Monday, February 10, 2014

Mission Santa Clara and the De Saisset Museum

I am ashamed to say, I wasn't aware of beautiful Mission Santa Clara de Asis, let alone the free De Saisset Museum, that exists in the middle of Silicon Valley. Now I am and I must say, it is worth visiting.
Mission Santa Clara de Asis at Santa Clara University Campus

Mission Santa Clara lies on the grounds of the Santa Clara University - "a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university" founded in 1851. The mission was the 8th of 21 Franciscan missions founded by Padre Junipero Serra. It was established in 1777 near the Guadalupe River and was the first mission named after a woman - St. Claire of Assisi. Due to floods, fire and earthquakes, the mission relocated five times, finally ending up at its' current site in 1822. It went through six remodels, the last one due to a devastating 1926 fire, finally ending up with something close to its' original 1825 appearance.

My daughter and I spent an enjoyable two hours appreciating the campus buildings' mission revival architecture, exploring the mission sanctuary and viewing the art exhibits at the De Saisset Museum. I would not however, recommend this trip for young children. I think it would be appropriate for 4th graders (studying California missions) and up.

There is a brochure offering a self guided tour of the mission and grounds. We didn't do it, though I would like to another day.

Interior of Sanctuary

     The main reason we visited Santa Clara University was to see an exhibit at the De Saisset Museum by local artist Michele Guieu, called Sip. Do Not Gulp. Michele's exhibit takes up an entire room and is quite wonderful to see. She painted a mural directly on the walls, laid out a huge acorn statement/rug, set up a continuous video and included a way for viewers to participate in the ongoing project. The result is a beautiful display of the "interconnectedness of food and water throughout Santa Clara Valley's long history."

The acorns represent the Ohlone Indians
Participants invited to add their own observations via blue paper plates
Mission Santa Clara De Asis

     We also viewed an exhibit by artist Corinne Takara called, A Serving Of Shapes: An Exploration In 3D Printing.  This exhibit consists of a documentary video showing the process of 3D printing, and display shelves with little plastic food and animal shapes. The artist's stated purpose is to "weave together art, history and technology to reflect on Silicon Valley's past identity . . and it's present identity . ." There were past workshops letting people participate in the process of 3D printing, but unfortunately there don't seem to be any more scheduled.

3D Printing Shapes

Both exhibits run through March 16th and there is a reception on Thursday, February 13, from 7:00 to 8:30pm.  I also recommend viewing the permanent downstairs exhibit on California history that includes the "founding of Mission Santa Clara de Asís, through the Gold Rush, and the early years of Santa Clara College." I was not allowed to take photographs but I highly recommend visiting. BTW, Admission to the museum is free!

Final thoughts:  Regarding Sip. Do Not Gulp, I would have liked to have seen some innovative ideas on how we can counteract water shortages in California besides references to how much water a single chicken or cow requires; but to be fair, I believe the artist's intention was to increase awareness of the history and importance of water, not to offer solutions.
     Regarding A Serving Of Shapes,  I think it would have been much better if an actual printer and workshop were going on; the video didn't hold our interest. Also, I found it rather ironic that this display was next to one that talks about conserving water, because 3D printers result in plastic products that as far as I know, can't be recycled.

De Saisset Museum - Admission Free!

No comments: