MFA in spatial art from SJSU and teaches sculpture, foundry work and mold making.

Professor Ted Butryn and Associate Professor Matthew Masucci, Department of Kinesiology, spoke on February 26 at the King Library as part of the University Scholar Series on the topic of female triathletes’ awareness of doping and the anti-doping movement. Their research was funded by a two-year grant from the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Lecturer Ryan Carrington, Department of Art and Art History, received an Emerging Artist/Artist Laureate Award from Silicon Valley Creates. His art explores the theme of labor through gallery installations, performances and site-specific work. He holds an MFA in spatial art from SJSU and currently teaches sculpture, foundry work and mold making.

Professor Emeritus Betty Chu, Department of Economics, was profiled last month in TheHuffington Post for her success in breeding Angora rabbits. One of the oldest kinds of domestic rabbit, the Angora rabbit, along with the Angora cat and the Angora goat, originated in Turkey. Chu holds the distinction of breeding the only Angora that has ever won the Open Best in Show award at the American Rabbit Breeder Association National Convention.

faculty notes

Asst. Prof. Kasuen Mauldin

Assistant Professor G. Craig Hobbs, Department of Art and Art History, and director of Learning and Games Consortium, organized and served as faculty advisor of Global Game Jam, held January 24-26 on campus. A competitive “hackathon” focused on game development, it was an event open to students from all majors and focused on collaboratively creating games under tight deadlines using computers, software and brainwave sensor technologies.

Assistant Professor Kasuen Mauldin, Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging, received the 2014 California Dietetics Association Excellence in Research Award. Her research focuses on human metabolism and, more specifically, lipoprotein homeostasis. She will also chair the 2014 Center for Healthy Aging in a Multicultural Population (CHAMP) conference.

faculty notes

Asso. Prof. Cathleen Miller’s book

Creative writing Associate Professor Cathleen Miller and Professor Alan Soldofsky read and signed their most recent books at Barnes and Noble in San Jose on February 12. Miller’s Champion of Choice (University of Nebraska Press) is a biography of Dr. Nafis Sadik, the first female director of a United Nations agency and a renowned advocate for women’s health and reproductive rights. Soldofsky’s poetry collection, In the Buddha Factory (Truman State University Press), takes Silicon Valley as its backdrop.

Professor David Parent, Department of Electrical Engineering, has been working with Silicon Valley employers Atmel, Texas Instruments and Linear Tech to secure internships and acquire donations of equipment for the department, including boards and chips. Atmel recently recognized SJSU as one of the top universities from which to acquire talented electrical engineering graduates.

Director of Film and Television Production Babak Sarrafan won the Broadcast Education Association’s Educational/Instructional Video Award of Excellence in the faculty video category. His “Green Ninja Episode 4: Styrofoam Man” is the latest in an ongoing series featuring an environmental ninja. “My aim is to make environmental responsibility entertaining,” he said. SJSU students also took home top prizes, including Best in Show for Always Learning, a feature-length film by Robert Krakower. The BEA is the largest association of Radio-TV-Film programs in the United States with 260 member institutions.

Assistant Professor Katie Wilkinson, Department of Biological Sciences, oversaw student teams competing in the American Physiological Society’s Phantasic Physiology Voyage: “Function Follows Form” video contest. To be considered, videos had to explore, for a general public audience, a specific physiological function in five minutes or less (including credits). Students Peter Luu, Lubayna Elahi, Laura Philbin and David Tatarakis received the Judge’s Award, which carries a prize of $750, for “Avian Surgery.”

faculty notes

Prof. Emily Wughalter

Professor Emily Wughalter, Department of Kinesiology, will receive the Luther Halsey Gulick Medal from the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance at the AAHPERD national conference in April. The highest award bestowed by the organization, it recognizes Wughalter’s 33 years of distinguished service to her profession. A strong advocate for girls and women in sport, she previously received the Honor Award from the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS) and served as president of the Western Society for Physical Education of College Women. In January 2014, she received a distinguished service award from the National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education (NAKHE).


President’s Scholar: Jo Farb Hernández

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

The President’s Scholar Award recognizes a faculty member who has achieved widespread recognition based on the quality of scholarship, performance or creative activities. This year’s winner comes from the College of Humanities and the Arts.

She will be honored at the 15th Annual Faculty Service Recognition and Awards Luncheon on March 11, 2014. Tickets are available for purchase.

Ask Jo Farb Hernández, professor of art and art history and this year’s recipient of the President’s Scholar Award, how she feels about the fact that she is considered one of the primary experts in the field of outsider art, and she will smile. “I don’t care for that term,” she says. “Humans have a tendency to classify things. Outsider art has come to refer to works created by those who are isolated from the mainstream art field, but this isn’t a movement like other fields. These creators don’t fit in a box.”

Neither does Hernández. After 25 years in the art and museum world, she was invited to apply to SJSU in 2000 for an unusual faculty appointment. The arrangement, in which she is encouraged to both do and teach, works well for Hernández. Three-quarters of her time is dedicated to directing the Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery, overseeing the six student galleries, managing the university’s art collection, and coordinating a weekly speaker series and presentations for the art department. The remaining quarter of her time is spent teaching related classes in museum studies and associated subjects.

“It’s important to have a teacher-scholar model in a professor,” says Hernández, who also serves as executive director of SPACES (Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments). At SPACES, a nonprofit that focuses on the international study, documentation and preservation of art environments and self-taught artistic activity, she developed the most extensive public archive on the subject in the world.

“I love all aspects of scholarship—the field work, photography, meeting the artists, traveling, researching, writing. I’ve tried to study in areas that others haven’t, to fill in the gaps in the art historical record.” Hernández goes to great lengths to accomplish that goal: she has taught herself to read Gallego and Catalan to access articles and books only printed in those languages.

In her 13 years at SJSU, Hernández has published 11 books and catalogs, as well as 46 articles in journals and encyclopedias in four countries. She has curated 45 exhibitions in the United States, Japan, Korea and Spain, and has received 23 honors and awards, including a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Residence Award to do extended research in Spain for her latest book, Singular Spaces: From the Eccentric to the Extraordinary in Spanish Art.

Teaching is a natural extension of her research. “I love working with the students,” she says. “It is so rewarding when I get through to a student by sharing the passion that I have and leading them to ways to discover their own passions. I’ve spent my career trying to break down different barriers in art, and I try to infuse that into my teaching. My goal is to open minds and hearts.”

Jerich piece

Art Department Celebrates Centennial

Art Department Celebrates Centennial

A poster for the campus exhibition featured a photo of the Art Building in the 1960s (SJSU Archives and Digital Collection).

For more information, please contact Jo Farb Hernandez (408-924-4328).

It is as important to mark rites of passage for institutions as for individuals. In each case, stopping to observe a transitional moment has particular importance amid the crush of what has become the new “normal” of our busy daily lives: it motivates us to celebrate growth, honor milestones, or commemorate passings. And, by so doing, it inspires us to take stock, to note the challenges and the successes, the drawbacks and the rewards. It reminds us to take a breath and look back from where we have come, appreciate where we are now, and look forward to what lies ahead.

Foundation in Art

As we have paused to consider one hundred years of the Department of Art at San Jose State University, the view to the past is astonishing. SJSU was inaugurated as a teachers’ or normal school in 1857, and, in 1862, was absorbed by the state of California, becoming not only the first of the state’s teachers’ colleges, but California’s first state-supported institution of higher learning. In 1871, the college was moved from its original San Francisco location after administrators and the legislature decided that rural San Jose would be a safer location for its predominantly young, female and unmarried students. Classes in drawing were among the earliest courses taught and, for a long time, these classes were required for every student, no matter their major or intended career. Classes in additional media and techniques were added quickly, as the administrators at that time understood that the study of the arts were essential in the development of a well-rounded, educated individual. Soon the San Jose Normal School evolved into the San Jose State Teacher’s College, then into San Jose State College, and finally into San Jose State University.

poster for exhibit at the Triton Museum, Dec. 7 to Jan. 26

A series of events have been scheduled to celebrate this important milestone including an exhibit at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara, Dec. 7, 2013 – Jan. 26, 2014. This poster features the work of alumna Pilar Aguero-Esparza.

A series of exhibitions, projects, and programs were scheduled to celebrate this important milestone of the art department. Sponsors include Adobe Systems, Cisco and Lathrop Construction, which gave $5,000 each. In the Thompson Art Gallery, we focused on a small number of our most illustrious alumni from the middle years of our history – including Jay DeFeo, Wayne Thiebaud, Mel Ramos, Robert Graham, Mark Tansey and Tim Hawkinson. Complementary exhibitions on campus took place in Gallery 3 (Nov. 12-22, 2013), with a very special exhibition of the work of three generations of the Amyx family: the grandfather, father, and son all received their art degrees at San Jose State; and there was also an exhibition of department-produced posters at King Library. Off-campus, the community is helping celebrate, as well: there were or will be broad displays featuring dozens of our alumni at the new gallery at San Jose City College (curated by Eve Mathias, Nov. 14 – Dec. 12, 2013), at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara (curated by Jo Farb Hernandez, Dec. 7, 2013 – Jan. 26, 2014), and at San Jose City Hall (curated by Robin Treen, February – May 2014).

Commemorative Book

A hardcover book documenting the past hundred years, and including images by or narratives about more than 160 alumni, as well as faculty, staff, and programs, has been produced by the gallery and is available for purchase ($30 for students, faculty, staff and alumni; $50 for the general public). In conjunction with the opening of the exhibition, a special panel discussion was moderated by Professor of Art History Christy Junkerman and included illustrated presentations by the art history alumni who wrote the substantive narrative essays in the book—Kathleen Kenyon, who spoke on the period 1911-1945; Marianne Kennedy McGrath, who discussed 1946-1970; and Betsy Vaca, who focused on the more recent past 1971-2013—providing an overview of the project and the astonishing changes that have taken place over the past 100 years.



Developing a New Kind of Video Game

Developing a New Kind of Video Game

Developing a New Kind of Video Game

Cong Lu, Yuanlei Huang, Glenn Pham and John Pham work on Changuya’s Moon Festival, which won for Best Art Game at the SJSU x NeuroSky Hackathon (photo courtesy of G. Craig Hobbs).

You use your brain to play video games. But did you know you could be using your brain waves?

At the recent SJSU x NeuroSky Hackathon, art, computer science, engineering and animation majors designed the very best video games they could in 24 hours, with a NeuroSky headset being the primary controller.

Developing a New Kind of Video Game

A NeuroSky publicity photo shows the headset with sensor touching the model’s forehead.

“The hackathon provides access and opportunities for students to experiment with emerging technologies, while encouraging innovation, entrepreneurship and interdisciplinary interaction in a fun, creative, and challenging environment,” said G. Craig Hobbs, assistant professor of digital media art.

Silicon Valley connections

A developer from San Jose-based NeuroSky helped run a boot camp for hackathon participants. The headset digitizes electrical brainwaves (more commonly known as EEGs) to control games.

What this boils down to is “writing programs that translate user brain activity into commands, pictures and sounds,” said Jon Pearce, chair of the Department of Computer Science.

The player manipulates the game by concentrating, relaxing or balancing the two to reach a “zen” state. Applications include games for children who need help learning to focus their thinking.

Developing a New Kind of Video Game

A screen shot from the overall winning project, Immunity (image courtesy of Tamara Chang).

The winning game

The overall winning project was Immunity by the team “Pew Pew Studios,” comprised of Arthur Baney, Will Pham, Rocky Oliver and Tamara Chang.

“In our game, you are the immune system of a sickly body,” Chang said. “When the player is relaxing and concentrating, the white blood cells in the body begin to take over the red viruses.

“However, if the player becomes worried or distracted, the red viruses multiply and kill the white blood cells.

We used the NeuroSky headset to simulate how with real illnesses, a person can improve their immune system by remaining calm and keeping a positive attitude.”

Hobbs is director of the Learning and Games Consortium, an interdisciplinary group promoting educational games. Check out student work on the Game Development Club website.

Jordan Gonzales

Overcoming Odds to Earn His Degree

Jordan Gonzales

Jordan Gonzales, 2013-14 Trustee William Hauck Scholar (Christina Olivas photo)

For many years, Jordan Anthony Gonzales was having such a tough time battling dysautonomia, a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system, that he couldn’t leave home to go to school.

Now an SJSU student, Gonzales has received the California State University system’s highest honor for students who overcome incredible odds to attend college.

Gonzales has been named the 2013-14 Trustee William Hauck Scholar, one of 23 CSU Trustees Awards for Outstanding Achievement. He flew to the chancellor’s office in Long Beach on Sept. 24 to pick up the award and meet the other recipients.

While their commitment, drive and perseverance are extraordinary, these students are not unlike the thousands of students who look to the CSU each year for high-quality, accessible, affordable educational opportunities.

An art major minoring in psychology, Gonzales’ long-term plans include earning a master’s in art therapy so he can help people use artistic expression as a way to deal with grief and loss.

“Combining art with psychology allows me to share my experiences and reach out to others,” he said.

Gonzales also helps raise funds for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and he has served two terms on the Youth Commission for the city of Sacramento.

William Hauck, who graduated from SJSU in 1963 with a bachelor’s in social studies, endowed the scholarship in 2010. The endowment now provides $3,000 annually.

Hauck has served as deputy chief of staff to Governor Pete Wilson and chief of staff to Assembly speakers Bob Morretti and Willie L. Brown, Jr. At SJSU, Hauck was student body president.

Celebrating a Partnership

Ten years ago, when the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library on the grounds of San Jose State opened its doors, it was the only example nationwide of a city and university coming together to co-develop and co-manage a library.

And not just any library, but a crown jewel, with distinctive architecture and art installations designed to inspire learners from all walks of life in a valley whose hallmark is innovation and education.

So when library officials set out to produce materials celebrating the 10th anniversary of the city-university partnership, they sought artwork reflecting the library’s unique attributes.

For this, they turned to a very talented group of SJSU art students under the instruction of Professor Gale Antokal. Their assignment? To paint the library from their own perspectives as students and patrons but to also weave in the city-university connections, the pathways from the city onto campus and vice versa.

The result is these gorgeous watercolors, which adorn street banners and posters getting the word out about the kickoff for the month-long celebration. President Mohammad Qayoumi will join Mayor Chuck Reed 11 a.m. Sept. 5 in the the lobby of King Library, born of a partnership that remains unique a full decade later.

“Picturing Our Library: Watercolors by SJSU Art Students,” an exhibition featuring 18 of the student watercolors, opens Sept. 3 on the fourth floor, and will continue through the end of the month. Rendered this spring, these paintings captures the remarkable vantage points of interior and exterior landscapes of the King Library.

Here’s how organizers summarized the show:

“Our library is a center for knowledge, a symbol of innovation, a place of reflection, and it is a playground for the curious and imaginative. Highlighting the multiplicity our library, each watercolor presents our library as a monumental feat of architecture, intellectual resources, and cumulative experiences from our community. Our library gives its patrons as much as we give it, and the heart of our library is the bond we have chosen to cherish and develop over the past 10 years.  Our library is a hub of possibility—whether inside it, outside it, or beyond it—our library is always with us.”

Learn more about the King Library 10th Anniversary Celebration.

Spartans at Work: San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art

(This summer, SJSU Today hit the road, visiting students and recent grads on the job at summer destinations throughout the Bay Area. Our 2013 Spartans at Work series continues with art history graduate student Sarah Dragovich).

Well known in the Bay Area and beyond, the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) offers free admission to some of the most innovative art exhibitions and educational programming in the region, reflecting the entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley.

As a dyed-in-the-wool art lover, Sarah Dragovich, ’13 MA Art History, remembers how excited she was when visiting each new site-specific ICA installation, introduced every three to four months.

When she landed an ICA internship last year, she learned that her passion could become her career.

“There are a lot of career opportunities out there for art and art history majors. But you’ve go to be motivated, persistent and passionate to grab them. You have to build and maintain your network, know your capabilities and strengths, and find a way to integrate them with your passion. In my case, it’s art and culture,” she said.

As gallery administrator, Dragovich is the ICA’s ambassador to the public. She’s the eyes and ears of the organization, connecting artists, visitors and members to the mission.

Her role includes greeting each and every visitor to the gallery. She also manages the ICA’s membership program and administrative office, builds relationships with donors and funders, leads docent tours and manages the organizations’s member database.

Sarah is also learning the business and marketing side of the business and honing her event management skills as she and her colleagues gear up for the ICA’s Annual Art Exhibition and Auction, the gallery’s signature fundraising initiative.

“I feel I am really tapping into my passion for art and art history and making a difference by providing a genuine and genuinely inspired experience to the community,” she said.

Her advice to students and new graduates is to persevere and tap your own resources as well as those within your network. She also encourages students to seek out and apply for internship positions.

Lift-Off 2013: MFA Grads Thesis Exhibition

Lift-Off 2013: MFA Grads Thesis Exhibition

Lift-Off 2013: MFA Grads Thesis Exhibition

Nineteen San Jose State University Master of Fine Art candidates graduating this spring will show their thesis art projects at Art Ark Gallery, May 3-18 (Lift-Off composite image).

Contact: Robert Chiarito, Graduate Coordinator, 408-924-4374 or 408-924-4320

SAN JOSE – Nineteen San Jose State University Master of Fine Art candidates graduating this spring will show their thesis art projects at Art Ark Gallery, May 3-18. Designed by independent curator and art writer Christian L. Frock, the exhibit illustrates the depth and breath of the university’s art and art history program.

Graduating students represent the Pictorial Art, Spatial Art, Photography and Digital Media Art programs in the Department of Art and Art History. The artists are A R A, Armine Sargsyan, Avery Palmer, Barbara Boissevain, David Kempken, Elena Polanco, Esteban Salazar, Gloria Huet, Jacqueline Donecho, Jeffrey Opp, Jen, Jonathan Huang, Kat McKinnon (KGM), Lan Liu, Marianne Lettieri, Meiru Huang, Sieglinde Van Damme, Wesley Wright, and Yvonne Escalante.

The MFA studio art students collaborated with MA art history graduate students to produce a 100-page publication for the Lift-Off 2013 exhibition. The catalog includes images of the art work, foreword by Christian L. Frock, and critical essays written by SJSU student art historians Allison Connor, Ashley Gardini, Emily McEwan, Lale Yasemin Kaya, Megan Merritt, and Melanie Dove. Copies will be available at the exhibition and can be ordered.

Christian L. Frockis the director of Invisible Venue, an independent curatorial enterprise she founded in 2005 that collaborates with artists to present art in the public realm. She is a regular contributor to KQED Arts, Art Practical, San Francisco Arts Monthly, and art ltd. Frock has a masters degree from Goldsmiths College, University of London.The Art Ark Gallery is located on the Art Ark Apartments property, a thriving Artisan Village in the heart of the Martha Gardens Arts District in San Jose. Since 2006 the gallery has provided a space where emerging local artists can explore possibilities and engage the public.

Founded in 1913, the SJSU Art and Art History department is one of the largest at the university, attracting students worldwide. In 2012 US News and World Report rated it as one of the top 100 MFA visual arts programs in the country. Notable artists associated with the school include Tim Hawkinson, Binh Danh, Jay DeFeo, Wayne Thiebaud, Mel Ramos, Robert Graham, Mark Tansey, Harry Powers, Rupert Garcia, Fletcher Benton and Consuelo Jimenez-Underwood.

Lift-Off 2013 will be installed at Art Ark Gallery, 1035 S. Sixth St., San Jose, and open to the public noon-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Artists will serve as gallery docents during opening hours. A reception will be held on May 3, 6 to 9 p.m. Admission is free.


de Young Student Showcase

Works by 18 Spartans will be featured in the 17th Annual New Generations Student Showcase at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Each year, the de Young invites college students to submit proposals for pieces inspired by the museum’s special exhibitions and permanent collection. Here are the SJSU submissions, created by 16 master’s of fine arts and two bachelor’s of fine arts students:

Aimee Santos, MFA Photo 2014
Avery Palmer, MFA Spatial 2013
Biagio Scarpello, MFA Spatial 2013
Brittney Cathey-Adams, MFA Photo 2014
Esteban Salazar, MFA Spatial 2013
Galen Oback, BFA Pictorial 2013
Gloria Huet, MFA Pictorial 2013
Kathleen McDonald, MFA Photo 2015
Kristin Jones, MFA Photo 2014
Kurt Salinas, BFA Pictorial 2013
Lan Liu, MFA Pictorial 2013
Meiru Huang, MFA Pictorial 2013
Scotty Gorham, MFA Spatial 2015
Tamara Danoyan, MFA Photo 2015
Thomas Sanders, MFA Photo 2015
Wesley T. Wright, MFA Spatial 2013
Yvonne Escalante, MFA Spatial 2013
Sam Metcalf, MFA Spatial, 2014

While these images are spectacular, the pieces are even better in person. The showcase is a pop-up exhibit, on for one day only April 19. Read more from the Department of Art and Art History.

Art Students Introduce PechaKucha

Graduate Art Students Try "PechaKucha"

Originating in Tokyo, where this photo was taken, PechaKucha Night is a global network of informal gatherings where creative people share their ideas and works in a simple presentation format: 20 images discussed for 20 seconds each (photo courtesy of PechaKucha.org).

Contact: Sieglinde Van Damme, SJSU PechaKucha Night publicist

SAN JOSE, CA – Eighteen San Jose State University students, graduating this spring with a master of fine arts degree, will host a PechaKucha Night to introduce themselves and their artwork to the public at a new downtown San Jose venue, Cafe Stritch, on Feb. 27. SJSU’s PechaKucha Night will provide a glimpse into the technical and visual research and creative production that each artist has pursued while at SJSU.

PechaKucha Night is a global network of informal gatherings where creative people share their ideas and works in a simple presentation format: 20 images, discussed for 20 seconds each. Christian L. Frock, an independent writer and curator who is designing the Lift Off 2013 MFA Art Exhibit for SJSU, to be held in May at the Art Ark Gallery in San Jose, suggested the PKN format as a fun and informative way for the students to give her an introductory overview of their art.

“I am not aware of any art colleges conducting a PechaKucha Night for the general community to meet their graduates. This is a special opportunity for the public to get a cross section of fresh talent out of the South Bay,” said Frock. “It will offer a composite image of San Jose State University’s singular art program and its influences. We anticipate a great evening of contemporary art and ideas,” she added.

The participating students represent the Pictorial Art, Spatial Art, Photography and Digital Media Art programs in the Department of Art and Art History. Founded in 1911, the department is one of the largest schools at SJSU with academic instruction and fabrication facilities that attract students worldwide. In 2012, U.S. News and World Report rated the art school as one of the top 100 MFA visual arts programs in the country.

The participants are Ara Ahadi, Armine Sargsyan, Avery Palmer, Barbara Boissevain, David Kempken, Esteban Salazar, Gloria Huet, Jacqueline Donecho, Jeffrey Opp, Jennifer Groft, Jonathan Huang, Kat McKinnon, Lan Liu, Marianne Lettieri, Meiru Huang, Sieglinde Van Damme, Wesley Wright and Yvonne Escalante.

Christian L. Frock is the director of Invisible Venue, an independent curatorial enterprise she founded in 2005 that collaborates with artists to present art in the public realm. She is a regular contributor to KQED Arts, Art Practical, San Francisco Arts Monthly and Art ltd. Frock has a master’s degree from Goldsmiths College, University of London.

This event will be the first collaboration of PKN San Jose with Steven Borkenhagen and his new restaurant and performance space, Cafe Stritch (formerly Eulipa Restaurant).

The SJSU PechaKucha Night will be held 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27, 2013 at Cafe Stritch, 374 S. First St., San Jose. Admission is free.


"(In)security" Art Assesses 9/11's Impact

“(In)security” Art Assesses 9/11’s Impact


"(In)security" Art Assesses 9/11's Impact

Michele Pred with her piece, Fear Culture 2 (photo courtesy of Art Animal).

Jo Farb Hernandez, Director of the Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery and a Professor of Department of Art and Art History who specializes in outsider art, has brought to campus an artist with a unique perspective on the World Trade Center attacks.

“If anthropologists were to assess items representing the aftermath of September 11, 2001, they might include the piles of random materials left behind at airport security checkpoints across the country,” writes blogger Elizabeth Coleman.

“For over 12 years, conceptual installation artist Michele Pred has been an anthropologist of sorts, gathering items like lighters, matchbooks, sewing scissors and pocket knives that were confiscated at the security checkpoints at San Francisco International Airport.”

In her newest exhibit, “(In)security,” on display at the Thompson Gallery through Dec. 14, “Pred uses these items to visually represent how our lives have been impacted in unexpected ways since 9/11 … By placing the confiscated items together in recognizable shapes such as a heart or the red, white and blue of the American flag, Pred brings new meaning to the material.” Read more from the Art Animal blog.

A Century of Art and Art History at SJSU

A Century of Art and Art History at SJSU

A Century of Art and Art History at SJSU

Wayne Thiebaud, County City, 1988. Color soft ground etching with drypoint and aquatint on paper, Ed. 39/60. 21-1/2 x 31-1/2 inches. Collection of the San Jose Museum of Art. Gift of John and Lynn Battenberg. 1998.21.02. Photography by Douglas Sandberg

There is perhaps no better way to visualize creativity and innovation at SJSU than through the lens of the Department of Art and Art History, which is preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Professor Jo Farb Hernandez is beginning to curate an exhibition featuring works by artists who studied here. Have something to share? Read on. Hernandez sent the following note to art alumni.


I am coordinating and curating an exhibition that will celebrate a centennial of students who have passed through the Department of Art (in all its incarnations and names); this will be a multi-pronged project that will take place in fall 2013 at San Jose’s City Hall galleries as well as at the Thompson Gallery in the art building on campus. We are exploring other optional venues as well, which we may need depending on the size of the project. The parameters for this exhibition are fairly loose; we will review work by all students who studied art here, even if they did not end up majoring in one of our programs, and even if they did not graduate. We are encompassing our entire history: 1911 through the present.

I am requesting your help in two ways: 1) to bring us up to date on your own activities as an artist or designer, providing us with your contact information and information on your current work, and 2) to forward information about this project to your colleagues who may not have graduated, and thus who may not appear in the alumni lists. If some of your colleagues have passed on, we would be pleased to discuss this project with their next of kin.

Obviously, we will have greater access to students who attended SJSU during the past three or four decades rather than those took classes in the early years, but we’d like to cast as wide a net as possible. Our alumni list primarily includes those who graduated, and we do have an illustrious list of those who didn’t make it through the entire program. We are also hitting old yearbooks, old newspapers, the archives at the SJ Historical and Art Museums, etc., etc., but any and all help would be greatly appreciated.

Our timeline is to have the list of artists and their contact information, ideally with some idea of the kind of work they are now doing or have done, before the end of this current semester. We will then spend spring semester doing research on those who are selected to be in the exhibition, create a documentary exhibition catalog over the summer, and produce the exhibition and catalog next fall.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions that you might have about this centennial project.

Jo Farb Hernandez, Professor and Director
Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery
(408) 924-4328

Jo Farb Hernandez at Salvation Mountain, which is 3 stories high, and very brightly colored, with written and visual messages.

KPBS: Art Professor Shares Outsider Art Expertise

The Fight To Save Salvation Mountain

Posted by KPBS Jan. 27, 2012.

By Angela Carone

Along dusty Highway 111 in Niland, California, the Buckshot Deli and Diner is the place to get a strong cup of coffee, and directions to the area’s most famous landmark. Owner Ed Brashear says he can tell immediately who wants to go to Salvation Mountain. “Sometime when they walk in the door you just know, you say ‘go two blocks to the south and turn left and go straight’. That’s just how it is. And sometimes you’ll get a 100 a day that just want to go do Salvation Mountain.”

The draw is not surprising. After all, how often does one see a candy-colored mountain, three stories high and the width of a football field, in the middle of the desert? If you follow Brashear’s directions down a winding road, you see Salvation Mountain in the distance, rising out of the landscape like a technicolor desert mirage.

Astonishingly, it’s the work of one man: self-taught artist Leonard Knight.

This past December, Knight moved to a nursing home in San Diego county. He’s 80 years old.

Knight lived at the mountain for almost 30 years, painting every day and sleeping in the back of a pick-up truck. San Diegan Dan Westfall, a friend of Knight’s, says Knight’s resilience always amazed him. “The ability to live out here with zero creature comforts through the summer, it was 118 degrees out here. He had so little consideration for himself. His priorities were the message, the mountain, and he came in a distant third.”

Knight’s message is written right on the mountain: “God is Love.” In fact, there are bible verses plastered all over it, as well as on the many brightly painted abandoned cars and trucks on the property.

Without Knight living and working on site, Salvation Mountain’s future is uncertain.

Westfall and a group of concerned locals have formed a non-profit board to look after Knight’s mountain. Salton City resident Imari Kariotis is the board’s secretary. “The purpose of the nonprofit is to maintain and promote Leonard’s folk art, and to pass on his message of unconditional love.”

Kariotis and Westfall admit there are many challenges ahead. Westfall says security is the number one priority. “This is not a really stable, secure neighborhood. There are elements around here that don’t respect Leonard’s art.” Westfall worries about graffiti and vandalism. Items have already been stolen from the site. As a solution, the board is looking for a caretaker to live at the mountain full time.

Jo Farb Hernandez [SJSU professor of art] is the director of SPACES, an organization that helps preserve work by outsider artists. She says a lot will be required of the caretaker. “You know Leonard was here working on it 24/7, and that’s kind of what needs to happen.”

She says the caretaker will have to do more than protect the mountain. They’ll need to patch the adobe and paint on a daily basis. “Somebody needs to be here on site, somebody who knows what they’re doing, to do conservation work on an as needed because otherwise it will be impossible to save.”

The day we visited the mountain for this story, there was a daily stream of visitors. Some climbed onto the face of the mountain and walked over some of the more fragile areas. Hernandez was dismayed: “People are climbing all over it. And there are cracks all over it. And somebody’s boot heel could catch in it and a chunk comes out and then the rain gets in or the sun peels back the paint and pretty soon you’ve got a much larger chunk that’s out.”

Salvation Mountain is Leonard Knight’s passion and his life work. Finding a volunteer to live and work there for a small stipend won’t be easy. Westfall understands the challenge. “I can’t imagine the amount of labor that Leonard put into this in the last twenty-seven years. That passion’s gonna take a unique individual that’s going to value this enough to say this is worth doing.”

There’s also another problem: nobody knows who owns the land Salvation Mountain is on. Knight was basically squatting, like his neighbors up the road in Slab City, where snowbirds and squatters camp for free on state-owned land.

Curtis Fossum is with the California State Lands Commission. He says the state is not sure if they own the land under Salvation Mountain. As of now, they don’t have the resources to find out, and it’s not a top priority. Fossum explains, “We have about 4 and a half million acres [to manage] and this is less than one of those acres.” Fossum does say that he’s hopeful the state will have the resources to explore land ownership in the region during the summer of 2012.

Jo Farb Hernandez says all of these challenges make Salvation Mountain an extremely unique preservation case. “It’s probably one of the more problematic sites, but I personally believe this is one of the top tier of art environments in the country, if not the world, on a lot of different levels. I think aesthetically, conceptually, and spiritually.”

In recent years, Knight was building an ever-growing museum next to the mountain. Imari Kariotis stands in it, under a web of painted tree branches that reach up toward the sky. She tries to hold in her emotions. “I want Leonard’s legacy to live on. Leonard always said ‘keep it simple’ and it can’t be any more simple than people coming and helping and making the mountain grow and stay for future generations. I want my grandkids to bring their kids here.”

Leonard Knight recently told Dan Westfall it was time to let the mountain do the talking for him. Perhaps it’s time for more people to listen.

Video by Katie Euphrat