Past Exhibitions

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 - July 9, 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.

Cultural Kaleidoscope
Exhibition dates: April 29-May 28, 2017
Opening Celebration: Wednesday, May 3, 4:30-7 p.m. Remarks at 6 p.m.

Cultural Kaleidoscope (CK) is a unique artists-in-the-schools program that links Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, and Menlo Park, building bridges through the arts. Moving beyond traditional classroom instruction, CK provides engaging cross-cultural experiences in an integrative visual arts environment. K-5 classrooms from Palo Alto Unified School District and Ravenswood City School District are partnered and connections are fostered between students from diverse backgrounds. Together, these students see works of art during field trips to local museums and make art under the guidance of professional artists. These classes correspond with each other throughout the program, developing writing skills and friendships in the process.

This year, Cultural Kaleidoscope brought art instruction to an entire grade level at one elementary school in the Ravenswood City School District. For this pilot program, a teaching artist facilitated core curriculum-integrated art making in four second grade classes at Brentwood Elementary. Their Cultural Kaleidoscope experience culminates with a field trip to the Palo Alto Art Center to view their artwork on display.

Cultural Kaleidoscope received a 2015 Superintendent’s Award for Excellence in Museum Education, chosen by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, in conjunction with the California Association of Museums.

Youth Art
Exhibition dates: April 29-May 21, 2017
Opening Celebration: Wednesday, May 3, 4:30-7 p.m. Remarks at 6 p.m. 

Humans have always told stories. An ancient Paleolithic hand print on a cave wall signals that “someone was here”, and suggests a narrative. Our stories encourage trust and empathy, connecting us to others and promoting understanding.

Storytelling can be accomplished as successfully with images as with words. Visual stories inspire us to see and think in ways that transcend the limitations of language, encouraging multiple meanings and a diverse range of responses. This is a core value of PAUSD Art Education and we are thrilled to share our students’ visual stories with you. Enjoy!
Creative Ecology: Mari Andrews
March 17-May 21, 2017 

Artist Mari Andrews transformed natural materials that might otherwise go unnoticed into wall-sized sculptures for this exhibition at the Palo Alto Art Center. “My work is always about the beauty of nature and paying attention to what’s around you, and inspiring people to take better care of nature,” says Andrews. “All of the branches in this exhibition come from trees that dropped them during the series of storms this year.”

Andrews’ effort is part of Creative Ecology: Exploring Our Environment with Art, Science, and the Community, an innovative program promoting appreciation of the natural world through scientific inquiry and the creative process. The effort includes artists, educators, and the larger community, and is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and made possible through a partnership between the Palo Alto Art Center and the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo.
Spectral Hues: artists + color
January 21-April 9, 2017 

Mitchell Johnson, Piaggio, 2009-12, oil on canvas, 78 x 120 in., Courtesy of the artist

Forty-five years ago the Palo Alto Art Center showcased an exhibition exploring the conceptual use of color by Bay Area artists. As a continuation of the Art Center’s year-long celebration of its still vibrant service to the Palo Alto community, Spectral Hues examines light and color in the work of today’s Bay Area artists by featuring a selection of works that explore the presence, or lack, of color along with the optical and emotional influence of color on the viewer, and the interaction of light and color. Artists in the exhibition include: Anne Appleby, Leo Bersamina, Omar Chacon, Freddy Chandra, Amy Ellingson, Eden V. Evans, Kristin Farr, Anoka Faruquee, Marguerite Fletcher, Stephen Giannetti, Mike Henderson, Karrie Hovey, Henry Jackson, Mitchell Johnson, Amy Kaufman, Keira Kotler, Richard Mayhew, Ron Nagle, Ruth Pastine, Mel Prest, Ken Price, Meghan Riepenhoff, Tamra Seal, Jenny Sharaf, Lisa Solomon, Victoria Wagner, Nancy White. Spectral Hues is guest curated by Sharon Bliss.

Kristin Farr, Magic Hecksagon, 2006, Gouache and acrylic on wood, 17.5 in. diameter

The Butterfly Effect: Art in 1970s California
September 17-December 30, 2016 

Miriam Schapiro, Docking #2, 1971, acrylic on canvas, 72 in. x 30 1/8 in., from the collection of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson 

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 Art Center, like many other local arts organizations, was founded in the 1970s—the same spirit that drove our founders to work together to create a place for art in the community was the catalyst for other organizations too,” says Art Center Director Karen Kienzle. “It was a time when people felt collectively they could make a difference.”

The Butterfly Effect looks back at the rich and noisy decade in which the Palo Alto Art Center (then the 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 how this decade foreshadowed the technological advances that made possible the social, personal and business communications we depend on today to stay connected and informed.

Artists included in The Butterfly Effect are: Ant Farm, Eleanor Antin; Robert Arneson, Elaine Badgley Arnoux; Fletcher Benton; Eduardo Carrillo; Roy De Forest; Marc D’Estout; Jonathan Eubanks; James Grant; Chuck Hilger; Robert Hudson, Sister Corita Kent; Malaquias Montoya; Betanzos; Rupert Garcia; Bill Owens; Harry Powers; Miriam Schapiro; Fred Spratt; M. Louise Stanley; Carol Summers; Wayne Thiebaud; Leo Valledor; William Wiley, Paul Wonner, and Joseph Zirker. The exhibition is guest curated by Susan Leask.

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

Fired Up: Monumental Clay
June 18-August 28, 2016 

Image credit: Viola Frey, Stubborn Woman, Orange Hands, 2004, ceramic with glazes, 72 x 80 x 72 inches © Artists’ Legacy Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York. Photography by Chris Watson.

Fired Up celebrates the powerful potential of ceramic on a monumental scale. The exhibition takes over the Art Center galleries, public and outdoor spaces with large-scale ceramic sculpture and installation. Featuring the work of diverse artists from around the country in collections throughout the region, as well as a limited number of site-specific installations, Fired Up showcases the creative and expressive possibilities of clay—when scaled.

Susana Arias
Clayton Bailey
Leslie Ann Rice Bock
Shay Church
Shenny Cruces
Stephen De Staebler
Jeffrey Downing
Bean Finneran
Viola Frey
Dennis Gallagher
David Gilhooly
Jun Kaneko
David Kuraoka
Robert "Bo" Kvenild
Courtney Mattison
Jim Melchert
Tony Natsoulas
Elyse Pignolet
Peter Voulkos
Matt Wedel
Wanxin Zhang
The artists in Fired Up shatter our preconceptions of what ceramic art can be, challenging us to think beyond the diminutive clay teacup. These works tower over us, consume our field of vision, require us to navigate around them. They assert themselves as art and object. As Jim Robinson in Large-scale Ceramics writes: “My own view is that to work large is to accept a challenge…create an interaction or dialogue—much more difficult to achieve in small works.”

Scale provides a conceptual tool for Fired Up artists, assisting them in amplifying their message. Some works in the exhibition highlight the viewer’s own fragility and comparative insignificance, even reminding us of our mortality. Other works provoke humor through their magnification of humble, mundane objects. Further works speak to the fundamental connection between clay and earth—reminding us of the acute vulnerabilities of our planet.

In clay, playing with scale inherently involves significant technical prowess—the manipulation of massive amounts of heavy material, along with engineering and structural feats that seemingly defy gravity. The grand vision of the artists in this exhibition can be experienced on a visceral level as they push the boundaries of their medium, bringing ceramics to astounding new levels of craftsmanship and content.

Fired Up kicks off a year of programming in conjunction with the Palo Alto Art Center’s 45th anniversary. The exhibition is timed in conjunction with an institution-wide education initiative, 45 Days of Clay that features exhibitions, workshops, events, residencies, and hands-on workshops for all ages. These programs showcase the importance of ceramic art and education to the Palo Alto Art Center, celebrating our role in introducing ceramic art to thousands of community members in our four-decade history.

Fired Up: Monumental Clay and 45 Days of Clay are supported by the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation, Peggy and Yogen Dalal, and The Lennox Foundation. Fired Up is supported by the Dorothy Saxe Exhibition Fund with contributions from Lois and Edward Anderson, Brigid Barton, Jeannie Duisenberg and Rich Hlava, Beverly and Peter Lipman, Patrick and Darle Maveety, Collette and Peter Rothschild and Jan and Vic Schachter. 

Double Take by Patrick Dougherty: A site-specific installation
January 2011 - 2016 

Patrick Dougherty and detail of Ruaille Buaille (Hijinx) 2008, Parklands in County Offaly, Ireland. Photo: James Fraher

The Palo Alto Art Center is honored to present a monumental, site-specific installation by Patrick Dougherty, one of the nation’s most prominent environmental sculptors. The public may view the artist’s creative process during his three week artist residency, January 11- 28, 2011, on the grounds of the Palo Alto Art Center. 

Identified as the Jackson Pollock of saplings by art critic John Perreault, Patrick Dougherty is a process-oriented artist whose lyrical, organic works are created specifically for each site. Made from local and renewable willow saplings, his works embody natural life cycles, changing over time as the sticks settle and decay, eventually returning to the earth from which they grew. Dougherty has created over 200 monumental site-specific installations on the grounds of major museums, universities, botanical gardens, and private residences worldwide. The resulting works evoke a wide array of natural forms, ranging from nests to objects with a transparent architecture, like woodland dwellings, or basketry. 

Environmental sensitivity is a major concern for the artist. Saplings are gathered from maintained sources so that the branches grow back to make new sticks for future uses. Dougherty does not use any artificial supports in his constructions because the inherent properties of saplings cause them to snag and entangle easily. 

While there is a signature quality to his work, each of his compelling sculptures relates specifically to the physical site in a unique way. Dougherty believes that ideas percolate at the actual venue and that “the success of a piece lies in capturing the essence of a place and then playing with what you make of that essence.” Unlike other sculptors, he initially conceives of his work by making a series of word associations on both the physical and social qualities of a site. He is conscious of drawing in space, as he weaves sticks with lighter and darker colors and varying widths and lengths.

This project is commissioned by the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation and co-sponsored by the Palo Alto Public Art Commission. It is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Documentary film of the Patrick Dougherty installation at the Palo Alto Art Center

Patrick Dougherty Lecture at the Palo Alto Art Center (YouTube)

Public Reactions to Double Take by Patrick Dougrhty (YouTube)

Left: James Craft, Cesar Chavez & Green Oaks Academy, Grade 1, Untitled, 2016, mixed media | Right: Emily Wang, Duveneck Elementary School, Grade 5, Adoptable, 2015, oil pastel
Cultural Kaleidoscope
April 30-May 29, 2016 
Youth Art*
April 30-May 22, 2016

Hundreds of student artists throughout Palo Alto and Menlo Park will meet at the intersection
of creativity and innovation during this year’s annual Cultural Kaleidoscope and Youth Art exhibition at the Palo Alto Art Center, April 30-May 31, to share their youthful artistic expressions.

New to the event this year is the collaborative Data Art Project, created by the students at Synapse School in Menlo Park and Connect Charter School in Redwood City. During this venture, 300 students explored the connection between science, technology, math, design, music, and fine arts to create a large-scale, colorful, and modular installation in the sculpture garden of the Art Center.

Noa Mendelevitch, Director of Innovation at Synapse School, says, “Palo Alto Art Center has been instrumental in bringing our two communities together and helping bridge the gap between public and private school arts education.”

Cultural Kaleidoscope is a unique artist-in-the-schools program that links the neighboring and diverse communities of Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, and East Menlo Park, by building bridges through the arts. By partnering two K-5 classrooms from PAUSD and Ravenswood City School District to foster connections between students of diverse backgrounds, Cultural Kaleidoscope transcends traditional classroom instruction, providing engaging cross-cultural arts education. The culminating exhibition of the program, also named Cultural Kaleidoscope, showcases artwork produced in the residencies, featuring a wide range of media inspired by world cultures.

Youth Art presents artwork produced by students from kindergarten through high school within the Palo Alto Unified School District. The theme for this year’s exhibition is “The Art of Ideas.”
“Community partnerships and events that showcase the dedication and talent in our midst are key to helping every child thrive. To support and develop the leaders for the next generation, creativity and innovation are of the utmost importance, and arts education is a critical piece,” says Melissa Baten Caswell, Board Member of both the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation Board and the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education. “I applaud the Palo Alto Art Center for their ongoing support of the art educators in the Palo Alto Unified School District and thank both organizations for working together to support our students and publicly demonstrate their ingenuity and imagination.”

*Some artworks in the Youth Art exhibition are on view at the PAUSD District Office, 25 Churchill Avenue, during business hours 8:00 a.m.-4:45 p.m. and during the May 4 reception.

Michael Hall, I Hold You Tight To Keep You Safe, 2007, 6 x 5 ft., oil on canvas, courtesy of the artist

Since earliest recorded history, birds have inspired both awe and superstition. Their flapping, singing, tapping, and preening feed our imaginations, visiting not only the dreams of artists, but the collective consciousness of the entire human race. For this exhibition, we have created our very own exotic aviary, featuring the work of more than 40 artists from around the world.

Troy Abbott
Lauren Ari
Eiko Borcherding
Ria Brodell
Jasmina Cibic
Emilie Clark
Timothy Cummings
Sarah Louise Davey
Lauren DiCioccio
Jessica Joslin
Christina Empedocles
Mandy Greer
Michael Hall
Rita Harowitz
Nicole Jean Hill
Dennis Hlynsky
Isabella Kirkland
Walter Kitundu
Malia Landis
Hung Liu
Nathan Lynch
Kara Maria
Stephanie Metz
Susan Middleton Robert Minervini
Vik Muniz
Jose Nuniz
Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor
Selene Perez
Robb Putnam
Alan Rath
Alexis Rockman
Alexander James Rohrig
Clare Rojas
Jane Rosen
Laurel Roth Hope
Anne Siems
Deborah Simon
Kiki Smith
Sarah Smith
Inez Storer
Kevin Earl Taylor
Esther Traugot
Tara Tucker
Carlos Villa
Gerald Wiggins
Gail Wight
Darren Waterston 
Creative Ecology: Linda Gass What We Discovered at Cooley Landing
November 14 - January 22 

On the Edge, Copyright 2008 © Linda Gass.

For the exhibition, Gass has created intimately-scaled stitched paintings and substantial land-art installations that explore the water and landscapes, exploring the themes of what lives in the water and sea level rise. She strives to create beautiful artwork with a message—work that engages the viewer and promotes awareness and action around the conservation of land and water. Two community art projects, led by Gass, will also be shown. The first consists of photographs of a community-built land art installation marking the historic shoreline and filling of wetlands. The second is a quilt comprised of 66 colorful silk paintings created by community members and reflecting the natural environment of Cooley Landing.

"Science, nature and the community all came together to inform and inspire the artwork in the exhibition," says Gass. "I was touched by how people responded to what they saw, the drawings they made in their field notebooks, and the conversations I had with them. Much of the artwork I'm showing is a true collaboration with the community."

About Creative Ecology
Her effort is part of Creative Ecology: Exploring Our Environment with Art, Science, and the Community, an innovative program promoting appreciation of the natural world through scientific inquiry and the creative process. The effort includes artists, educators and the larger community, and is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and made possible through a partnership between the Palo Alto Art Center and the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo. 

Image: Robin Lasser and Adrienne Pao, Picnic Dress Tent, 2005, chromogenic photograph,40 x 48 in.; courtesy of the artists

“Places matter. Their rules, their scale, their design include or exclude civil society, pedestrianism, equality, diversity (economic and otherwise), understanding of where water comes from and garbage goes, consumption or conservation. They map our lives.”
—Rebecca Solnit

Front Yard/Backstreet explores the connections between people and their communities. These artists encourage us to see our communities in new ways, by showcasing unique and unexpected features of our landscapes, neighborhoods, blocks and parks, and the businesses and people who inhabit them. Featuring works in a wide range of media, Front Yard/Backstreet explores themes of mapping, landscape, and population, ultimately encouraging us to reconsider our relationships to the places in which we live work, and play.

“Maps encourage boldness…They make anything seem possible.” — Mark Jenkins

Maps are vital tools for exploration, documentation, and memory. They help us to make sense of our communities and serve as nostalgic reminders of the places we have lived, visited, and dreamed about. Artists in Front Yard/Backstreet find inspiration in the form of maps to create artworks that explore our relationship to place. Val Britton refers to her complex mixed-media works as “emotional landscapes” that suggest imagined roadways, land masses, and oceans. Craig Dorety in collaboration with Jim Campbell creates an illusion of a three-dimensional urban landscape in a two-dimensional format in Inverted Pixel Array—Street Scene NYC. In her laser-cut works, installations, and FRICKbits app, Laurie Frick tracks and visualizes personal data—including her walking and sleep patterns. Matt Gonzalez assembles street-grid collages from found materials to reflect his urban landscapes. Kate Pocrass encourages us to see the everyday in a new light in her This is Happiness: Palo Alto map, which is available for free to all. Lordy Rodriguez uses the language of cartography to explore the cultural and historic identities of our community.

Artists in Front Yard/Backstreet bring us closer to both natural and man-made elements in our landscape, encouraging us to see parts of our terrain that we may have overlooked. Deeply concerned with the environmental fragility of our coasts and marshes, Tanja Geis presents a site-specific installation created from mud collected from the nearby Baylands. Amanda Marchand’s compelling photographs offer us a rarely-seen view of gardens at night. Tracey Snelling plays with scale in her miniature dwellings, incorporating video to suggest alternate narratives. Blending traditional photographic processes with satellite imagery culled from Google maps, Greg Stimac addresses the power of landscape in shaping community identity.

Ultimately, people build our communities and infuse them with life. Artists in Front Yard/Backstreet highlight populations in our community that we may not see, or have chosen not to notice. They also provide novel perspectives on the people we see every day. Robin Lasser and Adrienne Pao create dress tents that humorously blend performance, sculpture and photography, challenging representations of women by exploring what lies underneath the façade (or under the dress). Whitney Lynn’s video documents famous San Francisco street performer Greg Jacobs (a.k.a. Bushman) as he plays with his own visibility. In meticulously detailed pencil drawings, Joel Daniel Phillips spotlights residents of the Buena Vista Mobile Home community, work produced during a residency at the Palo Alto Art Center. Arne Svenson employs unique compositional techniques to elevate the manual laborers who are his subjects. 
Friday Night at the Art Center: Opening Celebration for Front Yard/Backstreet
Friday, September 18, 7 - 10 p.m.
Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road

Join us as we celebrate the opening of Front Yard/Backstreet with hands-on artmaking, interactive activities presented by the Mobile Arts Platform, a special performance by exhibiting artists Robin Lasser and Adrienne Pao, food trucks, live music by Old Broads Rule, and a cash bar featuring a specialty cocktail provided by the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation. 
Home Grown: Walter Robinson
June 20 - August 30, 2015

Image: Walter Robinson, Fruits de Mer, 2013, wood, polychrome, and brass, 104 x 75 x 24 inches, courtesy of Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco

Home Grown: Walter Robinson is a mid-career solo exhibition of paintings and sculptures created by the native Palo Alto artist during the past ten years, offering a glimpse at works from public and private collections from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Robinson is an expert craftsman, finishing his works in high-gloss colors that evoke the polish found in advertising. A provocateur, he plays with scale and appropriates familiar imagery and forms such as corporate logos, street signs, cartoon characters, gas pumps, and animal cookies, presenting a critique of contemporary culture and politics. Robinson's work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the San Jose Museum of Art and Montalvo Arts Center, and he has received critical attention from a number of publications including Artforum, ArtReview, Vanity Fair, and The San Francisco Chronicle. Robinson lives in Lamy, New Mexico and has exhibited with Catharine Clark Gallery since 1993.
Friday Night at the Art Center: Opening Celebration for Home Grown: Walter Robinson 
Friday, June 19, 7 - 10 p.m.

Celebrate the opening of Home Grown: Walter Robinson with the artist, see his paintings and sculptures created spanning a decade, and participate in a range of hands-on art-making activities in the Adult Studios. Enjoy delicious food truck fair and a specialty cocktail from the cash bar at another fun-filled Friday Night at the Art Center! 

May 2–May 31*

Left: Nate Johnson, Nixon Elementary School, Kindergarten, Untitled, 2015, paint and marker on papier-mâché over foil and recycled bottle | Right: Alice Wang, Palo Alto High School, Grade 12, Untitled, 2015, mixed media on paper

Each year, the Art Center showcases youth creativity in two exhibitions that celebrate the artistic vibrancy of our community. Youth Art features artwork produced by children, youth, and teens in the Palo Alto Unified School District. Cultural Kaleidoscope displays the collaborative art projects created in the Art Center’s artist-in-the-schools program, Cultural Kaleidoscope. Featuring inspiring artwork in a wide range of media, these beloved exhibitions demonstrate the power of artwork for children of all ages.

*The Youth Art exhibition closes May 24.

Wednesday, May 6, 4:30-7 p.m.

Join us and celebrate the artwork of children at the Palo Alto Art Center’s spring exhibitions!

Kate Lee Short, The Oculus (detail), 2012, salvaged speakers, speaker wire, Motu audio interface, Mac Mini, amplifiers, wood, 192 x 168 in., courtesy of the artist; Photo: Phil Bond.

Hear This! explores the artistic potential of sound, inviting visitors to look, listen, and immerse themselves in the works of five contemporary artists working across disciplines and in a diverse range of media. Including sculptures, prints, tapestry, and video, this exhibition includes works investigating perception, the passage of time, and nostalgia. Encounter a range of visually compelling sonic works by artists such as Kate Lee Short (Oakland), who creates monumental sculptures composed of stacks of salvaged speakers. Make your own sounds on an amplified wire installation by Chris Duncan (Oakland). Listen to Julianne Swartz’s (New York) woven electrical wire tapestry. Watch and listen as Mark Malmberg’s (Petaluma) kinetic mobile responds to light, twitching, chirping, and clicking. Experience a video projection in which artist Christian Marclay (New York and London) repeatedly changes vinyl records, lifting and dropping the tone arm of a spinning turntable, searching for the word “love” in the song lyrics.

Exhibition Preview & Walkthrough with the Curator
Friday, January 16, 9 - 10 a.m.

Opening Celebration
Friday, January 23, 7 - 10 p.m.

Meet some of the exhibiting artists, experience a live sound performance by Chris Duncan with a film projection by Paul Clipson, treat yourself to food provided by Ada’s Café, or indulge in a cocktail!

Artists Talk
Sunday, March 15, 2 - 3 p.m. 

Join musician Danny Paul Grody, founding member of San Francisco bands Tarentel, The Drift, and Moholy-Nagy, and visiting French artist and musician Félicia Atkinson, as they explore the sonic potential of exhibiting artist Chris Duncan’s interactive installation.

Artists Panel

Saturday, March 7, 2 - 3:30 p.m.

Join exhibiting Bay Area artists Chris Duncan, Mark Malmberg, and Kate Lee Short for a conversation and learn more about their artistic explorations of sound.

Oculus: Interpretations: Closing Celebration for Hear This!
Sunday, April 12, Performances at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Join us at 1:30 p.m., and then again at 3:30 p.m., as we premier new compositions by 5 Bay Area artists presented in succession inside Kate Lee Short’s "The Oculus," a 12-channel, 275-speaker installation.

Participating artists/composers:
Jorge Bachmann
Will Gluck
Laetitia Sonami 
Jon Leidecker
Anja Ulfeldt

Since opening in January, thousands of residents and visitors have enjoyed the uniqueness of our "Hear This!" exhibition. Stop by the Art Center and experience the works of Chris Duncan, Mark Malmberg, Christian Marclay, Kate Lee Short, and Julianne Swartz one last time! 

January 17-April 12, 2015

DiCioccio, Familiar, 2014, 18 x 8 x 12 in., mixed media, courtesy of the artist Right: May Wilson, In Wobbling, 2014, 204 x 48 x 48 in., mixed media, courtesy of the artist; Photo: Andria Lo

Collaborating for the first time, artists Lauren DiCioccio and May Wilson will employ a range of techniques—sewing, stapling, riveting, weaving, wrapping, and stuffing—transforming fabric into anthropomorphic sculptures. For lift/HEFT, the artists will collect soft, organic textiles such as cotton, wool, and linen, and hefty, industrial materials such as vinyl, nylon, and commercial felt, to create a new series of whimsical forms.

Exhibition Preview & Walkthrough with the Curator
Friday, January 16, 9 - 10 a.m. 

Opening Celebration
Friday, January 23, 7 - 10 p.m.

Artists Talk

Sunday, March 15, 2 - 3 p.m.  

For Repurposed Black—Endless, artist Cristina Velázquez employs VHS tapes as material for large-scale, densely knit sculptures, transforming trash into art. VHS tapes, unsuitable for disposal and unwanted by many, form a major part of the growing landscape of e-waste. But these tapes hold vast amounts of visual information, including images, stories and narratives—those created from Hollywood as well as the ones we’ve recorded ourselves. The record of these narratives, now discarded and abandoned, resonates with a sense of fragility, impermanence, and loss.

In this project, Velázquez will work with the public to collect unwanted VHS tapes, unravel them, and knit them together with community members in “knitting circles” to create unique sculptures.

About the Artist:
Cristina Velázquez is an installation artist who reuses everyday objects and transforms them into works of art. She was born in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan, Mexico and immigrated to the United States in 1987. Her work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions at venues including Gallery nine5, Art Ark Gallery, Meridian Gallery, Euphrat Museum at De Anza College, Mission
Cultural Center for Latino Arts, and MACLA. 

September 11-October 4, 2014
Thursdays and Saturdays, 1 - 5 p.m.; Fridays, noon - 3 p.m. Drop by the Art Center to see Artist-in-Residence Cristina Velázquez knit her installation Repurposed Black—Endless. Do you knit? Try your hand at knitting with VHS tapes!


Friday Night at the Art Center
Friday, September 26, 7 - 10 p.m.
Palo Alto Art Center

Get your knitting on at the Art Center. Meet the artist, see the tapes, unravel and knit!

Preserving Your Life: Saving a Record of the Past for the Future
Sunday, November 16, 2 p.m.
Palo Alto Art Center

Learn about digital preservation in this free lecture. Longtime Palo Alto resident and board member of the Palo Alto Historical Association Brian George will showcase the importance of media in preserving family and community history. 

Exhibition Reception

Friday, December 12, 6-8 p.m.
Palo Alto Art Center

Artist-in-Residence Cristina Velázquez returns to the Art Center to celebrate her installation Repurposed Black—Endless. Light refreshments will be provided

Jai Tanju, Untitled, 2012, digital print, 8 x 10 inches, courtesy of the artist

I’ll Show You Mine examines the unique ways that artists portray family through drawings, paintings, textiles, digital art, and photographs. Presenting traditional and surprising approaches to family portraiture, this exhibition features works by twelve artists exploring the often deeply personal nature of their own sibling, partner, parent-child, multigenerational, and chosen family relationships. These honest portraits invite all of us to reflect on our own familial ties, dynamics,
and structures.

However you characterize and define family, and for the joy, pain, and laughter it may bring, we welcome you to view the exhibition with your own family!

I'll Show You Mine: Contemporary Artists Explore Family Portraiture
September 27 - December 14, 2014

Friday, September 26, 7 - 10 p.m.
Palo Alto Art Center

Celebrate with the exhibiting artists! See and make art. Treat yourself to food truck fare and a curated cocktail!
with Makeda Best, Ph.D., Asst. Professor, Visual Studies, California College of the Arts
Thursday, November 6, 6 p.m.
Palo Alto Art Center

Why do contemporary artists continue to explore family portraiture? Join Makeda Best as she sheds light on portraits of family from throughout history.

Sunday, October 19, 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Saturdays, October 18 and 25, 1 – 4:30 p.m.

Sunday, November 16, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Sign up with your family for either workshop to create artwork inspired by the exhibition.

For more information, email: or call: 650.329.2366.
Containers of Community: Ehren Tool
July 1-September 7, 2014

For Containers of Community, veteran and ceramic artist Ehren Tool will create a new body of work that honors local veterans and highlights their shared experience. From June 7- June 29, Tool will work at the Palo Alto Art Center, creating thousands of ceramic cups (what he calls “war awareness art”) using imagery and objects collected from community members. As the cups are created, fired, and glazed, they will be displayed in the gallery, with the final exhibition on view from July 1-September 7.

Ehren Tool creates visually compelling ceramic objects that address the experience of war. He is best known for his cups, which are wheel-thrown and feature decal-produced and embossed images and symbols of war, violence, and the veteran experience. Notably, Tool has given away most of these cups, offering more than 14,000 of them to members of various communities since 2001. His primary intention with his artwork is to promote awareness: “I decorate cups with images of war and violence. The use of these icons reveals how abstract war is for most of our culture—so abstract in fact, that somehow it’s OK to use images of war as toys.” Tool has exhibited his vessels at institutions such as the Oakland Museum of California, the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles, the Berkeley Art Center, the Bellevue Arts Museum, the Euphrat Museum of Art in Cupertino, and the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University. He received his MFA from the University of California, Berkeley and his BFA from the University of Southern California.

This project was made possible by a grant from The Creative Work Fund, a program of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund supported by generous grants from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the James Irvine Foundation. 
Dana Harel: Between Dreams and Nightmares
June 13-September 7, 2014 

Left: Dana Harel, When I'm Gone, 2014, Mixed media on paper, 72 x 103 in. Courtesy of Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco | Right: Artist Dana Harel Photo by Ronit Citri

Dana Harel: Between Dreams and Nightmares is a solo exhibition of new works by the Redwood City artist. Organized by Laguna Art Museum, this exhibition consists of fifteen mixed-media drawings of animal and human figures. Harel’s multi-layered works reflect the messiness of war and its effects on survivors, drawing on the artist’s personal relationships to the men in her family and ties to military life.

Dana Harel was born and raised in 1970 in Tel Aviv, Israel and works in San Francisco. She received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the California College of Arts and Crafts. Her recent solo exhibitions have been at Gallery Wendi Norris in San Francisco; and Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art in Herzliya , Israel. Harel’s work has been included in numerous group exhibitions at Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, California; San Jose Contemporary Art Institute in San Jose, California; Napa Valley Museum in Napa; Root Division in San Francisco and Gen Art in San Francisco.

Dana Harel: Between Dreams and Nightmares was organized by Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA.

Alex Leiman, JLS, Grade 7, Untitled, Cut paper collage, Leif Bridges, Age 7, Brentwood Academy, Grade 2, Untitled, 17 x 23 in. Ink on paper, 8.5 x 11 in.
Youth Art & Cultural Kaleidoscope
Youth Art: April 27 – May 18
Cultural Kaleidoscope: April 27 – May 25

Join us this Spring for our Youth Art exhibition, a beloved annual showcase of children’s artwork by K-12 students from the Palo Alto Unified School District. This exhibition is presented in conjunction with our annual Cultural Kaleidoscope exhibition, featuring children’s artwork inspired by cultures across the globe and showcasing the Art Center’s artist-in-the-schools program, in which K-5 students in East Palo Alto and Palo Alto work together with a teaching artist.

Join us this Winter for an exhibition that explores the creative potential and artistic possibilities of graphite. Transcending the potential of the medium of drawings alone, the exhibition showcases new applications of graphite as a material of drawing, painting, sculpture, and installation. Eight artists will be included, among them Chris Sicat (San Jose), who covers tree branches and stumps completely with graphite, and artists such as Kevin Chen (San Francisco), who creates drawings so small that a magnifying glass is required to view their intricate details.

The Palo Alto Art Center will host Bibliophilia, an exhibition featuring drawings, paintings, and sculptural works by artists who are united by their love of books and libraries. Bibliophilia showcases the work of fourteen artists who use discarded books as raw materials, make and illustrate their own books, and photograph books and libraries. Featured artists include Laurent de Brunhoff, Ginger Burrell, Patricia Curtan, Robert Dawson, Adam Donnelly, Ala Ebtekar, Lisa Kokin, Tony May, Emily Payne, Christopher Reynolds, Scot Velardo, Catherine Wagner, Belle Yang and Xiaoze Xie, inviting us to share their fascination with books as hand-held, printed objects.

“The Palo Alto Art Center is honored to present Bibliophilia—timed perfectly to commemorate the temporary location of Palo Alto’s Main Library in our building during their renovation,” says Palo Alto Art Center Director, Karen Kienzle. “At a time when digital devices have become ubiquitous and when the act of reading is more likely to happen on a screen than on a page, artists in these exhibitions extol the myriad creative applications of physical books. The Art Center is also pleased to be collaborating with the Fine Arts Gallery at San Francisco State University on their concurrent exhibition The Illuminated Library. With the collaborative presentation of The Illuminated Library and Bibliophilia we hope to present our audiences with all of the promise one finds in a new book or an undiscovered library—an opportunity for learning, dialogue, surprise, and inspiration.”

The exhibition encompasses everything from works found between the covers of books, to the books themselves. Emily Payne creates assemblage collages using discarded books and their covers, while Christopher Reynolds coats cookbooks in monosodium glutamate (MSG) and preserves them in epoxy. Robert Dawson’s photographic series Public Library: An American Commons considers the interior and exterior function of public libraries, from the grand to the humble. Laurent de Brunhoff shares two original watercolors from the children’s book, Babar’s Yoga for Elephants. Patricia Curtan, longtime collaborator of Alice Waters, offers a taste of her ink and charcoal drawings of locally grown fruits and vegetables, soon to be published in an upcoming Curtan/Waters cookbook. Belle Yang offers an autobiographical glimpse into her life through illustrations from her graphic memoir, Forget Sorrow. Ala Ebtekar’s Coelestis (after Hafez) repurposes pages of the 14th-century manuscript written by the Iranian poet Hafez into a Persian celestial atlas. Photographer Catherine Wagner’s trans/literate series investigates braille books as they fade from use in favor of digital audio books. Discarded books become Scot Velardo’s canvas as he imagines new covers for old texts. Adam Donnelly transforms books into pinhole cameras, which he uses to create photographs that reveal ghostly traces of the words printed on pages from within the camera. Tony May’s installation, Variable Book Construction (Bookmobile) Maquette, plays with transforming spaces between books and their surroundings.

Bibliophilia is presented in collaboration with the Fine Arts Gallery of San Francisco State University, whose concurrent exhibition, The Illuminated Library, features works by artists including Clare Rojas, Jason Jägel, Nina Katchadourian, and Tauba Auerbach. The Illuminated Library is open between September 21 and October 17, 2013.
Sky Is Falling: Paintings by Julie Heffernan
June 22-September 1, 2013

Self-Portrait Moving Out, 2010, Oil on canvas, 54 x 78 inches, Courtesy of the artist and Catharine Clark Gallery

“What we imagine we can manifest”—Julie Heffernan
Julie Heffernan draws from a rich art historical tradition of still life, landscapes, and portraiture to create her lush canvases. With traditional techniques she creates very topical representations that address climate change, consumption, and globalization. This exhibition will feature a wide range of paintings produced within the past ten years and is accompanied by a catalogue with an essay by Rebecca Solnit.

Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Julie Heffernan now lives and works in New York. Her work has been exhibited widely throughout the United States and is included in numerous national and international collections, including the Columbia Museum of Art in South Carolina and the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond. A traveling retrospective of her work was organized by the University Art Museum, University of Albany in 2006. 
Community Heirloom Project by Shenny Cruces
June 22-September 1, 2013

Shenny in Studio

For the past several months, Bay Area artist Shenny Cruces has been collecting once-loved, meaningful objects and incorporating them into an art installation. In her artwork, Cruces takes found objects and casts them, recreating porcelain assemblage sculptures and installations that explore the meaning of objects in our lives. Her installation at the Art Center showcases a wide range of objects transformed into art!

Shenny Phillips Cruces received a BA in Ceramics from Illinois State University in 2008 and a Masters of Fine Arts in Ceramics from San Francisco State University in 2011. Her work has appeared in juried shows throughout California and the United States, including NCECA National Juried Student Exhibition, Ink and Clay 35, Visions in Clay 2011, California Clay Competition, 2013 NCECA Biennial, among others. She is currently the Ceramics Manager for the Richmond Art Center.
Cultural Kaleidoscope
April 28-May 26, 2013

Cultural Kaleidoscope features art inspired by world cultures as part of our artist-in-the-schools program, in which K-5 classrooms in East Palo Alto and Palo Alto are paired. Enjoy the amazing creativity of youth which offers inspiration to everyone!

Youth Art
April 28-May 19, 2013

This beloved annual showcase of children's artwork returns to the Palo Alto Art Center this spring! Youth Art celebrates the creativity in the Palo Alto Unified School District, featuring artwork in a wide range of media, from students grades K-12.

Community Creates
The Palo Alto Art Center’s Fall 2012 Opening Exhibition
October 6, 2012-April 14, 2013

Angela Buenning Filo, The Palo Alto Forest 2012.
Photographs on glass, wood, wire, acrylic.
Photo: Jim Filo

Susan O'Malley, Community Advice, 2012. Woodblock letterpress on paper.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, an engaged group of Palo Alto community members lobbied intensively to ensure that the former Palo Alto City Hall building re-open as a center for the arts. Created by the community, for the community, the resulting Palo Alto Art Center has been successfully serving thousands of audience members every year since its opening in 1971. With the re-opening of the Palo Alto Art Center in a newly transformed facility, we have a unique opportunity to re-engage with our founding mission and our success in serving the community with meaningful arts programs. This exhibition will celebrate the Palo Alto Art Center’s unique institutional history and our ongoing commitment to the community.

Community Creates will partner eight contemporary artists with community members to create installation projects in the new Palo Alto Art Center. The exhibition will create an enriching experience for visitors by presenting compelling contemporary installations in a wide variety of media created by important emerging and established Bay Area artists. At the same time, by including community participation, the resulting artworks will offer viewers another level of meaning and engagement, through the stories and voices of their own neighbors, friends, children, and colleagues. 

Community Creates Video (YouTube)

Participating Artists:
Artist and educator Kathy Aoki will create TeenScapes, an art installation that explores the daily life of teens through the artistic mediums of painting and installation. Working closely with local teens, Aoki will develop environments that speak to their physical and emotional surroundings. The resulting imagery would be viewed through an inviting—but also mysterious—peep-hole format that will enhance the visual intensity of the scenes. Kathy Aoki’s artwork frequently addresses gender issues and the role the media plays in the lives of girls. Aoki received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and her M.F.A. in printmaking from Washington University in St. Louis. Her work has been exhibited widely in group and solo exhibitions at venues such as the San Jose Museum of Art, Swarm Gallery in Oakland, and the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco. She is currently an Associate Professor of Studio Art at Santa Clara University.

Anthony Discenza will create an installation of approximately two dozen aluminum street signs that will be placed throughout the grounds of the Palo Alto Art Center. Source material for the signs will be culled from responses to the question: “Please describe, in one sentence, what someone visiting here 100 years from now will be seeing” posed to the Palo Alto Art Center community. By using the ubiquitous vernacular of street signage, the work will function as both a humorous and ominous cross section of our hopes and dream for the future. Anthony Discenza has a graduate degree in film and video from California College of the Art and an undergraduate degree in studio art from Wesleyan University. His work is directed by a preoccupation with interrupting the flow of information in various formats, primary in video, but also in other media such as computer-generated sound, text, and imagery. His video work has been screened widely nationally and internationally.

Palo Alto-based photographer Angela Buenning Filo’s The Palo Alto Forest asks the community to consider the question: How do the trees that surround us impact our lives? The project began with an open call to community members to photograph and write a six-word story about a tree in Palo Alto that is meaningful to them. With approximately 300 photos and stories collected, the resulting artwork will allow viewers to experience the Palo Alto canopy in a community context. Since 2000, Buenning Filo has been creating photographic documentations of the changing Silicon Valley landscape, which have been exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the San Jose Museum of Art, and through the public art program at the San Jose International Airport. She has also turned her camera on Bangalore, India, focused on the way the global technology boom has transformed the landscape there. She received her B.A. in human biology from Stanford University and her master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

Paz de la Calzada will create an engaging sculptural installation featuring plant-like sculptures that appear to be growing directly out of the gallery wall. The sculpted ferns will be crafted by community members out of wire, glue, and patterned fabrics sourced from the community. Over the course of the exhibition, this artificial fern garden will continue to grow and expand, showcasing the relationship between humans and the natural and artificial world, as well as the role patterns play in nature and textiles. San Francisco-based de la Calzada finds inspiration in the proximity of nature to California cities and her work often incorporates elements of the urban, suburban, and natural world. She received her B.F.A. from the University of Salamanca, Spain, and her M.F.A. from UNAM, Mexico City. Her work has been exhibited in the Bay Area, Spain, and Mexico, including a recent projection in San Francisco at the Luggage Store.

Palo Alto-based interdisciplinary artist Mel Day and Jeanne C. Finley will present a two-channel media-and surround-sound installation that explores communal, contemplative, and transitional experiences through the effects of light, sound, sight, and imagination. Threshold brings together voices of members of the Threshold Choir—an a capella group trained to sing at bedside for patients in hospice and palliative care—with voices from residents at Palo Alto’s Lytton Garden’s Senior Community. Jonathan Abel, Consulting Professor, and Michael Wilson, a graduate student at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, processes the singer’s recorded voices to simulate the reverberant quality of a performance in Stanford’s Memorial Church. Through these transformed sounds of song and a video installation that includes a time-lapse sequence of the changing light in the Church sanctuary from sunrise to sunset, Day and Finely’s Threshold transports the residents of Lytton Gardens and memorializes its residents who have passed away. Mel Day’s work has been included in exhibitions throughout the Bay Area, including Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Southern Exposure, and internationally in Berlin, Copenhagen, and Toronto. She received an M.F.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and is represented by Peak Gallery in Toronto. Jeanne C. Finley, a Guggenheim Fellow and Media Arts Professor at California College of the Arts, has exhibited at the MOMA, the Guggenheim Museum, and in the Whitney Biennial. Her work is represented by the Patricia Sweetow Gallery, San Francisco. Day and Finley would like to acknowledge the support of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, Stanford University.

Susan O’Malley’s Community Advice project intends to gather Palo Alto’s collective wisdom and then reflect it back to the community. O’Malley will work in residence in the community to ask people of all ages two simple questions: “What advice would you give to your eight-year old self? What advice would you give to your eighty-year old self?” Excerpts from the resulting responses will be translated into a series of ten woodblock text posters that will be displayed throughout the community and in the Art Center gallery—blurring the boundaries between art and daily experience. Susan O’Malley’s entire body of work focuses on people, language, and optimism. Based in San Jose, she received her B.A. from Stanford University and her M.F.A. from California College of the Art’s Social Practice program. As both an artist and a curator, she has participated in programs and exhibitions at Southern Exposure, Mission 17, the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, and The Lab.

Describing his work as a collision of pop culture and cultural heritage, Carlos Ramirez will mix the histories of Mesoamerica and the Silicon Valley to create his interactive ceramic installation. Inspired by imagery from the community, Ramirez will create clay molds for 10 in. by 10 in. tiles. Visitors to the gallery will help to create the tiles, then use them to decorate a monumental structure in the gallery inspired by Mesoamerican architecture. Over time, the installation will transform as the unfired tiles will begin to dry, crack, and chip. Oakland-based Carlos Ramirez received his B.F.A. from California State University Chico and his M.F.A. from California College of the Arts. His work has been exhibited at Southern Exposure in San Francisco, the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona and the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art at the California College of the Arts.

Weston Teruya will work with the community to explore the history and future of Palo Alto, by working with the public to create paper models of objects significant to them. The resulting installation will recall elements of our built environment, encouraging new perspectives on our surroundings, as well as embedded social interactions and histories. Weston Teruya’s work has been fueled by the interest in the way social interactions shape our built environment and the narratives and histories hidden within it. He received his B. A. from Pomona College, his M.F.A. in Painting and Drawing and his M.A. in Visual and Critical Studies from the California College of the Arts. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco and Pro Arts in Oakland and was recently included in Bay Area Now 6 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Lava Thomas and Bay Area veterans will co-create contemporary portraits that explore how the war experience has shaped the veterans' image of themselves. Utilizing interviews, photographs, video and veteran's written descriptions as source material for drawings and paintings, and prints. Berkeley-based Lava Thomas works in a variety of diverse media to explore the body and its connection to identity, cellular memory, and pathology. She received her B.F.A. from the California College of the Arts and studied at the University of California Los Angeles School of Art and Practice. Her work has been exhibited at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles, the Riverside Art Museum, and the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.
Water Lilies by Judith Selby Lang:
A site-specific installation
April 2012-August 2012

Water Lilies installation at Palo Alto Baylands, April 2012.

"As a mixed media installation artist, I am exploring the personal and global impact of detritus. Through my art, I hope to bring awareness to crucial environmental issues and enliven public space. Plastic is my primary material because it's free, it's ubiquitous, it's archival, and, like diamonds, it is forever." 
-- Judith Selby Lang

Water Lilies is a temporary site-specific installation created by artist Judith Selby Lang from more than 1,000 recycled single-use plastic bottles. While the volume of bottles in this sculpture is significant, it represents only a small fraction of the more than 37 billion plastic water bottles Americans use every year. To create this artwork, Judith Selby Lang found inspiration in the water lily paintings of Claude Monet. Through the use of the clear plastic bottles and through the careful application of mirrors, the artist replicates the shimmering and reflective quality depicted in Monet’s water lily paintings. You can find Water Lilies near Byxbee Park at the Palo Alto Baylands, at the location indicated on the map here.

About plastic pollution and how you can make a difference:

Only 23% of plastic bottles get recycled. The rest end up in landfills where it takes hundreds of years before they even begin to decompose. Americans are the world’s biggest drinkers of bottled water, consuming 7 billion gallons nationally. This consumption is astonishing considering that in most parts of the United States, tap water is not only perfectly safe, but even more tightly regulated than its bottled counterpart. Selby Lang encourages us to all, when thirsty, just say “TAP!,” because all you need to do is turn it on! The City of Palo Alto has demonstrated leadership in the reduction of single-use plastic bottles, through their ban on their use in City operations and events.

Water Lilies is presented by the Palo Alto Art Center as part of the Center’s On the Road initiative. The installation is made possible, in part, from support from the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation. Water Lilies is co-sponsored by the Palo Alto Public Art Commission. In addition to our sponsors and co-sponsors, the artist and Art Center would like to thank Green Waste, the Santa Clara Water District, the City of Palo Alto Division of Open Space and Parks, the California Association of Museums, and the North Bay Corporation—the Unicycler, for their participation in this project.

Video of Water Lilies Installation at Palo Alto Alto Baylands by PA Weekly (YouTube)
Lawn Bowls by Judith Selby Lang: 
A site-specific installation February 2012-August 2012

Judith Selby Lang with one of the Lawn Bowls, February 2012.

"As a mixed media installation artist, I am exploring the personal and global impact of detritus. Through my art, I hope to bring awareness to crucial environmental issues and enliven public space. Plastic is my primary material because it's free, it's ubiquitous, it's archival, and, like diamonds, it is forever." 
-- Judith Selby Lang

Artist Judith Selby Lang explores the global impact of plastic pollution in her mixed-media artworks. In Lawn Bowls, she takes inspiration from the game of lawn bowling. Consisting of 16 large bowls created from more than 10,000 single-use plastic bags, the installation is intended to appear as a game in progress, as if some giant players had just left the scene. These colorful sculptures provide a compelling example of a playful reuse of what might be considered trash. The creation of Lawn Bowls involved a community effort. Plastic bags used for the artwork were collected from a variety of sites throughout Palo Alto. Workshops with the public, conducted in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, provided the community with an opportunity to help create the sculptures. Working together, participants gained pride in crafting something bigger than they could accomplish individually.

About plastic bags
Plastic bags are especially harmful to the environment because they break down very slowly and endanger wildlife. The City of Palo Alto has been proactively addressing this issue by educating the public, distributing reusable bags, banning single use plastic bags in larger grocery stores, and considering further restrictions. You can help by bringing reusable bags whenever you shop! We hope that Lawn Bowls will contribute to this effort in a fun and eye-catching way.

About the game of lawn bowling
Lawn bowling is an outdoor game that is related to boules, bocce, and petanque. The objective of the game is to roll slightly asymmetrical colorful
balls (or bowls) so that they stop close balls (or bowls) so that they stop close to a smaller white jack. With historic is to roll slightly asymmetrical colorful roots in the 12th and 13th centuries, lawn bowling is now enjoyed in more than 40 countries throughout the world.

For more information on lawn bowling and the Palo Alto Lawn Bowls Club, visit

Lawn Bowls is presented by the Palo Alto Art Center as part of the On the Road initiative. The installation is made possible, in part, by support from the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation. Lawn Bowls is co-presented by the Palo Alto Lawn Bowls Club and co-sponsored by the Palo Alto Public Art Commission. In addition to our sponsors and co-sponsors, the artist and Art Center would like to thank Avenidas, Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto, the East Palo Alto Boys and Girls Club, for their participation in this project.
Clear Story by Mildred Howard: A site-specific installation
August 2011-August 2012

Mildred Howard and detail of Clear Story 2011, King Plaza, Palo Alto City Hall.

Berkeley artist Mildred Howard has received international recognition for her bottle houses—which she creates as small-scale sculptures and large-scale installations. Originally inspired by bottle house traditions from the American South, in which bottles were intended to protect against bad spirits, these bottle house sculptures evoke a range of associations, from domesticity to transparency, containment to loss. For Howard, bottle houses are part of a centuries-old tradition and reflect her career-long interest in respecting and honoring her ancestors.

Clear Story is a monumental bottle house, temporarily installed at the Palo Alto City Hall King Plaza. The structure features thousands of intimately scaled clear glass bottles, fused together into brick forms (each one containing more than 500 bottles), as well as large glass bottles, all assembled into a wood frame. Inspiration for Clear Story came from the iconic Eichler architecture visible throughout Palo Alto. Howard appreciates architect Joseph Eichler’s interest in providing modernist architecture for everyone and his aesthetic of bringing the outdoors into the home. Like all of Howard’s bottle houses, Clear Story explores the unique quality of glass to reflect and refract light, drawing on the artist’s experience as an art and science educator at San Francisco’s Exploratorium.

Mildred Howard views the role of the artist as that of a storyteller. In telling her stories, she draws upon images and objects that are shaped by "memory, history, family, identity and place," often using found objects, photographs, as well as personal memorabilia. Howard’s bottle houses also suggest numerous narratives, both private and public. We often hear that "houses tell stories," and question what might happen, "if walls could speak." Clear Story reminds us of the power of buildings to contain and elicit, hide and reveal memories and stories.
A Bay Area native, Mildred Howard was born in San Francisco in 1945 and moved to Berkeley two years later. Her parents’ antique business and political activism helped to shape her artwork, teaching and community involvement. Howard is an accomplished artist whose work has been featured in exhibitions at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC and the New Museum in New York, and is included in the collections of the Oakland Museum of California, the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, and the San Jose Museum of Art.

Clear Story is presented in conjunction with the Palo Alto Art Center’s On the Road program during the Center’s renovation. On the Road programs are supported by the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation through an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant. Detailed architectural drawings of the artist’s concept have been contributed by Anderson Anderson Architects, San Francisco. This project is co-sponsored by the Palo Alto Art Commission. Clear Story is presented courtesy of the artist and Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco. The artist would like to thank Tim Yarish for his dedicated work on this project.

Documentary film of the Mildred Howard Installation at King Plaza (Vimeo)
Palo Alto Art Center Exhibition History 1971-2014
Click here to open a pdf of the Palo Alto Art Center exhibition history.




Last Updated: Nov 9, 2017