360° Coverage : Silicon Valley's Secret Subculture, Not So Secret Anymore

2 Updates
Silicon Valley's Secret Subculture, Not So Secret Anymore
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

Silicon Valley's Secret Subculture, Not So Secret Anymore

Apr 15 2014, 6:34am CDT | by

Silicon Valley has many strengths, but a classic complaint is that the region has no artistic culture.  People moan that it lacks the funky, artsy vibe for which San Francisco is famous.  Given that...

Filed under: news

 
 
 

24 weeks ago

Silicon Valley's Secret Subculture, Not So Secret Anymore

Apr 15 2014, 6:34am CDT | by

Silicon Valley has many strengths, but a classic complaint is that the region has no artistic culture.  People moan that it lacks the funky, artsy vibe for which San Francisco is famous.  Given that innovation and entrepreneurship thrive in a culture of diversity, eclecticism, and creativity, then why has the Valley lacked a complementary edgy art, music, and literary scene?  That question has been fair game to ask in the past.  In recent years, however, things have changed noticeably.  An emerging subculture movement in San Jose has burst into visibility.  San Jose, some might say, is like the new San Francisco.

At the vanguard of this movement is an art gallery named Anno Domini.  They run a monthly street festival in downtown San Jose called South FIRST FRIDAYS.  They also organize a massive annual event, the SubZERO Festival, which drew 15,000 people to the streets last June.  If you talk with local artists, they praise Cherri Lakey and Brian Eder, the founders of Anno Domini, for nurturing the growth of the region’s creative ecosystem.

Recently, my firm worked with Anno Domini to produce San Jose’s official welcome celebration for Global Innovation Week.  The event – “Art of Innovation“ – was sponsored by the City of San Jose and featured dozens of local artists, including aerial acrobats, homemade guitar players, performance artists, real-time poets, eclectic painters, a laptop orchestra, and digital media artists, among many others.

I asked Cherri and Brian about their gallery, and their entrepreneurial efforts at nurturing a creative arts scene in San Jose and the rest of Silicon Valley.  Here are the stories and insights they shared.

Victor Hwang:  Silicon Valley was not the easiest place to launch a startup avant-garde art gallery.  Why did you build Anno Domini the way you did?

Anno Domini:  In the mid-nineties, we were driving back and forth to San Francisco daily from our home – a 1200-square foot warehouse space we rented above a welding shop – in Mountain View.  The internet as we know it was creeping in. And out on the streets, a visual revolution was underway.  Street art was emerging and attempting to claim some independence from the confines of graffiti.

This was the impetus. When the time came to choose where we would start Anno Domini, we looked to San Francisco, and then back at San Jose. San Francisco would have been an easier beginning for us; the culture was more like an incubator. San Jose, on the other hand, had a policy of zero tolerance out on the streets, and culturally it was stifled. To us at that time, it looked like the perfect place to effect Change.

Hwang:   The South FIRST FRIDAYS event has become a staple of the region’s creative ecosystem.  How does something like that begin?  

Anno Domini:  At the tail end of 2005, the opportunity arose for us to take over a space that was our city’s first art theater, formerly known as the Camero One. Our new address was on South 1st Street. We held our openings on the first Friday of every month since our early days. We just did it to help folks remember to come out without having to see a poster, or receive something in the mail or by email at the time.

So it’s January 2006, we’re all moved in to our new space, and our next opening is in February on the first Friday. We know our people are coming out to Anno Domini, and we’re well aware that culture doesn’t thrive in a vacuum. So we sent out an email to the art organizations on our street at that time, shared with them that we were launching South FIRST FRIDAYS, and if you would like to join us you needed to stay open late, 7–11pm, be free and open to the public, and help get the word out. There were four participating venues when we launched that first event. It wasn’t much to brag about, but it was a start.

Hwang: What motivates you to keep doing the hard work you do?

Anno Domini:  You have to understand that we didn’t have the luxury of most big cities with a thriving art scene. There were so many artists with little to no opportunities to exhibit here. That was responsible for a constant exodus of young creatives for years. This definitely was and continues to be a motivating factor for us. Something had to be done. We started reaching out to local businesses with empty wall space and asked them if we could help curate their walls in exchange for promoting them during the art walk. It gave us more to work with, and we’ve been able to create more opportunities for local artists, as well as show the impact of art and culture in the local economy.

Hwang:  Where does the local artistic community gets its energy come from?  

Anno Domini:  San Jose artists, by necessity, are incredibly determined.  When you meet a truly talented artist in San Jose that has lived here for any amount of time, what you come to recognize is their relentless nature. It’s not lost on any of us living here and working in the arts that there might be an easier path somewhere else. However, living somewhere where things are easier doesn’t guarantee that your work will be any more profound. In fact, it often leads to insipid content.

Our city is very spread out geographically so getting together with other creatives on a regular basis often takes extra effort. In addition to that challenge, the vast majority must work incredibly hard at day jobs to make ends meet, plus they’re going to school, raising a family, etc. and doing their art on top of all that because it’s their calling./>/>

Hwang: How does being close to San Francisco and being in Silicon Valley affect the San Jose creative community?

Anno Domini:  San Francisco is very supportive of artists and values them and their work, whereas San Jose seems very focused on the tech industry and all the infrastructure that must support luring, maintaining, and benefitting these companies.  But the arts still seem to be viewed as “a nice thing to have.”  Although this is not an ideal foundation for artists, it does sometimes serve a purpose in that San Jose artists create works that are true and authentic to themselves… not swayed by art market trends because there are very few commercial galleries to appeal to anyway. Another byproduct is that they are very kind and supportive of each other, but hold each other to a higher standard in their art practice.  They aren’t afraid to work hard to make things happen for the entire arts community.

Hwang:  You have identified and showcased some of the biggest names in street art – David Choe and Shepard Fairey, for example – many years before they were known to others.  How do you identify great artwork for your gallery?

Anno Domini:  An ever elusive answer but….”we know it when we see it” is the most accurate response. There are many factors, but first and foremost is the initial impact it has on us when we first come across it.  Beyond the visceral, we think about the artist’s message and intention, their contribution to moving our culture forward and, potentially, to art history itself.

Hwang:  Over the past decade, street art has become popular and mainstream. What do you think about that change, and how has it affected you?

Anno Domini:  The biggest change is that we have fewer heated debates with art industry people as to whether or not “street art” is “real art” but other than that we are unchanged. We expected there to be a point when an artist goes from “street artist” to just “artist” in their career. But the activism, the intention to put an inspired image out there, at risk of being fined or jailed, has always been, and will always be, and that’s the part we still see and want to share with people in our gallery. There are more people thinking art on the street is a shortcut marketing tactic, but the artists we look for are the ones that are doing it because of the change they want to see in the world, not because they just want to advertise their new exhibit down the block.

Victor W. Hwang is CEO of T2 Venture Creation, a Silicon Valley venture firm.

 
Update
2

4 weeks ago

Khazanah throws MAS RM6b lifeline

Aug 29 2014 5:01pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 30, 2014 1:15 AMKHAZANAH Nasional will inject RM6 billion (SS$2.4 billion) over three years to resuscitate loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) under a recovery plan that includes even an Act of Parliament. Other key moves are migrating its operations, assets and liabilities to a new company (NewCo) and slashing the workforce ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 
Update
1

4 weeks ago

MAS posts loss of RM307m for Q2

Aug 28 2014 5:00pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 29, 2014 1:13 AMMALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) registered a loss of RM307 million (S$122 million) for the second quarter to end-June, but warned of worse to come in the second half when the "full financial impact of the double tragedi ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Serious about taking forward civil nuclear deal: Modi
Washington, Sep 30 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Tuesday that he has conveyed to US President Barack Obama that India is "serious about taking forward" the civil nuclear deal with the US and resolving issues.
 
 
Sought access for Indian companies to American markets: Modi
Washington, Sep 30 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Tuesday that he has urged US President Barack Obama to take steps that would help Indian service companies get access to the US economy.
 
 
Unique 'signature' found in ageing brain
London, Sep 30 (IANS) In a discovery that may lead to treatments that can slow or reverse cognitive decline in the elderly, researchers have found evidence of a unique "signature" in the ageing brain.
 
 
Why drinking makes a smile more contagious among men
New York, Sep 30 (IANS) Alcohol induces a sort of "social bravery" among men, disrupting processes that would normally prevent them from responding to another person's smile, says an interesting study.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Hong Kong students threaten to occupy government offices
Hong Kong, Sep 30 (IANS/EFE) Student demonstrators have decided to step up their street protests and are planning to eventually take over and occupy government offices, leaders of the Hong Kong Federation of Students...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
US slaps sanctions on Pakistan-based terror groups
Washington, Sep 30 (IANS) The US Tuesday targeted two terrorist groups based in Pakistan by slapping sanctions on their leader and financial supporters. The Department of Treasury branded Fazl-ur Rehman Khalil, the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Elton John performed at Neil Patrick Harris' wedding
Neil Patrick Harris has revealed Sir Elton John gave a surprise performance at his wedding. The 'Gone Girl' star tied the knot with his long-term partner David Burtka at a castle near Perugia in Italy on September 6 and...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Molly Sims pregnant again
Molly Sims is pregnant with her second child. The model-and-actress has announced she is expecting another baby with her husband, film producer Scott Stuber, and she can't wait for their two-year-old son Brooks to...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Sadie Frost says Kate Moss oozes 'sex'
Sadie Frost thinks Kate Moss ''radiates sex''. The 49-year-old actress-and-producer has been friends with the supermodel for decades and says her aura has an permanently erotic element to it. Speaking to the new issue...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Hamas wants Islamic state on all Palestinian lands: Official
Gaza, Sep 30 (IANS) A senior Hamas official announced Tuesday that his movement still believes in establishing an Islamic state on all the lands of Palestine. Mahmoud al-Zahar, the Hamas strongman, said in a ceremony...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Asian Games: Indian men and women in semifinals
Incheon, Sep 30 (IANS) The Indian men and women's kabaddi teams made it to the semifinals of the 17th Asian Games after topping their respective groups here Tuesday. The men's team, record six time champions, brushed...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Israeli settlers seize houses in east Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Sep 30 (IANS) Dozens of Jewish settlers, escorted by heavy police force, took over at least seven empty buildings in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan in east Jerusalem Tuesday. The buildings are...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Indian men paddlers in Asiad pre-quarters
Incheon, Sep 30 (IANS) Indian men paddlers advanced to the doubles pre-quarterfinals after winning their respective matches of the 17th Asian Games at the Suwon Gymnasium here Tuesday. First up, the pair of Achanta...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
IS releases third video of British hostage
Beirut, Sep 30 (IANS/EFE) The Islamic State (IS) Sunni radical organisation has published a third video of British journalist and hostage John Cantlie in which he criticizes US President President Barack Obama's...
Read more on Politics Balla