Greg Brown mural in downtown Palo Alto restored

Artist repairs damage to 'Man Pushing Cat in Stroller' painting

Artist Greg Brown performed restoration work over the weekend on "Man Pushing Cat in Stroller," his fanciful mural in downtown Palo Alto.

The mural on the exterior wall of the Restoration Hardware store at University Avenue and Bryant Street depicts a gray-haired man pushing a googly-eyed extraterrestrial in a wheeled cart. It was originally painted in 1975 and over the years suffered damage to the face, shirt and lower portions of the painting, in the forms of chipped paint and graffiti.

In June, the Palo Alto Public Art Commission voted to allocate $500 for Brown to complete the restoration work. The mural is part of the Art in Public Places Collection maintained by the commission.

The painting originally depicted a cat being wheeled, hence the title, but was subsequently changed by Brown and is now alternately known as "Spiro Agnew Pushing Alien in Stroller."

At least 14 other whimsical Brown murals grace the walls of buildings of downtown Palo Alto, including "Secret Agent Man With Bird on Hat," "Pelican with Money" and "Nun with Toy Airplane."


Posted by more murals!, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I love going up to San Francisco's Mission District to view the murals. How about making California St. the mural district of Palo Alto?

Posted by Bob, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2010 at 1:07 pm

@ more murals!: Great idea . . . we should also have a tech company "walk of fame" somewhere. People would come to see the HP or GOOG "stars"

Posted by Midlander, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Wow. Public art that is actually fun to look at. And $500 seems like an extremely reasonable price for a 20 year touch up. Hurrah!

Posted by Jeff Garza, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2010 at 4:28 pm

What an ugly mural. I wish someone would paint for it. This isn't even something that should be called a mural. It's more akin to propaganda. Same goes for the ones in Los Altos.

Posted by Jeff Garza, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2010 at 4:30 pm

I meant to say "paint over it!"

Posted by Big Al, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Hey Jeff, slow down when you criticize the artist next time and you might not appear to be so foolish, but don't count on it.

Posted by Howard, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 27, 2010 at 6:14 pm

So Jeff gets the Scrooge award. The Greg Brown murals are one of the most wonderful and distinctive aspects of downtown Palo Alto.

Posted by YSK, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 27, 2010 at 9:33 pm

haha, I remember sitting in a hot tub with Greg Brown in the 70's at a party house in San Jose... love his murals!

Someone really REALLY needs to do SOMETHING about California's horribly ugly. I can't even shop there!

Posted by more murals!, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Clear cutting California Ave. revealed how ugly the buildings really are. Paint some murals! Especially full frontal murals that cover the entire face of the buildings.

Posted by YSK, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 27, 2010 at 10:03 pm

What the hell REALLY happened that the City got to clear all those gorgeous old trees? It looks like a faded old frontier town now there, the age but not the romance. Some of the old buildings are pretty neat, but trees are needed to really give the street ambience.

Posted by WilliamR, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 27, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Is it true that the man in the mural deliberately looks like Spiro Agnew? I seem to remember hearing that a long time ago.

Posted by Perspective, a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 28, 2010 at 6:02 am

I love his murals, I love seeing them peep out from around a corner or as I am walking down the street and glance around. Lived here 30 years now, and they still delight me.

Thanks for fixing them!

Posted by Jake, a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 28, 2010 at 10:14 am

"we should also have a tech company "walk of fame" somewhere. People would come to see the HP or GOOG "stars"."

I agree with Bob, now that would be cool!

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2010 at 12:04 pm

I love Greg Brown murals. My kids love them. I can't even get a contractor to come to my house in this town to do squat for $500 -- Greg Brown is an internationally known artist, he's doing it more for love than the money.

Posted by Reluctant Siliconer, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 29, 2010 at 10:36 pm

The Brown murals are one of those things I love about Palo Alto. My kids and I have had many happy times looking at them all over town and making up funny stories about them. I'd love to see more of them. Thanks, Palo Alto and Greg Brown.

Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2010 at 10:49 am

I don't mind the murals - my kids did enjoy them when they were young - I remember a class field trip just to spot them. However, I'd love it if Palo Alto invested in some more lasting, 'quality' artwork. Someone put a hideous metal 'worm' kind of sculpture at Mitchell Park, and there's a cool sort of egg shaped thing at the redesigned plaza on University Ave. with, I think, circuit boards all over it - intriguing, colorful, and relevant. Not much else. I'm afraid that all the political correctness or something means a sort of Soviet aesthetic. Ho hum.

Posted by don, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2010 at 11:06 am

It takes all kinds of art to appeal to all kinds of people. My friends and I really like Cradle Arch in Mitchell Park and hate the Egg in Lytton Plaza.

Mr. Brown's murals are a treasure and a joy to behold. Palo Alto does know how to do some things right.

Posted by Daryl, a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 30, 2010 at 11:07 am

I smile every time I pass this mural. Thank you for keeping it fresh!

Posted by Don G., a resident of Community Center
on Aug 30, 2010 at 11:25 am

Maybe we should have Mr. Brown paint the trees back on California Avenue! I enjoy his work and think it breaks up the urban landscape very nicely.

Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2010 at 11:26 am

Grateful for our money well and wisely spent.

I still mourn the loss of the beautiful slightly surreal painting that used to be across the street from the old Good Earth Restaurant downtown that was a collection/flight(?)of egrets or cranes.

It was lost to windows when the wrap place went in.

Palo Alto murals are wonderful and I'm grateful for everyone of them. The one on the side of Country Sun on California Ave. brings me pleasure everytime I venture there.

I hope I'm still alive when the trees grow and soften that sad street.

Posted by I love PA murals!, a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 30, 2010 at 11:48 am

I grew up with these too... Thank you Greg Brown! Wish I could've been there to meet him or observe him touching them up. It's time for me to make them my next walking destination.

Posted by Judith, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 30, 2010 at 12:02 pm

A note on the lost egret mural - when the new tenant went in, the architect, Tony Carrasco, had an artist design some metal egrets to hold up the roof overhang. Look for them above your eye level.

Posted by Pelican Pete, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2010 at 3:08 pm

We absolutely love Greg Brown's murals! All our visitors from the East Coast and Europe have commented favorably on them over the years. Let's have more - California Ave would be a great place to start!

Posted by James, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 1, 2010 at 11:59 am

It's great to see this restored, the murals "here and there" are a wonderful city feature and tradition. Back in 1975 (remember?) my friends had names for many of the new murals and the one in this story was "Spiro Agnew's new job". Remember, it was 1975! :)

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
17 hours ago

Good bye, Greg. We will keep an eye on your murals for you.

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