Several San Jose galleries and venues, such as the San Jose Museum of Art and the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, provide access to a variety of artwork from local and out-of-town artists, but there are also opportunities to discover art outside on the streets of San Jose. The South First Street corridor provides several options for street-art discovery. Here are five of our favorites.

Anno Domini Art & Design

Anno Domini Art & Design, Various Artists
366 South First Street (between San Carlos & San Salvador)
Anno Domini, a thriving center for San Jose’s local art and design scenes, presents one of the larger, eye-catching murals in downtown. Created by eight different artists, the mural displays several unique works painted on the side parking lot wall of San Salvador Street. From the far left scene—the man who is apologizing to his girlfriend by knocking on her front door with flowers in hand—the combination of individual styles and personalities represent San Jose’s diverse artistic culture. 

A Place In Mind

“A Place In Mind” by Jose Arenas, Mike Torchia & Oscar Lopez (2009)
South First Street at West San Salvador Street
Although this mural is on a back wall in a secluded parking lot, it’s hard not to notice this remarkable piece of artwork. The mural depicts the face of a boy with brown hair and bold eyebrows, eyes closed and lips pursed in a dream. Ceramic pots of flowers surround the boy’s face, their stems reaching as if they are coming alive in the midst of blocks of color against the black background. Near the middle of the mural, large pink and blue circles border pictures of a house, or maybe another sentiment to the artists’ childhood memories. On the other side of the circles, a little girl, brown-haired just like the boy, crouches among the flowers.

A Forest of Bamboo

“A Forest of Bamboo” by Paul J. Gonzalez (2008)
Past the corner of South First Street at San Salvador Street
Among the restaurants, banks, bars, and mini-marts of South First Street, Paul J. Gonzalez’s mural of panda bears in a bamboo forest borders a real bamboo garden. The pandas climb on bamboo and a mother panda plays with her cub. The mural utilizes a mixture of light and dark greens with a contrast of warm browns for the foreground to liven up what would be an otherwise drab fence.

Sidewalk Structures

Sidewalk Structures by Artist Unknown
Corner of South First Street at East San Carlos Street
Camouflaged outside of Original Joe’s restaurant, it’s easy to miss this small but impressive artwork. Viewed from afar, the cemented rocks and the red bricks on the metal utility boxes deceive the eye into thinking they must be part of Original Joe’s. However, an up-close look reveals a replica of the Four Points restaurant by Sheraton, across the street. The other side of the utility box is disguised as a silver car stopping at the stoplight, along with the wave of traffic. Look for similar sidewalk structures at the Chamber of Commerce and the Cheesesteak Shop.

Unknown Title

Unknown Title, Andy Gouveia (2008)
83 South Second Street at San Fernando Street
Presented on a red brick wall, Andy Gouveia utilizes his surface as part of the mural. Pastel colors of blues, greens, and yellows dominate the mural, presenting Silicon Valley’s transformation from agrarian culture to the present. The mural presents a story from Native origin passed down for generations—spirits of the tortoise, the coyote, and the eagle marked in white, overseeing acres of land, from mountains to rivers to our cities.