Barbara Goldstein became Public Art Program Director for the City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs in 2004, and has since overseen the extensive development of public art at San Jose libraries, parks and community centers.

After studying architecture and fine arts at the Rhode Island School of Design, Goldstein spent the first part of her career teaching, writing and publishing about architecture. After becoming involved in arts policy, Goldstein initiated the Public Art Program for Los Angeles in 1991. She went on to lead the Public Art Program for Seattle for 11 years before moving to San Jose. Goldstein is perhaps best known for spearheading the installation of public artworks at the Norman Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Goldstein and the Office of Cultural Affairs recently completed an international design competition for the Climate Clock, a future public art piece set to be constructed at Diridon Station. She is currently involved in an initiative to illuminate downtown San Jose, along with the development of major new artwork for the San Jose Convention Center.

Name: Barbara Goldstein
Age: Over 60, I’ll say that.
Occupation: Public Art Director, City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs

How long have you lived and worked in San Jose?
Seven and a half years.

What brought you to San Jose?
I came to San Jose to direct the Public Art Program and particularly because I knew the Public Art Program was about to initiate an art and technology program at the airport, and that really interested me.

What do you like most about San Jose?
What I like most about San Jose is that it’s in the heart of Silicon Valley and it embraces the idea that taking risks and trying new things is good and that you learn by trying new things. There’s a lot of opportunity to innovate and initiate unusual projects. It’s an attitude I haven’t encountered in my previous work.

What has been your favorite project so far?
Definitely the airport. We were trying something that was brand new. We were creating an environment where artists could experiment with new technologies and create works that were both new and changing that would really embody the spirit of Silicon Valley.

How do you like to spend your time when you’re not at work?
I enjoy lifting weights, gardening and cooking. I also enjoy going to the movies and listening to live music.

Where are some of your favorite places in San Jose?
I would say the California Theatre, my back garden and the SoFa District.

If you could change one thing about San Jose, what would it be?
I would make sure there were lots of stores in all of the empty storefronts downtown and interesting stores on Santa Clara and First and Second streets. There are so many places that would be great if they were full.

Who is the most interesting person you’ve met in San Jose?
Oh, I can’t say Joel Slayton because he’s already said me, but there are several people. Who would I pick besides Joel? I’d say Ruth Tunstall Grant. She is a really interesting artist who initiated the arts school at San Jose Museum of Art so she had influence on many, many emerging artists. She also ran the art program and the Santa Clara County Children’s Shelter, so she changed many lives that way.