So, when you google Menlo Park you will get a lot of results talking about Thomas Edison. Who, it turns out lived in Menlo Park, New Jersey and that development was named after the Californian town.
The Museum of American History in Palo Alto is running a current exhibit titled:Thomas Edison and His Rivals: Bringing Electricity to America.
You can learn about American ingenuity and the rivalries between Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla, until February 18th, 2018. They also show a lot of different inventions from the three tech pioneers.
The subject is not surprising for the Museum of American History, which focuses on inventions and technology from 1750 to 1950.
The permanent exhibit features a 1920s general store, an early 20th century kitchen and outside a replica of an auto-repair-shop, a print shop and the marvelous garden.
It is a great museum to spent some time inside and outside. Admission is free with a suggested donation of $5.
Ever since I saw the murals on the Roth Building in Palo Alto I was intrigued to find out more about Victor Arnautoff. The Roth Building located on 300 Homer Ave is the former Palo Alto Medical Clinic and the soon-to-be Palo Alto History Museum.
When the hospital first opened in 1932 it was quite a stir due to one of Victor Arnautoff’s murals depicting a half undressed woman receiving treatment. In fact it caused a traffic jam on Homer Ave due to the cars driving by so slowly to get a glimpse of the art work.
Arnautoff himself a Russian-American artist who trained with Diego Rivera and came to Palo Alto to teach art at Stanford is most famous for his artistic contribution to the Coit Tower. The Roth Building frescos are among his earliest works in the United States.
When the Palo Alto Medical Clinic moved to 795 El Camino Real, it placed replica medallions of the artworks at its front entrance. On my search for these replicas, I talked to a woman from the hospitals philanthropy department, who knew there had been a story about Arnautoff on KQED that morning. Apparently a once lost mural had been found in the Richmond post office and is now waiting to be restored for the Richmond Historic Museum. (https://ww2.kqed.org/arts/2017/10/04/richmond-mural-rediscovered/)
But this does not conclude the Arnautoff concurrences. The San Francisco State University Library currently has an exhibit about Arnautoff: “Arnautoff and the Politics of Art” which runs through December 12th. You can see it Monday – Friday from 1 pm to 5 pm.
The new exhibit at the Palo Alto Art Center is called Play! An artful approach to make us realize that we all need to be more playful.
The first installment entering the gallery reminded me of my son’s wish when he was younger that he wanted a rollercoaster in the house. The slide came out of the wall and connected with colorful paths up and down the wall.
The Foster in Palo Alto is a relatively new art space. Featured are watercolors from Tony Foster who chronicles his wilderness adventures in aquarelles.
Foster a trained pop culture artist turned to self taught plein air painter in hope of protecting the wilderness he depicts.
He journals his paintings with diary entries, little map pieces, and found objects or souvenirs.
I was warmly greeted by Kathleen who introduced me to Tony Foster. His painting supplies are at the entrance to get an understanding on how a plein air painter works – everything has to be light! I also liked the map of the places that he traveled to and painted.
Going into the exhibit I decided to take the audio tour withexplanations from the painter himself and wander off bymyself. I did not stick with the audio tour, mainly out of time constraints, but it is another reason to come back and experience the pictures in a different way.
I really enjoyed my visit and was surprised how well the space was used; it seemed like you could meander with pictures forever.
Andy Goldsworthy’s sculptures in San Francisco’s Presidio are well known and worth seeking out. But did you know that Silicon Valley has one of his nature sculptures?
Across from the Anderson Collection at the Stanford University you can sit in the park and enjoy a picnic, while you marvel at the snake like sculpture. Goldsworthy’s Stone River. It took about 128 tons of material to build in one month. During his work on Stone River, Goldsworthy has also created a “heap of pieces with grasses and leaves” just a few yards away from the sculpture.
Every third Sunday, at 11:30 a.m. there is a free 1 ½ hour docent led tour for the outdoor sculptures. Tours start at the front of the Cantor Arts Center.
I love how devoted Palo Alto is to public art. Their latest installment will only last through this weekend code:ART.
Eight installations starting at City Hall are meant to involve the audience and inspire the dialogue of passerbys.
Advertised as a laboratory for urban experimentation the artists reimagine public spaces through interactive sound, light and motion installations.
The Murmur Wall, the first installation at City Hall, displays search terms from Palo Alto on multiple LED screens connected with lights. On the website: http://www.murmurwall.net/Whisper you can enter your own “whispers” that will be displayed instantly. This will be the only piece that will remain after June 3rd. Since it is LED lights I bet it is better viewed at night.
The sound installation of Tomo Saito is active twice a day at 2 pm and 6 pm. It is a concert made by the people that sit down in the chairs.
Across the street you can be part of the art making and let Palo Alto know what your dream city will look like.
My favorite piece is the Sensory Garden. In an alley next to Bell’s books the artists try to evoke all of your senses. You can touch moss, smell herbs, admire the chalk mural or rattle some cow bells.
Since 2015 Silicon Valley has a truly inclusive playground in Palo Alto’s Mitchell Park; the Magical Bridge Playground. The design is uplifting, you see all children embracing the fun. There are different climbing and sliding options, a fully accessible tree house for role play, multiple installations to experience sounds, and a nice shady picnic area.
This is by far the coolest playground I have ever seen – and mind you I’ve seen a few. The great news is that they are expanding. The Magical Bridge Foundation plans to open up another magical playground in Redwood City late 2017/ early 2018. Please consider to donate!
Stanford is famous for their large Rodin collection. In fact the bronze collection with over 200 pieces is amongst the largest in the world. Two of the best known sculptures are ‘The Gates of Hell’ and ‘The Thinker’. You can admire them inside and outside the Cantor Arts Center. They also offer docent lead tours Wednesdays at 2 pm, Saturdays at 11:30 am, and Sundays at 3 pm, rain or shine. Meet in the main lobby. Learn more
A different display of art is the New Guinea Sculpture Garden. As a modern / tribal collaboration project they mixed traditional stories with modern ideas. When they learned about the famous Rodin sculptures one of the artist proclaimed: ‘”I can do this – even better!’ Their versions of ‘The Gates of Hell” and ‘The Thinker’ can be found among a multitude of other sculptures.
Which is the better version will be in the eye of the beholder. If you are willing to judge or explore you can find the garden on the corner of Lomita and Santa Teresa. They also do a tour every third Sunday at 2 pm.
The latest public art installation in Palo Alto is a willow weaved whiplash from artist Patrick Dougherty.
This is his second work, the first one, also made from natural materials was dismantled in June. This new one, called Whiplash, stands in front of the Palo Alto Art Center facing Embarcadero Rd. and is an impressive construction, with multiple rooms and windows, that lead you into a courtyard.
It is made out of only natural materials and a very enchanting place. The smell of the willow was very strong on my visit, maybe because it rained? This definitely added to the experience.
I can see little kids run through the crafted arches, or play hide and seek. (I’m sure kids will be even more inventive!)
If you still need to satisfy your art hunger you can check out the sculpture garden and the current exhibits in the Art Center.
Have you seen Patrick Dougherty and over 60 volunteers work on this for three weeks in November?