EYE OF THE BEHOLDER ... Three years ago, artist Sam Yates was a local hero of sorts. After years of snapping and compiling pictures of every city property, he earned a standing ovation from the City Council when he unveiled the not-so-shocking finding that the "Color of Palo Alto" is in fact green. Or, to be accurate, four types of green, depending on how you measure the "average" color (residents ultimately voted on a hue described as a "GI Joe green"). Since then, the public-art project has been fading in the public minds like a discarded watercolor. This month, however, "The Color of Palo Alto" sprung back to life when Palo Alto officials began to wonder whatever happened to the database of 120,000 photos Yates had promised the city as part of the project. While officials say the database is long overdue, Yates begs to differ. In an email to the city, the artist attributes officials' desire to have the $75,000 project completed to "the nature of our society, broadly interested in short-term rewards rather than long-term views of culture, community, and our environment." Local opinions may vary about this project, but Yates seems to think history will vindicate his work of art. "When we walk by a cathedral that took several generations to build, or the Watts Towers that took one man a lifetime, we generally do not say, 'What a waste of time,'" Yates wrote with no hint of irony. "And now, against all odds, through sheer perseverance and heart in the absence of money and despite naysayers, an artist is slowly building something from nothing. Every day I work on the project it increases its value to the community." While his response was filled with philosophical musings, it did not have the one thing the city was hoping to get — a date for when the database will be completed and handed over to the city. The Public Art Commission, which discussed this artistic hiccup last week, expressed optimism that Yates will complete the project some time this month.
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posted Friday, March 1, 2013, 12:00 AM