Written & Photographed By Dan Craig
GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN
burgeoning art scene in downtown Gilroy has a
recent addition with the opening of Gallery 1202.
Adjacent to The Neon Exchange at 7363 Monterey
Street in the recently renovated historic Louis Ho-
tel, the gallery is operated by Gilroy resident and
artist Emily McEwan-Upright.
“The gallery focus is for it to be a landing spot for the
community to relax, view artwork and to bring together the
cultural assets we already have here,” McEwan-Upright said.
She was making reference to The Center for the Arts, Leedo
Gallery, and Moya Art Gallery and Studio.
“I would eventually like to see an ‘art walk’ event involv-
ing galleries, restaurants and other downtown businesses
where people can network and meet.” To that end, she
recently accepted an invitation to serve on the board of the
Gilroy Arts Alliance.
McEwan-Upright says her vision for a gallery began in her
teen years when she would travel to downtown San Jose after
school in Almaden to visit her mother, who at the time was
working as an accountant. It was those frequent visits that
exposed her to the emerging SoFA District on South First
Street and its First Friday Art Walks. She credits those expe-
riences with inspiring her to pursue a degree in Art History,
and perhaps the impetus to eventually open Gallery 1202.
“I spent a lot of my childhood downtown, I loved the
budding art scene,” she fondly recalled. “I’d take the bus as
a freshman in high school or get rides with my cousins. First
Fridays inspired me to pursue a major in Art History.” She
went on to receive a Master’s degree in Art History from San
Jose State University after earning a Bachelor’s degree from
U.C. Santa Barbara.
The idea of a gallery in Gilroy came to fruition after
she began displaying her own abstract art in her mother’s
accounting office in the Pixley House on Fifth Street in
Gilroy. In the spring of 2019, she began exhibiting other
artists at Pixley. A desire to expand led her to contact Toni
Bowles of The Neon Exchange to inquire about a space for
a gallery. It fit Bowles’ vision of promoting entrepreneurial
opportunities for women, and last October, McEwan-Upright
held the grand opening of Gallery 1202.
“Having Gallery 1202 under our roof here at The Neon
Exchange is a testament to our focus in supporting female
owned or operated businesses as they scale up,” said
Bowles. “In addition to this, Gallery 1202 provides our Neon
Community substantive arts and culture programming,
which complements our focus on health and business.”
McEwan-Upright has two children (1202 is named for
her son’s birth date) and is married to U.S. Navy Lieutenant
Commander Rory Patrick-Upright, who serves as a weapons
system operator in F-18 fighter jets.