South First Friday

South CHOPPERS: Amir Esfahani's 'Bobcat' shows at Art Ark.

By sheer Coincidence, this week we received a press release announcing that downtown San Jose had been designated "one of America's top ArtPlaces for 2013." Even with the corporate carapace (ArtPlaces is "an initiative of national and regional foundations and major banks to accelerate creative place making across the United States"), the point is well taken. Downtown has become a vibrant spot for creative expression—and one of the main contributors to that happy fact has been the monthly South First Friday art walks. That might be a good starting point for some grant money from ArtPlaces.

This installment of South First Friday comes with some new wrinkles. Two venues have been added to the mix: EcoMonster in the refurbished Sperry Station on North Third Street presents animal paintings with an urban edge by Jordan Maliksi, while the ZERO1 Garage features a cinematic installation by Michael Joaquin Grey, the first solo exhibit at the space. Also a first: TechShop San Jose mounts a resident-artist show by Darius B'Alexander. Meanwhile, a venerable SoFF participant, SLG Art Boutiki, says goodbye to its current location (don't worry, they'll be opening a new space soon off The Alameda) with a "Do It Yourself Art Show" and music by Grooveyard Shift and Scribe Sayer.

Among the many shows, "Assembling the Pieces: Reconstructing Memory & Hybrid Identity" at MACLA is especially noteworthy. This two-person exhibit foregrounds the work of Tessie Barrera-Scharaga and Samuel Rodriguez, two artists from San Jose. Barrera-Scharaga uses familiar objects and video in her site-specific installation, which cuts across a wide swath of contemporary anxieties, from violence to ecological crisis. Rodriguez creates fractured and multifaceted portraits in pursuit of questions of identity in a multicultural world. His Fractions, a mixed-media work from 2012, graces this week's cover. For South First Friday, the artists will talk about their images and ideas.

Other shows to keep in mind include "Deciphering the Ash of Effigies" by British artists Joseph Loughborough at Anno Domini; "Cross Pollination," a highly diverse show by art faculty and staff from local community colleges at Art Ark; "Possessed," a group show of skateboard photographers at Seeing Things Gallery, along with a video by Justin Albert; and "Always Have Your iPhone With You," a show promoting the many virtues of the iPhone as a camera and the apps that accrue to it, by Nadia Matta-Toledo.

As always, the art comes with music. Andy Dela Cruz performs at Art Ark Gallery; John Worley pays tribute to Miles Davis at Pagoda; and Containher and the Star People appear in front of San Jose Stage.


Friday, March 1; 7-11pm; free

South First Street and environs, San Jose

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