On a recent night, I found myself invited to an empty, cavernous building in downtown San Jose, California. Several floodlights were either hanging from the steel-reinforced wood rafters, or standing alongside the walls, allowing the light to sneak across the crevices in the old brick and mortar. A red carpet was set atop the unfinished concrete floor, leading a mixed crowd of creatives (artists) and business executives (suits) from the double doors to a grouping of tables in the center of the room. A podium fronted them.
The whole setup felt like a super-secret consortium, and in fact, it kind of was.
On this night, Joel Slayton announced to dozens of prominent Silicon Valley business leaders and a global cast of artists and curators, the opening of the ZER01 Garage. This building, in the heart of San Jose’s SoFA Arts district, will be Silicon Valley’s ground zero for art, creativity, technology, and business innovation; a place where great minds of these often-separated disciplines come together to solve the world’s great problems.
Or, at least, that’s the gist of what Slaton, Executive Director of San Jose based ZER01 wants to build here.
The evening was filled with food, wine, a face-off discussion between technologist Harry Saal and new media artist Scott Snibbe, and several passionate exchanges between art leaders and business leaders as to what, exactly, the ZER01 “Garage” should be.
Near the end of the night, the 40-some-odd attendees had formed individual working groups, each coming up with tag lines for Silicon Valley’s future permanent home of Art and Technology. The results varied widely, from “A Safe Place for Failure” to “Where Art and Technology ‘Get it on’ in the Garage.”
However you spin it, the general consensus was the same: the ZERO1 Garage is all at once a bold, promising, risky venture… and in the spirit of the Silicon Valley startup, that is exactly what it needs to be in order to succeed.