Explore and Enjoy Arts Locally

Arts and Culture are words used quite often to describe the vibrancy of cities; particularly big cities looking to attract business, tourists and new residents. City folk have enjoyed arts and culture entertainment for centuries, which has been funded both privately and publicly. It is not uncommon for people to travel out of state and even internationally for festivals that explore various unique arts and culture.

Residents of a particular region will usually travel closer to home to experience arts and culture. For example, people in the Bay Area drive over an hour to San Francisco (SF) to partake in the Arts. For many of those that seek out the Arts in SF, their first thought is not about the city’s crime rate or road conditions but rather about the entertainment. They will spend $20-$40 on gas, their time driving back and forth, $20-$30 to park, and in some places navigate the sidewalks through panhandlers, alcoholics, drug users, drug dealers, etc. to arrive at a venue to be entertained and escape from their daily lives.

I have traveled north many times to see unique art, one-of-a-kind venues and paid handsomely in time and money to experience it. However, I value art closer to home without all the obstacles and safety concerns. Last week, I was able to enjoy the world premiere play, “Death of a Novel.” What a fantastic show with a full house at our own San Jose Repertory Theater. Powerful monologues, witty banter and racy material all in our downtown.

A criticism of the classic Arts like theater and opera is that the audience is mostly geriatric. Well, if you ever have been on the fence about seeing a play, this is the one to see. For those under 50 who may have been turned off or simply not interested in theater, this is a show for you. The play ties in social media, deception, profanity, sex and a story that you are not sure how it will end.

In San Jose, we are very fortunate to live in a place where people have devoted years of their lives providing entertainment for the region both Downtown and other locations, like the new Renegade Theater Experiment in the Rose Garden. 

This week the Zero1 Biennial returns to Downtown displaying art and technology on a grand scale. The last Zero1 Biennial in 2010 attracted 47,000 visitors to Downtown, which resulted in a great crowd, full restaurants and hotel room nights. Zero1 is funded mostly by foundations and corporate sponsors, however, the city of San Jose has allocated $68,000 from the $13.1 million Hotel Tax fund. In past events, ZeroOne artists like the Rockwell Group are famous for lighting up the City Hall with interactive art comprised of lights.

With all the madness and chaos cities face across the country with reduced revenues and reduced services, this does not stop the individual resident from pursuing their intellectual curiosities or experiencing sheer escapism through entertainment. As humans, we seek many different facets in life beyond shelter and food. One of which is connecting with others in the physical world and enjoying a common experience providing a cultural literacy that we can discuss and relate to one another. In a small farm town it may be a barn dance; in San Jose we have a substantial variety of arts and culture.

If you would like to volunteer at the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden then join me and the Friends of the San Jose Rose Garden this Saturday at 9am. This particular volunteer effort will be done in the memory of Ivan Kolte. Ivan was a 94-year-young San Josean who loved the Rose Garden and passed away recently, joining his deceased wife and high school sweetheart.

Pierluigi Oliverio is a San Jose councilmember for District 6.


  1. Here we go again, on how San Jose is a better city then San Francisco.
    Why are you so out of touch.
    Have you noticed downtown San Jose at all???? There is nothing there!
    No restaurants, no nice lounges, no entertainment.
    Let’s compare.
    San Francisco Zoo vs Happy Hollow.
    California Academy of Science vs Tech Museum
    Golden Gate Park vs Cezar Chaves Park
    Pier 39 vs Alviso

    As for as crime goes it’s even, you and the mayor did that all on your own.

    I get more for my dollar in San Francisco.
    The City of San Jose has spent Three to five Billion dollars on redevelopment and has nothing to show for it.

    You can’t by character.

    I more thing, how much did the new sidewalks at rose garden cost us? What was wrong with the old one’s?

  2. Are you living in another world, PJ?  Don’t you know that San Jose doesn’t have much of a downtown at all. It’s so dead and sleepy with not much to do.  All you need to do is go to Downtown Toronto, and you’ll see that the city is obsessed with its downtown.  The city is so alive with people from the suburbs and the nearby communities flocking to Downtown Toronto for entertainment and shopping and go clubbing, too.  They’re building the downtown area like crazy with all kinds of highrises ranging from condos to offices.  Like I said, the city is so fixated on downtown, unlike San Jose, which is so fixated on suburbs and the outlying areas.  Wake up, PJ, and smell the cup of coffee!

  3. Mr Oliverio…
      I’m guessing that you’re truly living in La-La land.  You forgot to mention that one must attend downtown affairs during hours of daylight.  Have you been downtown on any given night during hours of darkness Mr. Oliverio?  It truly is scary.  It would be safer if you went with a police officer….no wait,they don’t like you…..never mind. 

      But seriously, you could go down to the freak show at South second and Fountain Alley and watch the crack cocaine show.  Or, venture down to the Monterey & Alma Steet area where the “No-Tell Hotels” are situated and watch the Ladies sell their wares.  Lastly, you can get a front row seat to a real live gang fight at King & San Antonio or Winchester & Cadillac. 

    Mr Oliverio….You are a class act. City of San Jose Mayor material.  Keep up the great articles!

  4. Several years ago the San Jose Symphony was forced into bankruptcy by the musician’s union leaving Mr. and Mrs. Galt with useless season tickets. Then they reorganized into something called Symphony Silicon Valley, taking with them the money they’d stolen from us. I view “The “Arts” in San Jose with a very jaundiced eye and will not patronize city subsidized orchestras, theaters, museums, festivals, or any other pretentious crap that the leftist crooks who run this city set up in a futile attempt to turn San Jose into a “big league city”.

  5. Simply put, San Jose is what it is… nothing more, nothing less.  Yes, after spending $3,000,000,000 (3 billion dollars) or more, we, the taxpayers, have very little to show for it.  Once again, government intervention has shown its mettle, a failed downtown in SJ. 

    I find it amusing that all of the elements of vice in the area – drugs, gangs, drunks, hookers, pimps and politicians – seem to be doing far better than the targeted business beneficiaries of that 3 billion dollars.

  6. PLO you are an absolute joke. Each article that you write shows your lack of ability to see things in a normal light. You truly dont get it. You are a small mind for a small town. SJ cant hold a candle to SF when it comes to arts and entertainment! Not even close. What are you smoking?

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