Arizona Cactus Garden, Stanford

Unearth a different kind of superbloom

Cacti with flowers, Arizona Cactus Garden, Stanford

After ‘El Nino’ there is usually a superbloom. Southern California has more of these overgrown wildflower spots than we in the Bay Area. I was wondering if succulents and cacti also experience a superbloom right now. The answer is ‘Yes!’

The Arizona Cactus Garden in Stanford is my favorite hidden gem. Once there, you’ll be transported to a desert like area, with lizards showing you the way. There are huge plants with a phallic like bloom that easily spans 10 feet and cute little ground covers.

Blooming succulents at the Arizona Cactus Garden, Stanford.

A fuzzy cactus looks like a face with its little pink flowers. Succulents exude the most interesting flowers and colors.

You can find the Arizona Garden next to the Mausoleum on the Stanford campus.

Do you make the effort to see superblooms?

Brilliance in Palo Alto

Change the light with Brilliance

Brilliance artwork in Palo Alto

I admired the six sculptures between the Palo Alto library and the Art Center during the daylight. Just recently I learned that these bulby metal objects with the stanced out metal messages glow in the dark. The design even allows you to change the color by pressing a button.

Brilliance in Palo Alto

Joe O’Connell of Creative Machines,  an artist collective that specializes in interactive exhibits and artworks, and Blessing Hancock created Brilliance. Like my experience with Brilliance, their goal is to create beautiful objects that evolve into a deeper meaning and use.

Button on the Brilliance artwork to change color.

The phrases in multiple languages that you can see on the sculptures got collected from the community. The writings reflect the diversity of Palo Alto and it is fitting for the space between the library and art center to have a community engaged art collection.

Brilliance in Palo Alto

To dive deeper into the experience you can now connect with STQRY an app that gives you background information.





I hope your New Year will be a brilliant enlightenment. Wishing everyone a great start into 2019!

Relax in the Gamble Garden

Volunteer raking at the Gamble Garden, Palo Alto.

365 days a year you can go over to Old Palo Alto and see what’s in bloom or just chill and soak up the beauty.

The Gamble Garden is open for the public year round, on the grounds of the historic home  where Elizabeth Gamble grew up 100 years ago. The garden became a public park in 1985.

Kids digging and measuring worms at the Gamble Garden, Palo Alto

Every second Saturday they open the doors a bit wider. The next event is January 12th, 2019. A morning (10 am – 11:30 am) for the whole family. They offer tours around the garden, a family nature hunt, and a tour of the first floor of the home.

I enjoyed the Second Saturday in December with some friends. We browsed the seasonal offerings of decorations and the holiday greens sale. It was fun to see all the kids digging for the longest worm.

Water drops on plant at Gamble Garden, Palo Alto.

My friend introduced me to her passion of photographing water droplets on plants; we could find many examples.

Mary our tour guide at the Gamble Garden, Palo Alto.

I was so glad we caught the tour with Mary our tour guide! We started at the new water catching area, a water tank that feeds a little stream with water plants, experienced the wisteria room and its tranquility, and got a lesson in photosynthesis and how to describe plants.

Schola Cantorum chorus at the Gamble Garden, Palo Alto.

It was a festive outing with the holiday carols from the acclaimed Schola Cantorum chorus.

This will be on my holiday to-do list for the upcoming years. A great tradition is born.

If you are interested in visiting the Gamble Garden for the next Second Saturday you should register with them on their website.

Do you have a holiday tradition?

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?

 

Silicon Valley open studios directory

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?

 

Artwork Forge by Toby Atticus Fraley

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?

 

Birthplace of Silicon Valley, HP garage

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?

The horse in motion, statue at Stanford Equestrian

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?

Decorated house on Christmas Tree Lane in Palo Alto

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?