The cultured life

The cultured life

Yaamini Venkataraman


De Anza College’s Euphrat Museum of Art celebrates Silicon Valley in its exhibition, "In Between: The Tension and Attraction of Difference"


Cupertino may lack the urban culture—there’s no vibrant downtown to lead the rich lifestyle—but inside lies one corner of culture, and that is the Euphrat Museum of Art at De Anza College.

For Minette Lee Mangahas Exquisite Corpse series, she worked with eight different graffiti artists individually. Photo taken from De Anza College Euphrat Museum.

The Euphrat Museum brings the ethnic diversity of Cupertino under one roof in its second major inaugural exhibition, "In Between: The Tension and Attraction of Difference", a showcase of the works of local artists. The Euphrat Museum describes the artists as people, "who do or see things in a fresh way, who investigate and rethink the status quo". However this isn’t your average art gallery. With modern graffiti, pop culture and basketball legends, there’s no need for a snorefest.

Although you can’t sense the attraction of difference at first, you can feel the inspiration and the artists’ passions. The room isn’t flashy, with only plain white walls to let the art do the talking. Spend ten minutes looking at a portrait of an influential art teacher or a contorted sculpture, and you won’t even scratch the surface or begin to understand the thought behind the art. Minette Lee Mangahas’ combination of East and West in "Calligraffiti" seems like the hardcore graffiti you would find in a New York alley. But a closer look reveals delicate brushstrokes and elements born out of thought, not impulse.  

Lucy Sargeant brushstrokes are dynamic, blending and accentuating different colors in each stroke. Her portraits of the San Jose State University art professors are anything but flat. They aren’t painted lines, but moments of time, captured with color and emotion. On a wall in the West Gallery of the museum is a wooden mass, made up of narrow panels etched with Sam Hernandez’s Spanish wisdom. Adjacent is Hernandez’s other sculpture, a contorted wooden mass on top with a red base with pool balls to give texture.

But finding this tension between attraction and difference isn’t that apparent, until you see the multimedia piece by Ken Lo. Lo, an Asian basketball prodigy, describes the quest for fame by depicting his own motto: "You are not anyone unless you have a name, and you’re not a name that means anything unless you have a shoe." He shows his time playing with Kobe Bryant through his use of color and creativity, apparent in the piece’s video, poster and painting components. 

After you engage your mind in thought for a while, you walk out of the museum, back into the suburban jungle inspired. Throw your shoulders back, hold your head up high and let the world say hello to the next great graffiti artist.

"In Between: The Tension and Attraction of Difference" is at the Euphrat Museum of Art until Mar. 25. The museum itself is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit