About Art Center Exhibitions

Lawn Bowls by Judith Selby Lang: A site specific installation
February 2012-February 2013

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 http://www.palbc.org/.

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

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.

PATRICK DOUGHERTY: A site-specific installation

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.

This project is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.