When revealing their city of residence in more respected places like San Francisco or Los Angeles, San Jose dwellers are often met with the question, “Why?” To the uninitiated, the city seems flat, uncultured, flatulent, stunted and dangerous. Even certain locals revel in fantasies where they are able to move to a more cultured location (I usually suggest they go and live in a barrel of yogurt—nothing more cultured than that).

Contrary to the beliefs of those folks, San Jose is doing quite well in the culture department, growing right under the noses being thumbed at it. One of many examples of this growth is Shona Sanzgiri’s pop-up at Black and Brown: “On the Cusp.”

Shona is a South Bay native with a lot of frequent flyer miles. Most of those miles were earned flying to LaGuardia Airport, which is probably why his show will include artists from NYC. He’s also invited artists from San Francisco, Los Angeles and (obviously) San Jose, to share the walls and racks of Black and Brown.

On the Cusp represents Shona’s efforts to bridge the distances that separate artistic centers, and the space between art and consumables. As Sanzgiri puts it, “What would it be like if you put skaters into a bookstore next to fashion designers, pornographers, photographers and yuppies? What would that conversation look like? Where could that happen? In a place as unassuming and centralized as San Jose.”

Ideas like these come at the price of worn-out shoes, and a passport littered with border-crossing stamps. “When I was 20, I went to school in Spain and met some subversive artists who worked in advertising and business. But they had fascist haircuts and could articulate their feelings. I didn’t get it. I thought artists were supposed to look like plumbers and be purposely elusive and incapable of sincerity. These guys were the exact opposite—brash, lucid, genuine,“ Sanzgiri says.

That experience seems to have inspired Sanzgiri to create moments and content in which the audience gets the benefit of being surprised, and challenged to recognize the world as a place where things are pleasantly not how we assume they are. When asked about the separation of art and consumable products Shona replies, “A pager was and is such a thing: it was used as an access point for communication, then it evolved into the preferred tool for drug dealers, and now it’s kitsch.”

He explains “On the Cusp” as “…a response to a perceived lack of a middle-ground—not just economically, but culturally. It’s also because I very strongly believe in the people—most of whom are forced to go to other cities in search of work or culture—and because I think San Jose’s history is fascinating.”