Public Art Program
Public Art Program
Denise Laxen di Zazzo
About the Palo Alto Public Art Program
The City of Palo Alto Public Art Program is committed to contributing to the intellectual, emotional, and creative life of the Palo Alto community by creating engaging art experiences and dynamic public spaces for Palo Alto residents and visitors. The Program operates in accordance with Chapter 2.26 of Palo Alto Municipal Code to provide opportunities for the placement of permanent and temporary site-specific public art projects in municipal projects across Palo Alto. Additionally, the Program oversees the implementation of the Ordinance requirement to incorporate public art in private development projects. The Public Art Commission (PAC) reviews and advises the Public Art Program on selection, placement, and care of public art throughout the City of Palo Alto.
The Palo Alto Public Art Program promotes the highest caliber of artwork, commissioning memorable public artworks and experiences that stimulate discussion and thoughtful reflection, celebrating Palo Alto’s character and enhancing civic pride and sense of place.
Public art reflects Palo Alto’s people, diverse neighborhoods, the innovative and global character of its businesses and academic institutions, and the beauty of its natural environment.
About the Collection
The City collection of public art is comprised of approximately 100 permanently sited works and approximately 200 portable works of art in a diverse range of media. All works are commissioned and acquired through a public process. The portable collection features works by artists who have lived, worked, exhibited in, or been inspired by Palo Alto. The artworks are exhibited throughout City facilities and accessible to the public on a daily basis. From the land art in the Baylands to the more figurative works, the collection of permanently sited and integrated artworks reflects the diverse interests and populations of Palo Alto. It includes emerging talent as well as well established, world-renowned artists such as Fletcher Benton, Betty Gold, Gene Flores, and Bruce Beasley. Each artwork is selected with the particular site and audience in mind. View the Public Art Collection Map to explore all locations of permanently-sited artworks in Palo Alto.
Greg Brown Scavenger Hunt
Join us for a Greg Brown Scavenger Hunt in downtown Palo Alto! Find all the site-specfic murals created by artist Greg Brown. Download the Scavenger Hunt PDF or access the full map with locations and prompts on Mapme. Public pictures posted on instagram showing your participation in the Scavenger Hunt will be re-posted and featured on our social media, make sure to tag @publicartpa and @cityofpaloalto and use the following hashtags: #gregbrownmurals #upliftlocal #cpapublicart
The Greg Brown Scavenger Hunt event is running throughout the whole month of October, and is part of the Council-supported effort Uplift Local enabling outdoor dining, retail, personal services, and outdoor gyms and fitness options in business districts such as University Avenue and California Avenue - supporting temporary outdoor spaces in Palo Alto through December 31, 2020. More information about Uplift Local can be found here.
BLACK LIVES MATTER Poster
The poster celebrating the BLM movement and depicting the temporary mural created by 16 local artists on Hamilton Ave, is now available for all members of the public free of charge. Upcoming pick-up dates and locations:
4 pm - 5 pm on Thursday, 10/1 at King Plaza, 250 Hamilton Ave.
11 am - 12:30 pm on Tuesday, 10/6 at King Plaza, 250 Hamilton Ave.
3.30 pm - 5 pm on Thursday, 10/8 at King Plaza, 250 Hamilton Ave.
California Avenue District Public Art Plan
The Public Art Program in partnership with art consultants Barbara Goldstein & Associates / Art Builds Community are developing a Public Art Plan for the California Avenue district. Recommendations that the plan makes for the future of public art in the California Avenue District may be funded through the Percent for Art in Private Development.
The California Avenue Public Art Plan will:
- Strengthen California Avenue’s unique cultural identity as the vibrant “Avenue of the Arts”;
- Encourage cultural tourism by retaining and attracting Palo Alto residents and visitors;
- Support economic development of the California Avenue business community.
The Plan includes community outreach and engagement process with the California Avenue diverse community including businesses, residents, local artists and visitors in the area to shape the future of public art in the district.
Currently on Display in Palo Alto
The Bucolic Labyrinth by artist Paz de la Calzada installed in King Plaza
A new temporary site-specific art installation by San Francisco-based multidisciplinary artist Paz de la Calzada was unveiled at King Plaza in front of City Hall on August 10, 2020, The Bucolic Labyrinth, created from upcycled synthetic turf material harvested from the Cubberley soccer field a year earlier, will remain on display through November 2020.
This interactive installation offers a playful urban meditation environment while highlighting the powerful capacity of art to transform discarded material into a work of artistic expression. During this challenging time of isolation, The Bucolic Labyrinth invokes a connection with nature and invites visitors to meditate and explore a path of reflection, transformation, and healing. Displayed on the hardscape of King Plaza in downtown Palo Alto, the temporary installation plays off of the surrounding architecture and urban environment, while highlighting the powerful capacity of art to transform unwanted material into a work of artistic expression.
Meet artist Paz de la Calzada to learn more about the concept of a labyrinth and this installation. Take a moment to experience the Labyrinth led by the walking meditation audio guide created by the artist.
BLACK LIVES MATTER Mural (installed June 2020)
Photo credit: Benny Villarreal @bennys_journey
B: Demetris Washington @bamr_theartist
??L: Sasha & Ben Vu @sashavustudios
??A: The Harker School Art Club @harkerartclub @pilar.aguero.esparza
??C: Masuma Ahmed
??K: Richard Hoffman @richardehoffman
??L: Urna Bajracharya @fishing_for_fishies
??I: Janet Foster
??V: Sarah Joy Espinoza-Evans @iloniarts
??E: Elizabeth D Foggie @elizabethdfoggie
??S: Ann McMillan @annmcmillanart
??M: Nico Berry @nicosprayitloud
??A: Ruth Feseha @robin_laurence
??T: Shiraaz Bhabha @shiraaz
??T: Briena Brown @artbybriena
??E: Cece Carpio @cececarpio
??R: Stuart Robertson & Adam Amram @stewyrobertson @adam_amram_
Racial Equity Panel: In Conversation with Palo Alto BLACK LIVES MATTER Mural Artists
Watch the virtual Racial Equity Panel Conversation with BLACK LIVES MATTER mural artists hosted by the Public Art Commission on Thursday September 10, 2020.
Dr. Masuma Ahmed
Sarah Joy Espinoza-Evans
Elizabeth D Foggie
Stuart Robertson & Adam Amram
California Avenue Parking Garage Construction Fence Murals (installed November 2019)
The Public Art Program commissioned four California artists to create mural designs to adorn the construction fence for the upcoming California Avenue Parking Garage. On view until next fall, each mural has its own distinct style and will add new vibrancy to the commercial district. The four artists who were commissioned for the murals are Phillip Hua, Allison Kunath, Oree Originol, and Samuel Price.
Rewind (top-left) by Phillip Hua: A journey of flying creatures, from birds to butterflies, is depicted on Hua's mural. Hua's intention was to counteract the unending construction of artificial structures with a moment of natural quiet and freedom. The mural plays on Hua's previous work exploring the impact of human-made systems on the natural world and the themes of values and sacrifice.
Common Thread (top-right) by Allison Kunath: Common Thread seeks to highlight the commonalities among all people. The mural is brought together with a single string that loops through a collection of hands in various positions. Much of Kunath's previous work also incorporates hands and sign language as a symbol of unity among communities.
X-Factor (bottom-right) by Oree Originol: Originol's background as a graffiti artist is clearly demonstrated here with the complex overlapping shapes and colors. The vibrancy and chaos of the composition are meant to shock viewers out of the mundaneness of their lives as they navigate the Palo Alto city streets. From the scintillating forms to the density of complex shapes, the mural is sure to ignite inspiration in passersby.
Palo Alto Dog Row (bottom-left) by Samuel Price: This mural is a compilation of the many collaged dog portraits that Price created over the past several years, for people from all over the world. Each image was originally created with hundreds of tiny magazine squares on canvas by hand. The sequence of dogs is a heartwarming and technically skilled rendering of our furry companions.
Foraging Islands by Watershed Sculpture (installed September 2018)
Foraging Islands is an ecological sculpture that helps to re-establish foraging habitat for a variety of wildlife and prey species including invertebrates (earwigs, Jerusalem crickets, and other insects) and small mammals (field mice, voles, etc.) essential to the foraging activities of burrowing owls, white-tailed kites, and a variety of hawks.
In spring 2018, environmental artists Daniel McCormick and Mary O'Brien of Watershed Sculpture were selected as Artists-In-Residence for the Baylands Nature Preserve. The goal of the residency is to create a public art overlay for the Baylands Comprehensive Conservation Plan (BCCP) and engage stakeholders and community members in the environmentally-focused temporary public art-making process.
The artists engaged teams of volunteers to create the wildlife-friendly temporary public art installation by weaving wood and natural materials harvested from the nearby areas to build the foraging habitat island. Over the course of 5 days in September, 65 volunteers of all ages and abilities worked a collective of 189 hours to build a 43-foot-long sculpture.
Go With the Flow by Damon Belanger (installed July 2018)
As part of the City’s comprehensive Neighborhood Traffic Safety and Bicycle Boulevard Project which represents a significant step towards Palo Alto’s vision of a system of neighborhood bicycle and pedestrian routes, the Public Art Program worked on a long-term temporary pilot neighborhood beautification project for the Louis Road - Fielding Drive intersection.
Bay Area-based artist and graphic designer Damon Belanger, selected as the project artist by a selection panel comprised of art professionals, community members, and stakeholders, created a design for four crosswalks titled Go With the Flow. The creative crosswalks were incorporated into the newly constructed bike and pedestrian Louis / Fielding intersection.
Belanger’s whimsy design draws inspiration from the unique character of the local residential community, its history and diversity, and landmarks that make this neighborhood distinct, while enhancing safety and connectivity for people biking and walking. The intersection adjacent to Ohlone Elementary School acts as a main local roadway connecting pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers to Ohlone Elementary School, Palo Alto Buddhist Temple, Chabad Community Center, and other local community organizations.
Permanent Collection Maintenance Program
The Public Art Program is committed to ongoing maintenance and restoration projects for the permanent collection. Permanent and temporary artworks are regularly cleaned and receive preventative treatments to protect them from the elements. Some of the works receive more extensive conservation and repair treatments. If you notice vandalism or artworks in disrepair, please call the Public Art office immediately at 650-329-2227. Thank you!
Help Us to Preserve the Palo Alto Public Art Collection
Your tax-deductible donations to the Public Art Program are essential to support our ongoing maintenance and conservation efforts for the Palo Alto Public Art Collection. The collection is comprised of over 300 permanently sited and portable works of art by local and world-renowned artists. Together we can preserve the artworks for future generations. Thank you!