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  • Words and Photos by John Domine

On the Road: Pow!Wow! San Jose Turns 2

After an epic inaugural year in 2017 (see our story here), Pow!Wow! San Jose returned to California's Silicon Valley from October 21st-28th to add more vibrant beauty to what may formerly have been known as "Tan Jose".

The roster of artists represented hails from all corners of the world, and what they bring to the table is nothing short of brilliant. All we see now is color for days.



The results were yet again spectacular this year, with works by several world-renowned and seasoned Pow!Wow! artists, including twin brothers How and Nosm, the collaborative duo of Woes Martin and Dragon 76, and the graphic stylings of 123Klan.

How and Nosm

Woes & Dragon76




Icy and Sot, the Iranian-born brothers now residing in Brooklyn, are no strangers to political or social justice elements in their art. Their contribution to this year's Pow!Wow!, entitled "Ladders to Nowhere", draws attention to the United States' prison system, which has the highest incarceration rate in the world and sets up released inmates for a less-than-ideal future, with no hope of receiving welfare, subsidized housing or employment due to their criminal record, making them all the more likely to return to this failed system within a few years.

Icy and Sot's Ladders to Nowhere installation

This "prison cell" is made of ladders which symbolize the lessons a prisoner can learn in hopes that personal improvement will result in the ability to move up in society once outside the prison walls, only to learn that these ladders lead nowhere but back to the cell from which they hoped to escape.



In addition to these global powerhouses, there was also a strong showing by Bay Area locals. Sean Boyles and Roan Victor, Lorna and Jill Watt, and Harumo Sato, brought a nice mix of color and creativity to the downtown area.

Sean Boyles & Roan Victor

Lorna & Jill Watt

Harumo Sato



A majority of the work is located along South 1st Street, which is easily walkable. But some of the walls lie further afield and you would benefit by having a car to expedite your viewing pleasure. Renting one of the many scooters or bikes seen parked all around town is also an option. Regardless of your method of transportation, the Pow!Wow! San Jose crew makes things easy by providing a mobile-enabled map on their website. Not only do they include all of the walls from this year's event (in yellow), but they have also mapped all of the walls from last year (in aqua), enabling you to see two years' worth of incredible work in the span of a leisurely day in the South Bay.



Here is a preview of some of the other works you won't want to miss while exploring San Jose and its Pow!Wow! walls.

Artists include (from left to right): Cory Taum, Drew Flores, Skinner & URBANAZTEC, Ivan Gonzalez, Frances Marin Lopez, Sixcoin, Nikkea Misa Takagi, Abel Gonzalez, and Felicia Gabaldon. For the full list of this year's participating artists, check out the Pow!Wow! San Jose website.



With the bounty of vibrant walls in this Silicon Valley Capital, its former moniker is now fading into the past. So, what are you waiting for? San Jose is calling.

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