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Top Five Public Art Pieces in Palo Alto

by Palo Alto Patch
07-30-2011

Patch interviewed people in downtown Palo Alto to compile a list of the top five best pieces of public art in the city.

Scattered around the Palo Alto community are murals, sculptures and statues, either nestled in corners that are easily overlooked by the average commuter, or located boldly next to well-traveled roads as cheeky in-your-face statements.

All these public art pieces, such as “Movement IV” at the Lucie Stern Community Center and “In the Realm of the Golden” in the Children’s Library, have been endorsed by the Public Art Commission through the Art in Public Places Program.

The genius of public art is that it is free and accessible by everyone, unlike art in museums or in private collections, according to Palo Alto Mayor Sid Espinosa.

“From my seventh floor City Hall office, I look out at one of downtown’s whimsical Greg Brown murals called ‘Roofhoppers II,’” Espinosa said.

“This view is a constant reminder about the great benefit of public art in Palo Alto.”

Patch interviewed people in downtown Palo Alto to compile a list of the top five best pieces of public art in the city.

Top Five Best Pieces of Public Art

1. “Digital DNA”

Located in downtown’s well-trafficked Lytton Plaza, “Digital DNA” is a curious patchwork of circuit boards that creates an egg-shaped sculpture. Its convenient placement and innovative statement make “Digital DNA” the most intriguing piece of public art.

“I think it’s a good blend of a mundane shape with a modern twist that very represents Palo Alto,” Stanford student John-Paul Parmigiani said.

2. Murals by Greg Brown

Various paintings of people, aliens and spaceships decorate the walls of downtown’s buildings, and to Palo Alto citizen Stephen H. Smith, these murals mean more than just paintings.

“They marked an era in Palo Alto where art was specifically juxtaposed with the daily going-ons of the business community,” Smith said.

Seeing these murals on random walls around Palo Alto is like a friendly wave from an old friend you haven’t seen in a while; it’s always a pleasant surprise.

3. Stanford Mall Statues

“You know the ones with the big bodies and the small heads? I’ve grown up around those and I think they are funny,” Jordan Sanvictores said, which is quite self-explanatory.

4. “Albuquerque”

Yet not all public art pieces are enjoyed as simply as the statues in Stanford Mall, for “Albuquerque’s” abstract lines could be thought as a multitude of different things, according to Menlo Park citizen Alison Lemons.

“It’s outside the box, expressive, and it’s something you get to interpret,” Lemons said.

5. “Rrrun”

To Palo Alto High School student Kevin Lee, “Rrrun” created a unique memory in his childhood that helped to shape his perspectives on the community.

“As I got older, I’ve come to like see its sort of contradictory statement as one that could be a political statement, or am invitation to deep thinking on philosophical levels,” Lee said.

“Or it could just be a cool statue.”

According to Espinosa, public art helps cities create culture, beautify spaces and foster a sense of community.

“There are pieces of public art in Palo Alto that people love and embrace and visit often, yet others in our community get incensed by that same art,” Espinosa said.

“But that’s what is great about public art – beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.”

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