Category Archives: Project launch

The State of Public Arts

9dbad7c9-3b83-4309-8011-1ac1e52b1788P1310589Needless to say, I’m letting my nerd flag fly with every blog post for the Evergreen Mural Walk.  If you think I enjoy Evergreen, consider how much I love Public Arts.  As a San Jose Native and based Artist, how could anything be more personal or provocative to me as San Jose’s Public Arts’ Scene.  I’m going to narrow my review to the Visual Arts’ for the most part because it’s my expertise and experience.  I still don’t get out often enough to be a critic of our performing arts or festivals, which San Jose has a ton of!  Well done, us.  There is constantly something happening in San Jose and a holistic approach to the public spaces being highly considered makes those more engaging.  City Hall is somewhere I find inspiration and a lot of support.

january_lectureSince coming up with this crazy Evergreen idea a year ago, I’ve been to every City of San Jose Arts Commission and Public Art meeting open to the public.  San Jose’s art portfolio is vast with a wide variety of investments and installations.  Overall beautiful and well considered, I cannot help but to notice lots of funding going to out of state artists for their unique concepts.  There’s been two pieces that people hate in Downtown.  The Arts Commission funds programs like the Ballet, Symphony and other performing Arts.  Illuminating Downtown appears to be a success with more projects on the way, a series of light Public Arts Installations to Downtown’s Underpasses.  Brand new pieces have been installed on Lincoln Avenue in Willow Glen.

artboxThe Art Box program finds itself empowering charming pieces in already charming, walking Communities.  To engage this program, you must have an artistically or culturally valid concept and private sponsorship.  Its this programs’ intent to create opportunities for professional artists, though the stipend is low.  I think this is why there are some done to a lesser quality than others.  It takes a larger commitment of time from the artist than the program pays.  This program adds to San Jose’s rich culture by creating exposure for artists.  The location is chosen by the Arts Commissioner in charge and the private donor, so the pay off is in the location.  Because of these elements, the Art Boxes have not been employed in Evergreen, or other graffiti ravaged Communities, though this Public Arts approach could help the safety and walkability of Evergreen.  You’ll find Art Boxes in Willow Glen, Downtown, and the Alameda.

newsofaThere is such a lack of color in San Jose, it’s known as Tan Jose to those in the Arts Community.  People lament the boredom of San Jose’s Airport, knowing the Cultural hotspot that waits for them outside.  San Jose State University trains brilliant, competent artists, but we outsource the Artistic Identity of San Jose to others.  Those like Erin Salazar, with the Exhibition District, finds private funding and public walls to empower San Jose’s Arts Community to have a hand in its Individuality.  Sadly, the Exhibition District focuses Downtown.  Not in Evergreen.  Cherri Lakey, too, with Two Fish Designs, brings Artists Opportunities forth in her successful galleries and SOFA events.  SOFA, however, still isn’t Evergreen.    Love seeing strong women creating business opportunities and cohesion for the Arts in San Jose.  That connectivity to opportunities and empowering artists is crucial to San Jose’s Artistic Identity.

What has Public Art done for Evergreen lately?  Does Evergreen have Public Art?

91d4d203-6e45-4919-9cdf-7295ef5f6498It’s gotta be asked because it’s not widely known or appreciated.  It’s often teased for its curious shape.  This first of these is a contribute to John J. Montgomery, the pioneer aviator who lost his life flying in our Evergreen hills.  This is a recreation of a wing from his Evergreen glider.  This stands at the park on the corner of Yerba Buena Road and San Felipe Road, within a mile of where the glider crashed on the Ramonda Ranch.

montgomery 1The importance of this shape is it is the modern shape of wing.  John Montgomery flew before the Wrights Brothers and had the guidance systems in mind in advance.  The East Coast bias goes back before National Sports leagues.  Publication and their Printers were in high volume along the East Coast while the West Coast enjoyed the last standing Old West and settling.  Circulation to local outlets would’ve been easy, but getting publications of Montgomery’s early flights back East were a feet.  The Wrights Brothers have the public’s opinion on Flight’s First, however it was Montgomery and he simply did it better than others until his unfortunate landing.

mouthearHave you heard of these delights to the left and right?  Evergreen Library has beautiful pieces of Public Art, but I had to hear about it in a Public Art Meeting.  That would lead me to believe perhaps you’ve not seen Larry Kirkland’s “Discoveries” either.  The Washington DC based artist here uses the senses and scale to engage his audience in an association with nature.  Mr. Kirkland’s work can be seen in airports around the world, and here at the remodeled Evergreen Library off Aborn Road.  Though little known, it think this is a wonderful addition to San Jose’s and Evergreen’s Artistic Identity.  I think I’ll take a selfie with the giant ear.  I love the honest qualities to the rock with the smooth contours of the skin.  It’s a powerful textural contrast that leads us to opinions of our relationship with nature.

1905Enough La-Ti-Da.  We’re done.  That’s it in San Jose’s District 8.  The largest Rancho in Santa Clara County has 2 pieces of Public Art.  We’ve recognized and tried to bring relevance to the Montgomery piece in our proposed artwork.  There’s splendorous fountains and decorations in new home and retail areas, but we have an artwork portfolio of two and no non-profits receiving operational grants in Evergreen, though I’m sure we have some budding ballerinas and musicians from Evergreen in our Arts Organizations.  Andrew Bales of the SV Symphony discusses the 90% decrease in philanthropy over the last decade, which the Arts has endured.  There are funds set away from every new development that goes towards things like Public Art.  This too gets trimmed away by other needed services like homeless housing.  What’s odd to me is that Evergreen is continuously development the rolling hillside but the 1% for the Arts doesn’t come back here in proportion.  If Corporate Giving and governing agencies cannot fund the Arts, it’s going to go away unless someone gets creative.

P1310632Evergreen sees epidemic graffiti in public spaces and on historic grounds.  Graffiti is a broken window to the factory that is the Evergreen Community.  I can’t help but to think Public Art and bringing charm and romanticism to Evergreen could improve safety and tensions.

Tensions will naturally occur where you have a socio-economic contrast like ours and residents don’t feel like they have any options to improve their own situations.  I maintain this Community is colorful, not unsafe.  Those committing this vandalism are our target volunteer from our high school crowd.  Their ownership and individuality brought to the project bring it success and authenticity.  This was a wildly walkable Community when I was a little girl on my red bike.  Before that, farmers freely roamed through the shortest path through their neighbors’ orchards on horseback.  This project seeks to find that walkability and boost in tourism in Evergreen’s third piece to the Public Art Portfolio.

Graffiti, Tagging and Art

 P1310690We’re using are to address some difficult issues Evergreen is facing.  The most obvious is graffiti, but more specifically tagging.  Graffiti is a kind of Art, so I’m going to do some technical waxing and defining for a sec before getting to the Evergreen epidemic.  I’ll keep it short, but this is my area of expertise.

P1310632The Arts is the study of any form of human expression, so they cover a broad range of topics.  Graffiti is a kind of Art, short for Visual Arts.  Graffiti is a type of street expression or hip hop that is most often executed in spray paint is totally stunning when done well.  This example here is totally collaborative and organic.  I find it wicked inspiring.  It’s also the dead end for Fowler Creek, so an Evergreen historic landmark of sorts.  This would’ve been Downtown Evergreen back in the day.

P1310641Tagging, the dreaded enemy, is the single color spray painted, hurried expression.  It’s often a number, name or identifying mark of some kind.  Yuck.  Evergreen is host to both expressions.

These two example pictures were taken from the same Evergreen location, with the lens pointed in opposite directions.

P1310687Now, I would be lying if I told you I didn’t appreciate the colors, the lines and the value of this style of graffiti art.  I went to school in Southern California, finding myself inspired by LA’s hip hop vibe and graffiti.  I love the goofy giraffe off of our Cal Trains.  The truth is the only thing that separates this from Fine Arts is the legal permissions and contracts that go with its preservation.

11924764_10205168348264340_5498132776250486890_nWorking in public schools in Eastside San Jose and Evergreen, I have the conversation with high school students all the time about painting murals, doing something you love for a living, and how I use it as opportunity to say something later.  I encourage entrepreneurship with education.  I encourage students to ask for proper permissions, have a clear thought and a game plan.  Your property owner will respect that and therefore protect your work.

graffiti evergreenI was having that conversation with students pretty half cocked, never having asked for permissions for public artwork before, instead executing private contracts.  I never opened myself up to the Public Sector before like I have with this project.  It has been well received by every level of the Community.  Now that I’ve done it personally, I’ve not been misinforming the youth.  If you have a good idea, it’s going to find support.  I feel a little better about the conversations I’ve had with Silver Creek students loitering and watching me paint over the summers.

Laddie Way - Google MapsThe problem in Evergreen was visually obvious.  When I first reached out to the City of San Jose in regards to the Evergreen Mural Walk, I was sent a long list of places and people that have been affected by graffiti.  From retirement communities and schools to private property damage, the scars it leaves on this Community aren’t pretty.

E Capitol Expy - Google MapsThis visual allows for the Broken Window Theory to set in.  This is an idea within the study of criminology which leads to added and worsening destruction and in this case crime.  Evergreen experiences above national average numbers for violent crimes and home invasions.  I need students driven to school instead feeling safe enough to walk.  This project is aimed at trickling down positive, starting with removing this, the most visible canvas.

P1310691The Evergreen Mural Walk artwork is absolutely designed with graffiti and tattoo influences.   They’ll be fun to paint should any graffiti artists come out from local high schools.  The bright, bold colors is something I feel very strongly about recreating.   Graffiti Artist don’t mark on top of what they consider to be “Good Art”, adding to culture and acknowledging their existence.   It’s an odd ethic, but a treaty I broker with a cool approach and reap the rewards all over Evergreen schools.

bus stop vision 2 copyHopefully the Evergreen Mural Walk gets these individuals involved and creates community stewards of them.  It ought to create community pride in its execution and subject matter.  This shows the street culture of Evergreen while limiting its further decay.

Here’s further evidence of our Evergreen ProblemAborn Square Rd - Google Maps Brigadoon Way - Google Maps Corkerhill Way - Google Maps E Capitol Expy - Google Maps


Research and Design

P1310197I thought I may take a moment to talk about how this project came together.  All of these pieces connect to a side and time of Evergreen.  I’ve had to strip out the creative portions because I had no idea how rich this history was.  It doesn’t need any fluff.

Luckily, I’m from Evergreen, so large portions of this is based on experience.  I knew approximately what things were there or important.  Like most works today, I started with a Google search.  This led to lots of reading of books online and combing through photos. Lots of notes on groundbreaking lawsuits in Evergreen.  It helps explain the acceleration of newcomers in the 1860’s.  Oh boy.  That’s a totally different blog for another time.

1997300231I read all of Colleen Cortese’s “Evergreen Pathways” articles published in the Evergreen Times.  This experience and googling was really the starting place for my artwork.  History San Jose also has a large collection of old photos.

This led me to many libraries across the Bay Area.  Can I see this document in person?  Can I get a better resolution picture?  Is there background information to what I’m seeing here?

I have been coordinating with UC Berkley’s Bancroft Library, SJSU’s California Room and Sourisseau Academy’s Archives, Evergreen Valley College’s Heritage Room and other local resources.  They have a lot online, but I suggest going in person.  There’s nothing like the smell of old maps.

P1300840If you’re looking for newspaper clippings or old resident references specifically, head to the California Room and bring quarters.  Set an alarm on your phone to the meter.  You don’t want that parking ticket.  If you’re looking for amazing old photography, head to Sourisseau Academy next door.  Evergreen history, head to the Heritage Room curated by Colleen Cortese.  The Italian American Heritage Foundation also had an amazing photo array and library.  Everyone has been so gracious with my repeated visits.  If you were looking for old relatives, I might do a catalog search at the California Room at the Martin Luther King Library.  You might find something cool.

CAM09451So, finding the original documents to work from wasn’t going to be a problem, as long as I had sentiment to connect them to.  This helps substantially in setting the tone and color of the artwork itself.

In order to do that, I had to go collect that feeling.  That led me to new people.  I sat down face to face with a ton of amazing people, some who are represented within the artwork and those who aren’t.  This also allowed the artwork to be tide to people and industries that bring a well rounded story together.

1363191_500I sat down with educators, ranchers, farmers, vintners, orchardists, veterans, businessmen, authors and politicians.  Specifically, I sought out Pioneer Evergreen families.  We generally discussed growing up Evergreen or in Evergreen.  The overwhelming feeling is that the land provided them with food, wine, friendship, inspiration and joy. They brought continued inspiration through the design process.  Through contributing photos and stories, it brought further meaning to the artwork.  I think it’ll inspire the audience.  What inspired me was the warm, salt of the Earth nature everyone has.

snjose-06-patwin-earth-lodgesBut people can only tell you so much about what came before.  Descendants of Pioneers and old time residents could tell you about their parents’ and grandparents’ versions of Evergreen, but what about before the Spanish colonized the area?  Where do we confirm materials and accuracy for our Ohlone Tamien Muwekma Native Americans?  I headed back to the experts at the SJSU Anthropology Department for some inspiration.  I might also reach out to Native Muwekma organizations for an interview.

P1300677In addition to connecting with the proper resources and people, I found myself taking long drives and snaking through the Evergreen hills.  I was forming a connection to the land and roads.  It fuels my engine.  There’s nothing like watching a sunset in Evergreen go down.  This definitely adds to the artwork, even if it’s just added  justification for how beautiful Evergreen really is.  This kept me going through the creative process, but also adds further experience to some of the untouched hillsides needed throughout the collection.

12314282_198416020500512_5584157587879954674_oI am making my last finishing touches to the artwork, but because it comes from decisive places, it’s easy to write about later.  The blog will use all the research and interviews to tell the story along with artwork.  Evergreen gets to be my Muse and it’s been a wonderful experience getting in touch with where I’m from.



The Evergreen Timeline


press clip 1

I started by daydreaming about the perfect project.  Something that did something for everyone and representing something I felt good about.  I had a lot of success and discovered my signature at the Falafel Drive In.  Could I do that somewhere publicly?

The Evergreen Mural Walk is designed to narrate the story of Evergreen overtime.  I’m lived here for 30 years now.  When conceptualizing this project, I needed to be able to see that there was a steady story and a wealth of images to communicate my style.  Could I do a doodley, stimulating project with Evergreen as the theme?  Hmmm…..

Where do we start?

First, I started picking up images and laying them out.  But for my brainstorming, I like to work with paper.  Something I can visualize and move before considering how to create continuity between them.  Anyone who’s received a letter from me knows the paper counts.  So, I rolled out the robin’s paper and got taping.

P1300281 P1300283

Then, I got drawing.  This is what I came up this.  It’s bold and colorful, like our people.  It’s got black and white and sepia elements to honor our past.  A ton of brilliant points in Evergreen History, but do these time periods belong commingled or am I looking at something that needs to be linear?  Also, did any of these things deserve emphasis over the other?  I don’t think so.

evergreen proof labeled

So, using my physical timeline, I researched more totally into the Evergreen area.  Turns out, Evergreen was always changing throughout time.  It was exciting to note because suddenly, I was conceptualizing a much larger project.  Not one mural, but a series of murals.Evergreen historical timeline copy


All of the artwork can lucky come from within the research.  It’s amazing!  There’s so much here from the Village and community of Evergreen.  There will be no artistic caterwauling or psychedelic influences here.  It needs so supplementation or filler.  If it does need filling, we’re going to use fruit and canning imagery.  The Evergreen community has cradled heroic, amazing stories.  I can’t wait to paint them for you.  The more I discover about my neighborhood, the more inspired I am.



The overall vision is to communicate the ever-changing facade of Evergreen and to show off its strengths while bringing everyone together.  With 40 distinct murals, I can convey every 10 years with a redundant rolling hill theme.  Creating a little pride and generating a little tourism is going to help Evergreen sparkle.

bus stop vision 2 copy 2