The San Jose ICA Creative Message: Get out and vote

When Ali Gass That summer she joined the Institute for Contemporary Art in San Jose as the new managing director and hired Iranian-American artists Amir H. Fallah | to transform the facade of the gallery in the city center. If the ICA couldn’t bring in visitors because of COVID-19, Gass thought, the art would be presented where it could be seen from the outside.

But “The Facade Project,” the Los Angeles-based artist’s detailed and colorful brooding over the meaning of identity, took on a new meaning in August when Gass learned that the nearby MACLA gallery wasn’t going to serve as a voting center that year for previous elections. The ICA stepped in at the eleventh hour to be the place in the Arty South First Area (SoFA) that voters could post a postal ballot or vote in person this weekend.

  • SAN JOSE, CA – OCTOBER 27: A person walks past a portion of Amir H. Fallah’s facade project at the entrance to the Institute of Contemporary Art in San Jose, Calif., On Tuesday, October 27, 2020. The gallery commissioned the mural project to coordinate a voting center on site on October 31st to November 3rd (Anda Chu / Bay Area News Group)

  • SAN JOSE, CA – OCTOBER 27: A “VOTE!” Amir H. Fallah’s facade project was photographed on Tuesday October 27, 2020 at the Institute for Contemporary Art in San Jose, California. The gallery hired the mural project to vote with a voting center hosted on the website from October 31 to November 3 (Anda Chu / Bay Area News Group)

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  • SAN JOSE, CA – OCTOBER 27: Executive Director and Chief Curator Ali Gass and Curator and Director of Public Programs Christine Koppes, from left, at the Contemporary Art Institute pose for a photo outside the gallery in San Jose, Calif., On Tuesday, June 27th, 2017. October 2020. The gallery commissioned Amir H. Fallah’s facade project to vote on a voting center from October 31 to November 3 (Anda Chu / Bay Area News Group).

  • SAN JOSE, CA – OCTOBER 27: Amir H. Fallah’s facade project adorns the entrance to the Institute of Contemporary Art in San Jose, Calif. On Tuesday, October 27, 2020. The gallery commissioned the mural project at the same time as a voting center will be held from Dec. October to November 3rd on site. (Anda Chu / Bay Area News Group)

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Fallah’s artwork became the basis for street banners and VTA bus shelter ads to get the vote. The ICA produced buttons and stickers with images of the two circular tondos rotating in the gallery’s front windows, encircling a single word “VOTE”. The artwork is certainly politically engaged, with text like “A Borderless World” on the mural, but Gass points out that it doesn’t cross the line.

“It doesn’t mean voting one way or another. It doesn’t reflect literal partisan rhetoric, ”said Gass. “You can interpret everything in different ways, which for me is the best political art. It doesn’t hit you over the head, but rather allows you to engage visually and then conceptually. “

SAN JOSE, CA – OCTOBER 27: A “VOTE!” Amir H. Fallah’s facade project was photographed on Tuesday October 27, 2020 at the Institute for Contemporary Art in San Jose, California. The gallery hired the mural project to vote with a voting center hosted on the website from October 31 to November 3 (Anda Chu / Bay Area News Group)

The ICA will be open as a voting center from October 31 to November 31. 2 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on November 3 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. with COVID-19 logs. In collaboration with the nearby San Jose Quilt and Textile Museum, staff are handing out art kits for children whose parents are waiting for the vote.

And if you’ve already submitted your ballot, don’t sweat. Fallah’s mural will be on display for about a year.

“The first phase of her life is closely related to the elections, but it will be coming up and we will program it for the rest of the year,” said Gass. “It is certainly a project that has resonated well beyond the scope of the elections.”

HALLOWEEN AT HOME: Elementary school children who aren’t trying trick or treating this year can still have fun Saturday thanks to an online Zoom-Loween party hosted by Safe From the Start and the Santa Clara County’s Healthier Kids Foundation.

Activities include scary stories; Halloween-themed games, jokes and skits; a dance party; and competitions for the best costume and pumpkin carving (with Target gift cards for the winners). There is a one-hour session at 6 p.m. for preschoolers through third grade and another at 7 p.m. for children in fourth through sixth grade.

For more information and to get the zoom link, please contact Marissa Hacker at the Healthier Kids Foundation at [email protected]

DISCOVER THE DIVERSITY OF FOOD: The Cristo Rey Jesuit College in San Jose is bringing back its Cooking with Character campaign as a virtual event this year with a series of Lunch and Learn sessions exploring the diversity and importance of food in our community.

The first on October 29th focuses on the future of food and agriculture with Elaine Scott, Dean of the School of Engineering at Santa Clara University, moderated a discussion with Samuel Bertram, Co-founder of vertical farming start-up OnePointOne, and CEO of Loaves & Fishes Gisela Bushey. Other sessions include pairing food with beer, wine, and spirits and how food shapes our culture and community.

A $ 50 donation is recommended for all virtual events. For more information or to register, visit www.cristoreysj.org.

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