The Best Contemporary Art Galleries in San Jose

Photo of Vittoria Caron
13 January 2017

It may be in the heart of Silicon Valley, but San Jose is much more than a city of tech-heads. Rich in culture and artistic vibes, San Jose is home to emerging and experienced artists, and the vibrancy of the city’s art scene is reflected in its independent art galleries, most of which are tiny. Culture Trip brings you the best galleries San Jose has to offer.


‘Where art meets technology’ is ZERO1’s motto, and the art gallery eagerly combines the two elements so important to Silicon Valley. Working with some of the most fertile and creative minds from the worlds of art, science, design, architecture and technology, this gallery showcases an art which provokes new ideas, sparks experimentation, and seeds creative strategies. One of the most known events produced by ZERO1 is 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.

ZERO1, 439 S 1st Street, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 716 8844

Chris Baker, Murmur Study (2102). ZERO1 Biennial | © Patrick Lydon

Citadel Arts Studios

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Citadel Art Studios, San Jose
Citadel Art Studios, San Jose | Image courtesy of The Citadel Studios
Once a cannery, now an art studio. This is Citadel Arts Studios, the largest artist community in the South Bay. For more than 20 years it has been fostering both established and emerging artists, and they all are involved in different types of work: painting, glass work, ceramics, digital arts, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry, mixed media, photography, metal working and woodworking. The industrial feel of the building, in which the artists are given the freedom to fully express their eclecticism, makes an interesting contrast with the creative vibes of the works. This community hosts the artists’ studios and therefore is not a gallery per se, but if one has the chance to find it open, Citadel presents events and exhibitions throughout the year so is definitely worth a visit.

Seeing things

Minimal gallery/concept store located in downtown San Jose, Seeing Things is not only a contemporary art venue but also a bookshop and a clothing store. Magazines, books, T-shirts and bags are combined together with painting and photography in this white cube ambiance, which hosts monthly art shows and exhibitions from local and regional artists. The owner Jai Tanju and his wife Blanche Gonzalez have made a young, fresh and relaxed atmosphere and created a hip location which perfectly suits the skateboard art their gallery showcases. Seeing Things only opened sjust over a year wgo, joining a line-up of new art spaces that have been spreading through the city, but thanks to its innovative twist it has already become a gathering site for all off-beat art lovers.

Seeing Things, 30 N 3rd Street, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 891 7553


The name itself tells the purpose of the gallery: Greek word for beauty and form, Kaleid is a gallery of fine arts, limited editions and creative gifts. It hosts over 60 fine artists and designers from the San Jose area, ranging from young and emerging to well-known creatives, with individual exhibits that include painting, sculpture, photography, ceramics, glass, jewelry and textile art. During First Fridays (a national initiative to promote art and culture which takes place every first Friday of the month) Kaleid debuts two featured exhibits and gives viewers the chance to interact with artists. During ‘Two Buck Tuesdays’, an original initiative from the gallery every third Tuesday of the month, smaller sized original works of art are on sale for $2, and the evening features live demos, workshops, sketch sessions, music and special performances.

Kaleid, 88 S 4th Street, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 947 1785


MACLA, or Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, is an inclusive contemporary arts space grounded in the Chicano/Latino experience that incubates new visual, literary and performance art. It showcases talented artists whose work is rooted in a Latino aesthetic and history, but inclusive of a broader multicultural sensibility, and exhibitions include artist talks, gallery walks and lectures. Listed as one of the most effective and highest-impact arts and culture organizations in the Bay Area, MACLA’s goal is to present emerging as well as established artists and to make contemporary Latino art become part and parcel of the larger American experience.

MACLA, 510 S 1st Street, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 998 2783

A Body Parted by Secos y Mojados Collective | Image courtesy of MACLA

Art Object

In operation since 2000, Art Object has established a reputation for featuring the best of the Bay Area’s visual art and artists. It opens its doors to independent curators, individuals, and artist groups for exhibits, special projects, group shows, as well as corporate events, receptions and private social functions. Ken Matsumoto and guest curators produce solo and group exhibitions of paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, ceramics, and glass-blowing. Located in the heart of historic Japantown San Jose, Art Object is a white-walled, track-lit gallery space and includes a cosy exterior courtyard that accommodates tables, chairs, and serves as the perfect outdoor gathering area after visiting an exhibition.

Art Object, 592 N 5th Street, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 288 9305

Anno Domini

The outside of this gallery looks like an abandoned movie theatre, but inside lie eclectic local art exhibits. Anno Domini has been bringing youth and art together in a natural, comfortable environment for years with their events and their work within the community. The proprietors Brian and Cheri, two of the fundamental movers of the San Jose art scene, have a strong interest in and devotion to San Jose’s evolution and ability to produce culture beyond the ordinary. The gallery hosts art openings as well as live music performances and poetry slams. Most of the works are street inspired, and include graffiti and independent, experimental and alternative art. Anno Domini is remains one of the best showcases for contemporary art in the South Bay.

Anno Domini, 366 S 1st Street, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 271 5155

San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art

Located in the SOFA district where most of San Jose’s art scene takes place, right next to MACLA, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art is an art space whose goal is to make contemporary art accessible and exciting to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. It has long been committed to presenting exhibitions that include visually compelling and conceptually challenging contemporary art. The ICA also features the First Fridays event, gallery walks, workshops and educational programmes. Interesting and challenging exhibitions that never fail to engage the audience made this venue a must-visit in a trip to the city.

San Jose ICA, 560 S 1st Street, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 283 8155

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