Gallery 408 • a project of Local Color

Local Color is launching a mural arts space, Gallery 408, at 27 S. 1st St. in downtown San José. I’ve been getting more involved with them recently so I joined other artists recently to help paint it up.

Originally formed as the Exhibition District, they’ve been around for a few years coordinating mural work including the 100 Block mural I participated in earlier this year. As part of the efforts to create opportunities for artists, they also seek out “interim use and activation” – finding otherwise-unused building spaces to repurpose into artist studios, even if only temporarily. Their first artist studio location was at 27 S. 1st St, in a former Ross Dress-for-Less in downtown San José. They emptied it out except for the wire shoe racks which were used to demarcate artist studio spaces. It opened in early 2017, and it was originally projected to only be there for maybe 6 months at most; a Knight Foundation grant helped extend it quite a bit beyond that.

As an interim space it will be redeveloped by the building owners at some point, so the Local Color crew have been actively seeking out other artist studio spaces and are making those available as they can. In the meantime the original space has been cleared out and repurposed into a mural arts center, Gallery 408.

The call went out for local artists to contribute murals, so within the last week many artists (maybe 2 dozen?) have transformed the space. I claimed a long low space near the front – the area that used to house the registers – below Mario Dimas‘s impressive Mayan/Aztec-themed imagery and across from Patron‘s gigantic dense comic art.

I was thinking about the general theme of reclaiming and reusing space and latched onto the idea of the physical markers that signal that. I thought about wildflowers (natural markers), and the little flags planted to show pipes or property lines, and safety cones that mark an area as in transition. They’re each an attention-getting orange so they made for an interesting shifting pattern. I opted to continue the vaguely-stained-glass look I used for my ArtBox earlier this year. Peek through the windows and you can see it!