Written by: Katherine Zhu and Erica Lee
Bliss in the Moment
Out of the natural scenery, a boxy steel man on a blue and silver bicycle takes a moment to stop and savour the view of the Baylands, a large tract of preserved marshland. The sculpture, “Bliss in the Moment,” is dedicated to cycling advocate Bill Bliss, who passed away in 2005. On Earth Day last year, a dedication ceremony occurred for the sculpture and the general public was invited. The Bliss family partnered with the Palo Alto Public Art Commission and the Art in Public Places Program to commission the art piece from local artist James Moore.
Bliss devoted his life to expanding trails, improving the safety of trails and advocating legislation in favor of safer cycling. He envisioned a 500-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail which would run along the shorelines of the San Francisco and San Pablo Bays, and form a continuous loop. As of 2012, 330 miles of the trail have been completed.
The sculpture is located at a busy trail intersection where bicyclists, hikers, joggers and other pedestrians travel through. According to Moore, the sculpture depicts the cyclist with one foot planted on the ground while facing the sunrise because it conveys hope for the future along with dedicated action for the present.
Lytton Plaza in downtown Palo Alto is home to a large metallic green egg. Not a dinosaur egg turned fossil, but an egg created from scraps of old technology. At a casual glance, the sculpture appears to be nothing more than a strange eye sore, but with a closer inspection, the beauty and meaning shines through.
The sculpture, “Digital DNA” was created to be a symbol of the growth and birth of the Silicon Valley, and how Palo Alto was the starting point of it all. The egg represents the beginning, while the circuit boards and steel portray the advancement of technology throughout the decades.
“Digital DNA,” designed by Adriana Valerra and Niton Malz is a 300-pound, 7-feet tall mass of computer circuit boards and steel. The Palo Alto Public Arts Commission bought it for $9,950 in 2000, and it was supposed to be placed in 2004. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed “Digital DNA,” and it was recreated for $10,000. Finally, in 2005 “Digital DNA” was ready for public display.
Going down California Avenue, there is a mysterious sculpture of a six-foot doll. The bronze statue, the artist’s version of a child’s doll, is running in place, and on the doll’s stomach is the face of a baby. The sculpture, “Go Mama,” was created by Marta Thoma in 1999 for the City of Palo Alto.
The face of the doll appears more cartoon like, while the face of the baby is eerily realistic. The lifted eyebrows and slightly open mouth give the baby’s face an expression of surprise, while the doll has a relaxed, calm expression.
Thoma’s work is a variety of surrealism, figuration and modern art. “Go Mama” evokes feelings of both fantasy and fear because of the giganticism of the piece. While viewing the piece a sensation that the doll will stomp over. The scale of the sculpture is used as a device of disorientation, shifting viewers’ perspective and challenging perception.
On the edge of Bowden Park, a giant cement car is constantly sprinting with its human legs. The sculpture, “Rrrun,” was created by artist Marta Thoma, who has numerous pieces of artwork displayed throughout the Bay Area.
“Rrrun” was sparked by her thoughts on the large amounts of time spent commuting or traveling by car. However, she also expresses her appreciation for the feeling of freedom and the ability to escape when behind the wheel.
The sculpture is located near Alma Street so that it is visible not only to the pedestrians in the park, but also to the people passing by in cars. According to Thoma, the location of “Rrrun” reflects the metamorphosis of the car into a man because the place where the sculpture is situated connects those on the street to those in the park.
The unusual artwork has received mixed reactions from the community, ranging from tepid responses to praise and criticism.
After a commissioner saw a small model of the current sculpture in Thoma’s studio, the Public Art Commission employed Thoma to create “Rrrun” which was installed at Bowden in early 2006.