SummerArtsGuide-2016-300x300In August 2000, the renowned street artist Shepard Fairey was in town for his solo exhibition at Anno Domini. He spent the afternoon leading up to his opening reception wheat pasting his art on numerous walls and utility boxes surrounding the hotel in which he was staying — not that many of us in downtown San Jose ever saw it. Our city had a “zero tolerance” graffiti policy and a well-funded anti-graffiti team to back it up. By the next morning, they had completely and effectively eradicated Fairey’s art.

Shepard Fairey in San Jose 2000.
Shepard Fairey in San Jose 2000. (Photo courtesy of Anno Domini)

Street art and graffiti have often been seen as two sides of the same coin when it comes to legal interpretation and ramifications, but the simple step of an artist asking and being granted permission has resulted in an explosion of murals on privately-owned buildings all over the world. San Jose has slowly but surely begun to acknowledge the contributions artists make towards a vibrant city that attracts and retains the creative class with much of the work being accomplished by a mix of inspired individuals, artists, grass roots collectives and civic-minded nonprofits.

The murals highlighted below are just a few of the many outdoor art works that can be found in San Jose if you have the presence of mind to explore the neighborhoods and look up once in a while. These particular murals were chosen for their originality and contribution to the actual space surrounding them as well as the wonderment they inspire when you view them.  It’s easy to imagine these murals as portals into other worlds where you can linger a while and give your cerebral side a rest and let your intuitive imagination side have some fun and play.

One caveat of private/permissioned murals is that its longevity is uncertain. So consider a détournement next time you’re out walking, skating or biking this summer and see what beauty awaits you in the streets of San Jose.

Mural by Ian S. Young
Mural by Ian S. Young (Photo by Cherri Lakey)

“Interview with an Icon” by Ian S. Young
Located at Barber’s Inc. 332 E. Santa Clara St. (downtown)
Supported by SJSU African American Task Force for Student Success and the San Jose Downtown Foundation

Mural by Jeffrey Hemming
Mural by Jeffrey Hemming (Photo by Brian Eder)

“Phylum of the Free” by Jeffrey Hemming
Located at Lido Nightclub 30 S. 1st St. (Fountain Alley)
Supported by the San Jose Downtown Association, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office and Phantom Galleries

Mural by Galen Oback
Mural by Galen Oback (Photo by Cherri Lakey)

“Labor of Our Love” by Galen Oback
Located at Workingman’s Emporium 260 N. 1st St. (downtown)
Supported by Exhibition District and the Knight Foundation

Mural by Jamie Friedman & Notre Dame H.S.
Mural by Jamie Friedman & Notre Dame H.S. (Photo by Brian Eder)
Mural by Marcos LaFarga
Mural by Marcos LaFarga (Photo by Cherri Lakey)

Front: ”Looking Back” by Jamie Friedman & Notre Dame High School students
Reverse: “The Future” by Marcos LaFarga
Located at the corner of E. San Carlos & S. 2nd streets (SoFA District)
Supported by San Jose Downtown Association and the Property-Based Improvement District funds

Mural by LAuruS Myth
Mural by LAuruS Myth (Photo by Cherri Lakey)

“Expanding Circuits – Stairs to the Moon – Rising Naturally” by LAuruS Myth
Located at TechShopSJ 300 S. 2nd St. (SoFA District)
Supported by Phantom Galleries and SubZERO Festival

Murals by Poesia, Michael Borja, and Denis Korkh
Murals by Poesia, Michael Borja, and Denis Korkh (Photos by Brian Eder & Cherri Lakey)

Left to right: murals by Poesia, Michael Borja, and Denis Korkh
Located at The Studio Climbing Gym 396 S. 1st St. (SoFA District)
Supported by Phantom Galleries and SubZERO Festival

Street print design by Scape Martinez
Street print design by Scape Martinez (Photo by Cherri Lakey)

“Symphony of Style; Color, Light, and Sound”. by Scape Martinez
Located at the intersection of S. 1st & San Salvador streets (SoFA District)
Supported by San Jose Downtown Association & SoFA District

Mural by Force 129
Mural by Force 129 (Photo by Cherri Lakey)

“Peeps and Pups” by Force 129
Located at 467 S. 1st St. (SoFA District)
Supported by The Core Companies, Phantom Galleries and SubZERO.Festival

Mural by Aaron De La Cruz
Mural by Aaron De La Cruz (Photo by Brian Eder)

Untitled by Aaron De La Cruz
Located at MACLA 300 S. 1st St. (SoFA District)
Supported by MACLA

Mural by Nosego
Mural by Nosego (Photo by Cherri Lakey)

“Little Moment” by Nosego
Located at Nichi Bei Bussan 140 E. Jackson St. (Japantown)
Supported by Empire Seven Studios and the Knight Foundation

Mural by Andrew Schoultz
Mural by Andrew Schoultz (Photo by Brian Eder)

“Empty Vessel” by Andrew Schoultz
Located at the corner of 6th & Empire streets  (Japantown)
Supported by Empire Seven Studios and the Knight Foundation

Mural by Thomas Talamantes
Mural by Thomas Talamantes (Photo by Cherri Lakey)

“‘You are never strong enough where you don’t need help.’~Cesar Chavez” by Thomas Talamantes
Located at The Bottle Shop 899 S. 1st St. (downtown)
Supported by Beautiful Day, Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office and the Guadalupe Washington Neighborhood Association

ArtBox by Sara Tomasello
ArtBox by Sara Tomasello (Photo by Cherri Lakey)

BONUS ArtBox Mini-Murals: Over 60 hand painted utility boxes by local artists in most San Jose neighborhoods.
Supported by the ArtBox SJ Project and individual sponsors
Pictured ArtBox by Sara Tomasello at 13th & Hedding streets

Use the ArtMap below to help you navigate to the featured murals as well as many more works of art in downtown San Jose. (created by Brian Eder)

Author

Cherri Lakey

Co-owner/curator of urban contemporary art and culture gallery ANNO DOMINI // the second coming of Art & Design and producer of a bunch of other cool projects with partner Brian Eder. 

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor