Palo Alto Art Center plans an Oct. 6 re-opening day

Visitors will see revamped gallery and classroom spaces, and eight new art installations

All the wall calendars owned by all the employees of the Palo Alto Art Center likely have one thing in common: a big circle around Oct. 6.

The center Wednesday, June 20, announced the date for its grand re-opening after $7.9 million worth of renovations. A public celebration is being planned from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6, at 1313 Newell Road, to show off the revamped gallery spaces, new children's wing and gallery shop, redesigned entry lounge and fancy new landscaping. Why, people may even come to see the new ventilation systems.

In a press release, center director Karen Kienzle called the renovation project "landmark," and noted that it is scheduled to wrap up "on time and on budget." Funding came from the City of Palo Alto, the art center's foundation, and from private, corporate and other government donors.

Activities planned for opening day include: free art activities for children and adults, live music and dance, refreshments, art demos and a ribbon-cutting.

After a year and a half of being closed, the center should also be raring to display its new exhibitions. The kick-off show in the souped-up center will be "Community Creates," a collection of eight art installations done by eight Bay Area artists together with the public.

Kathy Aoki is working with local teens to develop "TeenScapes," which looks at teens' daily lives through installation and painting. Palo Alto photographer Angela Buenning Filo has been gathering people's photos and six-word stories inspired by their favorite trees in the city, and Lava Thomas is creating portraits of veterans at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Hospital.

Paz de la Calzada's sculptural installation will be made of sculpted ferns that seem to be growing from a gallery wall; the public will help craft them from fabric and wire. Carlos Ramirez will draw on the history of Silicon Valley and of Mesoamerica in his ceramic installation, for which the public will assist in making tiles.

Susan O'Malley will assemble "Palo Alto's collective wisdom" for her woodblock-text project "Community Advice," and Weston Teruya will team up with residents to make paper models of items that are important to them.

Lastly, as a soundtrack to the refreshed gallery space, Mel Day and Jeanne C. Finley are creating a sound installation with a blend of singing voices: members of the a cappella Threshold Choir and residents of Palo Alto's Lytton Gardens senior community.

Meanwhile, the newly overhauled art center will also display a new logo, the result of a competition that drew 204 entries. The winning logo was designed by Colleen Sullivan, an artist at Cubberley Studios in Palo Alto.

The center's renovation is being done by the San Francisco architecture firm Mark Cavagnero Associates, which also worked on the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View.

For more about the center and its programs, go to


Like this comment
Posted by paarchitect
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2012 at 10:51 am

So that's who won the new Palo Alto Art Center logo contest...

They should have been much more professional about that. Nobody knew who had won and they still haven't formally announced it. I had (twice) asked when the results were promised and never get a straightforward reply.

Congrats to Colleen Sullivan.

Like this comment
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 21, 2012 at 11:13 am

Just curious, but I'm wondering what was the tax payer's portion of this 7.9 million dollar project? I ask this in light of the fact that our city has been mired in a financial crisis and faces growing annual budget deficits. I do not believe that any of these funds stemmed from a voter approved bond measure. Additionally, there are critical civic needs that have been on the table for many years that have not been addressed or funded.

Under favorable economic conditions I would have no issue with public dollars being expended for projects like this one that I would consider desirable, but certainly not essential. How we can continue to spend irresponsibly while vital needs in infrastructure and public safety still exist absolutely confounds me. This project represents another example of our city leaders and elected officials lacking financial priorities. To further illustrate their irresponsibility and lack of planning, this same city management team actually has the audacity to suggest another bond measure and tax increase to pay for these vital needs which have been deferred and dismissed for sake of more feel good, fluff projects.

We need our city leaders to demonstrate some common sense. We need our city leaders to take some fiscal responsibility and not expect the tax payers to bail them out in order to fund our essential, cornerstone civic needs.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Where is it?

Like this comment
Posted by Cristina
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 21, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Congratulations to visual artist Colleen Sullivan!
Can't wait to see the new logo.

Like this comment
Posted by Julie
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2012 at 7:56 am

Congrats to the Art Center and all the artists who will be contributing to the opening. Our community is so fortunate to have Paz de la Calzada, Jeanne Finley, Susan O'Malley and all the others creating pieces for the opening! And congratulations to Colleen Sullivan for winning the design contest.

My understanding is that much of the money for the remodel/improvements were paid for by donations to Art Center Foundation.

Like this comment
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 23, 2012 at 10:30 am

Quite frankly Julie from Midtown, I'm a bit more concerned about the fiscal mess the city is currently experiencing along with our widening budget deficit. Other than suggesting another tax increase, the city management team hasn't offered any solutions on how we're going to pay for our vital infrastructure and public safety needs.

Because of these factors, pardon me if I'm not too enthusiastic about an art exhibit. I wish I could be, but unfortunately it serves only as a reminder that our city leaders and elected officials continue to buckle to the special interests and spend frivolously on projects that are non-essential. Can our city leaders please demonstrate some fiscal responsibility and set some financial priorities for once. Can we at least cover the cost of our vital cornerstone civic needs without insulting us with the suggestion of another tax increase. Absolutely unreal.

Like this comment
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 23, 2012 at 10:37 am

And on a point you raised Julie, exactly how much of the total cost of this project was picked up by the art foundation and private donors? How much was left on the tab for the tax payers to pick up? I would venture to say that whatever the amount of public dollars was spent on this project, would have been better spent addressing our essential civic needs.

Again, we have infrastructure to maintain and public safety needs that have been deferred and seemingly ignored. We face annual budget deficits. These issues are not going to go away, certainly not if we continue to spend irresponsibly. Can we please take care of our basic priorities first, pay our bills, and when that's accomplished see what's left over to dedicate to other non-essential pursuits. It's just common sense.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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