The Mercury News Weekend
Hugs and kisses at Mineta Airport's new selfie spot
If you've ever been to an airport terminal — or just watched the beginning of “Love Actually” — you know a lot of affection takes place as people send loved ones on a trip or welcome them home. And that's what makes San
Jose Mineta International Airport the perfect home for a public art installation that's all about hugs and kisses.
Artist Laura Kimpton said she didn't fully realize that until she and fellow artist Jeff Schomberg were overseeing the installation of “XO” outside the airport's Terminal B.
“When I put this up two months ago, I realized the airport was the one place that people kiss and hug the most,” Kimpton said at the piece's dedication Thursday. “It was like, `Whoa! This is so appropriate.' ”
John Aitken, the city's director of aviation said this newest installation of public art is part of why San Jose's airport recently was named the best midsized airport for customer experience in the Airport Service Quality Awards.
“This art installation represents our commitment to an ongoing series of dynamic and engaging public art projects exhibited at the airport,” Aitken said, while also thanking the artists “for taking an empty spot that our travelers normally just walk past and turning it into something memorable that really gets their attention.”
The 12-foot-high aluminum letters, installed at the approach to Terminal B's dropoff and pickup lane, are illuminated by LED bulbs from within, with the colors showing through laser-cut shapes of birds. The birds — perfect for an airport instal
lation — are Kimpton's calling card and also a tribute to her father, hotelier Bill Kimpton, who died in 2001. He would travel to Siena, Italy, every year to see migrating swallows there.
Now if “XO” looks familiar, that's because the piece was originally at San Jose City Hall in the fall of 2018, along with a related set of letters — “HaHa” — at the Hammer Theatre Center plaza. They were both part of the “Monumental Word” series Kimpton and Schomberg made for Burning Man in 2017 and 2018. Their original piece from Burning Man in 2017 was actually “XOXO” — the traditional shorthand for hugs and kisses. San Jose, however gets only one hug and one kiss. The other half is in Aspen, Colorado, Kimpton said.
Schomberg was unable to make it to the dedication as he was snowed in at home in Reno, but Kimpton said that he grew up in Cupertino and his dream was to do public art. “This is a huge dream of Jeff's to check off after 20 years of hard work we've done,” she said. “We want to thank San Jose for making Jeff Schomberg's dream come true.”
CHEF'S TREAT >>
Three Bay Area chefs will be taking on an interesting challenge this month as they prepare a three-course meal using only ingredients found in West Valley Community Services' food pantry for the 12th annual Chefs of Compassion: Cooking for a Cause dinner March 31. Audience members at the fundraiser at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View will get to vote on their favorite of the dishes, which will be replicated by caterers and served to the crowd.
The competing chefs are Billy Hazra of the British Bankers Club in Menlo Park, Leo Ramirez of the Charrapa Project and A.J. Szenda of Bon Appétit. On top of the contest, the event also will honor the Sobrato Family Foundation, a longtime supporter of the agency, and Nancy and Chuck Harper, who both were involved in the original development and construction of Vista Village at West Valley Community Services 20 years ago.
Tickets are available for $175 per person at chefsofcompassion.org.
COLORFUL CELEBRATION >>
Whether it's pouring or not, expect Discovery Meadow park in downtown San Jose to be filled with color Saturday thanks to Holi Fest. The event, presented by the Association of Indo Americans and Bolly 92.3 FM, will include music, dance, Desi street food and color powder packets for purchase. The celebration runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and tickets are available for $10 at the gate (free for kids under 5). Go toaiaevents.org for more information.