San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art offers free admission, draws record crowds with 3 new exhibitions

SAN JOSE, Calif (KGO) -- The San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art has recently drawn record crowds, thanks in part to three new exhibitions that have debuted this spring.

"People are in here smiling," said Cathy Kimball, who serves as ICA's executive director and chief curator. "They're making the motion detectors do something (and) they think these sculptures are speaking back to them."

One exhibition features work from Alan Rath, a pioneer in electronic, kinetic, and robotic sculptures, including one of the earliest versions of an autonomous vehicles that was created in 1998.

A bold installation, created by Sofie Ramos, allows the viewer to walk into a living painting. Another section by San Jose-based artist Stephanie Metz includes biomorphic abstract sculptures made out of compressed wool.

"Shared social experiences is something I think really matters, and I think more and more people want that kind of a counterbalance to all the digital sharing that happens," said Metz.

The SoFA district has been experiencing a renaissance in recent years. The success of the art space has also helped other downtown entrepreneurs.

"It's a community. It's a vibe and atmosphere that people love. It's very inclusive," said Lynn Le, owner of The Good Spot and Umi Hand Roll Bar.

"More and more businesses are starting to open here, so that's also encouraging," said Pizzetta 408 owner David Perez. "A lot of people are investing in this area, because they see it as an up and coming area in San Jose."

ICA visitors say they enjoy taking a break from the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley.

"Just expose myself to more art and to be inspired and take what I see today and make something of my own," said San Jose resident Dante Mendoza.

Kimball says she hopes the art is "...making statements that are thought-provoking, are inspiring (and) are creating a forum for dialogue that I don't think can happen outside a venue like this."

Admission to the ICA is always free, thanks in part to the generosity of private donors and various grants. The non-profit organization is set to celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2020.
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