San Jose Art Crawl

I’ve been working hard and been rather stressed lately, so I decided to give Charybdis and Scylla Academy a spring break. To begin, I gave Neil a minimal day of academics: a paper on the late middle ages (for which he wrote about Philip the Fair), a few chapters of Ivanhoe, and learning how to do rotation matrices. I promised him that if this was all done before lunch, we’d visit Peter at his office and spend the afternoon downtown. Neil started his essay as soon as he got up, and we were done well in time.

We have an awesome membership at the San Jose Art Museum, but as involved as I was with my work and redesigning school for 2 children, not just one, we hadn’t set foot in the museum since early November. Unfortunately, on this day, it seemed to be in between exhibitions because most of museum was closed off.

In the meantime, however, the museum had created its art backpacks to facilitate art enjoyment and appreciation for children. One of the activities in the backpack was a set of tokens: each member of the family gets four tokens to identify which of the pieces they see in a gallery is their favorite; least favorite; hardest to make; and easiest to make. It turned out to be rather fun. Peter dropped an “easy” token in front of a picture that was simple lines. Neil dropped a “favorite” token in front of a metal relief of a building. Both the children were afraid of an S-shaped video installation which had human eyes on either end and deformed human lips and saying random words in a hissy way.


From a distance, Neil slid a “least favorite” token towards it.

Kelly had designated herself as the picker-upper of all the tokens, but while Neil was marking his opinions, she was busy drawing a portrait of her family in a creativity alcove. When we returned to get the tokens, all the tokens were there—except for the “least favorite” one by the snaky video art. Hmmm?! What had happened? Did the snakey lady sssssslip out her tongue and ssssssssnatsssssch away the token?

We returned out art backpack upstairs and didn’t play the game downstairs, where some Andy Warhol prints were on display. The museum had another interactive component to it though: you could text a message and the museum would send you back questions about the prints, so you could hunt for the information, and learn more about Andy Warhol’s prints in a more directed fashion. I texted enough to get the first message, but the rest of my family didn’t want to play that game. Peter just told Neil about The Factory and some of the crazy people that hung out there, like the crazy ueber-feminist from SCUM (Society to Cut Up Men) who tried to kill Warhol.

Peter had to go back to work, but our membership had reciprocal privileges with the Quilt Museum, which we hadn’t seen since last summer. Their current exhibit was Chinese artworks. We normally breeze through their exhibitions pretty quickly (it’s a very small museum) but Kelly found a catalog someone had left behind in the gallery, and she used it for a game of matching the photograph of the art piece with finding the piece itself. It turned out to be pretty good, because the photography sometimes gave a different perspective on the piece than the way it looked in real life.

The Quilt Museum is on First Street, which is San Jose’s artsy corridor. On our walk back to the office, we stumbled across an artist taking down her exhibit from one of the empty storefronts (which are used as rotating art exhibits until the space is re-leased). We spoke to her for a bit, and then went to the Anno Domini gallery.

The Anno Domini gallery is a modest space with eclectic art, which the owner describes as “urban art.” But more importantly, Anno Domini is the stealth center of the San Jose arts scene. If there’s an obscure but intriguing writer, musician, or performance artist in town, you’ll stumble across them at Anno Domini if you happen to be there at the right time. The owners have also gotten other galleries going, like the whole exhibitions in empty storefronts thing, and a bigger, less funky gallery near the main library in the former spot of an art supply store.

It was already pulling into late afternoon by the time we returned to the office. I started checking out the Kindle for my upcoming review, and swear I was sucked right into that thing. Way before I knew it, Peter was shaking me out of my Kindle-induced daze because it was time to go home.

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