Creativity, Change, Commitment: A Celebration of 100 Years of the San Jose State University Department of Art


DATESDecember 7, 2013 – January 26, 2014

RECEPTIONFriday, December 13, 2013, 6:00-8:00pm

Artist's Site

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Lou Bermingham, Rock Salt Horse, n.d.

Pantea Karimi, Don Q, n.d.,

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.

As we have paused to consider one hundred years of the Department of Art at San José State University, the view to the past is astonishing. It 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 it was moved from its original San Francisco location after administrators and the legislature decided that rural San José 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 José State University.

A series of exhibitions, projects, and programs have been scheduled to celebrate this important milestone of the Art Department. 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 (November 12-December 13, 2013). Complementary exhibitions on campus were installed in Gallery 3 (November 12-22, 2013), 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 is also an exhibition of Department-produced posters at the MLK Library (October 30-December 31, 2013). Off-campus, the community is helping us celebrate, as well: there are broad displays featuring dozens of our alumni at the new gallery at San José City College (curated by Eve Mathias, November 14-December 12, 2013), at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara (curated by Jo Farb Hernández, December 3, 2013-January 26, 2014), and at San José City Hall (curated by Robin Treen, February – May 2014). 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 will be available for purchase.

We are grateful to our community partners for their participation in the celebratory observance of this momentous milestone in the history of SJSU's Department of Art.


  • Artists on View:
  • Pilar Aguero-Esparza
  • Lawrence Anderson
  • David Bottini
  • Binh Danh
  • Sydney Dunton
  • Ted Fullwood
  • Matt Gil
  • Luis Gutierrez
  • Cynthia Handel
  • George Jercich
  • Titus Kaphar
  • Pantea Karimi
  • Steve Kiser
  • David Kuraoka
  • Holly Lane
  • Catherine Lee
  • Holt Murray
  • Mike Narciso
  • David Ogle
  • Paul Pratchenko
  • Diana Pumpelly Bates
  • Fanny Retsek
  • Robynn Smith
  • Shelby Smith
  • Douglas Vogel


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