The Arts
July 12-18, 2006

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Farewell to 451: Clive McCarthy's 'A Painting Performance' piece transforms ICA's old home at 451 S. First St. for the closing night of the ZeroOne Festival.

SJICA Gets a New Home

Just in time for ZeroOne, the Institute of Contemporary Art moves to a permanent space downtown

By Michael S. Gant

THE DIGITAL-ARTS juggernaut known as the ZeroOne Festival is set to rush through San Jose for one frantic week in early August, but its arrival also heralds a significant permanent development in the downtown art scene. The San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art announced last week that its contribution to the festival—NextNew2006: Art and Technology—will also be the first exhibit at its new home: 560 S. First St., next door to Metro, across from the slice-of-pizza-pie park. The move has been in the works for a while, but the timetable was accelerated when the lease on the ICA's old location ran out in July and renewing it wasn't a viable option.

The ICA, which has showcased modern art at 451 S. First St. since 1980, is finally going to achieve what executive director Cathy Kimball calls "facility stability" by moving out of a rented space that was always in danger of being redeveloped and priced beyond the gallery's reach—and moving into a new space that it will own outright. The $4.2 million capital campaign still has a ways to go—about $2.4 million still needs to be raised—but the move has been made possible by a low-interest bridge loan from the Packard Foundation.

The one-block relocation will allow the venerable gallery to reconfigure the existing retail space (which most recently housed an office-supply business) with three galleries. The real bonus here is the opportunity to host continuous shows; they won't have to shut everything down to change exhibits, as has been the case in the past. Kimball estimates that this will allow SJICA to add "10 weeks to its annual schedule," jumping from 16 shows a year to 22 or 23.

The new space will also feature a separate room for projection and video installations, a conference room, a resource room with art periodicals and books, a printmaking area and a kitchen big enough to cater events. Presiding over the printmaking operation will be Fanny Retsek, who will be in charge of a large monotype press. In addition to workshops and classes, the gallery will host artist-in-residence programs. Less glamorous but just as important, Kimball points out, the new building will have "heat, air and toilets." The 451 S. First location had one toilet. The popular Night Moves installations in the front and back windows of the old building will be consolidated in the two large front windows at 560.

Given such a short timeline, the project won't be fully completed by the Aug. 8 opening date of NextNew2006. For that show, the public will get a look at the main gallery space. SJICA will follow with its fall auction and then an on-site mural-in-the-making project by Darren Waterston. Work in earnest begins January 2007, and after several down months, the gallery will open in its full reincarnation in June of next year.

The NextNew2006 show pairs a quintet of veteran tech-savvy artists with five hand-picked young rising stars in the field of digital arts. To coincide with the closing-night citywide party on Aug. 12 for ZeroOne, ICA will host a "Not-So-Grand Opening Reception" from 6 to 8pm at its new space, with music and refreshments. In addition, the gallery has commissioned artist Clive McCarthy to stage what it calls A Painting Performance in front of the old gallery space—a kind of a farewell to 451 S. First. This multimedia event uses technology and traditional media to transform the building in time and space. The whole block will be closed down for the evening.

NextNew2006: Art and Technology runs Aug. 8-Sept. 16 at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, 560 S. First St., San Jose. (408.283.8155 or see

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