The Hidden Art and Culture of San Jose

So today while facilitating the Team San Jose Twitter page (@teamsanjose) and checking out the conversations focused around Cinequest I saw a post from @Astrogirl who happens to run Gallery AD mentioning a discount to Cinequest goers who bring in their ticket stubs to her gallery @AnnoDomini

This prompted me to visit this gallery on South First Street today and I have to say, I really missed the culture you can find in San Jose while I was in living Vegas. From the moment you start walking the streets of downtown you can see the displays of Phantom Galleries and I had forgotten how much of an underground and underappreciated mecca of art this city has.

As I walked into Gallery AD, a former movie theatre space, I was immersed in a sea of flyers, cards and booklets mentioning the various exhibits that would be held here in downtown San Jose. From public art installation events like the one being held in the lobby of the new Axis luxury high-rises to the consistently influential exhibits held at the Kaleid Gallery. There are also a series of more pop culture type events, such as Canvas Ghost’s Wonderland 2010 where various artists will gather to discuss their work and dress up in their favorite characters from Alice in Wonderland.

Next to these announcements are mixed in a number of flyers that focus on galleries supporting the more complex side of humanity such as Falun Dafa Artist Center’s The Art of Truth, Compassion, Tolerance held at the Art Ark Gallery and a booklet, the Village Savant, an informative piece on supporting the subculture economy of San Jose and filled with pages on local coffee, tattoo, music, galleries and alternative shops.

Before stepping into the gallery, I started up a conversation with the lady at the desk, who I found out is Astrogirl, and who besides being a delight to speak with gave me loads of information on how I could go about plunging myself deeper within the art community. While there are great organizations like Zero1, 1stAct and Artsopolis – it’s sometimes easy to miss the more grass roots based movements going on such as the SubZero Festival and the South First Friday Art Walks of downtown San Jose.

I was fortunate enough to have her walk me into the exhibit for February, The Art of Zines, which consisted of half the room housing independent prints filling three rows of shelves wrapped along the walls. She talked a little about the current exhibit, and the plans for the coming exhibit and cross-over of the two in March, as well as the stage area they have and the openings they have done. The exhibit itself was a collection of everything from odd off-beat child-like stories, to contemporary, angry and adult themed publications and newsletters. The literal wall of text before me felt at first a bit overwhelming, but fortunately there were a couple of sitting benches within the exhibit hall that allowed me to leisurely flip through the pages of the books that caught my eye.

After some quiet time of enjoying the exhibit, I headed back out, spoke with Astrogirl briefly again and headed back on my way to work to write about it.

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