Wayfinder: Juan Carlos Araujo

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    Juan Carlos Araujo, Serpiente Emplumada (Feathered Serpent), 2020. Design for an installation of 40 streetlight banners commissioned in 2022 by the San José Museum of Art, California. © by Juan Carlos Araujo. Courtesy of the artist and Empire Seven Studios, San José.

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    Juan Carlos Araujo, Serpiente Emplumada (Feathered Serpent), 2020. Design for an installation of 40 streetlight banners commissioned in 2022 by the San José Museum of Art, California. © by Juan Carlos Araujo. Courtesy of the artist and Empire Seven Studios, San José.

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    Juan Carlos Araujo, Serpiente Emplumada (Feathered Serpent), 2020. Design for an installation of 40 streetlight banners commissioned in 2022 by the San José Museum of Art, California. © by Juan Carlos Araujo. Courtesy of the artist and Empire Seven Studios, San José.

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    Photo: Frederick Liang

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    Photo: Frederick Liang

Wayfinder: Juan Carlos Araujo is a public art project that encourages visitors to explore the heart of downtown San José. Commissioned by SJMA, 40 streetlight banners designed by Araujo with bright, ebullient colors and dynamic imagery are installed along East Santa Clara Street between Market and 20th streets. Each banner features similar yet unique details of Serpiente Emplumada, a large mural painted by the artist in 2020. Araujo’s abstract and vivid patterns recall the dynamic underwater movements of schooling fish or the unfurled wings of a bird. Sited along the main traffic corridor connecting East San José with the city’s urban core, Araujo’s installation combines personal and cultural motifs to celebrate the energy of the area’s legendary lowrider car culture and to honor ancestral connections.

Launched in 2021, Wayfinder is a new commissioning program by SJMA that invites Bay Area artists to design streetlight banners for temporary display in downtown San José. Juan Carlos Araujo is the second artist invited for this series, which offers pedestrians, commuters, residents, and Museum visitors continuous access to contemporary art as part of SJMA’s overarching goal to become a borderless museum, essential to creative life throughout the diverse communities of San José and Silicon Valley. Wayfinder reimagines existing banner infrastructure as a venue for public art, enlivening city streets with cutting-edge art and design.

Map of banner locations

About the artist

Juan Carlos Araujo is an artist, community organizer, and director of Empire Seven Studios (E7S), a contemporary art space located in San José. Araujo cofounded E7S with his partner, Jennifer Ahn, in 2008, and together they have provided opportunities for local and global artists through public art initiatives, innovative pop-up shows, and gallery exhibitions. The artist grew up on East Santa Clara Street and remembers hanging out with friends and cruising the boulevard as a teenager. On Sundays, he would stand in line for a free meal at Roosevelt Park and then walk across the street to Chaparral Supermarket to buy groceries using food stamps. For Araujo, East Santa Clara Street was a lifeline and a lively, vibrant place. A self-taught painter with a background in graffiti and street art, Araujo creates large-scale public murals that often combine numerous small, painterly marks with striking colors to impart a sense of vitality, movement, and flow. His work evokes the spiritual energy of generations of people who have coursed through a place and honors the sacred, ancestral realms of nature.

Support

Wayfinder: Juan Carlos Araujo is supported by the SJMA Exhibitions Fund, with a generous contribution from First Tech Federal Credit Union.  

Operations and programs at the San José Museum of Art are made possible by generous support from the Museum's Board of Trustees, US Small Business Administration, Internal Revenue Service, a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José, the Lipman Family Foundation, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Yellow Chair Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Brook Hartzell and Tad Freese, the SJMA Director's Council and Council of 100, the San José Museum of Art Endowment Fund established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and The William Randolph Hearst Foundation. 

 

Sponsors