The Mercury News Weekend
Textile artist weaves wonders
If you delve into textile artist Susie Taylor's work — a big part of the new “Altered Perceptions” exhibition at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art — you'll probably come away with an appreciation of its almost mathematical beauty (or you might shudder if geometry was your high school nemesis).
This is no accident. Taylor says traditional weaving like her work was a precursor to modern computing; 19th-century programming pioneer Ada Lovelace once compared the Analytical Engine, an early computer, to a Jacquard loom, which used punched cards for its instructions. “The perpendicular grid, of warp and weft, is the foundation of woven cloth that stores coded patterns and embedded imagery,” Taylor said in a statement.
Naturally, Taylor's studio in San Jose is in a garage. What could be more Silicon Valley than that? And her work is a lot more than colorful shapes: Her series “Iconic Stripes” is filled with social commentary. Look closely and you might see legal pads, referee stripes and caution tape.
ICA Executive Director James G. Leventhal considers Taylor a San Jose treasure and was thrilled to include her work in the show. “The works are amazing, and she is having something of a breakout moment in her career, having recently been picked up by Johansson Projects gallery in Oakland,” he said.
“Altered Perceptions,” which opened March 31 and runs through Aug. 13, features two series by Taylor and a large tapestry, “Social Fabric,” which she completed last year. It also features work by San Francisco artist Sarah Hotchkiss and East Bay artist Lordy Rodriguez.
The show is inspired by the work of British painter Bridget Riley, and three artists' work was meant to complement several pieces of Riley's that were to be shown as well. Unfortunately, the insurance costs made exhibiting that collection financially unfeasible — allowing more space for the Bay Area artists.
Three other exhibitions also
opened last weekend at the ICA and will be on display through the summer: “Rudy Lemke: The Transit of Venus,” “Sarah Blaustein: Present Tense” and “Rhonda Holberton: A Knotted World.” You can get more information, as well as gallery hours, at icasanjose.org.
WALK ON THE ARTY SIDE >> The ICA exhibitions will be open today for the South First Fridays art walk in downtown San Jose, as galleries and other venues stay open later than usual to show off their new exhibitions. As always, you can get a listing of what's new and a walking map of the venues at southfirstfridays.com.
One relatively new venue on the circuit is the California Theatre, which again will feature Opera San Jose and provide a sneak peek at its production of “Tosca” opening April 14.
Performances, with artists from the show and Jerry Nagano at the Wurlitzer organ in the lobby, will take place at 5:45, 6:45 and 7:45 p.m.
BANKING ON NONPROFITS >> The lobby of the Heritage Bank building on Skyport Drive in San Jose was so crowded Wednesday night, you might have thought there was a run on the bank. But this was actually a good gathering, with dozens of Silicon Valley nonprofit leaders offering well-wishes to Ervie Smith and Celeste Drake, who are both retiring from the financial institution.
Drake is capping a 30plus year career in the industry, including the past 17 at Heritage, and Smith — the longtime executive director of the Valley Foundation — spent the past seven years as a consultant at Heritage. “I've worked at four banks, but I've never been a banker,” said Smith, who worked with Drake, senior vice president and nonprofit relationship manager for Heritage.
And though the sentiments shared Wednesday by Heritage's nonprofit clients showed they're surely sorry to see Smith and Drake leave, they should be in good hands: Janikke Klem, a former VP at Technology Credit Union, has taken over the role of senior vice president and nonprofit and community relations officer.