San Jose Museum of Art: Fundraiser Arts Activation

San Jose Museum of Art

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Case Study: San Jose Museum of Art (SJMA)

Lisa R. James. -Director of Development at SJMoA
Anniversary Gala Fundraiser Dinner. The San Jose Museum of Art raises funds for education. They used to do them every year and then stopped, starting up again 5 years ago It is a very important source of funds for their education program.
Demographic: donors and art enthusiasts.

We asked Trina back, she had done an installation for a gala a couple of years ago and we asked her back because even though this is fundraising, it’s still forwarding the mission of the museum and looking at what Trina does as an intersection of forward looking work, interesting ideas and a highly skilled artist. The internal theme of the gala was “things are not always what they appear” and Trina’s work epitomizes that for me. I know that she has extraordinary artistry and it’s always something new and surprising. It makes people stop and think in a different way.

She created installations for the gala launch party and for the gala itself. She created an installation for the gala launch in a private home. One was a similar installation, the other was a camouflage painting and it was the first thing you saw when you walked in the door and some people had to switch their mindset; where they were physically and emotional. As soon as they walked in the door, they had to go into a new space which is really important as they’re thinking about the museum. That we are a contemporary museum, movin them into the theme, the underlying theme is see what you think and so Trina works into that perfectly.

The night of the event itself, she did 3 installations for us. One was a camouflage painting in the lobby, so one of the first things that people saw. And again, it was great because many people, if they weren’t paying attention didn’t actually realize that there were people there until they moved.

She did a wonderful installation in our auction gallery which served both as an artistic and strategic purpose. The strategic purpose is, one of the big ways that we make money at the gala is through the auction and we wanted people in the gallery. One of the ways to get them there was to have Trina do an installation because people will want to come in and see what’s happening and they are intrigued by it. And the artistic purpose was the reminder of; it’s Silicon Valley where the big emphasis is the technology. Sometimes the most incredible and brilliant technology is the human body and human figure and what people can do. Plus Trina created the theme all on her own, but she chose this incredibly gorgeous theme of the chrysalis and the artist in the chrysalis in the cocoon and then emerging and of her journey through the San Jose Museum of Art. It was really wonderful.

Results:It was our highest ever net income – $305K! ┬áPeople loved it very much and love Trina’s art. What was nice this year was that we made sure people got to meet Trina which didn’t happen the last time she was working with us. It was really quite wonderful. The 3rd installation was out on stage during the dinner leading to the auction where we’re always looking for something to raise the energy again after the dinner and she worked on these contortionists who did an extraordinary performance. It was just super cool and everyone’s eyes were popping out of their heads!

Fears: No fears! Why would i have any fears? It’s Trina! there were no fears whatsoever. She is an amazing and wonderful collaborator. Probabaly the most important part of collaboration is the trust between Trina and me. We would talk about a general idea and where she was going. It’s pretty amazing. And I think the best outcome of all was the people were saying, “Oh My God! I’m in San Jose! All of a sudden, I turn a corner and I’m in Brooklyn! Someplace cool!” It was increasing the cool factor in Silicon Valley.

Favorite: My favorite art was the installation in the private home because it was extraordinary. It was so beautiful. The artistry and in the intricacy of it. You don’t normally get to walk up to an installation like this when it’s a human being, you’re always tucked away and being able to walk up and see. It’s always surprising. It’s just so beautiful and set off the space. We had the installation in a donor’s home who has a big collection. We talked about whether we wanted to play off the collection, but decided instead we wanted to play off the space. There was a big, high ceiling atrium but with these heavy beams so there’s a lot of space but a lot of architectural weight and she created this delicate, intricate installation that just reannimated the space.

Recommend: Working with Trina is a way to look beyond your expectations to something that’s new, surprising and always changing. It’s always bringing new energies, new interests and new excitement into a room.

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