San José’s Museum of Art’s 50X50: Stories of Visionary Artists from the Collection

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San José, California (August 13, 2020)— In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the San José Museum of Art (SJMA) has published a free digital publication titled 50X50: Stories of Visionary Artists from the Collection, highlighting fifty artists from its permanent collection.50X50 focuses on the lifelong work of visionaries such as Ruth Asawa, Firelei Baez, Enrique Chagoya, Diana Thater, Lee Mullican, Leo Villareal, and more through multimedia content—including interviews, audio recordings, and archival documentation of exhibitions and studios. This open-access publication is available for free online and in multiple formats for download, including PDF and EPUB, at

Ruth Asawa works on a crocheted-wire sculpture in her living room, ca. 1976. Ruth Asawa works on a crocheted-wire sculpture in her living room, ca. 1976. Photo by Allen Nomura.
Ruth Asawa works on a crocheted-wire sculpture in her living room, ca. 1976. Ruth Asawa works on a crocheted-wire sculpture in her living room, ca. 1976. Photo by Allen Nomura.

50X50 is a dynamic, interactive, and open-ended version of a traditional permanent collection publication. It is comprised of 50 artist chapters, written by SJMA assistant curator Kathryn Wade, as well as contributions from Susan Sayre Batton, Oshman Executive Director of SJMA; Dr. Letha Ch’ien, assistant professor of art history at Sonoma State University; Peter Lipman, an avid collector and arts patron, and SJMA Trustee; and Hung Liu, an accomplished visual artist and professor emerita at Mills College.

Each artist chapter features high-resolution images and videos of the artist and their work with new scholarship centering on their practice and lives. The web-based format includes documentation of exhibitions and artist studios that expand upon their professional and private lives, and their ideas, creative processes, and lasting influences. In a commitment to open scholarship, each chapter contains detailed footnotes along with links to the original source, when possible.

These in-depth explorations introduce new scholarship and fresh insight into the artist psyche and celebrate the museum’s history of close relationships with artists. Additionally, the selection of artists reflects the diversity and gender parity inherent within SJMA’s collection. There is nearly even split of women artists featured in 50X50, and more than 1/3 of the artists are international—from Syria, Dominican Republic, India, Vietnam, Mexico, Germany, China, Philippines, Lebanon, and Japan. 

“From the capital of Silicon Valley, San José Museum of Art is thrilled to present this dynamic digital publication in a free, virtual resource that demonstrates the Museum’s commitment to equity and access.,” stated Susan Sayre Batton, Oshman Executive Director. “50X50 provides an introduction to some of the most groundbreaking artists of our time, while directly connecting audiences to first-person narratives and online resources. It is our legacy and a gift to the public in the Museum’s 50th year.

50X50 furthers SJMA’s vision to become a borderless museum, offering audiences everywhere the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of iconic artists in the Museum’s permanent collection. This digital publication shows the Museum’s support of artists as visionary thinkers, and is a catalyst for expanding the reach of its educational resources. This innovative, scholarly production and connects the Museum’s permanent collection to community.

Speaking of her work in the Museum’s collection, artist Hung Liu said “Works of art come to life in relation to other art by other artists, and by engaging an increasingly diverse public audience. They find their place in the public imagination, they are home.” 

The Artists
Diana Al-Hadid, Benny Andrews, Robert Arneson, Ruth Asawa, Judy Baca, Firelei Báez, Rina Banerjee, Ruth Bernhard, Elmer Bischoff, Barbara Bloom, Joan Brown, Jim Campbell, Enrique Chagoya, Robert Colescott, Mary Corse, Roy De Forest, Jay DeFeo, Llyn Foulkes, Gauri Gill, Andy Goldsworthy, Doug Hall, Mona Hatoum, Tim Hawkinson, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Mildred Howard, Jitish Kallat, Dinh Q. Lê, David Levinthal, Hung Liu, Frank Lobdell, Richard Misrach, Lee Mullican, Louise Nevelson, Manuel Ocampo, Nathan Oliveira, Tony Oursler, Alan Rath, Alison Saar, Raymond Saunders, Jennifer Steinkamp, Hito Steyerl, Stephanie Syjuco, Tabaimo, Masami Teraoka, Diana Thater, Leo Villareal, Bill Viola, Catherine Wagner, William T. Wiley, and Betty Woodman.

50X50 is produced using Quire, a new digital publishing tool that was developed by Getty. Optimized for publication discoverability, longevity, and flexibility, Quire allows for downloads in multiple formats. The online edition can be hosted on any web server, with no special configurations or installations necessary and no backend databases or content management system to update and support over the long term.

This publication is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS grant #MA-10-16-0002-16).

Sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Lipman Family Foundation, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, Cheryl and Bruce Kiddoo, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, Peggy and Yogen Dalal, Evelyn and Rick Neely, Rita and Kent Norton, Elizabeth and Byron Ryono, Marge and Ken Nissly, Elaine Cardinale, George Crow in honor of Susan Crow, Toby and Barry Fernald, Tad Freese and Brook Hartzell, Elena Lebedeva and Alvin Smith, Marsha and Jon Witkin, and the SJMA Docent Council Alumni.

Programs at the San José Museum of Art are made possible by generous support from the Museum’s Board of Trustees, a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José, the Lipman Family Foundation, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, Facebook Art Department, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Adobe, Yellow Chair Foundation, the SJMA Director’s Council and Council of 100, the San José Museum of Art Endowment Fund established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and The William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

SJMA is located at 110 South Market Street in downtown San José, California. The Museum is temporarily closed, following the Santa Clara County orders to Shelter in Place due to Covid-19. SJMA continues to offer programming online and has expanded digital content by creating a Museum From Home page, found here: Updated weekly, the section features behind-the-scene explorations of exhibitions, art-making videos, educator lesson plans, a Curators’ Dashboard, and more. For up-to-date information about when SJMA will reopen, please visit Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and free to members, college students, youth and children ages 17 and under, and schoolteachers (with valid ID). For more information, call 408.271.6840 or visit

Press Contacts

Holly Shen, deputy director, 917.364.1073, [email protected]
Melanie Samay, director of marketing and communications, 415.722.0555, [email protected]

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San Jose Museum of Art
110 South Market Street
San Jose, California
[email protected]

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