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Art at the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center

As the largest public works project to take place in the City of Palo Alto in 50 years, the upcoming library and community center should contain art that reflects the scale, feel, function and programming of the space.  The Public Art Program, in consultation with a variety of stakeholders, has formulated an overall plan for the art at this site that encompasses little known artists to world-renowned artists, with both temporary and permanent works in various media.

The first project is the Bruce Beasley sculpture funded through the percent for art program.  The City of Palo Alto joins approximately 35 other California cities and 27 states that budget one percent (1%) of its capital improvement project construction costs for public art.  Examples of these types of projects include: new buildings such as libraries, public safety buildings, community centers, parking garages and lots, transit stations, or a performing arts center.  The Bruce Beasley sculpture is being paid for from the 1% for public art program for the library and community center construction project.  The restricted bond funds will pay for this artwork as part of the project construction.

Bay Area artist Bruce Beasley is in many major museum collections in the United States and abroad, including SF MoMA, Oakland Museum, The Guggenheim Museum (NY) and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  The piece he created for Palo Alto, Arpeggio V, is an arch-like granite form that makes a beautiful gateway to the new community center and library.  While the sculpture does not move, it is the implied motion and interaction between the shapes that he captures.  The piece resonates with the programming of this diverse community and the varied activities taking place at this site.  The granite from the sculpture is echoed in the architecture and landscaping throughout the complex.  The Beasley sculpture is to become a point of pride and an integral part of the cultural and artistic fabric of the mid-peninsula.  For more on Bruce Beasley, please visit his website at www.brucebeasley.com.

The second group of projects was funded by the Art Commission.  The Art Commission had saved money over several years to purchase new pieces for Palo Alto, and agreed to contribute $120,000 toward the following three projects within the Mitchell Park Complex: artist designed bollards at the entrance called Wise & Whimsy by artist Brad Oldham; a large mural in the teen center called Follow Your Heart by Mark Verlander; and a large wall mounted piece at the Library entrance by Roger Stoller.  A Request for Proposals sent out in the Spring of 2009 yielded many proposals for all three sites.

Roger Stoller, of Portola Valley, was selected as the artists to create a signature piece for the entryway of the library.  The piece, Cloud Forest, is based on the geometry and abstraction of El Palo Alto and redwoods.  Stoller has created Cloud Forest out of a latticework of stainless steel that will draw viewers into the library from a distance; the interesting details, light and abstractions will continue to engage library visitors as they cross into the space.  Stoller writes, "Just as a book can offer entry into another world, Cloud Forest, will transform the library entrance into a steel-forest portal of abstract shape and light." 

The third art element within the Mitchell Park complex is the rotating galleries.  The architects have incorporated hanging systems within the complex, providing the opportunity to display City's two-dimensional works, pieces by local artists, exhibitions from our Sister Cities, or other artworks that might be appropriate to the site.  Additionally, exhibition platforms are incorporated into the outdoor courtyard so that sculpture can be displayed on a temporary rotating basis.

If you have further questions about the public art for these projects, please contact Elise DeMarzo, Public Art Program Manager, elise.demarzo@cityofpaloalto.org or call 650-617-3517.

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