Opening June 17
Michael Light:
Planetary Landscape

June 17-August 27, 2017
Opening Celebration: Friday, June 16, 7-10 p.m.
Artist talk: Sunday, June 25, 3-4:30 p.m.

Mile-Wide, 200' Deep 1952 MIKE Crater, 10.4 Megatons, Elugelab Island, Enewetak Atoll; 2003

Geological time is measured by the growth or diminishment of mountains—in millennia, not years. Many scientists now acknowledge humankind’s impact on the planet and have chosen to call this the Anthropocene era, or the “new era of man”. Whether initiated at the onset of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s, or during the atomic testing of the 1950s, humans are leaving a permanent mark on the planet.

The theme of human intervention in natural processes connects all of Light’s varied bodies of work. They offer a glimpse into the hubris of mankind; we leave footprints on the moon, plant green lawns in the desert, level mountains, and create our own suns through atomic energy.

Some of Light’s images are ghostly while others are blinding in their brilliance. It is often difficult to tell if you are looking at the moon or the bottom of the sea, at a crater left by a meteor or one made by the explosion of a bomb. This ambiguity is as critical to these works as is their beauty and their sense of the sublime, beguiling and seducing the viewer into looking more deeply.

Light’s artistic practice often extends beyond the use of what we consider the traditional tools of the visual arts. He pilots a small, 600 lb aircraft to scout and image his own aerial locations. Scuba diving allows him to explore, similarly in three dimensions, the still-radioactive results of our prolific atomic tests in the South Pacific. Coupling digital technologies more frequently used in the production of cinema with a taste for putting his body at risk more akin to performance art, Light uses whatever means are necessary to create a document of our constantly evolving–and constantly altered– “planetary landscape.”

This exhibition is guest curated by Sharon Bliss.


Michael Light is a San Francisco-based photographer. He has exhibited globally, and his work has been collected by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Getty Research Institute, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The New York Public Library, and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, among many others.

Kija Lucas:
Collections from Sundown

May 27 - August 27, 2017

In Collections from Sundown, local photographer Kija Lucas uses notes written by her mother and grandmother to share an intimate portrait of Alzheimer’s disease. Sundown refers to Sundowners Syndrome, a set of symptoms common in Alzheimer’s patients that often get worse after the sun goes down. These symptoms include increased confusion, and, in the case of Lucas’ grandmother, the collecting and packing of belongings in preparation for a perceived trip.

Kija Lucas is an artist and educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She uses photography to explore ideas of home, heritage, and inheritance. Lucas received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2006 and her MFA from Mills College in 2010. Her work has been exhibited throughout the Bay Area as well as in Los Angeles, Italy, and Mexico. She has participated in Artist-in-Residence programs at Montalvo Center for the Arts, Grin City Collective, and the Wassaic Project.

Patrick Dougherty, Whiplash

“My affinity for trees as a material seems to come from a childhood spent wandering the forest around Southern Pines, North Carolina. . .When I turned to sculpture as an adult, I was drawn to sticks as a plentiful and renewable resource.”

—Patrick Dougherty

 Whiplash, 2016, by North Carolina Artist Patrick Dougherty was created during a three-week artist residency. His sustainable willow material came from upstate New York, and was shaped in a process similar to basketry, but which the artist describes as akin to drawing. Patrick has created more than 275 monumental, site-specific sculptures on the grounds of museums, universities, botanical gardens, and private residences worldwide. His compelling sculptures evoke woodland architecture or gargantuan nests.

 Whiplash was supported by the Palo Alto Art Center, the Palo Alto Public Art Program, and the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation, with support from William Reller, Pat Bashaw and Eugene Segre, Catharine and Dan Garber, Barbara Jones, Nicki and Pete Moffat, Nancy Mueller, Anne and Craig Taylor, the Acton Family Fund, and more than 40 community donors to the Foundation’s first crowd funding initiative.


Last Updated: Jun 8, 2017