Doll heads, artisanal biscotti, and umbrellas—two of these things were on sale last month at the San Jose Museum of Art’s Third Thursday, and the other was only on display. The January edition of the event, presented in partnership with SJMADE, blended art, music, and shopping. As I browsed the vendor-filled hallways of the first floor, tunes spun by DJ Squareweezy of local celebrity crew The Bangerz made me feel like I was in an ultralounge. The atmosphere was relaxed, the museum staff cheerful, and the vendors diverse.
The after-hours event reflected themes from the exhibit, “Around the Table: Food, Creativity, Community.” Resourcefulness, invention, and collaboration could be found both in the galleries and sellers brought by SJMADE, the vendor platform which encourages Valley-ites to buy local.
However, it was the eye-catching modular collection of almost-found objects in the adjacent gallery for “Hidden Heroes: The Genius of Everyday Things” that captured the aesthetic spirit of the night. It could be hard to distinguish the whimsical display cases of common objects in the gallery from the bright array of vendors’ booths nearby. Vendors from SJMADE had their own fun tales explaining how they got into their businesses, not unlike the captions in the gallery explaining the origins of Post-it Notes and clothespins.
Jennifer Martinez of Steampunk Garage explained how shopping for men’s jewelry was challenging for her and designer Stan Chiao. So the two now make their own men’s jewelry with a “stark simplicity” out of steel hardware. Materials are often sourced from broken pieces and castoffs. “I hate that people throw stuff away,” she said and proclaimed her love of upcycling – taking something used or broken and re-purposing it into something new and useful. Upcycling is also a theme of the art activity corner for “Hidden Heroes.”
Roxanne Vinciguerra of Roxanne’s Biscotti shared another recurring theme of community and collaboration. A grocer at a farmer’s market introduced her to cara cara oranges, which have less acidity and thus lend a sweeter flavor to baked goods. She quickly turned the tip into a unique biscotti. Generous samples from both her and Sweetdragon Baking Company (I never knew there could be so many types of brittle) kept me fueled until the event’s close at 9pm.
Third Thursdays are a monthly event and will continue to reflect the themes explored in “Around the Table” until the exhibition closes in April. February will be an Art Rage, an evening with cocktails, art projects, music by Oakland’s Fantastic Negrito, and Caitlin Freedman from Blue Bottle Coffee putting on a food performance.