It’s hard to depict every major sports event and music legend that’s been part of the 25-year history of SAP Center, even in a mural that’s 270 feet wide like the one just completed on San Fernando Street in downtown San Jose.
“We work really hard to make sure we bring a wide variety of shows to SAP Center — and we live in an extremely diverse community so we need to have a diverse array of events,” said Doug Bentz, SAP Center’s vice president of marketing and digital. “So this mural really needed to represent that wide array of events.”
There are, of course, San Jose Sharks, with a trio of hockey players who appear to be skating out the mouth of a real Great White. The mural also depicts figure skating champion Kristi Yamaguchi, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, and huge musical acts Adele, E-40, and Elton John. James Hetfield of Metallica is depicted from the neck down, the assumption being that his guitar and stance would be more recognizable than his face.
And there’s also a headless Norteño musician with a cowboy hat and an accordion. While this figure could be taken to represent San Jose’s own Los Tigres del Norte, the art team said both the band and the genre is so popular they didn’t want to depict any single member. There are also silhouettes of fans, an image of the arena itself, and a 747 jetliner flying overhead — a nod to SAP Center’s location in the SJC flight path. Clouds, a few 1970s-looking shooting stars and “San Jose!” in a funky typeface complete the picture.
The work was done by Jeff McMillan and Gary Musgrave, a Southern California art team called The Draculas (true to their name, they did most of their work late at night over the past two weeks). McMillan grew up in San Jose and has fond memories of SAP Center, where his dad took him to see Eric Clapton when he was a teenager.
“I left San Jose in 1999 to go to Los Angeles for school,” he said. “To come back 20 years later to do this thing is awesome. It’s like full circle.”
This mural is the second in recent weeks that SAP Center has sponsored, following Austrian artist Nychos‘ “Bleed Teal” mural on an apartment building near Whole Foods on The Alameda. Bentz, SAP Center’s marketing vice president, says there are more artistic partnerships planned in the near future by the arena and the team, though this one is meant to cap off a yearlong celebration of SAP Center’s silver anniversary, which concludes with a huge music festival Sept. 13-15 featuring Blake Shelton, Kings of the West and Maluma.
It was a real team effort for SAP, too. Empire Seven Studios brought in The Draculas, the Sobrato Organization provided space in the parking lot for the work and Digital Realty gave permission to use the wall, which runs the length of San Fernando between First and Second streets.
Ron Muriera, a member of the city of San Jose’s arts commission, said it’s refreshing to see the private sector contributing to the beautification of the city through art. “It’s not just about celebrating the SAP Center’s 25th anniversary, it’s helping bring some vibrancy to the city and the downtown core,” he said. “It makes me glad to see that there are other sectors that have been contributing to art in our public spaces.”
Photos by: Johnny Rivas, Lanny Nguyen and Jennifer Ahn