Inside the SJMade store.

Gift Something Unique from Local Artists – SJ Made

I don’t want to increase your stress level, but the Holidays are almost here. Every year I try to come up with some local gift ideas or stores, for example the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz.

Window into SJMade store showing off their shopping totes.

A hodgepodge of ideas is the SJ Made pop-up store in downtown San Jose. Due to COVID-19 they offer you a chance to pick-up items that you purchased from their website. The sheer vastness of ideas, over 1200 products and counting, will make sure you’ll find gifts for everyone on your list.

Entrance to SJMade with opening hours.

These artists not only do pictures and postcards. There are flowers, cosmetics, jewelry, clothing and accessories, ceramics, and food gifts. And, apparently stickers and pins are a thing again.

It is great to see local artists get together and open these collective stores. It reminded me of Asheville or Portland. SJ Made is one of four micro-retail storefronts in the Moment mall. Next door are also The Source Zero, Aulala Design and BlackSheepMade to check out while you are on your shopping spree.

Moment mural in the parking garage for SJMade.

SJ Made
60 N. San Pedro St., San Jose

Monday, Wednesday, Sunday 12 to 4
Thursday 12 to 6
Friday, Saturday 10 to 6
Tuesday CLOSED

Do you give local gifts?

Forbes Mill Bridge in Los Gatos.

Admire the work of young artists at Forbes Mill Footbridge

Entrance of the Forbes Mill Museum (closed) in Los Gatos.

An outside gallery, the Forbes Mill Footbridge, consists of 156 panels of local art work. The bridge connects old town Los Gatos with Forbes Mill, a former flour mill and history museum.

The Forbes Mill Bridge is mainly the overpass for Highway 17, but since 1998 it also serves as an art gallery for the Los Gatos youth. 

It started as a summer program by the Los Gatos – Saratoga recreation. Selected artwork was digitally reproduced and placed on the bridge. These murals will be exchanged over time. 

Forbes Mill Bridge in Los Gatos.

A tribute to the artists is also given on the website of the Los Gatos Local History Research Collection.

As part of the Los Gatos Creek Trail you might pass the Forbes Mill Footbridge. If you start out your hike here please take some time to admire the art.

Have you seen the murals?

Resources:

https://patch.com/california/losgatos/los-gatos-forbes-mill-footbridge-murals-to-be-re-dedicated

Do you like seeing more works of young artists? You might want to check out the County Government Center in Santa Cruz – read my post about this: Admire young artists.

Little Free Library

Pick out a Book from a Free Library

Walking around the neighborhood, as we all do, you might have noticed a box offering books. Little Free Libraries are not a new invention. All started in 2009 by the late Todd Bol from Hudson, Wisconsin. He built the first Little Free Library as a tribute to his mother. Friends and neighbors liked the idea and inspired him to build more and he gave them away. The idea took over and in 2020 they surpassed the 100,000 mark with more than a 100 countries worldwide participating.

You can find a Free Little Library near you from the Free Little Library website map, but not all free libraries are registered. 

Little Free Library

If you feel inspired to build your own free library the Little Free Library offers library boxes and also advice for building your own.

You do not need to leave a book in order to take one. I know a lot of people have decluttered their homes recently, but there was also higher demand on these books while your favorite book store was only online. 

Little Free Library with succulents on top.

Considering the pandemic some free libraries now switched the books to offer canned food. Others made a seed library, so we can all start to grow our own vegetables.

Free libraries not only are a great way to share goods, some are also very creative little boxes.

Have you picked up a book from a little free library?

Interesting read about a a phone booth at the Los Gatos library: Call me Ishmael

Succulents at the Phelan Cactus Garden, Montalvo in Saratoga.

Recharge in the Cactus Garden at Montalvo

Montalvo is Saratoga’s first address for art and culture. Did you know they also have a cactus garden? I stumbled on this treasure when I visited the Loneliness exhibit. It is tucked away in the gated part of the Italianate Garden.

Fountain in the Italianate Garden at Montalvo, Saratoga.

Enter the gate and stroll past the rose bushes towards the fountain. The fountain creatures hanging there might not spit water right now, but are impressive nonetheless.

Large cactus supported by a belt at the Phelan Cactus Garden at Montalvo, Saratoga.

The succulents and cacti are imposing. Some so large they need to be propped up by a belt. Others stand tall like a monolith the size of a yard stick. The Phelan Cactus Garden was designed by Senator James Phelan in 1920 as a ‘showcase of interesting and unusual plants’. A magical little escape great for recharging.

Plant at the Phelan Cactus Garden at Montalvo, Saratoga.

Montalvo’s park hours are Monday – Thursday, 8am – 5pm and Friday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm.

Did you know about the Phelan Cactus Garden at Montalvo?

If you are interested in seeing more succulents I recommend the Arizona Cactus Garden at Stanford. 

Sound sculpture with mallets at Seven Seas Park in Sunnyvale.

Play the Sound-Sculptures at Seven Seas Park

The Seven Seas Park in Sunnyvale became the latest addition in 2016 of inclusive play parks for all ages. This little park has even a splash park, a dog park, and a half basketball court. One of the fun discoveries is the wind chimes that line the small round path around a grassy field.

One of the wind chimes at Seven Seas Park in Sunnyvale.

The sound sculptures stand man high and have mallets to invite you to play. I could not find any information about the artists. If you know who contributed this musical adventure, please let me know.

The landscape architects, SSA, did a beautiful job creating a nautical themed inclusive park. This park won the “Project of the Year” award in 2016 by the American Public Works Association. 

Pathway, hugging a grassy field, leading to one of the sound sculptures, Seven Seas Park in Sunnyvale.

Parking can sometimes be a challenge. Due to COVID-19 playgrounds might still be closed off. Check before you go and follow the recommended safety procedures.

Have you played the sound sculptures at Seven Seas Park? 

If you enjoy funky interactive sculptures you should also check out the Wind Walk in San Mateo.

Masked fisherman sculpture at Half Moon Bay.

Masks on Sculptures

The unfortunate fashion accessory of 2020, a facial covering, can also be spotted on various sculptures throughout the Bay Area.

Right now the smoke from the Santa Cruz and San Mateo wildfires have reached our city and exploring is on hold. I hope everyone is safe out there, especially because the heat wave isn’t over yet either!

Anyway, along the way I have started to photograph some sculptures with masks on. Thank you whoever thought this would be an additional statement.

Surfer sculpture on Cliff Dr. in Santa Cruz.

The surfer on Santa Cruz cliff walk for example can be usually spotted wearing some protective gear – until the no-maskers demonstrated in front of the sculpture. I wonder if there is a correlation?

Gay Liberation a sculpture of four all white painted people from George Segal at Stanford.

The ‘Gay Liberation’ sculpture from George Segal at Stanford was responsible covering up, because they have a hard time social distancing.

Biker sculpture by James Moore, at the Bay Trail in Palo Alto.

Another masked artwork I found was the biker at the Bay Trail in Palo Alto. This work is called ‘Bliss in the Moment’ by James Moore. I love Moore’s statement about his art: “I want my artwork to add something positive to the world. By exploring themes of hope, strength, and playful possibility, my sculpture conveys a positive message of what I feel it means to be human.”

We are all in this together!

Have you taken photos of masked sculptures?

Do you want to explore more sculptures in Stanford? I recommend checking out my page on 50 things to do in Stanford.

Ducks in the levee at Baylands Park, Sunnyvale.

Birdwatching in Sunnyvale’s Baylands Park

Anywhere by the Bay is a great spot for birdwatching. We walked the other day at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale. While we were pondering about which turn to make, a biker stopped and asked if we were looking for the birds? We weren’t, but our sense of adventure told us that we should follow his advice and turn right. “There are tons of birds!”, he said.

Birds at Baylands Park, Sunnyvale.

He was right. Once we crossed the levee a swarm of birds started their tree hopping, hoping we would not catch up with them. In the water were ducks and seagulls, and I believe a pair of egrets. I am not an avid birdwatcher, but it is fun nonetheless to see so many different kinds.

My favorite birds were black on top and white on the bottom with bright orange feet. If someone knows what they are, please let me know in the comment section below!

Usually volunteers from the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society offer free one-hour birding tours each first Wednesday at Baylands. Due to COVID-19 restrictions SCVAS has put together self-guided and virtual field trips. There is a great YouTube video from Mike Ambrose showing the winter birds of Baylands Park. 

Sign at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale that says: Sorry about the odor.

In the summer month an increased algae bloom can make the Baylands Park a bit smelly. The ponds are part of a solar salt farm. As the algae dies off, it produces hydrogen sulfide, H2S,  which has a characteristic odor of rotten eggs. 

Weeds covered in feathers at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale.

I did enjoy the weeds on our path covered in little feathers. A spontaneous art installation!

Where do you go bird watching?

If you want to explore more in Sunnyvale you might enjoy my article about 50 things to do in Sunnyvale

Black Lives Matter Mural on Hamilton St. in Palo Alto.

Drive by the BLM Art

While one California city (Redwood City) is in the news for removing their Black Lives Matter street mural, Palo Alto has blocked off the middle of the road for their colorful artwork.

City Hall in Palo Alto with the BLM letter's E and S.

Palo Alto’s BLM mural is in front of City Hall on Hamilton St. The public art commission hired 16  artist teams, each of them designing a letter. 

When I photographed each letter I noticed some cars slowing down and the drivers admiring the artwork. There were also some kids enjoying the letters.

Letter E of BLM mural in Palo Alto picturing Assata Shakur.

A controversy arose about one of the E’s picturing Assata Shakur, a Black Liberation Army fugitive and FBI most wanted. To my knowledge the mayor, Adrian Fine, declared the mural will stay as is. (see NBC News from July 16th, 2020 https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/fugitive-the-source-of-debate-over-black-lives-matter-mural-in-palo-alto/2327624/)

There is a petition out on change.org (http://chng.it/nsVCBzPvhC) to provide protection for the mural, to make this a lasting piece of art in Palo Alto.

What is your stand on the BLM in Palo Alto?

Appreciate the MLK Legacy

Appreciate the MLK Legacy

I have spent numerous hours on Stanford’s campus and found 50 things to do. Recently I came across the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute in an article by the Mercury News. The nation’s most comprehensive collection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s writings were entrusted by his widow, Coretta Scott King, in 1985 to Prof. Clayborne Carlson, who is Professor of American History at the university.

Front door of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford.

Sadly the institute, founded in 2005, is underfunded and still housed in its temporary place. Dr. Carlson, the director, will retire this August and so far no replacement to head the institute has been called. 

Why funding of MLK’s heritage is important might be answered by King’s speech “The other America” he gave 1967 at Stanford and, thanks to the Institute, can be watched on YouTube. It still rings true today with America divided in two nations, with different experiences depending on the color of your skin. Amazingly he also talks about the idea of a base income for all people.

Besides its temporary location the center has hosted a remarkable list of guests which includes the Dalai Lama and Jesse Jackson. In early June students came together and founded the #StandWithKing initiative to raise money for the institute. You can sign their petition on change.org or check out the website: bit.ly/StandWithKing  and donate some money to the cause.

Picture of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford.

To learn more about Martin Luther King Jr. the institute put together two online exhibits on the Google Arts & Culture site: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/martin-luther-king-jr-research-education-institute

Would you support the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute?

Resources:

https://thesixfifty.com/watch-martin-luther-king-jr-s-speech-at-stanford-university-about-the-other-america-523e7e05df7

Sign at Montalvo Art Center: ART is the highest form of HOPE

Find Hope in Art

Montalvo’s new exhibit “lone some”  almost feels like a self fulfilling art and is on point during a pandemic where here in the Bay Area we have been under shelter-in-place order since early March. On 25 independent sites around the Bay, including San Jose’s Museum of Textile and Quilts and at Montalvo’s public park, artists have created talking points about isolation and loneliness.

A bus stop in Atherton. The poster reads: Dig if you will the picture.... by Modesto Covarrubias.

Also on bus stations from Atherton to Redwood City there are messages to inspire the lonely viewer. Part of this series are posters from Modesto Covarrubias titled: Hear, There and Everywhere. These mantras, prayers, poems, and lyrics are supposed to summon the meaning of isolation and might help you to work through your predicaments. If you would like to connect with the artist and offer your thoughts, or favorite song about loneliness, you can call (408) 777-2103 and leave your input. You might also find billboards as part of the series around the Bay Area.

Artists of lone some include works by Lucas Artists Fellow Chloë Bass, Modesto Covarrubias, Jane Chang Mi, Leena Joshi, Susan O’Malley (1976-2015), and Alyson Provax

A 4 x 4 mirrors by Alyson Provax.  “You can’t deny that longing for the past.”

In the park at Montalvo there are messages etched in 4 x 4 mirrors by Alyson Provax. One for example reads: “You can’t deny that longing for the past.” The social distance signs at the park feel like part of the “lone some” exhibit with directives like: “No sitting, gathering, or picnicking.” Signs of times, food for thought. 

Sign at Montalvo: No sitting, gathering or picnicking.

Lone some will be on display until July 31st, 2020. A map of the widespread exhibit can be found on Montalvo’s website.

What does loneliness mean to you?

Former exhibit at Montalvo reviewed by me:

Exercise your Auditory Sense