Town Square

Is Art Dead In Menlo Park?

Original post made by Art Lover, Menlo Park: Downtown, on Sep 28, 2008

Palo Alto has it. So does Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Atherton and Redwood City. What do they have, and many other cities in California that Menlo Park does not have -- that would be a city sponsored art program.

Art comes in many forms, such as painting, sculpture, dance, music, theatre and so on. Communities rich with art offer the opportunity to increase the level of culture to its community. Everyone has the potential of benefiting, including adults and their children.

In Menlo Park there is an Art Commission that used to be active within the City of Menlo Park, but for years the City Council has chosen not to place a single community citizen volunteer on it. The Commission is empty as is the financial commitment to fund it.

As such, is art dead in Menlo Park? Look around, most of the visible art goes back many, many years. Programs, sculptures, etc. are slowly disappearing.

Does the community desire art? Even Atherton, about 1/3 the size of Menlo Park, has an Art Commission. San Luis Obispo recently was cited as having an active program. What is desired here -- or do we have to go to Atherton, Palo Alto, San Jose, etc. to share with our kids and for ourselves the value, benefit and positive attributes that only art can create in a very special way, that is, as special as the communities it serves.


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Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 28, 2008 at 6:12 pm

An old Balinese saying goes like this: We don't have any art. We do everything as well as possible.

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Posted by happy camper
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 28, 2008 at 7:00 pm

So go to Palo Alto and Atherton for art. Come to Menlo Park and skateboard or hang out at Borrone.

We only have 30,000 residents and can't be everything for all people. If you don't like what we've got...move!

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Posted by Menlo resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Sep 28, 2008 at 8:21 pm

The comment shown is the reason we should have art in Menlo Park, to elevate the quality of people coming to our area. As a resident, we're not interested in attracting skate boarders and others that just want to hang out!

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Posted by happy camper
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 28, 2008 at 10:29 pm

If not having an arts commission means that we are spared the horrors of dubious masterpieces like Convertibles, then I hope that the arts commission is never resurrected. Palo Altans regularly complain about the abominations that defile otherwise lovely outdoor spaces and would probably be thrilled to relinquish such gems as Digital DNA or Go Mama to their deprived neighbors to the north.

The skate park is an attractive piece of outdoor sculpture in and of itself, and I can't understand why anyone would be opposed to skaters. I am proud that Menlo Park was able to accommodate the kids who had been begging for years for a skate park, and wonder that anyone's sense of self-worth is so fragile as to be threatened by skaters.

By the way, a 15-minute walk in Burgess Park will enable even the most hardened curmudgeon to indulge in a worthwhile sensory experience. There is beauty and art all around us, even though most of it doesn't come neatly framed or carry a high price tag.

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Posted by Jan
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 29, 2008 at 4:30 pm

I support reestablishing the arts commission, but after the shabby treatment the last commissioners received before they quit en masse, I wonder if anyone would apply for it.

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Posted by Art Lover
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 29, 2008 at 5:22 pm

The City of Menlo Park has provided in their 2008-2009 budget ZERO ($0.00) for the Menlo Park Art Commission's use in the support, encouragement and enhancement of public art. I would think there would be at least a dollar ($1.00) for MAINTENANCE, care and repair of existing art. For instance, the playful "cat" sculpture that children so much enjoyed in the Seminary Oaks Park was removed by the Public Works Department for repair - and was never returned. The reason -- no money. One more loss of a very limited inventory of public art in the city.

Thank God the schools, churches and others have picked up the slack, somewhat. However, since virtually every other City in California provides public art in some form, it makes you wonder if Menlo Park may have overlooked something, or knows something they don't?

For some cultures, it's some form of art that lasts throughout the centuries. Ever heard of Rembrandt, Michaelangelo, Beethoven, Mozart and others? Dance, music, paintings, etc. have the ability to express a culture's values like no other way. For instance, a stroll around Stanford Univeristy is a real eye opener, including having their own Museum. San Mateo County has their own musuem, as does the City of Palo Alto.

Even the State of California has a limited art program. You may wish to check out their website sometime. It is

The Menlo Park Art Commission is already on the books in Menlo Park. It is on their website. All it takes is the City Council to interview and place qualified people who volunteer their time and talent, for the benefit of the community.

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Posted by AAG
a resident of another community
on Sep 30, 2008 at 7:19 am

It's nice to stroll around the Allied Arts Guild.

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Posted by boring
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 30, 2008 at 9:08 am

Who cares? If you are an artsy fartsy person you will go to San Francisco to see "art". Otherwise, it is a boring waste of time. It is pretentious and worthless as well.

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Posted by budget conscious
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 30, 2008 at 9:18 am

We don't have to have an Arts Commmission to enjoy art, as many have commented. In my book, public art is a "nice to have" after the city comes to grips with what is affordable and residents and businesses are willing to pay.
Regarding the comment about why the Arts Commissioners resigned, please note that the current Council was not the culprit.