Exhibitions & Public Programs @ San Jose ICA

From Spring 2016 through Summer 2018 at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) , Valdez proposed, researched, and oversaw 10-12 contemporary art exhibition per year. She also curated and executed monthly First Friday ICA Live! performances and artist engagement initiatives. In addition, she created several public programs for art appreciators and artists, such as panel discussions, lectures, portfolio reviews, and artist professional development workshops. In 2017, she instituted a national call for site-specific installations and implemented pipeline for future art commissions. Below are select projects that she worked on at the ICA.


Lark VCR and Porpentine Charity Heartscape, Traumagotchi, 2018


Group exhibition that explores how concepts of play, rules, strategies in game spheres reflect our everyday realities. Artists: Charles Bass (Sioux City, IA); COLL.EO (Colleen Flaherty and Matteo Bittanti) (San Francisco/Milan, Italy); Rafael Fajardo (Denver, CO); Asma Kazmi (Berkeley); Scott Kildall (San Francisco); Lark VCR and Porpentine Charity Heartscape (San Jose); and Sam Vernon (Oakland)

On view from June 16 – September 16, 2018

When playing a board game or video game, one might experience a range of emotions, from elation when advancing towards a finish line, to a sense of gratification from beating a competitor, to a feeling of anger when your strategy goes awry. Immersing wholeheartedly into the rules and experiences of play is what Dutch historian and play theorist Johan Huizinga refers to as the “magic circle,” a zone where players temporarily suspend disbelief and adopt the qualities of the game space, disconnecting from the realities of the everyday world. Games often provide a moment of respite from the “real world” and allow the player to escape into a fantasy.

The eight artists in NextNewGames create work within this alternative space. The set of board games, video pieces, and new media works consider our current social, political, and cultural climate, creating a porous relationship between the imaginary land of the game space and that of the real world.

Characterizing the art world with an air of parody are works by Sioux City-based artist Charles Bass who developed a series of free, participatory games, which comment on the quirks of the opaque art world. COLL.EO (San Francisco- and Milan-based collaborative Colleen Flaherty and Matteo Bittanti) re-enact seminal 1960-70s contemporary art performances and interventions in “Liberty City,“ through the action and adventure game Grand Theft Auto.

NextNewGames artists also invite players to embody different perspectives through single- and multi-player games. Lark VCR and Porpentine Charity Heartscape’s elaborate online game invites players to treat their trauma as if it were a virtual pet. Colorado-based artist Rafael Fajardo presents two contrasting games that simulate the realities of crossing the US-Mexico border at El Paso-Ciudad Juarez. Sam Vernon engages local community members in a game of hangman and creates a visually cacophonous installation with the resulting documentation from this age-old game. Considering the relationship of communities today and in the future, Berkeley-based artist Asma Kazmi constructs a hypnotic, sensorial experience of the religious site of Makkah and documents the rapid changes to the sacred site. San Francisco-based artist Scott Kildall questions what it might mean for the moon to colonize the earth in his site-specific scavenger hunt at the ICA.

These artists move away from the dichotomy of winning or losing. They collectively subvert and interrupt the modes of operating within a game while reflecting on how these game spheres serve as mirrors to our current society: how do we think about cooperation and negotiation? What does it mean to lose or win? Where are points of resolution and conflict? What is your next move?

Taro Hattori,  Leitmotif  still, 2015

Taro Hattori, Leitmotif still, 2015

On Your Left

Group show that investigates the form, function, and symbolism of the bicycle as: a way of knowing and sensing; an object of design and craft; and as the future of energy, power and the potential for a sustainable future. Artists: Gale Antokal (San Jose); Marcos Gaitan and Low Rider Bikers (San Jose); Taro Hattori (Berkeley); Shawn HibmaCronan (Oakland); Katina Huston (Oakland); and Jenny Odell (Oakland)

On view from June 23 – September 16, 2018

The Silicon Valley has historically paved the way as the leading force in innovation and technology. Recognized globally as the birthplace of the internet and the home computer, the region’s accomplishments also include a lengthy history of bicycle innovations: the arrival of the velocipede; the early 220 yard Burbank Velodrome; and the ground-breaking formation of organized bicycle clubs. In what once was a popular bike capital, a study by Joint Venture Silicon Valley and the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition recently found that only 1.7% of Silicon Valley residents ride their bikes to work today. At the same time, the study argues that the region is poised to become a leader in bicycling.

On Your Left uses the lens of contemporary art to explore the form, function, and symbolism of the bicycle. Through sculpture, installation, video, painting, and drawings, the exhibition considers the bicycle as a meditation on the human experience, as an object of design and craft, and as a catalyst in creating a sustainable future.

Artists consider the bicycle as a way of understanding the natural world around us. Taro Hattori ruminates on the bicycle as an allegory for the cyclical nature of life and how we commemorate it. Taking us out for a ride is Jenny Odell whose work contemplates how riding a bike reformulates our experience of our surroundings. Gale Antokal creates ethereal drawings of bicyclists that evoke a sense of memory and reflect on the passage of time. Shawn HibmaCronan and Marcos Gaitan create sculptures that exemplify the potential of the bicycle form, while Pablo Calderon and Katina Huston create works that immerse us into the inherent aesthetic quality and craft of the bicycle. Andrew Li depicts how bicycles change the landscape of the city. Together, Sergio De La Torre and Chris Treggiari’s work presents the bicycle as an instrument used in circulating posters concerning the future of immigration, justice, and community.

Talking Art, our public program series, engages the community with practical skill-sharing and informative lectures on topics such as bike safety and bike laws. You are invited to participate in a bicycle tour along the Guadalupe River with artist Jenny Odell on July 15th. There will be concentrated times for visitors to contribute to the work of Hattori and create posters with De La Torre and Treggiari’s sculpture.

Both NextNewGames and On Your Left is part of New Terrains: Mobility and Migration; a series of cross-disciplinary exhibitions and programs that explore how bodies move through social and political spaces in Silicon Valley. The collaboration will address timely topics such as bicycle transportation and urban planning, navigation and orientation, public protest, immigration, and migration. New Terrains will engage the body in participatory experiences that highlight sight, sound, and scent, as well as exhibitions that consider how contemporary artists explore movement, such as walking and dance, in their work. Collaboratively presented beginning in spring 2018, New Terrains will include organizations of all sizes and types — from museums and artist residencies to community centers and civic think tanks. Exhibitions and programs will take place across Silicon Valley into the spring of 2019.

New Terrains was developed collaboratively by Art Ark Gallery, San José; San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), the de Saisset Museum, Santa Clara University; History San José, MACLA (Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana), San José; Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga; Palo Alto Art Center, San José Museum of Art, San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, The Tech Museum of Innovation, San José; Institute of the Arts and Sciences of the University of California Santa Cruz Arts Division, and ZERO1.

Installation of  Sonic Futures . Photo: Qian Wang.

Installation of Sonic Futures. Photo: Qian Wang.

Sonic Futures

Group exhibition centered on the elements of sound and music: wavelengths, music soundtracks, memory, and remix. Artists reimagined contemporary conditions and propose new possibilities for the future. Artists: Sofia Cordova (Oakland); INVASORIX (Mexico City, Mexico); Jeepneys (Los Angeles); Laura Hyunjhee Kim (Seoul, South Korea/San Francisco); Keith Lafuente (New York); Merritt Wallace (Oakland); and Jenifer Wofford (San Francisco). 

March 18-Jun 11, 2017

Music is expansive and ubiquitous, and is expressed in every known culture.

Although it travels in invisible waves, it has a tangible impact and can emotionally and physically move people. We utilize it as a form of therapy, it adds drama and subtleties to film, and oftentimes, transports us to a particular moment in our life. Music is the medium of time—one can fast forward, rewind, pause, stop, replay, or remix sounds. And when combined with video and other media, such as drawing and performance, it takes on another dimension. The artists in Sonic Futures experiment with these elements. Their works reimagine our own contemporary conditions and propose new possibilities for the future.

Some of the artists offer specific examples of what the future may hold. Laura Hyunjhee Kim’s music video considers what love and passion might look like in a hyper-digitally mediated time. Keith Lafuente’s Look Book borrows from the karaoke aesthetic to foretell fashion for the upcoming season. From a macro perspective, artist collective INVASORIX’s music videos challenge the status quo by questioning access, power, and privilege. The works of Merritt Wallace and Jeepneys explore traveling through time and space. Through a more immediate lens, Jenifer Wofford recontextualizes popular song lyrics as protest signs. Sofía Córdova’s multi-channel video becomes a cautionary tale about neglecting a precious planet.

Sonic Futures is a dynamic platform of reflection. Artists play and manipulate time: they consider the past and the present, and its consequences on our collective future. The works activate many senses. Singing and dancing are encouraged!

Kate Rhoades,  Karen  still, 2016

Kate Rhoades, Karen still, 2016


June 25 – September 3, 2017

In her video Karen, Oakland-based artist Kate Rhoades focuses her attention on the Junk Lady, the memorable supporting character in Jim Henson’s 1986 cult classic film Labryinth. The Junk Lady appears as a surly woman who obsessively collects rejected furniture, pots, pans, and children’s toys on her back. She lives in the “Junk Fields” amongst other “Junk People.” But one wonders, how did she get there? According to Rhoades, she was Karen, who, in an attempt to search for her lost father, becomes disoriented as she tries to escape the vast fields of discarded objects.

Rhoades created this video during her recent artist residency at Recology (also known as the “dump”), San Francisco’s solid waste and recycling center. While there, she sourced all the material for her video. She transformed trash into embellished puppets and designed elaborate sets using heaps of books, unwanted ladders, Christmas ornaments, and various textiles. Karen illustrates a complicated world where the viewer discovers the Junk Lady’s early life. Further, it constellates tales of family relationships, personal and career goals, and obsession over material goods. The ICA is the first venue to screen Karen outside the Recology Artist-in-Residence context.

Born in Monclova, Ohio, Rhoades currently lives and works in Oakland. Her art practice varies in media from comic books and publications, to paintings and performances. Through these media, her work comments on the facets of the ever-changing art world. Humor is the marker for Rhoades’ art and is often juxtaposed with her interest in theory. “Over-acting, cheesy special effects, slapstick, and childish humor are used in contrast with the seriousness of the worlds. Through the use of fantasies and alternative realities I explore different roles, act out fears and anxieties, and in showing their absurdity, I might diminish their power over me, and perhaps over the viewer,” she explains.

Kate Rhoades received her MFA from Mills College in 2014. Recent solo exhibitions of her work have been held at Oakland’s Burnt Oak Gallery and the Recology Artist Residency Program in San Francisco. Her videos have been presented at the San Francisco International Film Festival and the Santa Fe International New Media Festival. She has participated in exhibitions at Trestle Gallery in Brooklyn, Southern Exposure in San Francisco, and the di Rosa Preserve in Napa, in addition to presenting her work in various publications, hotel rooms and alleyways across North America and Europe.

Julia Goodman ICA.jpg

Julia Anne Goodman: Unearthed

November 13, 2016 — May 31, 2017

Berkeley-based artist Julia Anne Goodman presents a site-specific, two large-scale window installations of organic material. In conjunction, there is an off-site satellite exhibition Julia Anne Goodman: On Verticality at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco (JCCSF), which featured Goodman’s three bodies of works that explore the connections between earth and stars. At JCCSF, there was an Artist talk dinner with Goodman, Dr. Isabel Hawkins, Exploratorium Scientist, and David Gardella, JCCSF Urban Gardner

Unearthed works consists of thin slices of dried beets adhered together by their own sugars.  Using information provided by the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Goodman has depicted San Jose’s rising winter constellations beginning Sunday, November 13, the day of the ICA’s opening reception for this installation. The constellations of Orion, Gemini and Taurus are all represented in this complex and vibrant work.

Sliced in one direction, the beets concentric circles echo orbits and celestial rings. Sliced in the other direction, the striations reveal the plant’s vein-like vascular system, collapsing the distance between plant body and human body. Merging the terrestrial and the celestial, Goodman creates stained glass-like panels based on the compositions of the winter constellations. This uniquely diverse beet harvest, ranging in size, shape and color mirrors the complexity above us with that below us.

Goodman contextualizes personal cycles of loss and joy within macro and micro cycles of growth and decay. She utilizes beet papyrus to reflect on ideas of our corporal nature and its connections to cycles in the cosmos and in the fields. Goodman is inspired by geographer and author Yi Fu Tuan’s reflections on the “vertical glance.” He posits that we should shift from the contemporary horizontal glance where we are only aware of the thin layer of the planet we occupy, to the older vertical glance when humans were more in tune with the world above and below them.

Goodman’s work creates opportunities to collaborate across multiple disciplines including working with biodynamic farmers, astronomers and beet-breeders. This project is generously supported with beet donations from Preston Family Farm & Vineyards, Angelic Organics and University Wisconsin Madison Horticulture Department. Astronomical research support comes from the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, IL. Ethan Worden for carpentry support. 

Nick Dong  On Models of Contemplation , 2016

Nick Dong On Models of Contemplation, 2016

Nick Dong: On Models of Contemplation

November 13, 2016 — February 19, 2017

Solo exhibition of new kinetic sculptures by Nick Dong (Oakland). Public Program guided mediation with Dong and Kim Allen, Santa Cruz Mediation specialist and physicist.

Nick Dong ‘s On Models of Contemplation includes three new dynamic sculptures that transform the Off Center Gallery into an immersive experience of light and music. Considering the Big Bang theory as a point of departure, Dong is inspired by the ethereal events that created the universe: from its beginning as a small, hot, dense point to the explosion and rapid expansion of space, and ultimately, the formation of matter into our current galaxies, 13.8 billion years later.

Exploring the concept of gravity, the absorption and reflection of light, and playing with perception and reality are themes in Dong’s sculptures from his Cosmic Dance series. For this body of work, he collaborates with composers to create original soundtracks for each object, and with the help of engineers, he incorporates levitation technology programming the sculptures to create a choreographed performance. Aside from the scientific themes, On Models of Contemplation references topics that relate to human relationships and spirituality. Both individually and collectively, these glowing sculptures encourage moments of respite and mediation.

Nick Dong is a conceptual metalsmith, mixed-media sculptor and socio-commodity engineer. Dong’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at Mercury 20 Gallery, Oakland; San Francisco Museum of Craft + Design; Kunstbanken Museum, Norway; and MOCA Taipei, Taiwan, among others. In 2012, Nick Dong presented a site-specific installation at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. And last fall, Dong completed a large-scale installation for the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco


O.M. France Viana  ICA Live!; Ube Trade . 2016

O.M. France Viana ICA Live!; Ube Trade. 2016

ICA Live!


Presented during Downtown San Jose South First Fridays, ICA Live! seeks to explore the role of the performance art medium in contemporary society. Held every first Friday of the month as part of SoFa District’s South First Friday, it is a special one-night experience that includes thought provoking experimental art performances and opportunities to engage with contemporary artists. Performances have taken place within the galleries, in the Lounge, at the public park (Parque de los Pobladores), which is located across the street from the ICA.

From 2016- current, curated monthly First Friday programs by the following artists: Peter Foucault (Oakland); Arlene Biala (San Jose); Amy Oates (Oakland); Kate Lee Short and Ven Voissey (Oakland/Palm Desert); Nick Dong (Oakland); XUXA SANTAMARIA (Oakland); Shawn HibmaCronan (Oakland); Travis Meinholf (Lagunitas); Carmina Eliasson (San Jose); Scott Tooby (Santa Cruz); Lux Interna (San Francisco); and Lauren Baines Dance/Theatre (San Jose). Forthcoming: O.M. France Viana (San Francisco); Pantea Karimi (San Jose); and Frau Fiber (Los Angeles)

Sonic Futures  Artist Talk with Jenifer Wofford, Laura Hyunjhee Kim and Sofía Córdova

Sonic Futures Artist Talk with Jenifer Wofford, Laura Hyunjhee Kim and Sofía Córdova

Talking Art


Talking Art is a series of lectures, panel discussions, and public talks aimed at promoting dialogue and conversation about art. It engages artists, students, collectors, and community members through professional development programs and interdisciplinary artist conversations.

Select curated the following programs: Artist panel discussion for exhibitions; Social Media and Your Practice; Surveillance and Privacy Today; 1040 Made Easy: Financial Advice for Artists; Portfolio Reviews; and Residencies Within Reach