lorna saiki gilroy arts alliance
Lorna Saiki examines her oil painting, “In a Nutshell,” which is part of the Gilroy Arts Alliance’s new exhibit featuring artists from the Valle del Sur Art Guild. Photo: Erik Chalhoub
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The downtown Gilroy arts scene has experienced a renaissance as of late, with the addition of an artist studio on Sixth Street, to a massive mural project in an alleyway and monthly art walks.

The Gilroy Arts Alliance, the nonprofit that operates the Gilroy Center for the Arts on 7341 Monterey St., wants to capitalize on this burgeoning movement by becoming a hub for all things arts, from classes to performances and everything in-between and beyond.

After a difficult time during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced the center to be shut down for more than a year, Gilroy Arts Alliance Vice President Scott Downs said activity is beginning to ramp up at the downtown hub.

“Covid had a disastrous effect, but on the positive side, we can start over, we are recreating this space,” he said.

On Sept. 8, the center held a reception for its latest art exhibit, welcoming in members of the Valle del Sur Art Guild, which includes artists from throughout South Santa Clara County as well as San Benito County. The exhibit, which runs through Sept. 30, features works in watercolor, oil, acrylic and other media.

Downs, the curator of the exhibit, is also showing a variety of his works in acrylics, lino prints and more.

A retired educator, Downs, who now resides in Gilroy, spent most of his career as a high school art teacher in San Diego and Saratoga High School, including 23 years as the art department chair at Los Gatos High School.

scott downs gilroy arts alliance
Scott Downs, vice president of the Gilroy Arts Alliance, is shown with his acrylic piece, “Key Bottle.” Photo: Erik Chalhoub

He wants to use his background in education to get more students involved in art, and is working on creating synergy between local schools and the center to highlight student artwork, while also expanding the number of art classes offered at the location.

“Our vision here is to make this a hub,” Downs said. “This is a wonderfully creative community.”

The hub also got a major boost aesthetically in 2021, when it was chosen by Lowe’s as one of 100 projects nationwide to receive a makeover grant. As a result, the former thrift store building received new paint inside and out, as well as an updated facade and various infrastructure improvements.

In addition to monthly art exhibits, the Gilroy Center for the Arts is also the home for Limelight by South Valley Civic Theatre, which holds a number of shows throughout the year. The current show, “The Outsider,” is set to end its run on Sept. 17.

The Gilroy Arts Alliance holds a number of events throughout the year. For information, or to become a member to support its programming, visit gilroycenterforthearts.com.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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