Best Art Gallery
366 S. First St., San Jose. The monthly SoFA district extravaganza of gallery receptions, street artists, museums and art-making that is South First Fridays has as its epicenter the tireless dedication to avant-garde creativity of Anno Domini. The gallery, the labor of love of Cherri Lakey and Brian Eder, hosts provocative shows year-round by underground artists of many nationalities—with a bracing emphasis on the potent fecundity of street arts like graffiti and tattooing.
San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art 560 S. First St., San Jose
Empire Seven Studios 525 N. Seventh St., San Jose
Best Small/Quirky Museum
Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
1660 Park Ave., San Jose. Always a time-and-space-warping surprise in its suburban setting, even when you know it’s coming, the Rosicrucian Museum has brought a slice of Nile Delta architecture and flora to San Jose for almost 100 years. The buildings, done in the style of the Temple of Amon at Karnak, harmonize perfectly with the museum’s extensive collection of Egyptian artifacts. In recent years, the museum has implemented an initiative to make its cuneiform tablets available in digital form online.
Hiller Aviation Museum 601 Skyway, San Carlos
Campbell Historical Museum 51 N. Central Ave., Campbell
Cantor Art Museum
Stanford University Campus. Richard Serra’s 67-foot long, 13-foot high Sequence (2006) is usually exhibited indoors; that’s the way I saw it at the Broad Contemporary Art Museum in L.A. But this curved iron behemoth is more formidable now that it’s being displayed outside for the first time. Serra’s sculpture is a cyclopean alien space open only to the sky and the ground. At dusk (the Cantor Museum’s grounds are open until 8 on Thursdays), all the sun-warmed iron in the dimming light makes the piece feel like the gateway to another dimension.