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


Subject :

Exhibition at Palo Alto Art Center Captures the Essence and Impact of the 1970s
Unique Show to Highlight Artwork from Turbulent Decade
Contact : Ken Heiman    6506173511

PALO ALTO, CA – Visitors to the Palo Alto Art Center’s exhibition, The Butterfly Effect: Art in 1970s California, will be able to relive the period through an exhibition of artwork in a wide range of media, including painting, photography, sculpture, video, collage, assemblage, and printmaking. The exhibition, which runs from September 17-December 30, continues the Art Center’s 45th anniversary celebration, celebrating the Art Center’s founding decade.

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 both 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.”

“While many other exhibitions have highlighted the period of the 1960s in California, this is one of the few to focus on artwork from the 1970s,” says Kienzle.

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: Eleanor Antin; Elaine Badgley Arnoux; Ruth Asawa; Robert Bechtle; Fletcher Benton; Joan Brown; Chris Burden; Eduardo Carrillo; Judy Chicago; Jay DeFeo; Roy De Forest; Marc D’Estout; Eleanor Dickinson; Jonathan Eubanks; James Grant; Chuck Hilger; Jess; Sister Corita Kent; Lynn Hershan Leeson; Chip Lord; Malaquias Montoya; Betanzos; Rupert Garcia; Bill Owens; Harry Powers; Miriam Schapiro; Fred Spratt; M. Louise Stanley; Carol Summers; Wayne Thiebaud; Leo Valledor; Paul Wonner, and Joseph Zirker.

A special Friday Night at the Art Center opening celebration will be held on Sept. 16, 7-10 p.m., at the Art Center, featuring an opportunity to meet some of the exhibiting artists, artmaking activities, food truck fare and drinks for purchase. 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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