Press Release: Illuminated performance art sculpture adds pizzazz to downtown streetscape

Project to contribute to San Jose’s vibrancy and inspire passersby
February 1, 2024

SAN JOSE – A large and never-unoccupied storefront space has morphed into the first of many art lighting installations intended to energize downtown San Jose’s urban cityscape.

Dream Club Lab, a collaboration by installation artists Elaine Buckholtz and Ian Winters, is commissioned by the San Jose Downtown Association (SJDA) and San Jose Downtown Property Owners to support their vision of a vibrant downtown for everyone. The artists turned the empty 9,000-square-foot space at 72 S. Second St. into a light and video installation with roving robots that roam the space with live video, feeds and kinetic sculptures.

Unveiled Feb. 2, Dream Club Lab can be viewed 24 hours daily through June. Special video and performative robot activations will take place from 5 p.m.-11 p.m. each Thursday through Sunday.  

SJDA is heeding its long-term objective to improve the quality of life of residents and visitors. One strategy is to follow the guidelines of the property owners’ multi-year Comprehensive Downtown Lighting Plan, which calls for more activations that support downtown’s night-time economy.

“We believe that by increasing foot traffic in our district, we can create more opportunities for our members to connect with potential customers, clients and collaborators,” said Alex Stettinski, CEO of the Downtown Association. “One avenue to increase foot traffic is to improve the spaces between already lit businesses, which is the bread and butter of street life programming.”

The lighting projects are receiving additional funding from the Knight Foundation, Adobe, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and the Office of San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan. “Turning the lights on” is one of Mahan’s mantras for the city.

“In true Silicon Valley spirit, this activation takes a vacant storefront and turns it into an innovative attraction,” Mahan said. “We need more projects like this one as we work to create a safer, cleaner, cooler San Jose.”

The Mayor also noted that the addition of electricity and internet to the space for the art installation enhances future leasability.

Buckholtz and Winters drew from their experience as lighting and video designers for the stage to create a cityscape fantasy space to inspire passersby to meet, discuss, invent, test ideas, and ponder downtown’s future and path to improvement.

“Everyone will react differently and take away something different,” Winters said. 

Buckholtz and Winters, partnering as Nighthouse Studio, altered their Dream Club Lab concept to respond to the spatial considerations of the entire space. Some viewers said the art installation harkens back to the nightlife vibes of yesteryear, the artists added.

Though lights inside the space will stay on day and night, late afternoon sunlight results in a burst of motion and color reflecting off the curtains, the artists noted.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know San Jose,” Buckholtz said. “The city has an amazing warm spirit, and it is dynamic and down-to-earth.”

Dream Club Lab is wedged between The Improv comedy club and The Loft restaurant, across the street from San Jose Bar and Grill and Nova Nightclub. That part of South Second Street is most busy Thursday through Sunday nights. 

Dream Club Lab kicks off a series of illuminated art pieces planned by SJDA. A second installation is scheduled for later this year. The works are meant to be portable so that they can be moved to other locations.

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CONTACT: Robert Robledo, Director of Marketing and Communications,; (408) 464-6992

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About San Jose Downtown Association (SJDA): The San Jose Downtown Association is a membership-based nonprofit organization created in 1986 to provide marketing, advocacy, public art, and clean and safe initiatives on behalf of 2,000+ member businesses and property owners in Downtown San Jose. SJDA’s mission is to support the members’ vision of a vibrant Downtown San Jose for everyone. 

About the Property-Based Improvement District (PBID): The Property-Based Improvement Districtis a special benefit assessment district that provides enhanced maintenance, public safety, beautification and economic development programs above and beyond those provided by the City of San Jose. Key programs include Groundwerx cleaning and ambassador programs, tree-trimming and care, homeless assistance, business development and street life projects such as wall murals, crosswalk decor and decorative lighting. In general, PBID services improve the overall viability of business districts, resulting in higher property values, sales and tax revenues.

About Nighthouse Studio: Nighthouse Studio, initiated in 2006, is a collaboration between video artist Ian Winters and light artist Elaine Bucholtz. Their projects use video and light to transform sites into quiet spaces for contemplation, inducing a perpetual sense of wonder, yet pointing to social and cultural fragmentation, while simultaneously providing a vehicle for public self-reflection, connection, and healing.

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