San Jose Public Art 
  The Online Newsletter of the City of San José Public Art Program 
May 2010Volume 3, Issue 5
In This Issue
Preserving Millard Sheets Mural at Airport
Public Art Committee: Next Meeting May 18, 2010
Airport's Terminal B Grand Opening Next Month
City Hall - Current Exhibits
Explore Public Art
San Jose Public Art - Online Archive
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Technology is Key in Preservation of Millard Sheets' Mural at Airport

 Photo: Ben Wang, 2010 
For 33 years, a mural by California artist Millard Sheets has hung in Terminal C of Mineta San José International Airport.  The mural, a gift to the City of San José from the San Jose Mercury and the San Jose News (the predecessors to the Mercury News), commemorated the bicentennial of the city's founding. It depicts a romantic vision of San Jose history, from the earliest Native Americans, through the Spanish settlers, the orchards, the light tower and early industry, stopping short of the Silicon Valley technology revolution.  Typical of Millard Sheets' style, the images unfold in layers, with one vignette winding into another.  The large-scale mural, measuring 30' wide by 18' at its highest points, has become a fixture at the airport.
With the completion of the Airport's new Terminal B and related improvements, Terminal C is scheduled to be demolished this summer. This raised issues regarding the available options for the mural's future. Preserving and moving a major mural is no easy task, and as with the many murals across the nation, questions about preserving them garner considerable attention.  
The City and Airport approached the preservation of Millard Sheets' mural very seriously and consulted expert fine art conservators to obtain a clear understanding of the technical issues and alternatives. The work of these professionals included in-depth investigations focused on saving the canvas in its original state.  They looked at the content and composition of the canvas, paint, primer, research into the wall structure, and the adhesive materials used to mount the mural to the wall.  
After more than a year of investigation, it became clear that there is no easy answer to preserve the painting itself. The conservator reported that there is no way the mural can be removed in one piece: the materials and assembly method make this impossible without considerable damage to the artwork.  Removing the canvas and wall together as one assembly was also explored.  Unfortunately, removing the wall in segments would cause considerable, irreparable damage to both the painted surface and canvas, which would preclude it from ever being restored effectively. Moving the entire 28-ton wall would be prohibitively costly, estimated at well over $1 million, and still would present serious preservation risks and additional transportation, storage, and relocation challenges.   
Fortunately, technology now provides an option for retaining the mural image in a way that was not possible when Millard Sheets first painted it:  an extremely high-resolution digital image can be captured, and that image can produce a high-quality, large-scale reproduction of the mural. Murals generated from digital images can be created on many types of material with excellent results and many additional long-term benefits. This option is now a leading approach to mural conservation nationally, and it could allow for the Sheets mural to have a continued presence at the Airport.
Throughout the process of investigating the options the City stayed in close contact with the artist's family and with concerned community members.  After reviewing the technical findings, the artist's son, Tony Sheets, concluded:
 "Those responsible for this new terminal construction have worked endlessly to explore ways to remove the mural, hiring several experts in the fields of art restoration and architectural preservation. The conclusion of all, including myself, is that successfully removing the mural intact in anything but small pieces is not possible. Removal of the pieces is not possible without sacrificing the mural as a whole."
In a community meeting on May 6, the City shared the reports and engaged in a thoughtful discussion about options. Understanding that the original mural cannot be saved intact, all agreed that the option of a digital reproduction was an excellent alternative, and one that could work within the Airport's schedule for the completion of its renovations. This approach will allow San Joseans and visitors to San Jose to enjoy Millard Sheets' vision of San Jose for years to come.

Millard Sheets (1907-1989) was a renowned California artist known for his stylized depictions of daily life.  He is credited with over 200 architectural designs and murals that span the United States. His artworks hangs in 46 museums in 15 states, including the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the Chicago Art Institute and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Locally his presence is evidenced in many building designs, mosaics, and wall paintings. His work can be seen throughout California on the entrances of buildings that were formerly Home Savings of America banks.

Conservator Reports, related background information and the full text of the May 6, 2010 letter from Tony Sheets to the community may be viewed at www.sanjoseculture.org/downloads/InfoSheet_Links_SheetsReports.pdf
Public Art Committee
The Public Art Committee will hold its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 5:30 P.M.
MEETING ROOM CHANGE FOR THIS MONTH: The meeting is in City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara Street, Tower - 5th Floor, Room 550.
The following report, discussion and action items are on the agenda:  
1. Deborah Aschheim Suspended artwork at the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport.
2. Andrea Polli and Chuck Varga temporary artwork for the San Fernando Corridor Project Site 5: ATT Façade.  
A. Design development proposal for Water Pollution Control Plant public art project by Mark Brest van Kempen, and that the City Manager negotiate and execute an agreement with Mark Brest van Kempen for fabrication and installation in an amount not to exceed $150,000. (Citywide)

B.  Design development proposals for two events scheduled for the San Fernando Corridor Project Site 4: SR 87 to Market Street by artists by artist Peter Foucault and Chris Treggiari. (District 3)
A. Amendment between City of San Jose and Sollod Studios to increase the budget for the Diridon Station Public Art Master plan by $7,500 to $62,500. (Citywide)
A. De-accessioning of "Untitled" Millard Sheets mural from the San Jose Public Art Collection
B. Recommend reproducing and relocating the mural at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport. (Citywide).
A.  Action to:
     i. Postpone the further development of the Charles Lee (BIOS) project; and 
     ii. Approve that the City Manager negotiate execute an agreement for an amount not to exceed $15,000 with the artist Jed Berk as recommended by the Public Art Core team for the San Fernando Corridor Project - Site 1: Diridon Green. (District 3).
The full agenda packet can be viewed in a dowloadable format at www.sanjoseculture.org
Public Art Committee meetings are open to the public.
The Public Art Committee, a sub-committee of the Arts Commission, is advisory to the Commission and to San Jose City Council. The Public Art Committee monitors and provides oversight in the planning, artist selection, development and design review of public art projects throughout the City. 
Next Month: Airport's New Terminal B Grand Opening Celebration!


Looking forward to June's Grand Opening of the Mineta San Jose International Airport's new Terminal B!

A two-day Community Open House will open with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony the morning of Saturday June 26th. Activities will continue throughout the day and Sunday June 27th. Public Art tours are planned. Preregistration will be required for admittance through the airport security checkpoint during the open house.  

Stay tuned for more information, including a special edition of San Jose Public Art!!

Image: Bjorn Schulke's Space Observer in the studio before shipping and installation.
City Hall - Current Exhibits

Current listings as of newsletter distribution   

The following exhibits are presented by the City Hall Exhibition Program, a project of the San Jose Public Art Program. All exhibits are free and open to the public. 
The Big Idea: Art on a Grand Scale

Location:  City Hall Wing Galleria 


BenBigArtPaintingThe Big Idea: Art on a Grand Scale
showcases the diverse and extraordinary talent of eleven local artists, all of whom create art works in large-scale format. Scale in art is about much more than size. Rather, it is a tool employed by artists to convey complex and often subtle concepts.  In This exhibit, large two-dimensional works on paper and canvas mingle with sculpture that explores weight and mass through the use of unexpected mediums. The Big Idea: Art on a Grand Scale will be on view through August 2010.   
Images (above):   
1. Top: The Decision Makers, Ben Alexy.
2. Bottom: Woman With Boa, Ted Fullwood.
Location: City Windows Gallery, the storefront exhibit space on 4th Street


Image (above):   Redbird, Stan Welsh, ceramic on plywood, 2008. 
Eleven area ceramics artists bend, twist and enhance their medium of choice in provocative ways in Earthbound. Bound to the elements  - earth, air, fire and water - each of these artists manipulates the medium to form their own expressions.  The intrinsic nature of clay lends itself to the expression of the human condition.  The personal and universal intertwine to weave narratives of history and present-day social and political circumstances.  Each has a tale to tell.  Each has a story.  But all have chosen to work with the elements.
The artists included represent but a portion of the exciting work being created in the greater Bay Area by artists working in ceramics.  They include Tessie Barrera-Scharaga, Kimberly Cook, Don Fritz, Ted Fullwood, Diane Levinson, Gustavo Martinez, Max Rain, Shelby B. Smith, Gabe Toci, Monica Van den Dool and Stan Welsh. Earthbound will be on view through May 15, 2010.  
Hidden Heritages: Six African American Families, San Jose 1860­-1920
Location: City Hall Tower, Santa Clara St. Lobby

Six of San Jose's pioneer black families are brought to life in portraits pieced together from historical facts and public records, family recollections, artifacts, old photographs and artist renderings, each telling the story of a unique community from a different perspective and providing a poignant glimpse into San Jose's past during a pivotal period in history. Hidden Heritages will be on view through May 31, 2010.   

Face2Face: Highlights from the Student Art Collection at the Santa Clara County Office of Education  
Location: City Hall Tower, 18th Floor Mayor and Council Office Lobby Gallery  
Featuring artwork created by children in conjunction with the Young Artists Showcase, sponsored by the San Jose Water Company.  Face2Face will be on view through June 30, 2010. 

Explore Public Art in Downtown San Jose 

Create your own walking tour!

Here are two ways you can enjoy public art in Downtown San Jose.
DOWNTOWN PUBLIC ART MAP - Updated 2009 Edition Now Available!
The San Jose Public Art Program's  colorful, informative map of public art projects in downtown San Jose has recently been updated. The 2009 Downtown Public Art Map is a fun and easy way to see public in downtown San Jose.
Use it to create your own walking tour and include opportunities to stop and enjoy other features in the district including museums, galleries and restaurants.  
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library includes an award-winning collection of more than 34 site-specific public artworks in locations throughout the library. Finding them is a process of exploration and discovery that is filled with surprises! A free colorful detailed brochure is available from the San Jose Public Art Program that will help you appreciate this extraordinary collection.  
To request a free copy of the 2009 Downtown Public Art Map or the Recolecciones - Library Art Collection brochure, please e-mail your request to  patricia.walsh@sanjoseca.gov, and include your mailing address.
A printable pdf version of the Downtown Public Art Map is also available on the Public Art webpage of the Office of Cultural Affairs website at
San Jose Downtown Public Art Map.
SAN JOSE PUBLIC ART - e-Newsletter Archive 
Visit the Online Archive to view past issues! 
Current and past issues of San Jose Public Art can be viewed on the Public Art pages of the Office of Cultural Affairs website.
Go to www.sanjoseculture.org
More to come in SAN JOSE PUBLIC ART!
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We welcome your comments, ideas and suggestions. You can e-mail us at publicart@sanjoseca.gov.
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