The Gilroy Center for the Arts has opened its doors for veterans, providing them with a contemplative space to display their artwork and mementos from their time in the service.
The annual Veterans Exhibit opened Nov. 1 and runs through Nov. 30 at the downtown center at 7341 Monterey St.
The exhibit features memorabilia, mementos, photos and art provided by the families and veterans throughout the area.
For Louise Shields, who is co-producing the exhibit with Scott Downs, the exhibit has an extra special meaning this year. Her brother, Frederick Nicholson, passed away earlier in 2023, and to commemorate his Navy service, the exhibit displays one of his camo hats in the center of the room, along with photos and a biography.
For Downs, both his father and father-in-law served in the Navy, and their various memorabilia are on display at the Gilroy Center for the Arts.
Shields said that rather than honoring veterans for one day out of the year on Veterans Day, the exhibit dedicates an entire month to them.
“It’s so very important that we have a month-long exhibit to honor our veterans who have served,” she said.
Downs added that the exhibit gives viewers a chance to contemplate the sacrifices of those in the armed forces, by providing a quiet space to view the veterans’ work and learn more about their backgrounds.
The Gilroy Center for the Arts is partnering with VFW Post #6309, Operation Freedom Paws and Gavilan College to provide information on resources for veterans and their families throughout the duration of the exhibit.
VFW Commander Raul Torrez will be the guest speaker during a reception on Nov. 5 from 2-4pm, where the public is invited to meet the veteran artists and hear their stories.
The Gilroy Center for the Arts is open Tuesday through Friday from 1-4pm, and Saturday from 10am to 4pm. For information, visit gilroycenterforthearts.com.
Veterans’ month continues
The exhibit at the Gilroy Center for the Arts is part of a series of events in November honoring veterans.
The Veterans Day ceremony and parade returns Nov. 11. The ceremony is at 11:11am in front of the new “Home of the Brave” mural at the Gilroy Veterans Hall, 74 West Sixth St., hosted by the American Legion Post 217.
The parade, hosted by the South Santa Clara Valley Memorial District (SSCVMD) and the Gilroy Veterans Hall and themed “Our True Heroes,” follows at 1pm through downtown Gilroy. Korean War veteran Edward Sanchez has been named the Grand Marshal.
“At 90 years old, he has lived a life of service to his country and community,” Gabe Perez, board president of the SSCVMD, which owns and operates the Gilroy Veterans Hall, stated in a press release.
After serving in the United States Air Force, Sanchez began his civilian career of service working as a bailiff, and then as a community relations officer for the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. He then helped qualified low-income tenants lease homes through the Santa Clara County Housing Authority.
Sanchez is also the founder of the Gilroy Citizenship Education Project, where he worked as an educator, mentor, motivator and cheerleader for the community’s immigrants.
He helped many of Gilroy’s immigrants become U.S. citizens, including his own mother who earned her citizenship at 95 years old, according to a press release from the South Santa Clara Valley Memorial District.
“Sanchez has done everything from the heart, not for the glory,” Perez said.
The parade will start at Seventh and Monterey streets and travel north to Fourth and Monterey streets.
The entry fee is free, thanks to the many donors such as Premier Builders, Mayor Marie Blankley, Gardner Health Services, Bracco’s Towing, Jay Johnson & Associates, EZ Clean Car & Dog Wash, MG Constructors & Engineers, the American Legion Post 217, Build Site Services and Dividend Homes, Inc.
Additional sponsors include County Federal, Gilroy Downtown Business Association, CalSilk, Cresco, Nissan of Gilroy, the Ford Store Morgan Hill, the VFW Post 6309 and 6th Street Studios and Art Center.
Also on Nov. 11, the Gilroy Veterans Hall will also host a Veterans Day Holiday Market from 10am-4pm, with 20 local vendors. Gilroy’s Coast Range CrossFit is putting on the Gilroy Unity Games starting at 8am, which is a workout competition honoring veterans.
Local service organizations will honor local veterans, too. The Gilroy Rotary will host a luncheon on Nov. 7, while the Gilroy Elks Lodge #1567 has a dinner planned on Nov. 15 at 7pm. Both events will be at the Elks Lodge, 2765 Hecker Pass Road.
Artistic talents of veterans will be on display at the 6th Street Studios and Art Center from Nov. 3-30.