The city of San Jose has a raw, DIY art community that has been supported largely by Juan Carlos Araujo and Jennifer Ahn, who have spent years programming large-scale murals around the city, and curating gallery shows at their space, Empire Seven Studios. 2017 was their golden year, the year they threw themselves into their very own festival, working tirelessly with creative partners MTCA and Universal Grammar to produce many new public art projects made all at once by some of their favorite artists, including several San Jose locals.
Once again, POW! WOW! has created an electric vibration of art-making and creative experiences for new audiences in a new city. San Jose (known for the Sharks, Silicon Valley, and that Dionne Warwick song) enthusiastically welcomed the artists to town, and perspectives shifted. Artist Lauren Napolitano said it best in an anecdotal post from the week, “To the neighbor lady who screamed on the first night about how much she did not want this mural, and then came out thanking us for the beautiful work at the end of the week... thank you. You are the reason we do this.”
As the festival trend continues to balloon and more blank walls are transformed into content to be considered, judgement will run rampant, and shifting those negative, staunch opinions is what makes art meaningful. Congrats to San Jose and the POW! WOW! crew for opening the door.
If you find yourself in San Jose, don’t miss the new work by artists who hustled hard in a mad heatwave to make these walls come alive. The lineup included Jet Martinez, Jeff Meadows, TRAV MSK, Lacey Bryant, Aaron de la Cruz, Casey Gray, Adele Renault, Robbie Api, Roan Victor, Amine Rastagr, Ricky Watts, Ben Henderson, Lauren Napolitano, Mesngr, Sean Boyles, Griffin, Ken Davis, Girafa, Jeff Gress, and me, Kristin Farr. Thank you to POW! WOW! San Jose for the wild and wonderful week.
Photos by POW! WOW! founder Jasper Wong