There's something electric about running, working up a sweat and bonding with friends and family in the moonlight -- and it's a buzz only likely to grow with the reverberations of guitar riffs and the glow of LED lights and flashing cameras.
New to this year's goings-on at the Moonlight Run & Walk are two activities that will exhibit and tap into the creativity of the Palo Alto community. Eleven youth, ages 12-17, from the local School of Rock franchise will take the stage to give the evening's runners a soundtrack of pulsing rock 'n' roll. Meanwhile two Bay Area artists -- enlisted by the City of Palo Alto's Public Art Program -- will engage community members from a lighted pop-up installation in brainstorming ideas on how art might be better integrated into Palo Alto life.
The local musicians are currently preparing to perform a set of 15 songs of rock music, both classic and modern varieties, three times throughout the evening. Their set list will include Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog," "Ignorance" by Paramore, "Forty Six & 2" by Tool and Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker" -- sung by one of the group's four female members. General Manager Felix Archuleta noted that the possibility of performing in the house band, which students must audition for, serves as a goal for many of the school's young musicians.
"It's a good thing for kids to really want to be in the house band because that's another motivating factor to learn," said Archuleta, who has been running the school in Midtown Shopping Center for nearly two years.
The Palo Alto franchise teaches 150 aspiring rock musicians of all ages, from 5 years old to adults. In line with its emphasis on group practice, the school provides opportunities for live performance, of which the youth house band's upcoming appearance at Moonlight Run is just the latest. The musicians will rotate in and out as they sing and jam on two guitars, a bass guitar, drums and a keyboard.
If the School of Rock house band hopes to energize runners and walkers for their races, City of Palo Alto-enlisted artists Peter Foucault and Chris Treggiari aim to draft off the high spirits in discovering ways to further embed art in Palo Alto.
The artist duo's stop at the Moonlight Run is one of many they are making throughout the months of September and October as part of a project commissioned by the city's Public Art Program called "What's the Big Idea?" During this period, Foucault and Treggiari will be bicycling all around the city with two custom-made trailers that open up to create a space from which they can engage all Palo Altans in what Foucault called "an exchange of art for ideas."
The main activity of the project is having residents fill out a poster resembling a patent, complete with a schematic drawing of an Edison lightbulb. Residents are prompted to fill in the blank of "I would improve my community by ... " on the upper part of the poster, as well as to answer the questions "Where would you like to see art in Palo Alto?" and "How can artists make Palo Alto a more liveable city?" on the bottom.
When completed, the poster receives a stamp of approval, the answers to the latter two questions are torn off, and the respondent takes home the upper part -- the art portion of the exchange. The answers are then collected by Foucault and Treggiari and delivered to the Public Art Program staff, who will use them for inspiration for future programming.
Foucault and Treggiari, who identify as social practice artists, have done projects similar to this before in other California cities, operating under the name "Mobile Arts Platform." One such venture took place in Oakland, where they drove around in a retrofitted van to collect the thoughts of residents on surveillance and technology. Another made a stop at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where they brought a teardrop-shaped trailer that turned into a mobile screen-printing unit.
However, the Palo Alto project is the pair's first done by bicycle, which Foucault said they've been trying to do for a while. The flat terrain, the city's bike-friendliness and the opportunity to more completely experience the neighborhoods made it an ideal place to try out the more environmentally conscious transportation mode, Foucault said. In keeping with that, he noted that the installation's electrical components are powered by a small solar-powered generator.
"We wanted to have a project that had little to no (carbon) footprint," he said.
At the Moonlight Run, they will augment their regular setup with an LED lighting system to draw people in and illuminate the workspace. The installation will also feature a stock market-style ticker that displays answers given previously by residents, and the artists will take photos of participants holding up their completed posters. The pictures will then be printed on site and put into an archive that visitors can browse to find out what others are thinking.
Foucault said that residents thus far have been "very generous with their time" in participating in the project, and he has high hopes that the excited atmosphere of the Moonlight Run will be even more conducive to getting Palo Altans thinking about art and community.
"We're hoping people are going to have some good energy to bring to (this)," he said.