San Jose’s latest piece of public art has made a much-loved downtown cafe one of the most visually striking buildings on S. First Street.
Artist and musician Ben Henderson’s new poster-art inspired mural should serve to draw more customers to the already popular Good Karma. A combination vegan cafe and craft brewery, Good Karma has become something of a local institution since it first opened—known for its prime people-watching patio, tasty vegan fare and artisanal brews.
“We’ve been talking about it for a couple years, but only in the last few months did the wheels start moving,” Henderson says of his new 30-foot by 18-foot mural. Melding the aesthetics of art nouveau and rock & roll poster art, the piece is a multilayered exploration of earthy themes. Keeping in line with Good Karma owner Ryan Anderson’s love of nature, the piece expresses a story of growth in stark blues, whites and greens. Two verdant columns, topped by flowers of hops, flank the building, while the top of the edifice features a line of trees and a radiant moonrise.
Although local artist Henderson works in multiple mediums artistically, he is best known for his letter-work and sign-painting. On the music side, he plays guitar and sings for local psychedelic folk band Brother Grand as well as producing music as a solo artist.
One may not know it, but chances are you’ve already seen Henderson’s graphic work on many downtown signs, including Cafe Stritch and stores inside San Pedro Market. “It’s been my bread and butter for awhile now,” he says.
Henderson reckons that this is his first truly public mural. To complete the detailed piece he enlisted friends and fellow San Jose artists Lacey Bryant and Drew Roulette. If done individually, Henderson estimates the piece would have taken him at least a month. “We had to work magic as quickly as possible,” he says.
Impressed by the number of murals that continue to crop up in San Francisco, Henderson was grateful for the opportunity to bring some more color and purposeful design to the streets of San Jose. “I was really happy to be able to introduce a storefront like that here,” he says—”especially for a good friend like Good Karma.”