A MIX OF A BIT OF EVERYTHING and FUN FOR EVERYONE
By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

The monthly artwalk known as First Fridays, where galleries in San Jose’s Sofa District stay open late on the first Friday of the month was joined by the SubZERO Festival to bring the flavor of Zero1’s digital art biennale to the street. All joined in the street with crafts booths, robots, gallery exhibitions that spilled outdoors, food, costumes, fundraising, music and fun. Cafes, billiard halls and empty storefronts brought more art inside with an occasional band as well. Artists, patrons and sponsors mingled, all seemingly pleased with the mix of merchandise from ceramics and jewelry to designer couture, and art mixed with entertainment.

The new streetscaping on South First, between Santa Clara and Reed Streets added an upbeat aesthetic to the historically grungy mental image of the Sofa District as an old cast-off sofa at curb’s edge. The purple jacarandas blooming profusely enhanced the ambience. Dining on the widened sidewalks, new planters with greenery and flowers and a new parking plan for south First Street are just part of a larger plan for beautifying and improving downtown San Jose.

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Connie Martinez, Executive Director of 1stAct Silicon Valley (center) tried to ignore her disabled car and a sick cat to enjoy the SubZERO Festival. Ken Kay, of Ken Kay Associates, with wife Jing, returned from China to attend the Festival. Kay is the Urban Architect responsible for the pilot project and redesign of the Sofa District.

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South First Street business owner, Richard Berg, joined friends and family in celebrating the new face of the Sofa District.

The SubZERO Festival was a target date for introducing the Sofa Area pilot project and gauging success. Seen at the Festival in a celebratory mode were representatives of the City, 1stAct Silicon Valley, the Downtown Association, Zero1, along with many other private donors and business owners engaged in the long range plans.

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Two stages with live music and entertainment were part of the outdoor SubZERO festival.

Inside South First Billiards, the electronic musicians of Haptic Synapses included Steve Cooley, Derek Scott, Charles Johnson and Jono Kane. Donations at the door benefitted Heart of Chaos, a youth mentoring program.

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New outdoor seating with flowers and greens provided a chance to sit, eat and enjoy the festival from Cafe Trieste and Original Joe’s

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Al Preciado precided over his booth selling fierce yet whimsical ceramic animals.

In Anno Domini, a traveling exhibition of self-portraits by 40 artists from around the world featured both literal and abstracted interpretations of the self. After showing in nine cities, the works will be auctioned to benefit Creative Capital ( a national non-profit supporting the visual arts, film, video, innovative literature and emerging fields.

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Elisa Echeverria chooses a favorite inside the Scion Art Tour/Installation Five exhibition at Anno Domini

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Asylm’s self portrait Soy Huitzilpochtli is mixed meida on wood.

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Self-Portrait by Alex Hornest, at Anno Domini

Zero1’s Executive Director, Joel Slayton was enjoying the SubZERO event which last year was integrated into the Zero1 Biennal. Zero1 has been scheduled for the Fall in 2010, explained Slayton, and will once again incorporate the SubZERO street festival as a part of its programming at that time.

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Joel Slayton, Executive Director of Zero1 and Metro’s Gary Singh encourage a pink mascot at the SubZERO event.

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Robotic spheres that produce a light show and music, and perform in concert linked the SubZero street art to themes in Zero1, San Jose’s digital and “art on the edge” biennal.

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A digital, crystal Buddha blinks and flashes a message of peace.

Many of the activities of SubZERO were silly and wonderful. At The San Jose ICA, facing the disappointing realities of the economic recession, the exhibition It’s Not Us It’s You, documents and makes art out of the experience of rejection. For SubZERO, the ICA brought the experience out into the street where the public could have their chance to dunk a City Councilman (or surrogate for many public officials or other individuals that irritate us — from the IRS to Your Ex to Progenetors of Art), for three balls/ five dollars. When San Jose City Councilmen Sam Liccardo and Ash Kalra sat gamely on the dunk tank seat, the money seemed to roll in.

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Sam Liccardo appeared prepared for all eventualities with his goggles, water wings and life ring, at the ICA dunk tank. ICA Director Cathy Kimball could not resist cheating a bit, hitting the target manually to dunk Sam a few extra times.

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Laura and Gloria share a good laugh and examine SubZERO hand-outs to decide where to go next.

An exhibition at Works Gallery was produced with particular intention to synch with the themes of Zero1. remote/control was curated by Sheila Malone and Jason Challas, and features the digital and electronic works of an enormously talented group of artists. Sophisticated and beautifully executed art works by John Pierre Bruneau, Jason Challas, Joe DeLappe, Joseph Kohnke, Sheila Malone, James Morgan, Tom Reibold and Shannon Wright make this one of Works’ best all-time exhibitions…not to be missed. It will be up through July 10th.

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Joe DeLappe’s amazing second life journey as Mahatma Ghandi in Works Gallery.

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At Works, a harmonica is played electronically by a disembodied mouth.

At MACLA the SubZERO Festival coincided with the inauguration of the Chicana/Chicano Biennal. Honored artists this year were Linda Arreola, Jose Arenas, Joe Bravo, Margarita Cabrera, Cristina Cantu Diaz, Paula Castillo, Juan R. Fuentes, Quintin Gonzalez, Jaime Guerrero, Consuelo Jiménez Underwood, Ester Hernandez, Yolanda M. López, Gustavo Martinez, Viviana (Viva) Paredes, Armando Ramos, Rio Yañez, Linda Vallejo, Mark Vallen and Deborah Kuetzpalin. Works on display deal with immigration, civil rights, culture.

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Pilar and Michelle have a good time with the little one playing “house”, but their installation has the serious intention of emphasizing the need for housing the homeless.

In the street in front of MACLA’s Gallery, Pilar Ag√ºero-Esparza and Michelle Longosz constructed a series of cardboard houses to be painted and personalized alongside information about housing issues in order to draw public attention to the problem of homelessness. Also in front of MACLA, a fantastically painted, customized 1968 Chevy Impala, el Muertorider , by John Jota Lea√±os, Shawn Levvon Nash and Artemio Rodr√≠guez commemorated low riding on First Street in the 6o’s. Later in the evening a parade of lowriders and custom cars passed SubZERO along Market Street.

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El Muertorider, in front of MACLA

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