Taking the public art mural to a larger level

San Jose has grown leaps and bounds in its art culture over the years, and with the art box projects popping up all over the city, public art has been pumped back into other areas of the city beyond its cultural core. So why not expand on this idea of covering utilitarian items in the life with paint, by looking larger? Murals have been a large part of San Jose’s public art scene. As chronicled by Josh at The San Jose Blog, DT has many murals depicting significant events and ideas that make San Jose. So take the murals and go larger in scale. Like an art box on a street corner, buildings are also (in general) large boxes, though most would prove to be difficult canvases.

A mural painted on one side of a factory in Birrmingham, England

Except that in a poll that was conducted previously on ThinkBigger, the windowless ATT building on Almaden Blvd was voted as the worst looking building in DT, and the first people would choose to raze. But instead of destroying the server farm building, give it to local artists as a canvas. Although it has been used in the past as a projection screen, use its walls to create the largest mural in San Jose through a collaboration of San Jose artists, not unlike the art boxes. The building murals could expand beyond the ATT building on to other buildings. Maybe it could be just one side of a building, or completely cover the cement exterior of a parking garage,

A four story mural along New York's Highland Park

like on the corner of 3rd and San Carlos streets. But however the manifestation, it would add more intrigue and character by telling visual stories of the city.

Then expand the idea further. Paint the tops of the buildings in DT. After taking a tour of the 88 during a Condo Crawl, I realized just how obscene the rooftops of the buildings were in DT. Do murals on these too. Beyond just having views for those that daily occupy the business or residential highrises, think about the airplanes that constant fly over on approach to SJC.

Rooftop mural on an old brick building in New York City

San Joseans would be promoting their culture to every visitor flying into the city. Think of the statement that San Joseans could make about who we are, and what matters most to us, through a visual connection with our visitors across dozens of building roofs. Another option could be to paint each building roof solid or semi-solid colors, and once finished the whole picture could only been scene from satellite. With the constant use of mapping technology, anyone looking up San Jose would see a piece of art in the middle of the city. Either way it would help to harmonize the currently dreary and inharmonious rooftop landscape. Art is an expression of the people, and given the “canvases,” we could express our city’s culture while simultaneously drawing in interested eyes that once looked away, revolutionizing how public art is approached in San Jose.

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