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Check out our archive of Dining Guides - Yum!

Museum gotta see ‘um
January 31, 2014, 05:00 AM By Susan Cohn Daily Journal

IT’S ALL ABOUT WATER. Michele Guieu. Detail of Site-specific Mural for Sip. Do Not Gulp, at the De Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University through March 16.

SIP. DO NOT GULP, AT THE DE SAISSET MUSEUM AT SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY. Developed in conjunction with Around the Table, the San Jose Museum of Art’s community initiative, Sip. Do Not Gulp examines the interconnectedness of food and water throughout Santa Clara Valley’s long history. Created by Bay Area artist Michele Guieu, the site-specific installation calls attention to the shifting patterns and practices of water usage in this area. Even before the current drought, agricultural development, population increase and urban sprawl placed stress on the availability of fresh water, which was once an abundant resource. Guieu’s installation, comprised of a painted mural, a documentary video and a symbolic acorn “rug,” highlights the preciousness of water as a local resource and particularly draws connections to food production in this region: if there is no water, there is no food.

Guieu’s painted mural, designed specifically for the de Saisset Museum, extends across three walls and depicts four distinct periods in local history. As you enter the gallery, Native California is the focus of the left wall. When the Ohlone people first inhabited this region, the landscape was replete with water, which was a core element in their mythology. The center wall of the mural addresses the Mission and Rancho periods. With the arrival of the missions came the introduction of agriculture. Irrigation systems appeared and their usage intensified during the Rancho period, when the water supply still seemed to be unlimited. Also on the central wall, a documentary video made by Guieu brings together three contemporary voices — an Ohlone descendant, a chef and artist and a scientist — who lend their expertise to the discussion. The wall on the right depicts Santa Clara Valley today, a view of San Jose sitting at the heart of Silicon Valley. No longer available in unlimited quantity, fresh water usage is regulated and is likely to be more carefully distributed as society struggles to preserve this precious resource. In the center of the room lies a rug formed of acorns hand-picked locally from different species of oaks. Acorns were an essential food source for the Ohlone. In the middle of the rug, a small table is set with a pitcher of water — a reminder that the most important thing on the menu is water.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT WATER. Museum visitors are invited to share stories, commentary and reflections on the role of water in their lives by posting comments directly onto the surface of the mural. With time, the image created by Guieu will become a forum for discussion — a place where the community can exchange ideas, express concerns and develop solutions.

DOCENT TOURS AND A NATIVE CALIFORNIA CURRICULUM GUIDE. Docent-led tours of temporary art exhibitions are available through the Explore with Me Docent tour program. Explore with Me tours are led by Santa Clara University student interns who are trained to lead tours of the de Saisset’s temporary exhibitions. Using a touring style called Visual Thinking Strategies, Explore with Me docents encourage visitors to engage in active looking and to share their thoughts with the group. The tours are engaging and fun, and best of all, absolutely no prior knowledge of art is required. To request a tour, contact deSaissetMuseum@scu.edu or (408) 554-4528. The de Saisset Museum also runs an active education outreach program focused on the history of Santa Clara Valley. The museum offers docent tours of its permanent California History galleries and of the Mission Santa Clara de Asis to schools and groups of 10 or more during the academic year. The Museum has also created a curriculum guide focused on the culture and traditions of Native California. A PDF of the guide, which was supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, is available through the Museum website at http://www.scu.edu/desaisset/ca_history.cfm.

MUSEUM PARTICULARS. The de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University is located at 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara. The 19,210-square-foot building is located in front of Mission Santa Clara de Asís and has been a part of the University campus since 1955. The museum galleries are open Tuesday to Sunday 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. during regularly scheduled exhibitions. Closed Mondays, holidays and between exhibitions. Admission is free. Sip. Do Not Touch is on display through March 16.

Susan Cohn can be reached at susan@smdailyjournal.com or www.twitter.com/susancityscene.

 

 

Tags: water, museum, clara, santa, tours, history,


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