Chris Esparza, 43, raised in San Jose, now lives in San Jose’s Naglee Park neighborhood with his wife Pilar Agüero-Esparza and their child Olivia. Chris started working in the entertainment industry in 1985 and opened the his own venue The Ajax Lounge in 1991, a renowned jazz bar, café, and performing arts space in the nocturnal history of San Jose. He then started Smart Design in 1995, a design company specializing in graphic and furniture design, in a 14,000 sq. ft. warehouse on Martha Street. Smart Design converting the remaining space into San Jose’s first artist/small business incubator. Following these endeavors, Chris opened up an international café and jazz bar, Fuel 44 in late 1997. Chris then ventured on his own with what seemed like a natural progression – Giant Creative Services, a marketing, event design and performing arts resource agency, with such clients as San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, Villa Montalvo, and the renowned Stanford Jazz Festival, Giant was off to a great start. In 1999 he co-founded the volunteer civic entrepreneur group Circa 2000. Returning to small business in 2005, Chris opened the Naglee Park Garage, a neighborhood bistro in the downtown/SJSU area and in 2008 took on The San Jose Woman’s Club’sLandmark Ballroom for public and private events. Currently as San Jose Arts commissioner and producer of San Jose’s live music festival Left Coast Live.
List of Positions Held:
1998 – Circa 2000 Founding Member – Salamanca Speaker Series & Gypsy Cinema
2002 – Artsopolis/Arts Marketing Partnership Steering Committee Member
2003 – Arts Leadership for the Future Participant
2005 – 1st Act Catalyst Group Member
2005 – Campus Community Association Member
2006 – Arts Council Selection Grant Panel Committee
2007 – Founding Member of South Bay Live (live music advocacy group)
2007 – OCA Selection Committee – San Jose Downtown Temporary Public Art Project “Who’s on First”
2007 – Downtown San Jose Hospitality Zone Assessment
2008 – Creative Entrepreneur Steering Committee Member
2009 – Mexican Heritage Plaza Steering Committee
2009 – San Jose Arts Commissioner
Since 2007, Annie has worked for Giant Creative filling many roles including the Facilities Manager to the San Jose Woman’s Club and the First Unitarian Church, and an Event Producer for festivals and events such as Left Coast Live, Winter Wonderland, Spirit of Japantown, Big Bands & BBQ and various Wine Walks. Annie loves the challenge of thinking outside the box to make creative solutions for events, innovative event design, and working to recruit unique vendors to make an event special and memorable.
As Event Specialist for Giant Creative Services, Vanessa supports the team on everything from planning and event logistics to public outreach and coordination of vendors, caterers, and other event professionals. Passionate about food and wine, Vanessa’s varied background in Hospitality, Food and Beverage, and Marketing means she is also service-oriented and an effective communicator. Energetic and detailed, Vanessa loves participating in events that connect and bring excitement to the community. Vanessa helped coordinate Left Coast Live – Music Festival.