In the latest Around Town column, news about diverse murals recently installed in the California Avenue business district and the city of Palo Alto celebrating its sister-city relationships.
A SPLASH OF COLOR ... The construction site for a future parking garage in Palo Alto's California Avenue business district may be a damper for the area's visitors, employees and residents, who currently have fewer parking spaces to utilize, but new murals installed on the fence bordering the project aim to make the lot more visually appealing to the public. On Wednesday, the city's Public Art Program finished installing four art pieces by artists Phillip Hua, Allison Kunath, Oree Originol and Samuel Price, who were all selected from a pool of California-based visual artists and graphic designers considered for the project at 350 Sherman Ave. Hua's work brings a slice of nature to the side facing Birch Street, where passersby will see hummingbirds and butterflies in motion. Kunath's linear work featuring hands is visible on the Sherman Avenue wall facing the Visa building. Originol's mural on Ash Street is the most dynamic, colorful and playful of the bunch with diverse, geometric shapes across the canvas. Price's collage of 16 dogs will most likely be the one pedestrians will gravitate to on the Jacaranda Lane side of the project behind Starbucks. The works were printed on vinyl, which Program Director Elise DeMarzo warned will be susceptible to damage from construction and weather conditions during their yearlong run. Once they come down, portions of the mural could be reused by community members to make goods, DeMarzo said during the Public Art Commission's Sept. 19 meeting.
A FAMILY AFFAIR ... As part of Palo Alto's ongoing celebration of its 125th birthday, council members and a few dozen dignitaries gathered on Monday in the City Hall lobby for a ceremony recognizing the city's eight sister cities: Palo, Philippines; Oaxaca, Mexico; Albi, France; Linköping, Sweden; Enschede, Netherlands; Tsuchiura, Japan; Heidelberg, Germany; and the Yangpu District in Shanghai, China. Among the speakers was Bob Wenzlau, president of Neighbors Abroad, the nonprofit that helps coordinate the city's foreign diplomacy. Palo Alto's quasquicentennial, he said, also marks 25 years since the city formed its relationship with Albi and 10 years since Tsuchiura joined the family. The city's sister partnerships have also "modernized" over the past decade, with a new focus on sustainability and "smart city" initiatives. "So, in addition to the common threads of education and cultural exchange, we look at how we can learn from our sister cities," Wenzlau said. Attendees also viewed a video in which mayors from the different sister cities congratulated Palo Alto on its 125th birthday. Judy Kleinberg, president of the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, said the video will be included in a time capsule that the city is putting together. Kleinberg, a former mayor, also recalled the city's last 25-year time capsule, which was buried 26 years ago and opened last year. Inside the capsule were a petrified bagel, a big piece of silicon and letters from teenagers talking about what they thought the world would be like in 25 years, among other items. "One teenager wrote in their own handwriting that she thought maybe someday everybody would have a computer and they might be able to do things on their own computer," Kleinberg said. "Twenty-five years ago, that was really a wish — a Star Wars kind of a thing."