I’ve heard you can find anything at the mall, but the famous frescoes of the Sistine Chapel? It’s true — in a way — at Westfield Oakridge shopping center in South San Jose.
“Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition” is a touring show that opened there Jan. 14, with large reproductions of the artist’s famous work featured on the ceiling of the historic Vatican City landmark in Rome.
“It’s a different experience,” said Eric Leong, a senior producer with SEE Global Entertainment. “We can’t compare to the original, but what we try to offer is perspective.”
Perspective and an opportunity to see the art — which Michelangelo worked on from 1508 to 1512 — much closer than you would staring up at them 60 feet in the air. The 34 fabric panels in the exhibition, including some full-size replicas, are detailed enough to see the brush strokes in God’s robe, facial expressions on cherubs and the musculature on Adam and Eve. You can even spot some hidden images, like Michelangelo’s own face which he inserted into “The Last Judgement,” a fresco the artist painted for the altar wall some 25 years after he finished the famous ceiling work. A downloadable app provides an audio guide to each of the frescoes, too.
Those details — and having the time to notice them — was appealing for San Jose residents Bob and Melinda Cable. And, they’ve actually been to the Sistine Chapel multiple times, both before and after a decade-long restoration that finished in 1994.
“You get hustled through and you’re mesmerized by it,” Melinda Cable said of the experience of visiting the chapel with huge groups of tourists. “Trying to stop and drag through your memory any Biblical stories, there’s just no time.”
That same sentiment, Leong said, is what brought the touring exhibition into existence. Martin Biallas, who founded SEE Global Entertainment, visited the Vatican in 2014 and was impressed with the art but not his experience as a visitor. The company spent a year developing the exhibit before its debut in Montreal in 2015, followed by a U.S. premiere in Dallas in 2016. There are four other shows touring the United States and Europe right now, in addition to the Oakridge exhibition.
Tickets are $29.50 for adults, with discounts for seniors and kids 12 and under, and a package for a little more that includes a poster and a souvenir guide. The Sistine Chapel exhibit runs through April 30 in the former Ethan Allen space between Nordstrom Rack and BJ’s Brewhouse — the furniture store’s walls provide a nice background — but the only entrance is from outside the mall. Go to chapelsistine.com/exhibits/san-jose for all the details.
Leong has been working with “Michelangelo’s The Sistine Chapel” since its start and has become something of an expert on the frescoes over that time. But he sheepishly admits he’s never been to Rome to see the original, with a planned family trip in 2020 scuttled by the pandemic. It’s definitely on his bucket list, but until he gets there, he’ll be content working with what he considers to be the next best thing.
“We can’t peel the art off the ceiling without the Pope coming after you,” he said. “This is more like giving Michelangelo his own private gallery experience.”
SAVE THE DATE: San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan’s office announced this week that his public inauguration will be Feb. 1, when he will most likely spell out his vision for leading the Bay Area’s largest city.
Now, you may wonder — has he not already been mayor for the past month? Indeed he has. Mahan was officially sworn into office in a private ceremony Dec. 29, 2022 and assumed his duties at midnight New Year’s Day, stepping immediately into one of the worst series of rainstorms San Jose had seen in six years.
This 6 p.m. event at the Center for the Performing Arts in downtown San Jose, which will be followed by a reception with food and drinks, is open to the public, but RSVPs are requested because of limited seating. You can reserve a spot at bit.ly/sjinauguration.
BLESSED EVENT: Accompanied by the St. Francis High School choir, Bishop Emeritus Patrick J. McGrath of the Diocese of San Jose provided the blessing Friday morning for the Eggers Innovation Center, a new building on the 25-acre campus of the Mountain View school. The building — named for Barry and Meredith Eggers, who provided a substantial gift for the school’s Light the Way campaign — had a lot to bless, with 29 new classrooms, science labs, robotics space, a theater and collaboration spaces.
The ceremony included remarks by U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, St. Francis Principal Katie Teekell, St. Francis President Jason Curtis and Br. Tom Dziekan of the Brothers of Holy Cross, which also made a leadership gift to Light the Way, a $100 million fundraising campaign launched last year.
“I think the Innovation Center will bring hope to helping students to be creative and curious,” Eshoo said in her remarks. “And working together in this building’s wonderfully designed classrooms will help students respect each other by seeing
first-hand how your peers learn.”
MINDING THE STORAGE: If you’re looking for Silver Creek Self-Storage, just keep an eye out for the huge U.S. flag on Silver Creek Valley Road. Chuck Toeniskoetter honored veterans of the Vietnam war and other conflicts with a flag-raising at the opening of the storage facility in San Jose last month.
Retired Col. Ray Watts, who is president of the Silicon Valley chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, arranged for the 129th Rescue Wing honor guard from Moffett Field to participate in the ceremony. And in addition to the honor guard salute, the National Anthem and “God Bless America,” were sung by Angela Tirado, the East San Jose vocalist who has performed at countless civic events.
The opening of Silver Creek Self-Storage was the finish line of a long journey that started in 2014 when developer Mark Lazzarini bought the property. He passed it over to Toeniskoetter to develop after the San Jose City Council gave its OK to the project in 2018. It took four years to finish, but Lazzarini and his wife, Jeanne Lazzarini, were among the crowd there to celebrate.
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