The exhibit at JTown, the new luxury residential building in San Jose’s Japantown district, makes a strong claim to being the most creative and art-driven development in town. And it also created the next chapter for Empire 7 Studios, which has a new home in the building.

Empire 7 founders Juan Carlos Araujo and Jennifer Ahh opened a new gallery space on Friday that has been incorporated into the design of the building. The exhibit celebrates the 20th anniversary of the State of Grace tattoo shop in Japantown.

Members of San Jose Taiko perform in an outdoor art garden at the opening of Exhibit, a new residential development in the Japantown neighborhood of San Jose, Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group )

And there’s more, including an outdoor art park, accessible to the public from sunrise to sunset, with murals, sculptures, and other art installations. The building features three six-story murals on its exterior walls, as well as another colorful Roan Victor mural on the interior. The front yard features a 35-foot tall crape myrtle that has been manicured to resemble a bonsai tree, in organic contrast to the glass and steel building behind it. Inside, the ground-floor lobby has a fun neon sculpture chandelier above large, colorful paintings.

Residents get an even bigger perk: a top-floor gallery with rotating pieces from the collection on display, as well as curated artwork from Empire Seven Studios.

A manicured 35-year-old crepe myrtle stands in the front yard of Exhibit, a new residential development in the Japantown neighborhood of San Jose, Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)
A manicured 35-year-old crepe myrtle stands in the front yard of Exhibit, a new residential development in the Japantown neighborhood of San Jose, Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)

It’s an incredible turnaround for a slice of land at Seventh and Empire Streets that – with the exception of Empire Seven Studios – was once just warehouse space next to train tracks. And while people were concerned when Empire Seven lost its space to make way for development, Derek Allen – president of developer LandForge – said it was important for the project to enlist Araujo and Ahn as partners in the creation of the avant-garde residence.

“We couldn’t help but think to ourselves how can we create a project that creates a more permanent home for them and celebrates the fact that they’ve created something so special,” Allen said.

Araujo, who was still painting a sculpture for the art park just before the inauguration, said: “We have provided a home for artists on this site for over a decade. By collaborating with the development of Exhibit, we have created something special, something stable and something we are very proud of for this next chapter in our artistic journey.

Other forward-thinking projects opened in downtown San Jose – 88 has the charming “Stars and Stripes” light sculpture, the Pierce Apartments were noted for the building’s historic and artistic touches, and Sparq was added to the city’s mural inventory before it was even finished. . But none have integrated art as seamlessly as Exhibit. Let’s hope this trend continues.

OVERHEAD OPENING FOR OPERA SAN JOSE: There was a sustained standing ovation at the California Theater on Saturday night for the San Jose Opera’s production of “The Marriage of Figaro,” the story of which is transported to colonial India. The sets and costumes were colorful and spectacular, but perhaps the highlight of the show was the Bollywood-style finale.

Choreographer and cultural consultant Antara Bhardwaj said after the show that there was a bit of a challenge in staging these moments because Indian dance is very rhythm-driven and Mozart’s score lacks percussion. Even so, she said, it worked incredibly well with the dance moves.

New chief executive Shawna Lucey said the show, which runs until September 25, is a strong opener to the company’s 39th season, which will really focus on empowering women. That will certainly be the case with “Cinderella,” which opens Nov. 12 and features the conducting debut of 17-year-old composer/musician Alma Deutscher. Go to www.operasj.org for more details.

FLAG CELEBRATION: San Jose Councilman Sergio Jimenez will hold a Mexican Independence Day flag-raising ceremony at San Jose City Hall on September 15. The celebration begins at 4 p.m. and will include food trucks, live music and other entertainment.