Palo Alto may be known for its strong tech reputation, but it also has an impressive art and culture scene. Several local galleries are showcasing both local and international talent.
Maybe you’re an artist yourself or just love looking at art. Either way, we’re highlighting the best places to view fine art in Palo Alto.
Qualia Contemporary Art
Located on University Ave., Qualia showcases art from upcoming artists in a variety of mediums. The gallery’s goal is to form lasting relationships with artists, collectors, curators, and scholars on a national level and to promote dialogue around art. Past exhibits include Catastrophic Beauty: Art in the Age of the Anthropocene, which “addressed the impact of human dominance over the environment and explored its psychological, aesthetic, and philosophical implications.” There was also Cate White’s mixed media on campus, which depicted the “repetitive patterns and contemporary experiences of systemic power structures within an art historical context.” Explore the gallery for what’s sure to be a visually appealing and thought-provoking experience.
For a taste of international art, head to Pace. This esteemed gallery highlights work from the most influential artists of the past century — especially those central to the Abstract Expressionist and Light and Space movements. They showcase works from Adolph Gottlieb and Thomas Nozkowski (to name a couple). The Palo Alto location is one of nine worldwide, each of which works to maintain the strong relationships with artists for which Pace is known. Pace hosts art fairs in the area, a complete listing of which is available online. They also publish regularly, and their books are available for purchase in the museum shop. Visit Pace for a truly expansive experience.
Bryant Street Gallery
This modern art gallery offers a consistently rotating selection of exhibitions as well as custom framing services. Its simple design encourages visitors to focus on the art alone, which explores various mediums and themes. The museum’s current exhibition is Thea Schrack’s At the Edge. It uses the ocean as inspiration for a variety of bold, visually stimulating works and represents Schrack’s journey as an artist. In addition to its impressive gallery, Bryant Street also offers art consultations and custom framing. Visit the gallery for some inspiration for your new Palo Alto home.
Pamela Walsh Gallery
For a smaller, more private viewing, head to Pamela Walsh Gallery. This is an appointment-only viewing experience where you’ll see work from some of the area’s most impressive mixed-media artists. The current exhibition is Mitchell Johnson’s Color Continuum, which plays with colors and shapes in a way that challenges the eye. Learn more about all of the artists and their pieces here, and be sure to visit the gallery if anything catches your eye!
Known as the “preeminent collection of contemporary fine art in the Bay Area,” Gallery House offers an extensive collection of paintings, photographs, sculptures, ceramics, and jewelry. Established in 1957, this hidden gem creates a nurturing space for artists to express themselves and for art lovers to explore. Artists benefit from the Membership Program, which allows them to submit their body of work to a jury for review and offers the possibility of being exhibited. Gallery House is truly an art community, which is what makes it so unique.
Palo Alto Art Center
Since 1971, the Palo Alto Art Center has been encouraging community members to engage with art to better the community as a whole. The City of Palo Alto operates this nonprofit organization, which offers art classes for kids, teens, and adults. Visiting the center’s exhibitions is free, and you’ll see a wide range of artistic media. Upcoming exhibitions include a photo contest and “The Art of Disability Culture” — an exhibit highlighting artists with one or more visible or invisible disabilities. The Art Center is an excellent place to support the community’s talent.
Sense Fine Art
Credit: Sense Fine Art
Located in neighboring Menlo Park, Sense Fine Art curates large-scale installations focusing on sculpture and mixed media. Director Carly Wise emphasizes curatorial theory and site engineering when creating an installation and continues to add today’s best contemporary paintings and sculptures to her already impressive offering. Schedule a private appointment to view art from artists like Bill Barrett and Lisa Stefanelli. Your visit will surely be an aesthetically awakening one that you’ll remember.
The Main Gallery
Another Menlo Park favorite? The Main Gallery. This local institution is a peninsula-based artists’ cooperative that showcases the area’s most exciting artists. Their mission is to “enrich the artistic experience of the community and celebrate the work of local artists,” which they do by displaying everything from 2D art to handmade jewelry. Current artists include Tom Haimes (sculpture) and Edna Acri (painting in various mediums). New shows are installed every six weeks, so be sure to catch your favorites while they’re still being displayed!
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