.Local Artists Illuminate Christmas in the Park

In a vibrant display of local artistry and holiday cheer, Christmas in the Park has partnered with San José-based arts non-profit Local Color to unveil four murals that redefine the festive spirit. 

As part of the inaugural collaboration, the murals offer diverse interpretations of the holiday season and inject new life into the north end of Plaza de César Chávez. Contributing a fresh layer of creativity to the annual event, the pieces will be on display at the Park until January 2, 2024.

The quartet of artists behind the works—John Barrick, Alyssarhaye Graciano, Francisco Ramirez and Alyssa Wigant—all have deep roots in San José. The collaboration marks a significant milestone for Local Color, known for fostering the creative community through various initiatives in San José. This year alone, the organization facilitated the creation of 11 public murals throughout the South Bay, reinforcing its role as an integral non-profit in the local art scene.

Christmas in the Park, a cultural institution with over 40 years of history in Downtown San José, welcomed Local Color into the fold this year, expanding its artistic landscape. 

Erin Salazar, Executive Director of Local Color, expresses excitement about the collaboration, envisioning the expansion of this art program in the years to come. “We believe in spaces, places and events where people feel and see themselves and their cultures represented,” says Salazar. “Expanding the collection of these lovely giant postcard-shaped designs in the coming years is only going to add to the magic that is San José’s Holiday Season.”

The colorful murals themselves serve as vivid testaments to the local artists’ unique perspectives on the holiday season. John Barrick’s “Noel” embraces nostalgia, drawing inspiration from whimsical painted windows seen in retail storefronts. The vibrant holiday hues and a humanized snowman convey the simple, replete joy associated with this festive time around Downtown San José.

Alyssarhaye Graciano, in collaboration with her father, presents “Magandang Gabi Mga Bituin (Goodnight Stars),” a mural deeply connected to her cultural heritage. Exploring the significance of parols—traditional Filipino ornamental lanterns—the artwork exudes hope and family bonds, contributing a new layer of intentionality to their yearly visits to Christmas in the Park.

Francisco Ramirez’s “The Joy of Christmas” captures the jubilation and happiness of the season through the lens of a child. Featuring his son at play surrounded by nostalgic gifts, Ramirez aims to spread joy and warmth with a palette of cozy yellow hues. The mural subtly emphasizes the importance of toy drives and the shared happiness that the holiday season brings.

Alyssa Wigant, a lettering artist and muralist, celebrates her Filipino heritage in “Maligayang Pasko,” translating to “Merry Christmas” in Tagalog. Vibrant parol designs and star imagery pay homage to the rich traditions of a Philippine Christmas—adding a charming, diverse touch to the Christmas in the Park experience.For Wigant, the opportunity to represent her cultural roots at Christmas in the Park holds personal significance, allowing her to contribute to an event she has cherished since childhood.

As attendees marvel at the new visual additions, these murals not only redefine and brighten up the wooden panels of Plaza de César Chávez but also foster a sense of inclusivity, reflecting the city’s multi-cultural tapestry at the beloved annual holiday event at the Park.

Melisa Yuriarhttps://www.melisayuriar.com
Melisa is a features writer for Metro Silicon Valley, covering music, arts and entertainment in the Valley. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, the journalist has bylines in Dancing Astronaut, Gray Area Magazine, Festival Insider and Saint Audio. She is a member of the American Copy Editors Society.

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