Palo Alto Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - August 12, 2011

Bottle house on the plaza

Berkeley artist builds sculpture in front of Palo Alto City Hall

Thousands of glass bottles will soon compose a new art installation in King Plaza in front of Palo Alto City Hall. "Clear Story," by Berkeley artist Mildred Howard, will take the shape of a bottle house stretching out 10 feet high and 12 feet wide.

The work's inspiration is twofold, according to a press release from the Palo Alto Art Center, which is presenting the installation. Howard's house will pay tribute to Palo Alto's many Eichler homes, and will also honor the bottle houses of the American South and West Africa. The traditional structures were often built to protect a family or a grave against evil spirits.

In "Clear Story," the bottles will be fused together and placed in a wood armature. The installation is scheduled to be in King Plaza at 250 Hamilton Ave. from Sept. 10 through August 2012. Howard is set to speak in Palo Alto's council chambers at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, with a reception following at 4 p.m.

Several of Howard's smaller bottle houses were on display at the art center earlier this year. Other venues have included the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.; the Oakland Museum of California; the San Francisco and Sacramento airports; and the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Wash.

The Palo Alto Art Center is currently closed for a $7.9 million renovation, and set to reopen next summer.

During the closure, numerous artistic and cultural activities are taking place around the city in other locations. Besides the Howard installation, other events will include a talk by two Djerassi Resident Artists Program participants, choreographer Andee Scott and media artist Simon Zoric, at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Palo Alto Children's Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road.

For more information, go to cityofpaloalto.org/artcenter.

— Rebecca Wallace

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