San Jose may be in the heart of Silicon Valley, but it is much more than a city of tech-heads. Rich in culture and art, San Jose is home to both emerging and experienced artists, and the vibrancy of its artistic scene is reflected in its many independent galleries – most of which are tiny. Here are the best contemporary art spaces in San Jose.
“Where art meets technology” is ZERO1’s motto – and the gallery eagerly combines these two elements, which are so important to Silicon Valley. Working with some of the most creative minds from the worlds of art, science, design, architecture and technology, this gallery showcases art which provokes new ideas, sparks experimentation and seeds creative strategies. The gallery is best known for the ZERO1 Biennal, an international showcase of work at the nexus of art and technology, which gathers artists, designers and tech aficionados from all over the world.
Once a cannery, now an art studio. This is Citadel, the largest artist community in the South Bay. For more than 20 years it has been fostering both established and emerging artists across varied mediums: painting, glass work, ceramics, digital arts, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry, mixed media, photography, metal- and wood-working. The industrial feel of the building makes an interesting contrast with the eclectic vibes of the works created here. Citadel is not a gallery per se, but it does present events and exhibitions throughout the year so is definitely worth a visit.
MACLA, or Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, is an inclusive contemporary arts space grounded in the Chicano/Latino experience, which incubates new visual, literary and performance art. It showcases talented Latinx artists; exhibitions include gallery walks, artist talks and lectures. Listed as one of the most effective and impactful arts and culture organizations in the Bay Area, MACLA’s goal is to present both emerging and established artists, and to make contemporary Latino art part and parcel of the larger US art scene.
In operation since 2000, Art Object has established a reputation for featuring the best art in the Bay Area. It welcomes independent curators, individuals and collectives for solo exhibits, special projects and group shows, as well as corporate events and private social functions. Located in the heart of historic Japantown, Art Object is a white-walled, track-lit gallery space that includes a cosy exterior courtyard perfect for outdoor gatherings.
The outside of this gallery looks like an abandoned movie theatre, but inside you’ll find eclectic local art exhibits. Anno Domini is a community-led gallery, bringing art and young people together since its conception in 2000. The proprietors Brian and Cheri, two of the fundamental movers of the San Jose art scene, are devoted to San Jose’s creative evolution: the gallery hosts live music and poetry slams alongside art openings. Most of the exhibited work is inspired by the local streets, and include graffiti as well as experimental art.
San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art
Located in the SoFA District – home of San Jose’s art scene – and right next to MACLA, the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art is a space which aims to make contemporary art accessible to audiences of all ages. It has long been committed to presenting exhibitions that include visually compelling and conceptually challenging contemporary art. The ICA features the free First Fridays event, as well as gallery walks, workshops and education programs.
Founded in 1977 by local artists, Works is an all-volunteer, non-profit, alternative art and performance centre dedicated to providing a venue for ideas that challenge the boundaries of contemporary art. It serves as a South Bay creative laboratory where people from the local community are invited to experiment, exhibit and engage with art and with each other. Exhibitions change monthly and showcase local emerging artists. Wide, well-lit spaces, white walls and concrete flooring give the gallery a modern and fresh atmosphere; drop by after work or during a relaxing weekend.
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