SAN JOSE, Calif. — Several painted murals appear along the exterior walls of the new Exhibit at J-Town apartment complex in San Jose’s Japantown.
Derek Allen, the apartment complex’s lead developer, operator and owner, said Empire Seven Studios, a local art gallery, curated artists, including Roan Victor, Amy Sol and Andrew Schoultz.
“The murals act as a landmark — they’re visible, they say ‘there’s something here,’ the eye follows them down and you’ll notice they’re in locations where there is a community accessible activity taking place,” Allen told the Nichi Bei Weekly in a phone interview.
Schoultz, a San Francisco-based artist, has a mural entitled “Wabi Sabi Sunset” displaying an encircled sunset of varying colors of yellow, orange and red, surrounded by shades of blue. The mural is about 2,000 square feet and 60 feet tall.
Sol, a Korean American artist who resides in Las Vegas, has artwork showing a night scene of several pink flowers and feline-type creatures, while a woman holds out a bowl for them to drink from.
Victor, a local artist, has a mural entitled “Birds of Paradise” that shows aeonian flowers, and artichoke flowers to “symbolize a veggie garden in a backyard,” she said in a phone interview with the Nichi Bei Weekly. She painted one of her chickens, along with a bird of paradise plant and a red-tail hawk.
Victor wanted to portray what a backyard could look like in San Jose, Calif. for apartment residents. After being approached by Empire Seven Studios in May 2021, she started the piece in July. It took her about 10 days to complete.
“For me, the mural, it’s most important that it brightens the day of the people around it and the people who will see it,” Victor mused.
Victor praised the creative process behind making the mural. “Collaborating with (the) development team at Exhibit, we have created something special, something stable and something we are proud to be part of for this next chapter in our artistic journey, the art gallery said in an e-mail to the Nichi Bei Weekly.
LandForge, Inc., a Salt Lake City-based urban and redevelopment company, and Triminia Pacific: developURBAN, a real estate development and investment company, developed the apartment complex, according to a statement.
The new apartment complex, which opened to residents this past May, was “born out of familiarity with not only Japantown in San Jose, Calif., but this specific site and its proximity to the downtown culture as being an opportunity to create a project…” Allen, the LandForge president and managing partner, explained. He said the complex has 97 residences and one commercial space.
San Jose, Calif.-based HMH Landscape Architecture designed the apartment complex.
The initial concepts for the apartment complex began in 2015, Allen said. In 2018, the real estate and redevelopment companies created detailed development plans and in early 2019, they began construction for the project, he added.
However, the coronavirus pandemic caused “cumulative delays” in the construction process. Allen added that 15 people worked per day as material and labor availability became scarce. The project, which was scheduled to be completed in 21 months, took almost three years to finish, he said.
Allen hopes the murals stay up for the better part of a decade. In addition to being paid for their work, the artists were reimbursed for the cost of high quality materials “to get as much life out of” the murals as possible, he said.
“The community is thrilled to see more murals beautifying Japantown,” Japantown Business Association President Tamiko Rast wrote in an e-mail to the Nichi Bei Weekly.
An artist who identifies as “Yoshi47” painted a 400-square-foot and 10-foot tall mural of a blue furry monster. Another artist, Takahiro “Taki” Kitamura, the State of Grace Tattoo owner, painted a mural of a tortoise carrying a drum on its back drowning in water with a tsuru (crane) flying above.
The Exhibit at J-Town apartments are located at 525 N. 7th Ave. in San Jose’s Japantown. For more information, visit www.exhibitjtown.com or (833) 680-0889.