Impromptu artists add to the street chalk art at The Annual Sub Zero Festival in San Jose, Friday, June 7.

Harold Banks, Staff Reporter

For anyone interested in getting a taste of  the best entertainment and culture San Jose has to offer, South First Fridays in downtown’s SoFA district is a can’t miss prospect.

Held on the first Friday of every month, South First Fridays is a free unguided tour through several of the area’s participating art galleries, museums and performance venues.

Throughout the neighborhood, there are several bars and restaurants, making the walk a complete entertainment experience. In addition to the arts exhibits and performance pieces featured along the tour, there is usually a variety of live music to entertain visitors taking in the art scene.

“I come almost every month,” Zach Castle, 27, of San Jose said. “It’s great because the art you see changes up every time. My favorite is Anno Domini.”

The walk took things up a notch on Friday, June 7 with the sixth annual Sub Zero Festival, where the usual art walk was augmented with a street-lining cornucopia of art booths, food trucks and music stages.

Depending on the point of entry, the festival greeted revelers with sights alternating between the expected and unexpected.

In addition to the live bands that played on stages throughout event, street dancers and artists filled the street, ranging from women dancing with flaming hoops to people traveling up and down the street as walking pieces of art.

Perhaps attracting the most flash bulbs was an outdoor exhibit featuring partially nude body-painted models posing camouflaged in front of similarly painted canvases.

For anyone wanting to grab a bite, several of San Jose’s popular food trucks were scattered throughout, including Eat On Mondays, Grilled Cheese Bandits and Omi Ninja. For those on more of a liquid diet, there were several beer booths hosted by Gordon Biersch, Lagunitas, Bay Brewer’s Guild and others.

“I think they should do this more often than once a month,” Amy Turner, 23, of Milpitas said. “People would show up for sure. This is way too fun.”

Among the strangest sights was the spectacle of two “robots” fashioned out of cardboard and electric wheel chairs, racing through an obstacle course set up by They were piloted by people who were wearing “augmented reality” goggles. The goggles place the wearers in a third-party perspective, literally watching themselves racing around the track.

Watching them race, flail, and often crash around the course summed up the entire Sub Zero Festival experience; eye-catching, fun, absurd and just a little bit scary.

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