Strolling through SoFA’s monthly local art walk
THE SANTA CLARA
October 8, 2015
My first “First Friday” began in Caffe Frascati, where I was drawn in by the booming voice of an opera singer (Frascati hosts a monthly Opera Night). The cozy cafe replicates the Italian coffee shop experience, offering everything from a cappuccino to an authentic panini. Tempted as I was by their food selection, I held out for something more indulgent.
Next door to Caffe Frascati is Original Joe’s, which has been a San Jose institution since 1956. It’s a classic Italian-American joint: waiters in tuxedos, big red booths and portions that could easily feed three pregnant women.
Growing up, I came to Original Joe’s twice a year with my family during our trips to San Jose. Ordering is always the most difficult part of dining at there, as the menu has well over fifty equally tempting options.
I forewent my usual order of chicken parmigiana and instead requested a 14 oz. sirloin steak with a side of ravioli (it was my cheat day). Welcomed by the warm, inviting atmosphere and energized by the buzzing First Friday vibes, I ate my dinner in a disgustingly short time frame. Consequently, I experienced the rest of the evening with a bulging food baby.
In an attempt to work off the slab of meat and heaping bowl of pasta I had just shoved into my face hole, I began the self-guided art walk. First up was Anno Domini, a place with an interior that vaguely resembled the mansion from “Eyes Wide Shut” (though no password was required). Incense and religious chanting filled the air, creating an equally occult and artistic atmosphere.
The gallery displayed Ken Davis’ “We Are Savages” exhibit, which presented artwork in the form of cynical signs painted on mirrors. “A Cell is Hell” and “Devices Rules Everything Around Me” condemned overuse of technology. Other signs included “The Block is Hot,” “Do You Have Any Tobacco” and an aborted alphabet that ended at F and substituted a rude two word phrase for the rest of the letters.
Next, I entered the American Gun Show exhibit, populated with swagbois draped in cologne, off-duty programmers and hip old ladies with jangly accessories. The gallery meditated on firearms. “Gun Jesus Gold” portrayed the Messiah being crucified on an uzi, x-rays showed bullets lodged inside of people, and “Machismo” replaced the barrels of guns with dildos. The exhibit provoked a timely reflection on gun fascination.
Looking for more light-hearted works, I continued along the art walk and entered the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. The aptly named exhibit, “Found/Made” displayed quilts made from found, formerly discarded materials.
In the silent showroom,works included an eagle with “Hail Satan” tattooed on his neck, a massive American flag with fragmented stars and an axe-wielding skeleton riding a snarling tiger.
I stopped last at an active pottery workspace. An older mohawked man molded a vase the size and shape of a thick thigh. Tenured artists enticed curious patrons to take lessons. Ceramics in various stages of development stuffed the shelves. “We Want The Funk” bumped from the loudspeaker and blended with the three-chord anthems jammed by the garage band next door.
San Jose catches a cultureless reputation. But the SoFA district bucks that, offering classic and cutting edge, steak and pho, opera and punk rock. I smiled at the dense mingling of folks in a city so diverse and sprawling. It won’t be my last First Friday.
Contact Jimmy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.