Welcome to the digital present. We are glad you found us here. Maybe you are a longtime supporter of San José Museum of Art (SJMA). Or perhaps you are a scholar or student, a curious lover of art, or a Ruth Asawa devotee. What is certain is that you did not stumble upon this publication—which offers unique open access to SJMA’s permanent collection for the first time—in a bookstore or gift shop. However you discovered this catalog, we are glad you could join us.
SJMA is a regional modern and contemporary art museum located squarely in the capital of Silicon Valley. The region’s ethos of innovation informs who we are and whom we serve, locally and globally. The Museum’s 2019–23 strategic plan states two goals: to become a borderless museum, essential to creative life throughout the region’s diverse communities, and to reimagine ourselves for the audience of the future. We are guided by the belief, shared with our neighboring tech innovation partners, that creativity and access transcend disciplines.
With these ideas in mind, and in celebration of the Museum’s fiftieth anniversary, the publication 50X50: Stories of Visionary Artists from the Collection offers a dynamic, web-based version of the traditional permanent collection publication. Such catalogs are important because they reveal the history of a museum’s collection over time, positioning it as a legacy, a gift to the public. 50X50 highlights the strengths of SJMA’s collection, including significant holdings of work by California artists of national and international significance; artwork in new media and emerging fields; art that addresses pressing cultural, political, and social issues; and work by artists who embrace new representational strategies in the digital age.
The format of this publication—SJMA’s first devoted entirely to the permanent collection—brings the stories of fifty artists to life in a free, virtual resource that demonstrates the Museum’s commitment to equity and access. It also offers a rich, engaging way to share the depth and diversity of our collection, for it conveys the lives of artists beyond the objects they made through multimedia materials, photographic assets, archival ephemera, and linked citations in addition to incisive art-historical context.
“Open scholarship”—an emerging framework of scholarly research and publishing that encompasses open access—is another critical element of digital publishing, which champions unrestricted access to knowledge, data, and resources and promotes the exchange of ideas. We are indebted to the generosity and vision of the Digital Publishing division at Getty Publications, in particular to Greg Albers and Kara Kirk for their invitation to execute this project with Quire, a new web-publishing platform that allows 50X50 to be optimized for discoverability, longevity, and flexibility in output format.
We publish this catalog from prolonged and fraught physical isolation, as we shelter in place to fight the global Covid-19 pandemic. But we are not disconnected or alone. There has been no greater time to launch a digital publication—accessible to people all over the world and flexible enough to adapt to a rapidly changing artistic landscape.
Susan Sayre Batton, Oshman Executive Director