Back in 2017 I was selected by The City Of Palo Alto to make a commissioned wall piece for Avenidas, a very progressive day-use senior center in downtown Palo Alto. The center has existed for some time in an older Mission-style building and there were plans to greatly expand it into what would become a much larger purpose-built adjoining building.
We did some consultation with the center's staff and users to solicit opinions of how they see and value Avenidas, and what having it means to them. Themes of personal growth, new connections, and an optimism for new opportunities were foremost, and subsequently these were the thoughts I had in mind as I considered what imagery to use.
I kept coming back to the digital painting on the left, one that I'd made some time ago whilst experimenting with some simple iPad software. The circles with their random orientations, and the almost grid-like structure that they don't quite conform to, seemed to have a vibrancy and energy that reflected the themes. And the strong verticality in the background would complement the space well.
I took the digital image and constructed the collage pictured right. The shadowy shapes in the background now had more of a foliage-like quality, and the colors were adjusted to work in the Avenidas lobby space.
From the outset I'd intended to make the piece using reclaimed wood and the opportunity came up to use some old pine boards that had been in a now demolished roof section of the old building. Everyone loved the idea of reusing part of the old building as a feature of the new one, so the boards were salvaged and used as you see in the following images of the piece being made.
I liked the random stripes that were present in the old paint, so rather than remove it I let them subtly show through the new colors. Shapes were routed into the wood at different depths and some areas stained to better match the tones of the collage design. The layer of small circles with their painterly stripes and bright red edges were the final stage.
Here are some installation shots. I am hugely appreciative of all the people who helped make this happen, especially all the people of Avenidas, Elise DeMarzo and Nadya Chuprina of Palo Alto's Public Art Program, architect Susi Stadler, Vance Brown Construction, and my pal Lee Tollefsrud who once again helped me install the piece.