Montalvo Art Center – “A Path Forward: Honoring Ohlone Land & Spirit”

This feature is also available on Spotify, Apple Podcast, and YouTube.

Francisco Graciano has been creating art in San José for as long as he can remember. His multi-disciplinary practices include sculpture, painting, music, and tattoos. His work centers on themes of evolution and human experience that follow a ‘continuous line’ and the many factors encountered through life that develop who a person may become. The ‘continuous line’ used to describe his wire sculptures is literally manifested in the unbroken materials he used to create three-dimensional impressions of the natural world, life, and society.

In May 2024, Francisco was commissioned by Montalvo Arts Center to design and fabricate a ten-foot-tall hummingbird as part of their 2024 Marcus Exhibition. The exhibition, “A Path Forward: Honoring Ohlone Land & Spirit,” is a collaborative project led by our lead artist, Charlene Eigen-Vasquez, in partnership with the Confederation of Ohlone People and Santa Clara County Parks, dedicated to acknowledging and celebrating Ohlone Territories. Featuring a permanent pathway enhanced with augmented reality (AR) elements created by Jesus Rodriguez and Graciano’s hummingbird sculpture, the project will open on July 19th at the Montalvo Arts Center as part of “Future Dreaming,” an exploration of themes related to indigeneity. “Future Dreaming” will have its opening exhibition alongside “A Path Forward” and will also showcase works by Beatriz Cortez, including “Ilopango, The Volcano That Left” and “Cosmic Mirror,” Rayos Magos’s “Te Veo, Te Escucho, Te Honro,” and newly commissioned pieces by Ana Teresa Fernandez, such as “Circuitry” and “Pulse.”

Join Graciano and Montalvo Arts Center on Friday, July 19, 6–10 pm for their  2024 Marcus Festival, which celebrates the opening of their new outdoor art exhibition, Future Dreaming…A Path Forward

Follow Francisco Graciano and Montalvo Arts Center at @francisco.graciano @pacofrancisco_tattoos and @montalvoarts

A (Still) Life of Avocados, Lemons, Oranges, and Strawberries.

The morning before an art event, you might find James Mertke unloading the Tetris puzzle of art pieces and display shelves from his car. It’s been a little over a year since James started participating in art markets, and although he’s still learning the ropes, he’s grown a lot since his first event. He’s created an eye-catching display with hand-painted signage and a variety of shelves.

James can’t remember a time he wasn’t painting. He loves pushing color vibrancy and emphasizing shadows. “I’ve landed on acrylic paints because I enjoy the vibrancy that can be achieved and the fast drying times that encourage me to work quickly and deliberately.”

Talk with James for a few minutes, and you’ll find there’s a story behind each brightly colored still life—sliced fruit, donuts, Botan Rice Candy, strawberry “grandma” candies—simple and happy childhood memories captured on canvas. “That’s one of my favorite things about the things I paint. Just on the surface, it’s a lemon to someone. But when I tell them the story about the lemon tree, maybe they’ll share something about how their grandparents had a lemon tree that they remember.”

During high school, academics became the priority while art took the back burner. James discovered a love of mechanical engineering in 2018 at Santa Clara University. Practicing art became something reserved for weekends at home. But when many doors closed during the pandemic, a door opened for James to pursue art. Commuting time could instead be dedicated to painting. 

Looking for new ways to practice his craft, James noticed a 100-day painting challenge on Instagram. Over the summer, he painted a new piece every day for 100 days in a row. With a time constraint, he spent less time adjusting the same painting and simply applied different techniques to his next piece. The subject of his paintings also shifted. “Before the pandemic, I was mostly painting ocean scenes…I would take reference photos when I went to Santa Cruz or Monterey…When the pandemic happened, I started transitioning to the still lifes because I was looking for things around my house to paint.” 

A prevalent subject in James’s art is lemon slices. He finds eye-catching glassware from the thrift store, arranging and rearranging lemon slices around them to get the right reference shot. James details the strong shadows and vibrant yellows in his art, but the connection behind the lemons is personal and sweeter. The lemons come from the tree in his grandpa’s backyard. “I always say it’s a giant lemon tree, but it’s a dwarf one—I’m taller than it—but it’s the most prolific thing,” he says. His grandpa remains one of James’s biggest supporters and is always thrilled to offer him lemons. After an art market, James will call him to share how it went. “He likes hearing when I make a sale…he’ll be so excited and smiling all the time.”

After the 100-day challenge, James improved his skills—and his inventory. “I had boxes and boxes of paintings.” He made it a project to get himself into events and shows to sell his work. Since James didn’t study art or take any art classes, he didn’t naturally find himself surrounded by an art community. He’s worked to find community by joining his school’s art club, frequenting art events, and exchanging art pieces with new friends. The art community he’s found is extremely supportive. “Art is about abundance. There’s not limited space for all the artists,” he explains. “The more art people create, the more opportunities people create for people to appreciate art, and the more people appreciate art, the more people will want to support artists.”

Early this year, James was invited to show his work at the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento. His pieces have been curated into an exhibit titled, The Still Life. James also connects with the local community for opportunities to display art at businesses like Voyager Craft Coffee and Fox Tale Fermentation Project. 

Recently, James introduced mechanical engineering pieces into his work by snapping reference photos in the machine shop for mechanical engineering–themed paintings. He submitted a series featuring LED lights, electrical resistors, and 3D-printed items to an art show sponsored by the School of Engineering at SCSU to celebrate the art of engineers. The paintings were acquired by the Department of Mechanical Engineering and now hang in the office.

Mechanical engineering and painting used to be two unrelated interests, but James has found they go hand in hand. “I’m an artist and engineer. I feel like when people think of engineering, it’s all math and logic…but I also like expressing my creative side,” he says. “Engineering is creative too, in a different way. I think engineering and art coexist and create some really cool combinations.”  


Kathryn Dunlevie has always possessed a magical perception of the world around her, even before she became an artist. Growing up all over the United States, Dunlevie developed a deep appreciation of what gives a particular area a sense of place. Nowadays, her artworks a connecting thread, bringing disparate places and ideas together in what she describes as “hazy vignettes are woven together.” She photographs the locales of her travels and sits on the pictures until she begins the process of collaging. Then, in construction, she finds a method of arranging her photos that poignantly displaces the observer’s sense of time and place. Being an artist located in Silicon Valley, Dunlevie is often inspired by San Jose’s diversity—not only in viewpoint but in its sense of locality. Given the difference in age and style that many San Jose neighborhoods possess, she believes that you can walk down the street and enter into a new world entirely. Alongside the San Jose art community, she happily stands with, Dunlevie’s work captures the ever-changing world we find ourselves wandering in.

“I have a fascination with history. I’ve always been riveted by old places, as if I can feel them. I’m always collecting images and trying new ways to combine them. My assignment to myself is to experiment with new approaches and see what ideas take shape. When something catches my eye, I grab it, often without any idea of where it will fit in. As for the themes of my projects, that inspiration finds me.”
Instagram: kathryndunlevie

At first glance, the Space Palette might appear to be an alien device. It consists of a large, oval frame filled with a series of holes (4 large and 12 small). If only observed, its function will remain a mystery. However, once you physically interact with the object, its purpose is revealed. By passing your hands through the smaller holes, different musical sounds are selected, while passing your hands through the larger holes allows the instrument to be played. Multicolored, abstract graphics on a nearby screen visually reflect your choices. Though the origins of the Space Palette may seem extraterrestrial, it is actually one of Tim Thompson’s many interactive installation pieces.

How would you describe your artwork?

Before 2002, I was a musician who developed nerdy software for algorithmic composition [the creation of music through the use of algorithms] and real-time musical performance [music performed through immediate computer responses]. This software was a platform for my creativity.

Since 2002, the first year I went to Burning Man, I’ve been developing interactive installations and instruments as platforms so others can be creative. Burning Man provides powerful inspiration, virtually unlimited and uncurated opportunities, and a large appreciative audience for interactive artwork. While music is still a key aspect, my artwork has expanded to include graphics, video, and physical structures.

Three-dimensional input devices are particularly interesting to me. Using a 3D input device can be as transformative as using a paintbrush instead of a pencil. The potential for 3D input in uniquely expressive instruments is exciting and only beginning to be realized.

You often combine art, technology, and music. What are some of the challenges of working with these mediums?

Dealing with complexity is a primary challenge. My installations are often intended to be “casual instruments” that can be enjoyed immediately, analogous to “casual games,” like Angry Birds. A simple interface is key to this, but simplicity shouldn’t limit an instrument’s creative use or depth of expression. I often make a comparison to finger painting—one of the simplest creative interfaces around. No one needs to be taught how to finger paint. A child doesn’t even need to be able to hold a paintbrush. Yet [finger painting] allows a depth of expression that can satisfy any artist. One of my most successful pieces is the Space Palette—its interface can essentially be described as finger painting in mid-air, where the “paint” is both visual and musical.

“Using a 3D input device can be as transformative as using a paintbrush instead of a pencil.”

Tim Thompson

In technology-based artwork, a simple interface usually corresponds with a great deal of underlying complexity. I have a lifetime of programming experience, so I’m well-prepared to deal with that complexity. I sometimes use a complex interface to contrast and complement a simple interface, incorporating both in the same artwork. The more challenging aspect for me is selecting the type of technology to use. New sensors and displays are being invented at a dizzying rate. It’s easy to find yourself always investigating the latest technology and never finishing anything. Deadlines work well to combat this tendency, and events like Burning Man make excellent deadlines.

What does being creative mean to you?

Being creative means creating something that didn’t exist previously, which applies both to me and the people using my installations. Up until recently, most of my efforts involved creating music and software out of “thin air.” With the help of TechShop San Jose, being creative with physical things is becoming easier and easier.

What are your plans for the future? Where do you think your work is going next?

I have been using and exploring three-dimensional input devices for over a decade. I will continue to explore their potential for the foreseeable future, in both casual and performing instruments as well as installations. I’m particularly looking forward to using the Sensel Morph, a new pressure-sensitive pad being developed in Mountain View.

What response are you hoping for when someone interacts with your art?

I want people to realize that they are in control and are creating their own art and experience, especially if they haven’t previously considered themselves a musician or otherwise creative. Most instruments require a long learning curve and finger dexterity, which are barriers to entry for creativity. My casual instruments attempt to break down these barriers without sacrificing the potential for expressiveness or creativity. The response to the Space Palette has been particularly gratifying. The most common things I’ve heard as people walk away from it, smiling, are: “I want one in my living room” and “I could stay here all night.”

Come closer. Try not to look away. Be confronted, be comforted, hold the question that has arisen between two bodies.

Artists are revered for their emotional vulnerability. Solorio takes it a step further as her chapters evolve from form to form: the outpour of feeling into a journal instigates a ceramic that holds its weight; the finished ceramic asks to be casted into a story; the performance ties all the messages together. By working in different dimensions, Solorio layers the weaknesses of one medium under the strengths of another.

In 2020, Solorio published a performance titled Fruit of Knowledge. In the video, she stands alone in a cage. Naked and blindfolded by choice, she has invited her own body to join her mind in exploring a question together: What if Eve’s choice to eat the fruit was favorable? Above the cage hangs an apple—the symbol of freedom, awareness. At the sixth hour of performance, Solorio reaches up and eats of the forbidden fruit.

What an audience perceives can spark a beautiful exchange of prompt and perception. And yet, what the audience rarely sees is the labor for the art to exist. For her seven-minute video, Solorio received three days of migraines from dehydration and exhaustion. Yet, when the time comes to channel another question through performance, Solorio will gladly do it again. “I don’t feel protected while doing my work,” she shares. “I get stronger from doing it.”

She is driven by the intrigue of self-discovery. Strength grows through the pain of shedding the social constructs pressed upon us since birth. In another performance created during the pandemic, Perpetual Cycle, Solorio filmed herself again. The video shows her running—which, true to life, is a practice she keeps six days of the week. The following scene shows her eating, but chewing away at excessive amounts of food. Then, a toilet: Jackelin heaves and vomits orange liquid into the bowl. At long last, she stands, sucks in her stomach and smiles at the mirror.

The idea for this performance came during a run: “I asked myself, ‘Why am I running so much? Am I addicted to it?’ ” After all, when she started running at 13, her goal had been to lose weight, pressured by unrealistic expectations. Though her daily run evolved into a life-giving ritual, she continues to hold herself accountable through her art. “This came from a real space,” Solorio emphasizes. “I really did binge. It was hard, but necessary.”

Solorio challenges the male gaze and the patriarchal arm of religion in her physical art forms as well. The body, bare under the gaze of other eyes, speaks of attraction as much as it does repulsion. Sculptures of clay and human hair, such as Solorio’s ceramic vagina collection, are as wondrous as they are shocking. In a recent series, a photo documentation of The Last Supper creates an alternate history: The female body, recast as the pope or as Jesus Christ herself, reminds us all to ask why. Why are things the way they are, and what keeps them that way? “I researched,” Solorio says. “I found that a woman could be pope, but the current pope needs to declare it. And no one will go against tradition.”

What once protected now provokes. Solorio was about six or seven, living with her grandmother in Mexico, when she was first punished by gender tradition. Her grandmother chastised her for playing on the soccer field—a place for boys and men, not girls—and sent her to her room. There, she kneeled and prayed to the Virgin Mary and Jesus while her grandmother disciplined her. “She left some welts. Then I had to go to catechism school.” Solorio went, but she purposefully donned a pair of booty shorts that revealed the marks.

Before arriving fully in her role as artist, Solorio taught preschool for 10 years and served as a preschool director for five. Currently, she is a caregiver of three girls under five years old. “I give it my all. Being around children so much, you can become like them,” she laughs. “I lack a social filter sometimes; I don’t want to be contained. I want to be childlike and free.” 

The common threads of playfulness and honesty are woven through all her endeavors, especially her artmaking. Solorio rejects a strictly linear approach to self-reflection. “I’m always connecting to my old self,” she says. “We’re all intertwined.” The first version of herself, the dreamer, holds hands with the pessimist born in hindsight. “My very first love was murdered, and I was trying to find this lost love,” she shares. “Looking into the past…I grew up very poor. With not a lot of great male figures in my life. You start thinking about all the bad things, you know?” 

But she has also opened herself to hope, which frames her defiant spirit. “I’m in a good state of life where I know myself,” she smiles, “And I will not stay quiet now.”

Instagram: clay_mundo

Article originally appeared in Issue 13.3 Perform  (Print SOLD OUT)

Also available on Spotify, Apple Podcast, and YouTube.

At West Valley College in Saratoga, Shannon Mirabelli-Lopez and Mel Vaughn have joined forces to launch the college’s first interdisciplinary graduation expo, STEAM’D Fest, where “Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, and Design” reimagine collaboration.

Guided by the collective vision of Dean of The Cilker School of Art & Design, Mirabelli-Lopez, and Dean of The School of Math and Science, Vaughn, STEAM’D Fest represents a step towards fostering future integration across traditionally divided academic disciplines and further building a culture where all disciplines at West Valley recognize their connections and contributions to problem-solving in this modern world.

STEAM’D Fest plans to catalyze cross-pollination between sciences and arts by showcasing the work of students graduating from both schools. The 3-day public event will feature an art & design industry night portfolio review, film festival, Cilker School of Art & Design Fashion Show, and Dance Caravan, as well as birds of prey raptor show, chemistry and physics demonstrations, planetarium exhibition, and moon garden tour. As educators, Mirabelli-Lopez and Vaughn believe that STEAM’D Fest creates a unique platform for students and faculty members to break down boundaries between respective disciplines and leverage the complementary nature of their fields, emphasizing user experience and human-centric approaches.

Mirabelli-Lopez’s success in organizing two previous graduation expos for her school fuels her desire to support Vaughn in elevating his disciplines, aiming for increased visibility and recognition in Silicon Valley’s tech hub. In their eyes, a successful STEAM’D Fest would allow visitors to seamlessly engage with the event’s artistic and scientific dimensions.

In our conversation, we discuss Mirabelli-Lopez and Vaughn’s journeys toward higher education, their thoughts on how teachers impact students’ lives and academic success, and the music they are listening to. RSVP Here:

Featured Artist: Kim Meuli Brown

Kim Meuli Brown is an artist and graphic designer whose journey began with a Bachelor of Science in Textile Design from UC Davis. Inspired by nature, Kim’s creations blend traditional textile techniques with contemporary innovation. Her canvas, often cotton, silk, or wool, becomes a testament to the beauty of local flora, adorned with natural dyes and botanical prints. Her current focus on fiber arts celebrates sustainability, weaving a narrative of harmony between humanity and the environment.

Learn more about Silicon Valley Open Studios.

Silicon Valley Open Studios 2024 will take place the first three weekends of May and showcase the studios of over 200 Silicon Valley Artists. Weekend two, May 11-12, will be held in the Mid-Peninsula region, and Weekend three, May 18-19, will be hosted in the South Bay. Thirty-three artists at The Alameda Artworks in San José, including textile artist Kim Meuli Brown, will open their studios to guests on May 18 and 19.

Follow Kim at:

René Lorraine Schilling-Sears, a graduate of San Jose State with a BFA in Pictorial Arts, has moved from oils to watercolor and pen, giving a voice to what she sees.

Was there a time when you had that “aha moment,” when you released your voice?

Yeah, absolutely. I had an instructor when I was at San Jose State who really got through to me. It was one of those things where you’re working on a painting and you finally see something that you hadn’t felt for decades. It finally just happened on the canvas.

Do you remember what that painting was? 

Yes, I still have it too. I was working on my BFA show. My whole series was about body art, tattoos, piercings, things like that. That’s what I had been working on for the last two years at that point. It was a single fingernail. I was working on painting a hand. It was a single fingernail, and it was like, “Oh, this is what I want to do forever.” 

When you look back at that piece, what’s your feeling about it?

I am in love with that piece so much that I feel like I’ll never be able to top it for myself. I’ve been offered a lot of money for it. There’s no way. It feels like my firstborn child, because I had such a connecting moment to it. It’s going to stay with me forever. 

What was that about? Was it the type of technique that you used? 

That’s hard. That’s a hard thing to put into words. At that moment, I felt I finally believed in myself with the title of “artist.” I was satisfied with the work that I’d done to the point where I felt like I could finally own the title artist, because that is always a struggle.

When you grow up in the Bay Area with a lot of amazing artists, you see so many paintings and artworks and people really making it happen. You think, “How am I ever going to compete with them?” 

You have three different styles in your portfolio: oil, pencil, and watercolor. Which is your favorite?

I prefer watercolor and ink, which is crazy, because when I started painting, I never thought that I would do watercolor or watercolor portraits. It was the furthest thing that I thought I would ever be interested in. I was always just an oil lover and a canvas lover, but I think there’s something very intimate about sitting down with watercolor and ink, something that seems more personal. I like that. Oil is fun, too, but at this point to me…I’m just not personally as connected to it anymore.

Your watercolor ink portraits have a very unique aspect, with the subjects’ faces missing. I hear it is because of a degenerative eye disorder, is that right?

I have neurological issues. I have a cyst in my brain that causes balance issues and visual disturbances. The left side of my temporal lobe fires at half the rate that the right side does. There’s some disconnect there. Also, I have holes in my vision.

Some days, it’s like I’m looking through a wheel of Swiss cheese. It started in 2011. The doctors still are not really sure what it is. The holes in my vision, they’re not really sure where it stems from. They think it’s related to the other things that are happening. It’s really difficult to explain to people and hard to convey what I am going through, so I really wanted to put that on paper.

Why are you choosing this particular medium—pen and watercolor—for these portraits?

One of the reasons I do pen and watercolor in the same piece is because I feel a lot of times when I can’t see very well, it’s hard to feel grounded. I use the watercolor to show and convey that whole feeling that things are happening. When you work with watercolor, things will just happen that you can’t pick up off that paper. You can’t wipe it off. That’s how I feel with these spots in my eyes. They’re not going away. I can’t wipe them away. The hard lines that I use, that are more pencil or Micron pen, are my way of conveying those moments that are calm, that say “Everything is in place.” That’s how I’m trying to meld both of those together.

How does it feel then, when people are attracted to your work and find out your story? Is there a little bit of insecurity or concern? Are you wanting to share it? 

Personally, I feel that things are less scary when you talk about them. On the one hand, I wouldn’t put the story out there, but on the other, when I did the show here, I titled it with the condition that I have. It gave me the chance to talk to 30 people—strangers—about it.

Putting it out there is easier because when I talk about things, I feel like they’re less scary. They don’t seem as crazy. At the same time, I don’t want my work to be all about my condition. I don’t want people to only pay attention to it because the story has a really personal health issue involved.

I imagine you don’t want your health issue to be the reason people notice your work, but it is part of your story. I was very attracted to your work, knowing that you had neurological issues.

It’s hard. It’s a hard balance. I think, for the most part, people…like you just said, you liked it before you knew the story. I hope that continues, but at the same time, it’s also really cool. I’ve met some cool people who have similar conditions. They can see that within the art. They can relate to it.

You’ve had this current series. What are you working on now? What’s next for you?

I’m still expanding this series, but I want to bring more medical devices and machinery into it. I have a show coming up in the fall in San Francisco, so I’ve got about eight months or so to finish this body of work, or at least a couple new pieces. That’s what I really want to do. I want to bring the medical equipment side to it, just to evoke more of those feelings, and get more people to be able to connect with the pieces. A lot of times a portrait is a portrait, and you need something else in there to show or help along the thought process. I think the juxtaposition might be just right.

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned in life through your painting?

What I always come back to is a moment in college, where a professor told me to eliminate something from a painting, and I did it without even thinking. I hated that painting from that moment on. I could never get that piece back to what I wanted it to look like.

I always go back to that moment, in all sorts of experiences, and remember to always stop and think and not take somebody else’s opinion without really figuring out if it’s right for you. It’s interesting that I learned that through painting. 


See more of René’s work on here wbesite

And, on here Instagram @renelorraine

This article originally appeared in Issue 10.4 “Profiles”

Matt Kelsey, Printers’ Guild Member & Jim Gard, Chairman of the Printers’ Guild

For twenty-two years, volunteers at the San Jose Printers’ Guild have kept the art of printing alive.

In a world where books can be downloaded in digital format and sending messages is as easy as tapping on a phone screen, Jim Gard, chairman of the Printers’ Guild, and guild member Matt Kelsey, shed light on how the printing press serves as a reminder of the days when communication required a concentrated effort and skilled craftsmanship.

Jim, you have been with the Printers’ Guild since the beginning. Could you share a little history on how the Printers’ Guild came about?

Jim: The Print Shop exhibit opened in the ’70s, and although the San Jose Historical Museum had some volunteers, they worked independently and lacked organization. In 1992, the museum staff, as well as some of the printers, met and formed the Printers’ Guild to provide consistent printing demonstrations to the visiting public. From then on, the group has met monthly, maintaining a shop volunteer schedule, creating, printing exhibits, and repairing and acquiring equipment.

What types of equipment are used in the Print Shop?

Jim: Letterpress. We have small, table-top Kelsey presses, a Chandler & Price Pilot press, and some cylinder proof presses. But our main attraction is the F.M. Weiler Liberty press, circa 1884. This heavy floor model press gives visitors a close-up look at the workings of a treadle-powered “jobber.”

What are demonstrations at the Print Shop like?

Matt: Members of the San Jose Printers’ Guild continue to practice the skills mastered by printers of old, using some 200 cases of metal and wood type, including many rare and antique designs. The best experience, though, is when we put the Pilot press right up to the railing and let visitors operate it themselves.

Matt, you are the lead organizer for this year’s Bay Area Printers’ Fair, an event that celebrates letterpress printing and related arts. Does this event bring us back to the roots of graphic design?

Matt: Yes, the Printers’ Fair takes us back to the time when the printer was the graphic designer. The printer knew what sizes and styles of type were available in the shop and knew how to combine them to create the right look for the customer. A lot of graphic designers today really enjoy getting away from the computer and getting back to the roots of handling handset type and impressing ink into paper instead of manipulating pixels on a screen.

For visitors and Guild members alike, I am sure there is a bit of nostalgia that one feels when observing and participating in the printing process. What do Guild members and visitors take away from this shared historical experience?

Jim: The Guild brings together these enthusiasts with a purpose, which they can share with each other and the public.

Matt: Guild members enjoy keeping alive the “black art” using the same basic technology pioneered by Gutenberg over 500 years ago. I have taught a number of workshops at the Print Shop, and I am always energized by the enthusiasm and creativity of the students. In one day, they learn to handset type and arrange a short poem or quotation into an attractive layout. Everyone goes home with a feeling of creativity and accomplishment.

With technology constantly advancing, what does the art of printing serve as a reminder of?

Matt: The museum Print Shop replicates a typical print shop of the early 1900s, where local businesses would go when they needed flyers, stationery, business cards, labels, and myriad other forms of ink on paper. Now we think of a “printer” as a machine connected to the computer, that quickly produces copies on command; a hundred years ago, a “printer” was a skilled craftsman who consulted with the customer about their printing needs, found the right sizes and styles of type to design and compose the text from handset metal type, printed a proof for the customer’s approval, and then carefully prepared the job for press.

Jim: The art of printing serves as a reminder of the labor that was once involved in communication. With all this handset type, there used to be a lot more people involved: specialists in typesetting, press operation, proofreading.

Matt: It is a reminder that, back then, printing was an act of freedom. In the words of journalist A. J. Liebling, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

instagram: sjprintersguild
facebook: sjprintersguild
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Article originally appeared in Issue 6.2 “Device”
Print Version SOLD OUT

Pick-Up Party 16.2, “Sight and Sound,” was the 12th anniversary celebration of Content Magazine featuring the innovative and creative people of Silicon Valley. The party was an ambitious collaboration among venue host Creekside Socials, event designers Asiel Design, Filco Events, and Illuminate SJ Now!!!, along with supplied food by Barya Kitchen ,and the dozen or so creatives featured in the magazine, who displayed their work.

Creekside Socials is a Google project managed by Jamestown, activating San Jose’s Downtown West. They have a full lineup of community events and workshops scheduled for 2024.

Our Pick-Up Party was the first event of its kind held inside Creekside Socials and was a fantastic opportunity to activate the warehouse at 20 Barack Obama Blvd. With support from our partners, we brought in a stage, lighting, and projectors that illuminated the sights and sounds of Issue 16.2. We even introduced our partnership with Needle to the Groove Records, which made our long-dreamt-of flexi-disc magazine insert a reality.

Guests were treated to a live studio pop-up hosted by Brittany Bradley, a wet plate collodion photographer, performances by 2024 Poet Laureate and Creative Ambassador Yosimar Reyes featuring Ivan Flores of Discos Resaca, Srividya Eashwar of Xpressions Dance, singer-songwriter Amara Lin, Needle to the Groove Records, and Kid Lords who closed out the night. In addition, six visual artists featured in the magazine displayed their work, including 2024 Creative Ambassadors Deborah Kennedy and Rayos Magos, Shaka Shaw, and Girafa. 

This evening brought together various genres and mediums of music and visuals, exposing individuals to creativity they may not have been otherwise exposed to. Our goals of creating a magazine real-life experience were highlighted by our fantastic community of creatives, supporters, and partners who are essential to Content Magazine’s future.

We at Content Magazine are grateful to all the artists, partners, members, and community for your support in this project to give visibility to the artists of Santa Clara County.

We hope to see you again on May 17th at the West Valley College School of Art and Design for Pick-Up Party 16.3, “Perform.”

Event Photographer: Kinley Lindsey 

Event Videographer: StageOne Creative Spaces

Event Musicians: Kids LordsAmara 林Xpressions-Dance of India, and Needle to the Groove

Featured Artists: Britt BradleyVictor AquinoSteven Free, GirafJulie MeridiaDeborah KennedyRayos Magos, and Shaka Shaw

Event Partners: Creekside Socials,  Asiel DesignFilco Events, Illuminate SJ Now!!!, and Barya Kitchen

Issue 16.2, “Sight and Sound” Featuring

Musician – Amara 林 | Videographer – Victor Aquino | Photographer – Britt Bradley | Rapper – Chow Mane | RecordLabel – Discos Resaca Collective | Dancer – Srividya Eashwar | Artist – Girafa | Rap Crew – Kid Lords | Photographer – Josie Lepe | Artist – Julie Meridian | Record Shop and Label – Needle to the Groove Records | Illustrator – Shaka Shaw | 2024 San José Creative Ambassadors – Dancer – Alice Hur – Artist – Pantea Karimi – Artist – Deborah Kennedy – Artist – Rayos Magos – Storyteller – Yosimar Reyes 

Pamela Walsh is an artist of a different sort. As a gallerist, her work lives in the margin between artwork and art buyer. A gallerist’s art is not just curation but creating a space that brings people to artwork and telling those stories-becoming a conduit between artistic expression and the community that is engaging with it.

Pamela Walsh Gallery is a contemporary art space in Palo Alto’s Ramona Street architectural district. The historic building housing the gallery was designed by Stanford architect Birge Clark in 1929.

Having opened in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Pamela was able to weather the turbulence of unprecedented times and is set to celebrate the gallery’s ⁠4th anniversary with a group exhibition⁠ opening in December 2024.

The gallery’s focus on contemporary art is on creating a platform for diverse creative expression or establishing emerging artists. Having spent 20 years before opening her gallery, Pamela sold works from historical artists. Still, she decided to move forward with contemporary art as a fun and inspiring way to work with artists who are currently practicing. Small local galleries like Pamela’s are crucial to the arts ecosystem by encouraging artists, providing opportunities, and fostering a culture of art.

In our conversation, Pamela shares what it means to be a gallerist, her background in art and working in galleries, her journey toward becoming a gallery owner, and the role her space plays in the broader arts ecosystem. 

Join Pamela Walsh this Saturday, December 16th, at Pamela Walsh Gallery for the opening of their ⁠4th Anniversary group exhibition⁠

Follow ⁠Pamela Walsh Gallery⁠ at ⁠@pamelawalshgallery⁠

Listen on Spotify and Apple Podcast

Brandon “BQ” Quintanilla is a San Jose-born entrepreneur of Nicaraguan descent who founded media company EMLN (Early Morning Late Nights) to produce projects such as Any Given Bars YouTube Channel, San José’s Culture Night Market, and FeastMode. BQ has created a business and brand around his vision for San José.

In this conversation, BQ and introducing Content guest host Troy Ewers, @trizzyebaby, discuss BQ’s rise as an entrepreneur, the development of EMLN, organizing events, and personal growth. Listeners gain insight into what it takes to start and scale a business, difficulties with organizing events, and how to hustle through adversity.

Follow BQ, @bqallin, and EMLN, @emlnexclusive , on Instagram to keep up to date with what he has cooking for Silicon Valley. 

Look for Culture Night Market, Feat Mode, render application, and other events at

Coming Feast Mode events – 10/13/23, 10/26/23, 11/04/23

Featured in issue 14.2 (SOLD OUT)

“In the end, however, we get our stories, the important thing is to keep passing them on.”

People walking into Hicklebee’s at 1378 Lincoln Avenue in downtown Willow Glen are entering a child’s imagination. Here, the best in children’s literature lines the shelves, and the characters peer out from the walls. From the worn cushions to the mismatched chairs, Hicklebee’s is every bit an independent bookstore. There are no gleaming register lines or stacks of discount buys; instead, there is a bathtub filled with pillows (for reading in, of course) and Clifford the Big Red Dog’s collar.

On the walls, there is a collection that can only be deemed “Hicklebee’s Museum.” Framed original illustrations from Rosemary Wells’ Ruby and Max occupy a place of honor next to a model of the plug from King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub. A sign hangs nearby reading “Diagon Alley” right next to Charlotte spinning a web. What wall space remains is covered in signatures and drawings from almost every famous author or illustrator in children’s literature, including Jules Feiffer, illustrator of the classic Phantom Tollbooth, and Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling. Yet what makes the illustrations all the better is that many of them are scrawled across bathroom doors. It’s bathroom graffiti for children.

Enter Valerie Lewis, the last remaining founder and current co-owner of Hicklebee’s. “Sometimes we have a hard time explaining to [the children] why they can’t write on the walls at home,” she laughs. Lewis points out more artifacts littering the tops of shelves and signatures along doorways from authors and illustrators who have visited the store over the years. “We never know what they’re going to sign or what they’re going to do,” she says. “I always think to myself, ‘I know this person, and they just drew their character on a toilet.’”

When Hicklebee’s began over 33 years ago, the walls were blank. “It was like the artist looking at a canvas,” Lewis remembers. “I love the fact that I had this store and no experience and a zillion possibilities and that there was no end to the possibilities. I loved that idea.” Over the years, these same possibilities have shaped what has been recognized as one of the nation’s best children’s bookstores. Hicklebee’s stands alone in a market where the gap between quality children’s literature, found in the libraries of academia, and the overly commercialized form of children’s entertainment, found in modern bookstores, looms large.

In the beginning, however, it was simply the collective dream of four friends who had no experience owning a bookstore. “We all came in my house and sat in the kitchen, and everybody brought their favorite children’s books,” Lewis recalls. “I would open them up and see this one is from Harper and Row, and I would call information in New York.” Eagerly, Lewis would contact the desired publishers for catalogs. “We would think, ‘They are going to be so excited when they find out about us.’”

As straightforward as Hicklebee’s beginning was, the way it has unfolded and transformed has been anything but simple. Rather, Hicklebee’s has metamorphosed into something more complex over the decades through the collective efforts of authors, illustrators, and even the readers. During a tour, Lewis gently pulls down an unassuming brown shopping bag labeled “Ollivanders” from a top shelf. A child who frequents the store brought it back from a trip to England and gave it to Lewis for the museum. Peeking inside the bag, customers can see a magic wand nestled among the tissue paper wrapping. “We just started it,” Lewis emphasizes. “It was the authors who did the additions.” She points to a three-foot-tall cardboard cutout of a gorilla hanging from the ceiling. “See that ape?” she asks. “Well, Peggy Rathmann is a Caldecott award-winning illustrator. One day, she and her husband drove up. They opened the door, pulled out a ladder and a rope, and hung that.”

“Let’s go hang it at Hicklebee’s” is the quintessential thought behind this local treasure. With the opening and subsequent closing of the big chain bookstores, and the advent of discount online shopping, this small independent store has weathered the storm of consumer habits. Lewis and the shop’s associates often observe patrons browsing books, scanning their barcodes with pricing apps on smartphones, and then walking out the doors, perhaps only to order the same book with next-day free shipping and no sales tax from the internet. Some even download the books straight to their devices. Lewis comments powerfully on the recent trend: “When people compare electronic books for children and picture books for children, they are comparing apples and artichokes. An electronic book is no more a book than a radio or a television is a book. They are all telling stories, but a book looks like that, in my opinion.” Lewis points to a stack of books with crisp white pages, nestled between bright covers. One can’t help but think of the difference between seeing a photograph of a painting and being able to see the texture of the brush strokes on the original in a gallery.

Yet, Lewis remains optimistic. “We are not against electronic books; we are just pro-paper,” she says, laughing. So what’s next in Hicklebee’s storyline? More author visits, children’s story times, craft days, reading clubs, and, of course, additions to the walls and shelves. Customers continue to come in for the magic and wisdom that can only be found at the heart of Willow Glen and at the hands of Lewis’ expert staff, so she is not too worried. “In the end, however we get our stories, the important thing is to keep passing them on.”

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This article originally appeared in Issue 4.3 “Branding”