The arts scene in Gilroy, the “community with a spice for life,” is expanding and evolving in many exciting ways. Come downtown and discover our variety of art venues, attractions, and events.
3rd Friday Art Walk
Gilroy’s streets are alive with art every third Friday of the month for the 3rd Friday Art Walk. Art studios, galleries and other local businesses host “art stops” throughout downtown, and sometimes the artists themselves are available to meet in person.
You’ll encounter a variety of art styles on the Art Walk, ranging from paintings, drawings and ceramics to live music, open mic nights, and even street performers. Each month features a different art theme, such as art by local youth, art by veterans, Día de Los Muertos art, a Film Walk with short films at different locations, and more.
Join us for the 3rd Friday Art Walk each month for a fun family night out. You can grab dinner at a local restaurant and then stroll through downtown to enjoy all the art exhibits and activities.
6th Street Studios & Art Center
6th Street Studios & Art Center in downtown Gilroy is a hub for all kinds of arts activities and offers a vibrant array of art classes, events, and special exhibitions all year long.
Residents and visitors are welcome to sign up for creative classes and hands-on workshops on topics that range from charcuterie and balloon bouquets to succulent gardens and Mexican Amate painting. Popular favorites include Sip n’ Create Art Nights on Thursdays and Yoga & Art 4 Kids on Saturday mornings. Their exhibitions have included some fantastic art by youth, veterans, photographers, painters, handcrafters, and even cultural dance and musical performances.
Founder Emily McEwan-Upright opened 6th Street Studios & Art Center as a non-profit organization to support the local arts community in many ways (including launching the 3rd Friday Art Walks). She believes “art is a universal language that has the power to unify a community, give a voice to those who are historically silenced, share important traditions, and allow everyone a way to express themselves.” Her mission is for the studio to offer a “cradle-to-career” outlook on the arts, offering opportunities for all ages and abilities.
Artist Spotlight: Rubén Darió Villa
Rubén Darió Villa is a local artist who hosts his own studio space, Fuchilandia Creative Studios, in the 6th Street Studio & Art Center. The studio walls are adorned with Rubén’s colorful and unique versions of Frida Kahlo, Our Lady Guadalupe, and other images—many of which are mosaics made from brightly colored Chiclets gum!
Always interested in using unique media for his art, Rubén was inspired by the children who sell Chiclets in Mexico and wanted to honor them. “The Chiclets remind me of the kids I’d see in Mexico at the border when we would go visit family,” he says. “There’s a strong connection with those memories.”
Rubén calls his style of art “Chicanostalgia”—a term he coined for a nostalgic way of looking at U.S. pop culture through a Latino or Chicano lens.
Rubén previously worked in visual design in the tech industry and held jobs at Apple and Google before pursuing his art on a full-time basis. Rubén is dedicated to serving his community through art as a Gilroy Arts & Culture Commissioner, chair of the Gilroy Arts Roundtable, and as a member of the 3rd Friday Art Walk planning committee.
Rubén believes art and culture play an important role in society. He says art is “what brings people out and builds community. Business goes up because of art and culture. Art isn’t just nice to have, it’s a sign of a functioning society and economy.”
Ruben wants visitors to know that Gilroy has everything it needs to be the “cool cousin” you want to visit! “Gilroy has something for everyone,” he says, “and it’s only going to get better.”
Gallery 1202 displays thoughtfully curated art exhibitions featuring a diverse range of local, regional, and international artists. The collections change about every two months, and each showing is very different. Visitors can even time their visit with the artist’s opening or closing reception, with an opportunity to meet the artist. Several of Gallery 1202’s artists have gone on to display their art at highly-esteemed art shows in the U.S. and abroad.
Gallery 1202 is a non-profit art organization, also founded by Emily McEwan-Upright of Sixth Street Studios, that supports marginalized artists from the Bay Area and around the world by giving them the opportunity to showcase and document their work. The Gallery also offers free public programming with artists’ talks, Q&A sessions, and opening and closing receptions. Emily hopes that “when people think of Gilroy, they think of our vibrant art community and all of the rich, cultural history and traditions we have.”
Gilroy Center for the Arts
The Gilroy Center for the Arts serves as a venue for a variety of artistic and creative activities and events. In addition to art and music classes, the Center also showcases and sells works made by local artists—including drawings, paintings, sculptures, jewelry and more.
The Center also hosts art receptions, special exhibits, and events like dance parties, open mic nights, holiday boutiques, and multicultural celebrations. The talented actors of Limelight Theater also perform here with intimate “Bring-Your-Own-Dinner & Wine” shows.
The Center for the Arts also participates as a stop on the 3rd Friday Art Walk and the annual Downtown Gilroy Wine & Art Walk.
The Center for the Arts is operated by the Gilroy Arts Alliance, a non-profit organization that supports the artistic and cultural activities of the creative talent in our community.
Leedo Art & Framing
Leedo Art & Framing is more than just a frame shop. For over 50 years, this downtown Gilroy fixture has offered custom framing, canvas wrapping, custom glass, and shadow boxes—while also showcasing a variety of art for sale. Walls, shelves, display cases, and even the hallway are covered in a variety of creative, colorful pieces, all created by local artists.
Current owner Kim Rossi purchased the business in 2013 after working there for more than 20 years. Her daughter Sarah works in the shop and runs her own photography business, Flicks by Sarah, which has a studio in the back of the gallery. They both love art, and Kim’s motto for Leedo is “Earth without ‘art’ is just ‘eh.’”
Kim and Sarah Rossi
Supporting local artists is near and dear to Kim and Sarah’s hearts. They are proud to provide a space for local artists to display their pieces, and they don’t take a commission on any of their sales. The art pieces in their store include pour art, photographs, paintings, drawings, pottery, handmade jewelry, crocheted pieces, hand-beaded purses, and more. Kim and Sarah know their artists well and can tell you stories about them and what makes their art special.
Sarah believes that they offer more than just art at face value. “Art is an outlet for a lot of people,” she says, “and during the pandemic, a lot of people fell in love with art.” Kim adds, “Art heals a lot of stuff.”
These art-loving ladies are excited to bring art to the community and visitors. They have begun hosting an “Arts & Coffee” event at their store on the last Saturday of each month from 9 am-12 pm, where a local artist or two will feature their art and meet with guests. It’s a great way for customers to connect with the artists themselves. They also participate in the 3rd Friday Art Walk and the Downtown Gilroy Wine & Art Festival.
Stop by Leedo Art & Framing for beautiful frames and art, meaningful conversation, and a warm welcome from Kim and Sarah. And, if you’re lucky, you may even be greeted by Tizz, Kim’s big, beautiful cat and the store’s mascot.
Other Art Activities & Events in Gilroy
While you’re in downtown Gilroy, you’ll find lots of other great ways to explore art. Take a self-guided tour of the murals (like the giant garlic mural) or see if you can spot the bronze sculptures (including one of the city’s namesake John Gilroy). Check out local artist Nacho Moya and his gallery filled with colorful, impactful paintings.
Be sure to check out the Visit Gilroy calendar for all the other events going on in Gilroy—and plan your visit in the spring for our annual Downtown Gilroy Wine & Art Walk.
Stay and Explore Gilroy
While you’re downtown checking out art, stop in for some delicious garlic dishes or authentic Mexican food at our local restaurants. Check out all the other fun things to do in Gilroy, and book a comfortable, affordable hotel room so that you have plenty of time to see and do as much as you can in beautiful Gilroy!