Downtown Mirror was commissioned by the City of San Jose for “Who’s On First/What’s On Second,” a program of public artwork installations designed to enliven the city’s downtown corridor. For this project, Beltran interviewed denizens of the downtown area about their random thoughts, asking them, “What makes you smile?” “What are you afraid of?” “What were you thinking about before you saw me walk up to you?” People wrote their answers on random pages of her notebook to maintain anonymity. Beltran also researched the archives of the San Jose library for answers to these same questions from San Jose inhabitants from the past. The answers created a revealing, fascinating, poignant, and sometimes humorous portrait of both the individual interviewed and the demographic of the city. She then paired these answers with stylized film and images of the downtown environment, both past and present, thus developing constantly changing content from the public itself to create a psycho-geographical “portrait” of the area. The resulting videos were screened every evening for a year and a half in vacant storefronts of the downtown area.
As an additional component of this project, Beltran and collaborator Scott Minneman also created Downtown Mirror [Airplanes], which appeared every evening for one week in conjunction with the Zero1 Biennial in 2008. 16mm film footage of the ubiquitous passing airplanes that populate downtown San Jose was projected 44’ wide by 16’ tall onto a building exterior on Fountain Alley, which bridges First and Second Streets in downtown San Jose. Viewers also experienced an interactive sound element through the use of a state of the art audio “spotlight.” Upon entering a narrow “sound corridor” down the length of Fountain Alley, they actually heard the roar of the airplanes (yet this sound was not detectable even a few feet away).
In 2009, Downtown Mirror was recognized as one of the most outstanding public art projects in the country by the Public Art Network of the Americans for the Arts.