Admire the foresight of Palo Altonians

Admire the foresight of Palo Altonians

I don’t know if you are called Palo Altonien if you live in Palo Alto. So forgive my word creation and listen to the laudation.  

I have been hinted at multiple times that, especially in the Bay Area, water is life. Some nicely decorated water towers, Libby ‘s in Sunnyvale and Campbell’s come to mind, proof that people around here worship water.

Historic water tower, Palo AltoI’d like to add the historic Palo Alto water tower and well to this reign. The foresight the early inhabitants showed for the preciousness of this element makes them admirable. In 1896 Palo Alto was one of the first cities in the nation to operate its own water utilities. In fact, Palo Alto is the only city in California to own and operate its own utility services.

Erected in 1910, it took $2000 to purchase the land the tower is built on, and almost $10,000 to build. This well-insured the citizens of North Palo Alto a reliable source of water and was also used for fire protection for the many wooden structures around.

Not only the tower but the garden surrounding it is a tribute to water. The drought-tolerant plants are arranged in a flowing water theme. Historic water tower, Palo Alto

These days it looks abandoned. The only article I found was from the Palo Alto Online in 1995 which states that Tom Taylor was proposing to buy and convert the tower as a living space for him and his family. This obviously didn’t happen.

Do you know of any plans for the Palo Alto water tower?

 

Chat with an artist

Chat with an artist

3 weekends

360+ artists

28 cities

150+ locations

These are the impressive statistics for the Silicon Valley Open Studios in the first three weekends in May 2018.

Silicon Valley open studios directoryEach weekend is dedicated to an area in Silicon Valley. Nonetheless, some artist’s work can be seen in multiple locations. The best place to start this adventure is by downloading the directory or checking out their website and consulting the map. You might also find the directory at a newspaper vending machine in the area.

Once you are on the road look for sandwich boards with arrows and “open studio”. This makes for a fun treasure hunt before you get to the treasure!

Chatting with the artist is encouraged. After all, the motto for the Open Studios is Connecting artists to the arts enthusiast. So, please ask questions, be enthusiastic, and buy a piece of art.

 

2018 Open Studio Dates – 11am to 5pm

WEEKEND 1: Northern Area – May 5th – 6th

Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Hillsborough, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo, Stanford, South San Francisco, and Woodside

WEEKEND 2: Central Area – May 12th – 13th

East Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, Stanford, Sunnyvale.

WEEKEND 3: Southern Area/Pacific Coast – May 19th – 20th

Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, San Jose, and Saratoga, El Granada, Half Moon Bay, Miramar, Montara, Moss Beach, and Pacifica

 

Have you in previous years explored the Silicon Valley Open Studios?

 

Buy machine created artwork

Buy machine created artwork

Have a unique piece of art created by a machine.

Starting instructions for the artwork forgeFor 4 quarters you can get your very own art piece. In front of City Hall at King Plaza in Palo Alto stands the Artwork Forge. Artist Toby Atticus Fraley created this machine, looking like a retro robot, that makes art.

You begin with inserting 4 quarters in slots, pushing the money into the machine and pressing two red buttons at the same time. When you walk around to the painting station the machine will determine your location and based on this, comes up with a trending artwork.

Artwork Forge painting stationNext at the painting station you can watch canvases being transported to the color ink jets. You can’t see your picture yet, but when the painting station closes you should go around the corner to the drying station. A towel is hanging there to remove paint from impatient hands. If you wait for the three steps from drying, to almost dry, to dry, you’ll be sure to have a dried picture when you take it out of the slot.

Art created by the Artwork ForgeI loved the process and the details that played with the audience. Come on, push the two red buttons at the exact same time!

Who is to say if this is art?

The question arises “What is art?” The last artist I talked to, a Chinese man living in Germany, had a plain answer: ‘Whatever sells.” For $1 each I think I got a good deal and a fun surprise.

Until April, 2018 you can watch your artwork being created on the spot at King Plaza in Palo Alto. This is part ot the Play! exhibit by the Palo Alto Arts Center. I wrote about it in Play! with art.

Have you used the Artwork Forge?

 

Geek out with computer artifacts

Geek out with computer artifacts

Have you ever visited the ‘Birthplace of Silicon Valley”? The HP garage is a national landmark, at 367 Addison Ave, in Palo Alto. Unfortunately it does not offer a public tour.

Replica of the HP garage and workbench, StanfordIf you really wonder what it was like to work in the garage you should go visit Stanford’s Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center. On what they call the terrace level, I would refer to as the basement, is a replica of the HP garage and workbench. This replication illustrates the size of the workplace and feels like a homage to the first tech-founders out of Stanford. The chairs and the table inside weren’t part of the garage, but they are a great way to collaborate with fellow students and let your creativity flow, like Hewlett and Packard did back in their days.

Other artifacts in the Engineering Center include Yahoo’s motherboard, the geometric engine chip (necessary to render 3D graphics), the Intel 4004 (the first microprocessor) and NVIDIA’s first GPU (the GeForce 256). All on the first floor.

The first Google storage server, StanfordMy personal favorite is the first Google storage server (on the terrace level). The case is made out of Lego’s and it is said that Google’s affinity for primary colors came from the building blocks color scheme.

All these exhibits remind us that Stanford’s engineering department has a longstanding history of enabling successful companies.

Stanford Engineering HerosYou can pick up a copy of the Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center self-guided tour at the computer kiosk located at the first floor lobby or in suite 135. One hour tours of the Engineering Quad are offered 3-4 times a week and require reservations (https://visit.stanford.edu/calendar/index.html)

 

 

What is your favorite computer artifact?

Can horses fly?

Can horses fly?

Photographer Eadweard Muybridge got commissioned by Leland Stanford to prove that horses can fly.

The horse in motion, statue at Stanford EquestrianTo find an answer to the question if horses are, while galloping, have all four legs off the ground, Eadweard Muybridge performed a gait analysis. In 1878 he came up with a construction of 24 cameras that were along a track. He proved that on one instance the horses legs were all aflot.

Muybridge used these images in his zoopraxiscope, an early device for projecting rotating pictures and perfect for the sequential motions captured. The Horse in Motion, also known as Sallie Gardner at a Gallop, is sometimes credited as the first silent movie.

I went to see pictures of Muybridge at the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, but to my astonishment, although they have a collection of almost 500 photos, they don’t have a regular display. The only clue for this extraordinary invention and proof is the statue of The Horse in Motion at the Red Barn.

The horse in motion, information board at Stanford EquestrianStanford Equestrian has a plaque to commemorate Muybridge’s role. The tribute acknowledges The horse in motion as the  first academic study of Stanford. There is also an information board explaining the history in a bit more detail.

Have you seen proof about flying horses before?

Get in the Christmas spirit

Get in the Christmas spirit

The whole street is lined with little Christmas trees. The street lights are tinted red. Almost every house on the block is decorated. People walking up and down, pointing and oh-ing, ah-ing. Cars slowing so drivers can catch a glimpse. Here and there you can hear Christmas songs. In front of one house you can listen to “Twas the night before Christmas”. Twas the night before Christmas scene on Christmas Tree Lane in Palo Alto

 

Decorated house on Fulton Street, Palo AltoThis is ‘Christmas Tree Lane’ in Palo Alto. Every year since 1940 Fulton Street off Embarcadero lights up for the whole neighborhood to enjoy. Exceptions of this tradition were in 1942 because of the blackouts during World War II, “Dimmed but not silenced” and in 1973 during the Energy Crisis, the trees were decorated with shining red plastic bows.

 

This year you can enjoy the lights and the atmosphere of Christmas Tree Lane from December 16th to December 31st, 2017 each night from 5pm to 11pm. It is best admired if you park your car in the neighborhood and stroll down Fulton. The architecture of the houses complements the fairy tale look. Whimsical figures are placed everywhere, a Santa on the roof, characters from Dr Seuss on the lawn, the whole crew of the peanuts. Residents of Fulton Street made sure you will have a magical time. Santa on the roof, on Christmas Tree Lane in Palo Alto

 

Happy Holidays!

 

Have you been to Christmas Tree Lane?

Learn about inventors

Learn about inventors

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.

 

1920s general store at the Museum of American History, Palo AltoThe 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.Melmac at the Museum of American History, Palo Alto

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.

What is your favorite invention?

Find Arnautoff’s murals

Find Arnautoff’s murals

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.

 

Mural by Victor Arnautoff depicting Sir William Osler and a patient at the Roth Building in Palo AltoWhen 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.

 

Replicas of Victor Arnautoff's murals at the Palo Alto Medical FoundationWhen 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.

 

Have you spotted Arnautoff’s work?

 

Resources:

https://richmondmuseum.org/arnatouff-mural/

http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2015/10/02/richmond-post-office-mural-missing-for-decades-rediscovered/

https://news.sfsu.edu/news-story/library-exhibit-features-new-deal-era-murals

http://www.sfchronicle.com/art/article/Famed-labor-murals-reproduced-at-SF-State-12178439.php

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Arnautoff

http://www.frugalfun.com/discovered.html

http://www.pastheritage.org/Tours/Homer/HomerWalk.html

http://www.pastheritage.org/Articles/ArnatouffMF.html

http://www.pamf.org/about/pamfhistory/moral.html

https://library.sfsu.edu/exhibit/victor-arnautoff-and-politics-art

Play! with art

Play! with art

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.

Installation at the Palo Alto Art CenterThe 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 most fascinating installment for me was the moving globes. Nils Voelker’s Bits and Pieces  felt like they are doing a dance for us. Nils Voelker’s Bits and Pieces at the Palo Alto Art Center

My son retreated to the nook, folding origami objects.

Andy Warhol’s and Billy Kluver’s Silver Clouds at the Palo Alto Art CenterWe all enjoyed Andy Warhol’s and Billy Kluver’s Silver Clouds. We spent quite some time throwing the silver balloons towards the fan.

The Art Center also offers events around the theme of playA Season of Play offers a lot of family workshops from integrational playdates to stop-motion animation.  

 

Where do you go and play? 

Take a watercolor journey

Take a watercolor journey

The Foster in Palo Alto is a relatively new art space. Featured are watercolors from Tony Foster who chronicles his wilderness adventures in aquarelles.

Tony Foster's pop artFoster 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.

Christ in the Desert Monastery, Tree and Rock in a Blind Canyon by Tony Foster

Going into the exhibit I decided to take the audio tour with explanations from the painter himself and wander off by myself. 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.

Have you heard of Tony Foster?