Current Exhibitions


Whiplash by Patrick Dougherty

 Patrick Dougherty, Whiplash, 2016, photograph by Keay Edwards. 
"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 in November. 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 crowdfunding initiative.


The Butterfly Effect:
Art in 1970s California

September 17-December 30, 2016

Miriam Schapiro, Docking #2, 1971, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 80-1/8 in., Collection of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson, Photo credit: M. Lee Fatherree

The title of this exhibition, The Butterfly Effect: California Art in the 1970s, was inspired by mathematician Edward Norman Lorenz, who presented a paper in 1972 in which he used a butterfly as the metaphor for chaos theory. He proposed that even something as seemingly small and fragile as the beat of a butterfly’s wings can have great consequences. This exhibition will feature artworks that help tell the story of the chaotic and beautiful events that have shaped many of our present-day perceptions.

The Butterfly Effect looks back at the rich and noisy decade in which the Palo Alto Art Center (the then Palo Alto Cultural Center) was founded. This metamorphic era gave form to the technological advances that created Silicon Valley and the resulting phenomenal growth in population of the San Francisco Bay Area. The 1970s were also a time of great social and political unrest. By the end of the decade, our greater social awareness set into motion many of our present-day perceptions and understandings of our world.

Drawn from art movements that preoccupied Bay Area artists during this pivotal era, the styles seen in this exhibition include Feminism, Pattern & Design, Kinetic Art, Photorealism, Spiritualism, Protest, Light and Space, the Paper Renaissance, and Color Theory.  Painting, photography, sculpture, video, collage, assemblage, and printmaking are represented in a variety of ways that demonstrate visual manifestations of a metaphorical butterfly in flight.

Built around the issues that were being addressed in the 1970s, The Butterfly Effect looks at the empowerment of individuals, the transformation of community, divergent spiritual practices, the importance of optimism and the hope of keeping a sense of possibility active. It also features works that demonstrate that this decade foreshadowed the technological advances that made possible the social, personal and business communications that we depend on today to stay connected and informed.

Artists included in The Butterfly Effect include: Eleanor Antin; Robert Arneson; Elaine Badgley Arnoux; Robert Bechtle; Fletcher Benton; Eduardo Carrillo; Bruce Conner; Jay DeFeo; Roy De Forest; Marc D’Estout; Jonathan Eubanks; Sam Francis; James Grant; Chuck Hilger; Robert Hudson; Margaret Keene; Sister Corita Kent; Chip Lord; Malaquias Montoya; Rupert Garcia; Bill Owens; Harry Powers; Miriam Schapiro; Fred Spratt; M. Louise Stanley; Carol Summers; Wayne Thiebaud; Jeffrey Vallance; Leo Valledor; William Wiley; and Joseph Zirker.  This exhibition is guest curated by Susan Leask.

Ant Farm, Media Burn (Lord, Michels, Schreier), 1975, photo copyright: Chip Lord

The Butterfly Effect is supported by the Dorothy Saxe Exhibition Fund, with contributions from Lois and Edward Anderson, Brigid Barton, Sue and John Diekman, Jeannie Duisenberg and Rich Hlava, Iris and Hal Korol, Beverly and Peter Lipman, Darle and Patrick Maveety, Collette and Peter Rothschild, Jan and Vic Schachter, Mara and Rick Wallace.



Last Updated: Dec 5, 2016