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


Subject :

Palo Alto Art Center Celebrates its 45th Anniversary
Celebration Features Year-long Series of Community Events
Contact : Ken Heiman    6506173511

PALO ALTO, CA – The Palo Alto Art Center will celebrate its 45th anniversary with a year-long series of events and activities including a dedication of the new “Art Center Drive,” a summer exhibition featuring large-scaled ceramic sculptures from nationally known artists, an initiative recognizing the Art Center’s role in providing more than four decades of ceramic art and education in the community, ceramic artist residencies, a 45th-anniversary photo exhibition and historic timeline, and much more.

“For 45 years, the Palo Alto Art Center has offered a place where everyone can be an artist and where each and every community member can learn, create, and be inspired,” says Art Center Director Karen Kienzle. “This anniversary will provide an important opportunity for us to reflect upon our accomplishments, celebrate our achievements, and look forward to our future impact. We look forward to celebrating this milestone with the entire community.”

Created by the community and for the community in 1971, the Palo Alto Art Center has provided a place where everyone can participate in the arts. The Palo Alto Community Cultural Center opened its doors on May 1, 1971 after a period of intense lobbying by community members intent on creating a place for the arts in Palo Alto. The former City Hall building was transformed into a community center for artistic exploration. Upon the opening of the facility, former Arts Director Alan Longacre shared: “We want to bring people together—all kinds of people—and provide them a place where young and old, amateurs and professionals, persons of every kind of background, race or belief, can rub elbows with one another and share ideas, talents, and creativity.”

In 1999, the Palo Alto Cultural Center (PACC) formally became the Palo Alto Art Center (PAAC). The new designation was intended to more successfully represent the Center's focus on the visual arts.

The Art Center closed for renovation in 2011, and re-opened in 2012. The $9.1M renovation represented a landmark public-private partnership between the City of Palo Alto, the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation and community members. More than 2,000 community members (the original target number was 1,000 people) participated in a diverse grand opening celebration. The use of many recycled elements by renowned local Architect Mark Cavagnero contribute to the center's LEED Silver certification for green design. Cavagnero is also responsible for the design of local favorites such as The Terrace at the California Academy of Science, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, the Oakland Museum and the SFJAZZ Center.

The year-long celebration began at the Art Center on Sunday, May 1 with an invitation-only Community Tea, followed by a public dedication and unveiling of an “Art Center Drive” commemorative sign at 2 p.m., featuring Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt. A free Spring Family Day event was also be held on May 1, featuring artmaking activities for the whole family.

As part of our 45th anniversary celebrations, the Art Center will also be launching a new monumental sign at the corner of Newell and Embarcadero. Designed by artist Darin Wacs, who created the signs at the Junior Museum & Zoo and the Children’s Library, the sign expresses the wonder and inspiration the Art Center and the Library ignite in our community. Slated for installation in the fall of 2016, this sign is made possible by the City of Palo Alto in partnership with the Peery Foundation.

45 Days of Clay
The 45th anniversary celebration continues on June 17 with 45 Days of Clay, an organization-wide initiative dedicated to celebrating the Art Center’s role in providing more than four decades of ceramic art and education in the community. This unique program of exhibitions, workshops, hands-on opportunities, and residencies for all ages will showcase the broad range of artistic approaches to clay by both emerging and established artists. 45 Days of Clay will engage people of all ages in seeing and making ceramic art.

Fired Up: Monumental Clay
The powerful potential of ceramic sculpture on an immense scale will be hailed by the Palo Alto Art Center during its exhibition, Fired Up: Monumental Clay, beginning June 18. The exhibition will feature the work of diverse artists around the country from collections throughout the region, as well as a limited number of site-specific installations. The exhibition will take over the Palo Alto Art Center galleries, public and outdoor spaces with large-scale ceramic sculpture and installation. Fired Up: Monumental Clay showcases the creative and expressive possibilities of clay—when scaled. A free Friday Night at the Art Center on June 17, 7-10 p.m., featuring food, drinks, artmaking activities, and a chance to meet the artists, will kick off the exhibition.

Anniversary Selfie Station
The Art Center’s popular Nook will transform into a photo booth from June 17-August 28 with the help of New Bohemia Signs, an iconic, San Francisco-based, artist-led sign collective. Using our mid-century modern building as inspiration, this “selfie station” will provide the artists in our community with a location to photograph themselves with their artwork. Hand-held paddles with hashtags such as #myartcenter and #PaloAltoArtCenter will be available for visitors to hold.

45 Stories for 45 Years
In conjunction with our anniversary, the Art Center will share the stories of 45 diverse community members involved in our founding, past, present, and future. These stories will be shared in electronic channels (web site, enewsletter and social media) during the course of the year-long celebration. A companion series of photographic portraits will be displayed in the Children’s Community Gallery in summer 2016.

Ceramic Artist Residencies
The Art Center conducted a regional call for ceramic artists to apply for a residency program in conjunction with 45 Days of Clay. Selection of artists was competitive, with a selection team composed of Art Center program staff and arts professionals. Artists participate in a two- to four-week residency program, in which they will create a new body of work in the ceramic studio, while engaging with students and members of the community.

The first residency will take place June 23-August 20, and will feature ceramic artists Malia Landis and Wesley Wright. Wright creates imaginative, highly detailed animal sculptures that address environmental issues, and Landis finds inspiration in plants and animals for her meticulous porcelain sculptures. Both Wright and Landis received a B.A. from Humboldt State University and an MFA from San Jose State University. Workshop dates will be August 9 and 16, 6-10 p.m.; a reception will be held on June 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; and exhibition dates will be January 20-March 19, 2017.

The second residency will also take place from June 23-August 20, and will highlight San Francisco-based artist Matthew Goldberg, who creates mixed-media ceramic sculptures that are unexpected and humorous. He received his BA from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Workshop dates will be July 19 and 26, 6-10 p.m.; a reception will be held on June 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; and exhibition dates will be January 20-March 19, 2017.

Creative Ecology: Jenny Odell
Our Creative Ecology artist-in-residence Jenny Odell will be in the field with community members, creating art on site and presenting an exhibition at the Art Center from October 7-December 11. She uses a combination of satellite imagery, text and photographic manipulation in order to highlight the material nature of our modern networked existence. In her residency, Odell will engage the public in visits to the Palo Alto Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Creative Ecology is an innovative art and science residency program that promotes learning about and appreciation of the natural world through the creative process, engaging artists, art and science educators, and the larger community. A collaboration between the Palo Alto Art Center and the Junior Museum & Zoo, the program intends to showcase the similarities between artists and scientists and demonstrate how both use similar tools to experiment and learn about the world around them. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The Butterfly Effect: Art in 1970s California—September 17-December 30, 2016
The 1970s in California represents an important but often critically overlooked period of artistic production. The rise of West Coast-based conceptual art, video art, emerging Chicano voices, along with the tail end of the Funk and Light and Space movements, saw California artists continuing their experimentation with material, and pushing the boundaries around what constitutes art. Ceramic art played an important role in the decade as well, and will form a critical part of the exhibition. Drawing from private and museum collections, this survey exhibition will showcase key works that represent the art of this important decade. This exhibition is guest curated by Susan Leask.

Spectral Hues
—January 21-April 9, 2017
Artists in this exhibition share an exploration of the power of color, and choices about the use of color, in their works. Some are occupied by a busy confluence of colors, while others offer contemplation of a single hue. Some of these works evoke musical scores, while others suggest abstracted landscape, dazzling movements, or more somber points of meditation. Artists slated to participate in Spectral Hues are: Ann Appleby, Omar Chacon, Freddy Chandra, Amy Ellingson, Kristin Farr, Chris Fraser, Heath Ceramics, Mike Henderson, Amy Kaufman, Keira Kotler, Richard Mayhew, Gay Outlaw, Mel Prest, Meghann Riepenhoff, Jenny Sharaf, Lisa Solomon, Victoria Wagner, and Nancy White. This exhibition is guest curated by Sharon Bliss.

Creative Ecology: Mari Andrews—March 17-May 21, 2017
Mari Andrews is a constant collector, identifying objects both natural and man-made in her sculptures and installations. In her residency at local parks and around the Art Center, Andrews will collect sticks and branches with community members for inclusion in a large-scale, immersive drawing in the gallery.

Other 45th anniversary activities taking place during the next year include:
• Percolate Coffee Talks: Big Clay by the Bay, 7-8 p.m., July 28
• Clay Family Day, 2-4:30 p.m.,
August 7
Fired Up: Monumental Clay Artist Panel Discussion,2-3 p.m., August 7
• Friday Night at the Art Center, celebrating The Butterfly Effect exhibition, 7-10 p.m.,
September 16
• Global Family Day, 2-4:30 p.m., October 16
• Holiday Family Day, 2-4:30 p.m., December 4
• Friday Night at the Art Center, celebrating the opening of Spectral Hues, 7-10 p.m., January 27, 2017
• Cultural Kaleidoscope and Youth Art Exhibition, April 29-May 28, 2017

More information on Palo Alto Art Center events and exhibitions can be found on our web site at

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.