Android Lawn Statues surrounded by caution tape

Hope for Reconstruction of the Android Lawn Statues, Mountain View

Foam sculpture of a donut, partly destroyed.

The Android Lawn Statues were always an interesting excursion to show visitors. On my last visit, about a week ago, this place looked appalling. Caution tape was around the perimeter. The figures, which are larger than life sculptures of each new Android operating release, were either busted or completely removed. Named after sweet treats and candy, like Kit Kat and cupcake, these Android figures are made from foam.

Oreo Android figure wrapped in caution tape.

After the 2018 pie release, Google decided to go on a more boring route. The releases are now designed by numbers, starting with 10, which has an Android head peeking out of the zero.. For 11 and 12 you can see a virtual 3-D model. Interesting maybe to a nerd to find some inscription on the back – but unfortunately, it lost its cute appeal.

The lawn statues garden is located on 1981 Landings Drive; the Google merchandise store used to be steps away. Google decided to close down the store and now only has an online version. 

Hope is on the horizon

Hope is on the horizon
Google's Charleston East building is still under construction.

Google’s Charleston East (Google’s futuristic new campus) is almost here and they promised to open the first floor to the public. Watch this video by Tech Insider (​​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGx-sYIFHmE). The circus-like canopy shape introduces another interesting office building to Silicon Valley, joining Apple’s spaceship and Nvidia’s triangular headquarter. Or like the Bjarke Ingles Group architects call it: “smile-shaped clerestories”. In a report from the Mountain View Voice in February of last year, Charleston East’s public access could be revised to just allowing non-Googlers to enter on the west side of the building. Amid security concerns the tech giant might also put a, none the less pretty, wall around its campus.

Funny also, that the Android Lawn Statues have a neglected Facebook page, with a link to an Android fan site, but no official Google page.

I understand that these are office buildings and there is no responsibility to share anything with the public. Nevertheless, visitors to Silicon Valley long to see evidence of the high tech giving back to the community – even if it’s only in the form of some large foam statues. 

Have you been to Mountain View? Here is my list of 50 things to do in Mountain View.

The Sonic Runway and San Jose City Hall.

Dance through the tunnel, Sonic Runway, San Jose

The Sonic Runway with City Hall, San Jose.

A few years ago, in 2017, I wrote about the light installations in downtown San Jose: See the light throughout the tunnel. The Sonic Runway had just been installed as a temporary installation as part of the Playa to Paseo partnership to bring Burning Man art to San Jose. Now it is back! By popular demand this light show can be enjoyed for at least six more years and will revitalize San Jose’s City Hall Plaza.

Sonic Runway in pink and purple, San Jose.

The artists team responsible includes lead artist Rob Jensen and co-lead Warren Trezevant. They first presented the Sonic Runway at Burning Man Festival in 2016. This reactive light installation “converts audio signals into patterns of lights that shoot down a corridor of arches at the speed of sound”, according to the Sonic Runway website. With 554 LED, the archways light up with electronic music traveling down the 25 arches with the speed of light (about 343 m/sec). The archways can also be activated by live music. San Jose plans events starting in March 2022.

I recommend going down starting from both sides. At one end you travel with the speed of light, starting at the other end, the lights come at you. Of course, if you ever wanted to run at sonic speed, just imagine, as one kid I watched there did, you are Sonic, the blue hedgehog, and run! 

The Sonic Runway lights up at 5 pm until midnight, every day.

Located at San Jose City Hall Plaza, 200 E Santa Clara St, San Jose

Have you experienced the Sonic Runway?

More information

I made a short video of the Sonic Runway Check it out on my YouTube channel and give me some love and subscribe 😉

There is also a Sonic Runway in Chengdu, China. Read this article by one of the creators, Rob Jensen: The Sonic Runway: From Playa to China in the Burning Man Journal

Entrance to Christmas in the Park.

Have a Jolly Time at Christmas in the Park, San Jose

Some of the many Christmas trees at Christmas in the Park, San Jose.

Around this time of the year I miss the German Weihnachtsmärkte. A festive way of celebrating the season. There you can meet some friends, warm up with some Glühwein (mulled wine), or punch, have some candied almonds, and shop for some artisan gifts. Yes, this is an idealization, my mind ignoring the crowds, but these fairs definitely are part of the Holidays. If you are ever in Berlin for December make sure to visit many of these markets because they all feel different. 

Saucer carnival ride at Christmas in the Park.

Christmas in the Park in San Jose’s Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park compares to a Christmas market in Spandau. Here are a lot of carnival rides for little kids. I was greeted by the smell of kettle corn. There are also candy shops, Belgium waffles, and churros to munch on. You can’t buy Glühwein, but there is a hot chocolate booth. The crowds were not bad and the line for food was reasonable. 

Five girls dancing on the Community Stage of Christmas in the Park, San Jose.

Most people enjoyed the community stage, where local groups performed Christmas acts. But the special attraction of this fair is the hundreds of Christmas trees that are decorated by local businesses, high schoolers, and families, and the animated Christmas themed figures that move about. These figures include the stable of Santa’s reindeers, a train with trolls working, and a band of a fox, a skunk and a raccoon.

Sign for the Kristi Yamaguchi ice rink.

There is also a photoshoot opportunity with Santa on an outside stage and some Lego landscapes with a Holiday theme.

At one end, next to the San Jose Museum of Art, is the Kristi Yamaguchi Downtown Ice skating rink. 

A San Jose tradition

Christmas in the Park is a San Jose tradition for over 40 years now. For people preferring a more socially distant experience, they have continued the drive-thru light experience Blinky’s Illuminated Holiday near Raging Waters that was established last year (tickets are required) or you can sign up for a zoom meeting with Santa.

Christmas in the Park is located at Plaza de Cesar Chavez in downtown San Jose. Admission is free. The experience is open every day till January 2nd, from noon to midnight.

Is Christmas in the Park part of your Holiday tradition?
This is a nice place to come at night and see the lights on the many Christmas trees. The last time I was here, in 2017, I stopped by during the day, and seeing these many trees is still special.

Dave's Christmas Lights in San Jose

Make-A-Wish and See Dave’s Christmas Lights, San Jose

Christmas lights on 1851 Cherry Ave, San Jose

It is again the season that lights will cheer us up when it gets dark early. For 17 years now Dave’s Christmas Lights on 1851 Cherry Ave in San Jose not only put up over 60.000 lights on display they also have donation bins for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Giving holiday cheers and raising money for a great cause, what stops you? You can drop money in the red donation bins or give online

Sign in front of Christmas Lights: Please Help!! This display is our gift for friends & children to enjoy.

The lights are on every night from 6 pm to 9 pm. On weekends Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there. Meet them from 6:30 to 9 pm. Due to COVID-19 they started last year to have this as a drive-by event. This year, as we all know, COVID is still around, so are the drive-by requirements. 

Light display with one of the red donation boxes on 1851 Cherry Ave, San Jose.

Stay safe and give joy!

Dave’s Christmas Lights are on until December 27th, 2021.

Drive by 1851 Cherry Ave, San Jose.

Other lights displays are:

Eucalyptus Street in San Carlos and Robertsville in San Jose

A few sculptures from the Sam Richardson exhibit at the Anderson Collection

See Social Issues Highlighted at the Anderson Collection, Stanford

Stanford is once again open to the public. Last Friday they prepared for the big game against Cal, student bikers zipped around campus, and the art museums are open. We took advantage of the fact that we are able to enjoy the art again, and visited the Anderson Collection.

First, you have to register online to be admitted to the museums. Each museum, the Anderson Collection and the Cantor, have their own registration. We were able to register in front of the museum and walked right in. 

Sam Richardson's sculpture: Most of that Iceberg is Below the Water. In the background a quote from him: I am most satisfied with my work when the tension between simple reductive form and multifaceted content is balanced.

There are currently three new exhibits. First, on the ground floor Sam Richardson’s Islands, Ice, and Sand. Eerily fitting was the subject of climate change in his resin molded landscapes. The piece ​​Most of that Iceberg is Below the Water (1969) for example draws the viewer in with the facets and effect of the light reflecting the pattern above. In fact, Richardson’s art is about 50 years old and has regained meaning in recent years.

A close-up of some of the 3000 toe tags from Hostile Terrain 94.

The wall installation, Hostile Terrain 94, shows more than 3000 handwritten toe tags, each representing a person that died crossing the US/Mexican border at the Sonoran Desert of Arizona between the mid-1990s and 2019. This participatory art project by the Undocumented Migration Project is hosted simultaneously in over 130 locations on 6 continents and started in the fall of 2020.

One of Eamon Ore-Giron's artworks in the Non Plus Ultra series at the Anderson Collection, Stanford.

On the second floor is Eamon Ore-Giron’s Non Plus Ultra. Ore-Giron’s large linen canvases with the gold applications and geometric shapes invoke a history of transnational gold exchange. He moves this subject further by exchanging black with the gold in the later series “as a rejection of colonial legacies and the value system that supports it.” 

The Anderson Collection

is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 11 am – 5 pm.

Sam Richardson: Islands, Ice, and Sand, until March 13, 2022

Undocumented Migrant Project: Hostile Terrain 94, until January 30, 2022

Eamon Ore-Giron: Non Plus Ultra, until February 20, 2022

Visitor parking is right in front of the Museums, but requires downloading an app in order to pay for it.

Have you visited the Anderson Art Collection lately?

Now that the Stanford campus is open again you might want to explore it. To get ideas check out my list of 50 things to do in Stanford.

Large petroglyph at the Chitactac Adams Heritage Park.

Spot some Petroglyphs at Chitactac Adams Heritage Park

Next week is Thanksgiving, a tradition widely believed to have started in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621, when colonists and peoples from the Wampanoag tribe shared a week of harvest celebration. 

Exhibit shelter in the Chitactac Adams Heritage Park.

Tommy Orange, in his book There There, depicts the origin of Thanksgiving being a celebration of a ‘successful massacre’; this is rebutted by Snopes. Not the fact that there was a massacre in 1637 killing 500 people, but that this was the origin of the Thanksgiving tradition. Snopes argues that Sarah Josepha Buell Hale petitioned for this holiday and in 1863 it was written into law by President Lincoln. Hale used the narrative of a meal being shared by Natives and Pilgrims to promote the united vision of the state.

This is about as much as I will participate in a history lesson. Fact is November is National Native American Heritage Month. A good reason to search out sacred sites and learn about Indigenous Peoples in the Bay Area.

Large petroglyph with a circular pattern.

The Chitactac Adams Heritage Park in Gilroy offers information on the life and culture of the Ohlone. In an exhibit shelter there are multiple boards teaching us about the diversity of the Native Peoples in the Bay Area, language examples of the Mutsun and Rumsien, and their use of herbs as medicine. 

Bedrock mortars, round holes in the rock.

The real attraction, however, are the petroglyphs, or rock art. In the middle of the shelter a large rock shows circles ground into the rock. Due to many instances of vandalism it was moved multiple times. There are two more rocks as examples at the shelter, but you are encouraged to spot them outside on the boulders. Please don’t climb on the boulders, the petroglyphs are thousands of years old. 

The 0.2 mile hike of the park has interpretative signs about the lives of the native peoples in this area. The rock art on this hike was hard to see, but the holes in the boulders used for grinding up foods, so called bedrock mortars, are impressive.

Sign of Ranchos and Growth, in the background kids playing and vandalism.

Another striking feature of different rock art was vandalism. The disrespectful disfigurement was near a boulder formation with information about Ranchos and Growth.  

The Chitactac Adams Heritage Park is open year round from 8 am to sunset. 

Note the hike is only partial wheelchair and stroller accessible. 

Another sacred site I wrote about is Mount Umunhum

Other Resources:

https://time.com/4577082/thanksgiving-holiday-history-origins/

https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2020/11/25/native-americans-thanksgiving-mourning

Men sitting on a bench overlooking the rose garden at Heather Farm, Walnut Creek.

Get surprised by a multitude of gardens, Heather Farm, Walnut Creek

When I visited Heather Farm I knew this place was well known for its garden. What I did not know was the dimensions and multitudes of them. They have a stunning 27 different garden arrangements! 

Little tunnel with bushes growing on top.

After I entered the centennial grove, 100 trees from around the world, the cuteness of the children’s garden caught my eyes. I’m sure the small, about a yard long, tunnel is loved by many toddlers.The Crowden Rose Garden lures you in by the scent. It features more than 1,000 varieties of roses. 

Bench at the stroll garden, Heather Farm, Walnut Creek.

With names like sensory, stroll, and meadow garden you will likely discover a myriad of plants, and ,of course there are plenty of benches to take in the scenery.  

The name Heather Farm is from a priced race horse, King Heather, of the original ranch owner, John Marchbank. Marchbank bought the 255 acre ranch in 1921 and converted it into a thoroughbred horse training facility. He sold most of the grounds in 1945. Nowadays an independent organization operates the free Heather Farms Garden and education center. Besides the many gardens, the park offers tennis courts, a swim center, an all ability playground, and a fishing lake, to name a few attractions. 

Heather Farms is located at 1540 Marchbanks Dr, Walnut Creek, CA and is open daily during daylight hours.

Have you been to Heather Farm?

While you are in Walnut Creek you might also enjoy the Ruth Bancroft garden with its lavish display of cacti and succulents.

Resources:

A yellow rose.

Walnut Creek Magazine

https://www.walnutcreekmagazine.com/2021/05/27/307676/a-look-back-walnut-creek-s-rich-equestrian-past

Gardens of Heather Farm History

https://gardenshf.org/50-2/

To see a mini tour of the gardens you can watch this YouTube video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mbSlwqtVxc

A fuzzy cactus with a bright red flower.

Find What’s in Bloom at the Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek

A group of cacti, one with a yellow flower.

At the entrance to the Ruth Bancroft Garden you’ll be handed a map to see what’s in bloom. If you want to come prepared, print it out from their website. The fee to see the succulent garden is $10 for adults with discounts for seniors and children. An amount well spent if you like succulents and drought resistant plants. There are large varieties and they have some in bloom each month.

Two buckets with parasols at the Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek.

If you go on a sunny day make sure to pick up a parasol to shade you while exploring. The murals at the entrance are also noteworthy, but inside it is spectacular. Large cacti and palm trees vying for attention together with the huge varieties of succulents. The fruits are interesting as well, but please don’t touch the prickly pear, they have thorns. 

Water lily at the Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek.

This is the perfect environment for lizards. They will zip by and then stop to look at you. The koi pond with the water lilies was an added surprise.

Afterwards check out the adjacent nursery. Cute succulents arranged in a pot and, of course, a large variety of sempervivum, cacti and other drought resistant plants.

Bench at the Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek.

The Ruth Bancroft Garden with 3.5 acres is larger than the Arizona Garden in Stanford. Both are equally spectacular. On selected evenings between 5:30 and 8:30 pm, November to January, the garden transforms into the Garden of D’Lights and they promise to ‘glow your mind’! Tickets are available at their website and cost $16 – $24 for adults and children between 6 and 15 pay $8 to $12.

Opening hours are:

March – October

Tuesday – Thursday: 9AM to 4PM (last admissions at 3:15pm)

Friday – Sunday: 10AM to 5PM (last admissions at 4:15pm)

November – February

Tuesday – Sunday: 9AM to 4PM (last admissions at 3:15pm)

Do you like seeing blooming succulents?

Ocean of Light: Submergence by Squidsoup at the MAH

Interact with Art, MAH, Santa Cruz

Scene from Continuity at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco.

We recently went to see teamlab’s Continuity exhibit at the Asian Art Museum. In 2016 teamlab showed off their immersive art in Menlo Park. In San Francisco they expanded their exhibit and I believe the rose smell was an added feature. I highly recommend the experience. It is a new way of connecting with art, by being part of it and even influencing the flow.

Ocean of Light by Squidsoup at the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz.

But this blog is for experiences in the Bay Area outside of San Francisco. So, let me point you to another amazing exhibit at the Museum of Art and History (MAH) in Santa Cruz. Before we argue if Santa Cruz is part of the Bay Area, maybe we can agree that sometimes you have to bend the rules, like the immersive art that is displayed. 

I visited Santa Cruz’s MAH in 2017 and was pleasantly surprised about the multiple aspects they offer to their visitors. Recently, I came to see the Ocean of Light: Submergence by Squidsoup, an installation of over 5000 suspended lights.  I felt again satisfied with the different exhibits.This immersive art work lets the viewer walk into the art; it is not only focused on light, but also movement, sound, and the immersive feeling it invokes. 

A giant blue foam hand with a tongue sticking out in front of speed wheel posters.

Besides their ongoing focus on the history of Santa Cruz there are also exhibits on the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, and the Art of Santa Cruz Speed Wheels. To round it up I recommend chilling in the outside sculpture garden on the top floor. 

More information

Continuity at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco just got extended until November.  

Opening hours are:

Thursdays 1 pm – 8 pm, Fridays to Mondays 10 am – 5 pm. 

Tickets for Continuity are sold separately and allow you to see the rest of the museum. Adult admission is $20 weekdays $25 weekends, discounted tickets are $15/$20.

The Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz is open Thursdays to Sundays 12 pm – 6 pm. General admission is $10, students, teachers, and veterans pay $8.

Would you like to be immersed in art?

PALEOALTO by Marpi Studio at Lytton Plaza

Evolve with art, Code:ART in Palo Alto

PALEOALTO by Marpi Studio at Lytton Plaza, Palo Alto.

I was very excited to see that Code:ART is again happening in Palo Alto. The last time I saw it was 2017. Just this weekend, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, from 5 pm to 10pm; Palo Alto lets you peek into interactive art all around downtown. 

The anchor piece is PALEOALTO by Marpi Studio at Lytton Plaza. This is an interactive time machine. The viewer is transported to a superocean and interacts with strange marine animals and vertebrates on two large screens. 

CODED ARCHITECTURES 0.3 by Amor Muñoz

Once again, the alley next to Bell’s Books hosts a mural: CODED ARCHITECTURES 0.3 by Amor Muñoz. The black and white mural is binary code and spells out a message of connectivity. The viewer can decode the message by using a binary alphabet postcard. Fun and games! 

I/O by Ben Faltau

More interaction is at 555 Ramona St with I/O by Ben Faltau. A hidden message, that changes throughout the day, is on one side of this wall (output). The output gets displayed by the input on the opposite site.

Can we work together to find the answer? I really liked the sound of the output display, the letters moved like old destination boards. 

Jeffery Yip’s Cosmic Cannon on Bryan, Palo Alto.

Jeffery Yip’s Cosmic Cannon on Bryan is an installation with sound and light experience. While Cory Barr with his Color Currents on Florence St created an interactive mural. By now it is clear that most of these Code:ARTs are best experienced when it’s dark. LUMINOUS GROWTH by Liz Hickok, Jamie Banes, and Phil Spitler uses the AT&T parking lot on Hamilton to illuminate a large-scale projection and a sculpture installation of crystals in a cityscape.

LUMINOUS GROWTH by Liz Hickok, Jamie Banes, and Phil Spitler

HYDRALA by Dan Tran and Nick Sowers, in front of the Palo Alto City Hall, is a sound-sculpture. Again we are invited to play with the four channels of audio.

HYDRALA by Dan Tran and Nick Sowers

Not only is the art interactive, at each station you might meet the artists and chat with them about their intentions. 

Code:ART info

Code:ART, the interactive new media festival illuminates Palo Alto’s downtown October 7-9 2021, each day from 5pm to 10pm.

The locations can be found on this virtual map: https://viewer.mapme.com/codeart2021/ or you can pick up a postcard map at each station.

During Code:ART Bell’s Books has extended opening hours. On Friday the Pace Gallery and the Pamela Walsh Gallery hosts public receptions and on Saturday the Qualia Contemporary Art also hosts an opening reception.

What is your favorite way to interact with art?

Are you planning on visiting Code:ART?