Press Release: 20 ‘Downtown Doors’ for San Jose student art program’s 20th year

April 28, 2023                         

20 ‘Downtown Doors’ for San Jose student art program’s 20th year

Annual exhibition adds color and vibrancy to city’s urban core

SAN JOSE – For the 20th year of its award-winning Downtown Doors program, San Jose Downtown Foundation has contributed to the downtown core’s vibrancy by adding artworks of 20 high school students to the city’s urban landscape.

“The best thing our foundation can do is continue this annual exhibition of street art, which keeps downtown look appealing to residents, workers and visitors as well as give students the opportunity to express themselves publicly through art,” said Ramona Snyder, president of the Downtown Foundation.  “The art they produce is always creative, colorful, thoughtful and reflective of what’s current on the minds of young people.”

The selected pieces are a combination of fantasy, self-portraits, cultural traditions and hope for our planet.  More poignant pieces challenged over-population and global warming.

A committee of members of San Jose’s arts community judged the 20 works tops out of a pool of 150 entries from 18 schools from throughout San Jose and Campbell.  The artwork is digitized, enlarged and transferred onto a vinyl coating – the colors matching the original works – and attached onto otherwise static service doors on private buildings and utility boxes located near downtown crosswalks.

Suzy Kim, a senior at Leigh High School, this year becomes the first student to have her art selected for Downtown Doors three consecutive years.  Her “Entangled,” (2021) “Seeking Transformation” (2022) and “Reclamation” are located on Second and Fourth streets.

The newly installed artworks are concentrated in the center of downtown’s core – from St John Street in the north to Paseo San Antonio and east-west between San Pedro and Fourth streets.

In 20 years, the downtown community has supported 349 artworks from more than 2,000 submissions to the jury. The number of total participants could number into more than 10,000 because each school must pare their entries down to a maximum of 10 per round.

Sponsors for 2023 include:  Adobe, Block by Block, The Core Companies, Councilmembers Pam Foley and Omar Torres, Google, Hoge Fenton, KBM Hogue, Mezcal, Provident Credit Union, Republic Services and Steinberg Hart.  Six artworks were supported by a Cultural Affairs grant from the City of San Jose.

Site hosts include:  55 South Market; The 88; City of San Jose; Colonnade Apartments; The Globe Apartments, Harvest Properties; Hines, Paseo Villas; San Jose Museum of Art and Signia by Hilton.

The student artists, families, teachers and other educators, plus the community of funders, site hosts and businesses gathered for a reception May 4 at the San Jose Museum of Art.  In 2019, the last time Downtown Doors held an in-person reception, the Foundation was honored with the Creative Impact Award from the City of San Jose, bestowed during the City’s annual Cornerstone of the Arts event.

The International Downtown Association, made up of downtown associations and business districts from all over the world, bestowed the San Jose Downtown Association – overseer of the Foundation – with its highest Pinnacle Award for public space-making.  Since awarded in 2012, Variations of the program have expanded to cities across North America, including Berkeley; Atlanta; Detroit; Wichita, Kan.; Rochester, N.Y.; Durham, N.C.; Iowa City Iowa; Columbia, Mo.; and Regina, Saskatchewan.

The program was co-founded by former City Councilmember Judy Stabile and longtime SJDA Executive Director/CEO Scott Knies, who wanted to enhance the look of downtown. In 2003, the first year of the program, eight entries from Lincoln High School students were submitted for four double doors located on what is now the Signia by Hilton.  The program grew to students at 25 schools and as many as 115 sites and the greater meaning of the program was the condensed and intense arts education received by art students who had to compete for space to display their talents. Over the past 20 years, more than  students have participated and 349 works of students have been on display.

Downtown Doors is viewed as the equivalent for art students to a high school championship game or a band being invited to a prestigious parade or competition.

Visit for more Information, walking maps of Door sites and a path to donations.


Rick Jensen
San Jose Downtown Association Communications Director
San Jose Downtown Foundation Program Administrator

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