Public Art

There are numerous examples of public art throughout the Guadalupe River Park & Gardens. These include Tony Ridder’s Shoes, and the Parade of Animals in Discovery Meadow, the Veteran’s Memorial and a tribute to the Ohlone/Muwekma people along the Park Avenue Bridge, Remembering Agriculture, in recognition of the agricultural history of the Santa Clara Valley on the south side of Santa Clara Street (at the river), and the Five Skater’s Artpiece in Arena Green.



Ridder Plaza

Named after Tony Ridder, publisher of The San Jose Mercury News, this plaza honors his philanthropic efforts within the city. Oversized bronze running shoes symbolize the long run that he made to support and improve San José, and they further serve to give children something to aspire to, filling his shoes with their own strength, community focus, and dedication.



Remembering Agriculture

Remembering Agriculture, by artist Tony May, recalls the rich agricultural history that was the driving force behind San Jose’s economy for more than 150 years. The project recreates the distinctive shapes of those once-familiar clusters of farm buildings that are seen less and less frequently in the Santa Clara Valley. The structures include a water tank tower, a windmill, a barn and a small shed, which function as arbors for a carefully chosen selection of ivies and other perennial climbing plants.



The Weavers’ Gifts

The Weavers’ Gifts, a new addition to the City’s public art collection within the Guadalupe River Park, was recently installed at Confluence Point. The creation of artist Alan Counihan, The Weavers’ Gifts commemorates and celebrates the Costanoan-Ohlone Peoples, especially the Tamien Ohlone Indians who inhabited the land along the Guadalupe River where the sculpture is located. The Weavers’ Gifts is a site-specific artwork composed of four elements: the names of the 54 Ohlone tribal groups who inhabited California in the late eighteenth century, inscribed on pre-existing granite seat walls; a four-foot high carved-granite basket representing a functional and creative part of the Ohlone culture; a five-foot high carved granite mortar, broken to represent broken tradition; and a stone representation of an unfinished coiled basket inlaid into the paving with inscribed text that speaks to the history and future of the Ohlone people.



Five Skaters Art Piece

The Five Skaters art piece at Arena Green honors five Olympic champion ice skaters from the Bay Area: Peggy Fleming, Debi Thomas, Brian Boitano, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Rudy Galindo. The piece includes five mosaic-tiled pillars, a symbolic ice rink featuring quotations from each of the skaters and time capsules displaying memorabilia from their careers, medal platforms, and a plaque listing each skater’s national and international awards.



Veterans Memorial

The Veterans Memorial, located on Park Avenue at the Guadalupe River, is an enduring tribute to the men and women who have served our country in peacetime and in time of war. The Memorial was designed by the architectural firm Manhattan Projects in New York City, chosen through a competitive selection process conducted by the City of San Jose’s Public Arts Committee. The Memorial was dedicated on November 11, 1997. The Veterans Memorial consists of 76 flags on 30 ft. steel poles, representative of military personnel in formation. They also reflect the tiers of white headstones in a military cemetery. The white flags represent the anonymity of each who serves — white is a sign of peace. The snapping fabric in the winds, contrasted with the serene canopy of white banners, reflects the military strength which preserves our peace. The etched glass panels tell, through excerpts from letters home, the experiences of local veterans during the various wars. The figures in the panels cast shadows on the pavement in front of, or behind the panels, depending on the time of day.



The Muwekma Ohlone Tribute

The Muwekma Ohlone people, Native Americans who once lived along the Guadalupe River, are honored with animal sculptures important to their tradition, on the Park Avenue Bridge. These include the Coyote, the Hummingbird, and the Eagle. The four flags that fly from atop the bridge represent the past and present governments of the area: Spain, Mexico, California and the United States. The Coyotes were created by artist Peter Schiffrin; the Eagle and Hummingbirds by Tom Andrews. The Coyote, Hummingbird and Eagle represent the Muwekma Ohlone creation story. Coyote was the father of the human race who was responsible for creating people and teaching them how to live properly. Hummingbird was wise and clever. Eagle was a leader.



Pool of Genes

The north entrance into Confluence East showcases San Jose as a multi-cultural society. The braided paths list the names of the many ethnic groups that comprise the city’s current demographics and meet at a reflective pool. Cobbles in the Pool of Genes feature the names of children that were submitted by community members to reflect San Jose’s diversity.

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