A First Look at 01Sj
By Gary Singh/Photos by Felipe Buitrago
DURING THE opening ceremonies for the 01SJ Global Festival of Art on the Edge, Luis Valdez made an appearance and wowed the crowd with a Mayan performance justifying Robert Graham’s Quetzalcoatl statue in Plaza de Cesar Chavez as “art & technology.” Metro didn’t take notes, but it had something to do with how the Mayans, not the Hindus, invented the zero and that the coil of the statue referenced a spiral dance of some sort.
Think about all this for a second: Legendary playwright, actor, producer, filmmaker, SJSU graduate and lifelong pal of Cesar Chavez himself, Luis Valdez justifying what’s commonly referred to as the “poop statue” in Cesar’s own park as “art & technology” to open the 01SJ Festival. It just doesn’t get any more “San Jose” than that, folks. Wow.
Valdez was only one speaker at the ceremony, of course. Joel Slayton of the CADRE Lab for New Media at SJSU mastered most of the ceremonies. Mayor Chuck Reed made an appearance, corporate bigwigs and artists alike showed up and everyone then wandered over to City Hall for Craig Walsh’s video projection, which looks like a psychedelic set of tentacles creeping up the face of the rotunda.
The entire atmosphere was festive, and a variety of folks congregated about. Kids played on the steps while the band the Mumlers performed. People shot video left and right. The entire event had a rocking street festival feel to it. “This feels like Europe,” one person said.
And the itinerary continued over at SJSU, where Eddo Stern’s installation Portal, Wormhole, Flythrough sat in front of Tower Hall. An octagonal portal featuring 3D time tunnel video spinning in the middle, the structure lit up the otherwise darkened areas of the campus.
Right next to the installation, folks gathered around Tristan Shone, who was right there creating layers of sound with his Drone Machines, revamped industrial machinery he’d converted into sound makers. Nothing new, but it was great to see that stuff out on the grass at SJSU.
Finally, the artists’ party closed out the night at Paragon inside the Hotel Montgomery. Throughout the entire opening evening, the vibe was not unlike the vibe when the SoFA Street Fair first began in 1992, not content-wise but more in the sense of something new and unique-to-San Jose finally happening. There was an “about freakin’ time” vibe to the whole shooting match. And you just wanted to cross your fingers and hope that the City won’t screw this one up.