News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

Palo Alto Art Center Explores the Theme of Birds in Contemporary Art
Bird in the Hand Art Exhibition
Contact : Ken Heiman, Marketing Coordinator    650.617.3511
Michael Hall, I Hold You Tight to Keep You Safe, 2007, oil on canvas, 5 ft.  x 7 ft., courtesy of the artist.

PALO ALTO, CA –More than 45 internationally acclaimed artists from the Bay Area and beyond will pay homage to birds as a new exhibition, Bird in the Hand, opens at the Palo Alto Art Center on January 16, 2016.

“The Palo Alto Art Center is honored to showcase such a rich diversity of artwork inspired by our feathered friends,” says Art Center Director Karen Kienzle. “Bird in the Hand celebrates the role of birds in our environment and our imaginations, through inspired contemporary artworks in a broad range of media. We hope the exhibition inspires a new level of appreciation for the birds around us.”

The Bird in the Hand exhibition includes installation, sculpture, photography, painting, drawing, and video by artists such as Timothy Cummings, Hung Liu, Robert Minervini, Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor, Jane Rosen, Lauren Roth Hope, Kiki Smith, Gail Wight, and many more.

Today, our communal reverence for the avian species is animated by the belief that if you “put a bird on it” an object will be more desirable. This inexplicable attraction is nothing new, and is matched only by our superstitions; sparrows were once believed to carry the souls of the dead, and having a wren nearby is thought to prevent drowning. Drawings by Eiko Borcherding and paintings by Kevin Earl Taylor speak to the symbolic power these attractions and superstitions continue to wield in our collective imaginings.  Avian humanoids, people with the characteristics of birds, are common in both mythology and pop-culture, from angels in the Abrahamic religions, to Garuda in the Hindu tradition, to Big Bird and the Veela in Harry Potter. Sculpture by Jessica Joslin and Gerald Wiggins illustrate this motif of hybridity and transformation.

Despite our obsessions, and sometimes because of them, many bird species are suffering, and even becoming extinct. Robert Minervini’s paintings poetically allude to what can happen when the attention we pay to what we love becomes exploitative and damaging. Concurrently, local artist Isabella Kirkland’s paintings bask in the beauty and mystery that is the many new species of birds that are only now being discovered.

The exhibition is free to the public and on view from Jan. 16-April 10, 2016 at the Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto, CA. A special Opening Celebration will be held on Jan. 22, 7-10 p.m., at the Art Center, featuring live birds, food truck fare and drinks for purchase and artmaking activities. Visit for more information. 

About The Palo Alto Art Center:
The Palo Alto Art Center is your place to discover art. See, make, and be inspired because everyone is an artist. Created by the community, for the community in 1971, the Palo Alto Art Center provides an accessible and welcoming place to engage with art. We serve approximately 90,000 people every year through a diverse range of programs.

The Palo Alto Art Center is owned and operated by the City of Palo Alto as a program of the Division of Arts and Sciences, Department of Community Services. The Palo Alto Art Center Foundation was founded in 1973 and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides financial support and advocacy to the Art Center through a public/private partnership that allows us to enhance our reach and impact in the community.

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