Images Transform Utility Doors and Give Downtown a Boost of Energy
By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

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Nneka Idika, A Junior at Lincoln High School, was one of the winners for her artwork, A Story in History

Unique and surprising images by San Jose high school students have made the streets of downtown San Jose into an exhibition site. Their twenty five photographs, drawings, paintings and mixed-media works have been blown up and adhered to the many utility doors that open onto the downtown streets. In the process, they have transformed many lengths of otherwise dreary and architecturally unremarkable urban streetscape into a colorful and vibrant experience for passersby. Some of these images have a remarkable relationship to the activities of host businesses or public spaces where they are placed, some are wonderfully mysterious, some seem to address other young spirits on the street, and yet others are simply a special and unique creative statement. From the viewpoint of this art educator, their honest diversity and lack of calculated stylistic postures is a remarkable comment on the open minds and enviable spontaneity of these young artists.

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Sarahi Escorza’s Time is Precious, and Edward Balaoro’s Where to Go? are seen on South First Street behind the Fairmont Hotel.

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Also seen on South First Street, A New Chance and A Simple Message by Notre Dame High School artists Kristine de la Cruz and Lorenza Shabe

The San Jose Downtown Foundation sponsored this competition between students from 19 high schools who submitted a grand total of 137 entries. A jury of five members of the art and business community, led by Jane Pryzybsz, Executive Director of the Museum of Quilts and Textiles, selected the twenty-five final works based on concerns for quality, variety and relationship to the downtown environment.

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Jose Mejia of Piedmont Hills High School received congratulations from his Councilman Kanson Chu and wife, Daisey, for his Untitled painting, now installed on Second Street at the Light Rail station.

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Barbara Goldstein, Director of the City of San Jose’s Public Art Program, congratulates Connie Chen on her digital photograph New Age, placed on the Paseo de San Antonio near the Circle of Palms.

On June 5, in a prelude to all the festivities of SubZERO, a special reception and awards ceremony for the winners was held on the fourth floor of the Rep Theatre, where students, parents, City Council Representatives, art world dignitaries and the press mingled on the roof top patio, and in the Repertory rehearsal room viewed an exhibition of the artworks selected. Jane Przybysz was master of ceremonies and presented awards to the high school teachers and their students. Each student winner received a $200 honorarium, a year’s membership to the San Jose Museum of Art, the Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and a gift certificate for art supplies. In her remarks, Przybysz noted that international visitors from other art institutions have remarked to her on the outstanding impression of San Jose created by the Downtown Doors.

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Jane Przybysz, Executive Director of the Museum of Quilts and Textiles, presented awards to the High School teachers and their students.

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Councilman Sam Liccardo of District 3 was on hand to congratulate the artists and celebrate the installation of the new Doors exhibition in Downtown,

Many of the student winners are graduating seniors this year and all I interviewed said they were going on to college. Some were going to major in art, some planned to take more art, others thought their majors would preclude the pleasure of art classes. I think an excellent preview profile of our future leaders is presented, to think that no matter their profession, they have had the experience of creative success in the arts. This should be the foundation of our next well-rounded inventive and artistic professional community.

The entire Downtown Doors display is one that has been repeated every few years and has grown from a few doors and a few sponsors to one that truly is visible, notable and giving a very special identity to the streets of San Jose. The effort to expand this project to its current status has required a great collaboration between the San Jose Downtown Foundation, and sponsors such as 1stAct Silcon Valley, Adobe Systems, Camera 12 Cinemas, the City of San Jose Cultural Affairs, Colliers International, EBay Foundation, Jeppesen DataPlan, Law Offices of Willoughby Stuart, Bening, Inc, On Your Mark Graphocs, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, Silison Valley Community Foundation, and Xactly Corporation. Further coordination between schools and teachers and the “Door Site Hosts” was a major component of the project. Special accolades to Jane Przybysz, Alex Stuart, Kristen Collins, and Jeff Bordona for bringing together the whole package of art, art education, business and community.

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On the San Jose Repertory Plaza, two artworks by Lincoln High students Sarah Eaman and Carrissa Carbajal are Untitled and Cool Blue Jazz.

Challenge yourself to a healthy walk downtown and an inspiring exhibition experience. See if you can find all twenty five artworks between Market and Third Streets, and San Carlos to San Fernando Streets.

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