Anne & Mark’s Art Party: An Occasional and Irrational San Jose Arts Fest
Some say it’s an “Art Exhibition” others say it’s a “Happening”. It’s been described as, “Mad Max meets Moulin Rouge”, “Burning Man meets Venice Biennale.” Some say, it’s better than… anything they’ve ever experienced…and we won’t argue with that.
It all began in 2007, when we got the idea to convert our downtown house into a gallery and invite our friends and family to showcase their talent, and invite all their friends, family and fans for a “One Night Stand for the Arts”. We said we’d never do it again. But we did. Each time the past artists and guests invited their friends, family and fans, and each time it grew bigger.
We’ve gone from one night to one week, from our house to a warehouse, and now to the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. We now have hundreds of artists and thousands of guests and the only thing we need is…YOU!
If you have ever wished that San Jose’s various little pockets of cool activity would come together and reach a critical mass, you will find the creative energy you are looking for at the…Art Party. Tucked away in a no-man’s-land industrial zone, the Art Party is a vibrant mix of art from all ends of the spectrum, artists, patrons, fab food trucks, performances, and impromptu meetings. This kind of unexpected, buoyant urban interaction is hard to find in the South Bay. Without hype or big claims to fame, Anne and Mark have worked hard to build a sense of community and opportunity. It’s a generative, gritty art scene — something to crave. If San Jose can become the next Brooklyn, the Art Party is leading the way.
Anne and Mark’s Art Party is Mad Max meets Moulin Rouge, freak show meets Fellini…. Their art festival… is so audacious, so surreal, so successful, that artists clamor for an invitation to show their work and would-be patrons use every click of social networking to get on the guest list....Still, there’s a sense when guests arrive — and are greeted by Bonefire Bob and a 12-foot rocking rooster — that the party is so underground they need a secret password to get in….Here, on a wild autumn night each year, party-goers become art patrons, buying edgy artwork right off the warehouse walls. There’s a distinct sense among all who experience this creative happening that the arts community in San Jose is expanding, that the culture of this suburban city is shifting, that Anne and Mark are changing the karma of this place.
Anne and Mark have expanded San Jose’s cultural boundaries with a quirky, guerilla demonstration of the power of good ideas that emerge outside established institutions and processes. Storming into the warehouse district on a fire-breathing rocking horse and backed by an armada of taco trucks, the Art Party not only showcases the amazing range and breadth of the area’s under-acknowledged artistic community, it’s pretty much its best party of the year.
Art Party has played and early and important role in bringing more widespread visibility to San Jose's thriving creative scene. It's an impeccably produced celebration of eclectic, distinctive, multi-talented, wacky San Jose. You cannot go to Art Party and deny that San Jose's got something special going on now — with artists, art-lovers and cultural entrepreneurs like Anne and Mark stepping up everywhere to actively shape and showcase an authentic San Jose creative culture. Go to Art Party. Show at Art Party. Support Art Party. Heck, fall in love at Art Party — with an artwork (I did!), with old friends and new, with San Jose's special urban culture clearly coming into its own.
The Art Party is an extravaganza that exposes the general community of Silicon Valley to the rich and intense art being made around, above, and beneath the cool exterior of the valley’s technology businesses. The artists that Anne and Mark discover and bring under their wings vary from painters, performers, art car creators, and musicians, to chefs. These artists become part of a growing network that, in turn, fosters a sense of the immensity of the arts in Silicon Valley. People… see works that challenge their ideas of what art is and can be. In one glorious, art-saturated night, patrons and artists are welcomed by two intrepid impresarios to experience the lively and unpolished contemporary art scene going on where they live.
Of all the hip, edgy and cool things that have happened anywhere on our planet in the last decade, Art Party ranks among the top three — and yes, it happens in our very own San José. It makes “South by Southwest” look like a Wiggles convention by comparison.
The Art Party is a large-scale, pop-up Kunsthalle that Anne Sconberg and Mark Henderson mount on an occasional basis in San Jose, California. The process is community and artist-driven and the success of the art party is dependent upon the hard work of volunteers. The quality of the art on display is excellent and it gives contemporary artists who live in and around Silicon Valley a chance to display their work to a large audience outside the established art venues. I see the Art Party as a supplement to the offerings of San Jose's other art venues such as Anno Domini, the ICA, MACLA, and the San Jose Museum of Art. It's all about creating a buzz in the community and inventing opportunities to bring creative minds together. Three cheers for Anne and Mark's Art Party!
The Art Party brings people together — and that’s when the fun begins! It’s truly a celebration of creativity and community — inclusive, eclectic, freewheeling, with an organic “Do it Yourself — With Us” energy that is contagious and intoxicating. There has always been an aura of intimacy surrounding the event. Even as it has grown more expansive, moving out of Mark and Anne’s home and into the warehouse, it is still deeply personal and engaging. Obviously, Mark and Anne’s perennial studio visits and dedicated hands-on curation set the tone. It is also that rare and special combination of “informality” and “dead-seriousness” that permeates the Art Party. In effect, we work hard, we play even harder, and there is nothing we take more seriously than creative expression and indulging in the fruits of our labor with those that we love. Mark and Anne embody this attitude. The Art Party stands for this.