New public art in Palo Alto

Eco-friendly benches and 'Flight of Eagles' sculpture installed

Two new public-art installations can now be spotted around town: sustainable seating and a large bronze sculpture depicting birds in flight.

Colorful benches made from recycled propane tanks, on loan from East Bay artist Colin Selig, were installed at the corners of Emerson, Bryant, and Waverley Streets at University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto last week. The eco-friendly seats will be in town for a year, according a press release from The City of Palo Alto Public Art Program.

"The Public Art Program is thrilled to bring Selig's whimsical and environmentally sensitive seating elements to downtown Palo Alto for a trial run. The public has voiced a desire for something unexpected and different, and we hope that the businesses and the public will enjoy Selig's work," Public Art Program Manager Elise DeMarzo said in the release.

The Public Art Program is working in tandem with the Department of Public Works and the Downtown Business and Professional Improvement Association for the "creative-seating pilot" program, the release states.

Fair Oaks, California, artist Don Leek's 20-foot bronze-and-stone sculpture, "Flight of Eagles," featuring three soaring eagles with 5-foot wingspans, will be unveiled on Saturday, May 14, at the Birch Plaza Building on the corner of Sheridan and Birch Streets. The public is invited to meet the artist from 1-4 p.m.

The sculpture is a collaboration between Leek and fellow artist Howard Wheatley Allen, whose renowned bronze-bird collection was Leek's inspiration. According to a press release, the sculpture symbolizes "mankind's reborn dreams of becoming one loving and forgiving world family, flying out of the darkness into the light."

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2 people like this
Posted by Sleepy
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 7, 2016 at 9:10 am

I'm sure the homeless people will love sleeping on them.

3 people like this
Posted by Barbara Gross
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 7, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Thank you Russ for your hard work. The Downtown Association has partnered with the City to improve the the downtown landscape with new benches be trash cans - you have made that possible.

2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 7, 2016 at 1:14 pm

Actually, @Sleepy, I've found these to be less comfortable.
And the water beads up on them in the rain. Slippery.
Oh-oh, I've blown my cover.

7 people like this
Posted by Sharon Parkinson
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 14, 2016 at 6:43 pm

Unattractive. Look like the leftovers from a sixties space theme park. Uncomfortable. Impractical. If this is the future of recycled items I think I would prefer to see it pile up in garbage dumps.
Some benches were too hot to comfortably sit on when in direct afternoon sun. Please give them back and get more comfortable and practical benches before the year is over.
Did anyone actually try to sit on them before they were installed?
These benches don't quite make it as either appealing "art" or well designed public seating.

Like this comment
Posted by My Take
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 17, 2016 at 10:48 am

I haven't seen the benches yet, but I have seen the eagle sculpture. I'm wondering why the art that is often chosen for Palo Alto installations is just not very appealing. Is there a policy that unattractive pieces are somehow green or politically correct, or something? What are the criteria? Surely there are artists out there whose work includes a component of beauty? Why can't we as a community have those in our public spaces instead of deliberately ugly objects like something in a ballet skirt with a clock in its belly, a giant shiny worm, whimsical but ugly graffiti, a new fountain that looks like the crash landing of a satellite?

Like this comment
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 17, 2016 at 11:15 am

Recycling as cover for making it harder for homeless to squat downtown = avoiding reality = how PA rolls.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill Owens
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 1, 2017 at 1:29 pm

Sculpter Bill Owens of fair oaks,calif.made the clay bird for the foundry to bronze and was commission ed by Don leek

Like this comment
Posted by Older person
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 15, 2017 at 10:56 pm

Thank goodness those uncomfortable, unappealing, and not very functional benches are due to be hauled away in May!!! I hope they will be replaced by basic attractive functional benches like the ones there previously previously where you could get a cup of coffee and chat with a friend or rest for a moment and take a little break.

Send these to a park where they can be observed by those who like them but don't want or need functional benches for comfortable seating!

Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 16, 2017 at 1:19 pm

They have potential, but their builder should consult an ergonomics expert to make them usable.

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

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