In the latest Around Town column, news about Palo Alto's Black Lives Matter mural now available on a new T-shirt, a renewed push to lower the voting age to 16 in local elections and actor Dave Franco's first feature film in the director's chair.
ART FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD ... Palo Alto's Black Lives Matter mural is no longer just on Hamilton Avenue near City Hall. The public art piece that came together nearly a month ago is now on a T-shirt that went on sale July 14. Proceeds will go to Youth United for Community Action, an East Palo Alto-based youth nonprofit that works on environmental and social justice issues. Photographer Benny Villarreal is leading the effort after the city and Public Art Program approached him about the T-shirt idea. His photo of the mural is featured on the front of the shirt, with a list of the 16 artists involved in the project listed on the back. "I'm just happy to be a part of it. I'm just happy to bring more attention to this message," he said. Villarreal consulted with the creatives to finalize which nonprofit would benefit from the sales. Some artists suggested connecting with larger nonprofits, but most felt those groups had their own financial support. "They just felt that it was important to not only keep it local, but to keep it small," he said. As of July 17, more than 35 orders had come in, according to Villarreal. The shirts are on sale for $30 each, ranging from extra small to 3X and are available in black, gray and white. For more information, click here.
COMMITTED TO THE CAUSE ... Palo Alto students who wanted to see the city lower the voting age for local elections to 16 faced a setback last month, when the City Council declined to consider placing the issue for this year's ballot. Now, the Vote16 campaign is setting its sights on 2022. Since the council went on its summer break, the group has renewed its push to inform the community about its effort and to solicit feedback. Members have launched a website dedicated to the cause and have released a five-question survey to gauge public opinion. Leaders of the group also hosted an informational session on July 11 to discuss the effort and address common criticisms of lowering the voting age. In the meantime, the group plans to work with the League of Women Voters to pre-register voters, endorse council candidates who support the effort and gather signatures for a ballot initiative that would bring the issue to voters, according to the campaign website. Learn more about the effort here.
DIRECTORIAL DEBUT ... Palo Alto native Dave Franco, the actor who has graced Hollywood screens for more than a decade, is embarking on the next step in his career. The 35-year-old has written and directed his first film, "The Rental," set to premiere across the country at drive-in theaters and on demand on Friday, July 24. The 89-minute, NR-rated horror movie follows two couples vacationing at an oceanside rental home. "What should have been a celebratory weekend trip turns into something far more sinister as well-kept secrets are exposed and the four old friends come to see each other in a whole new light," according to distributor IFC Films. Franco's wife, actress Alison Brie, is among the four main characters. In an interview published Tuesday with the San Francisco Chronicle, Franco credited his first job at Palo Alto's Midtown Video when he was 14 years old with sparking his interest in film. "It was actually illegal for me to be working there at that age, so they essentially paid me by letting me take home as many movies as I wanted," he said in the article. "That became my film school. They really made me want to be a part of the business." Recent reviews indicate the film is worth watching. Rolling Stone gave it four out of five stars, saying Franco has set up "scary, twisted fun and emotional obstacles" for the protagonists. "'The Rental' never lets up on your nerves. But it's the human betrayals that cast the longer shadows, the ones that keep you up nights," Peter Travers wrote in his review. Variety noted "some crafty artistry at work. "Most of it is skillful and engrossing enough to establish Franco as a director to watch."