Coming together to revitalize the San Jose art corridor
In spring of 2023, the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy and San Jose Walls partnered for the fourth time to expand the Guadalupe River Art Walk in downtown San Jose, the longest public art corridor in the Bay Area. Ruben Escalante, this year’s Artist-in-Residence, painted eight new murals honoring Chicanx fathers and their backgrounds.
“My upbringing and Chicanx background heavily informed this mural concept,” Escalante says. “Machismo runs deep in the Latinx community, and men are taught from a young age that it’s frowned upon to express their emotions. I was inspired by a video titled Why Latino Dads Don’t Say ‘I Love You’, and wanted to demonstrate that perhaps Latinx fathers won’t say ‘I love you,’ but they show it through actions.”
Escalante is the Director of the Teen Tech Center at Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana and draws artistic influence from their work empowering youth through art. This year during their residency, Escalante mentored seven youth artists between the ages of 11 and 18.
“For Ruben, mentorship is a form of love,” says Stacey Kellogg, Director of San Jose Walls. “The inclusion of mentorship in their residency is both a testament to their commitment to sharing opportunities for youth now, and echoes back to the inspiration for their murals, showcasing how love may be expressed through actions.”
The Guadalupe River Park Conservancy was founded in 1996 and continues to be the community leader for education, advocacy, and stewardship of the Guadalupe River Park & Gardens. During the five years since it was established, the San Jose Walls art festival has produced more than 70 murals and art installations throughout San Jose. In their fourth year of partnership together, these two organizations have brought the shared vision of a natural public art gallery to the Guadalupe River Park & Gardens to make it a permanent cultural destination. Microsoft is honored to contribute funding for this important and meaningful work.
“The Guadalupe River Park weaves together many distinct neighborhoods, and it is therefore important for our park to showcase the diverse facets of culture and identity that make up San Jose,” says Gillian Naegele, Guadalupe River Park Conservancy’s Project Manager, in a press release. “By including a wide variety of stories in the Art Walk, we hope that San Jose residents can embrace our shared community experiences.”