'Color of Palo Alto'

Six-and-a-half years since the project started, one year of living in a car and 22,339 photographs later, artist Samuel Yates on Friday finished installing his public work art, "The Color of Palo Alto," at City ...
Six-and-a-half years since the project started, one year of living in a car and 22,339 photographs later, artist Samuel Yates on Friday finished installing his public work art, "The Color of Palo Alto," at City Hall. <br/> <br/>The final collection of photographs - one of every parcel in Palo Alto - was mounted on the kind of adhesive vinyl used on billboards and plastered up all eight floors of City Hall's Hamilton Avenue front, where it will remain until Sept. 20. <br/> <br/>Because Yates photographed the homes by the alphabetical order of their streets, residents can easily pick out their houses. <br/> <br/>"Everyone can come to the plaza and have a relationship with the project," he said. <br/> <br/>Each photograph also represents one piece of the answer to the project's central question -what is the color of Palo Alto? <br/> <br/>Using a software program written by a college friend, Yates can calculate from the 5 million pixels in each photo the median, mode and mean averages of the colors appearing throughout the city to determine the dominant hue of a neighborhood or a street, to name two examples. <br/> <br/>"I think of them more as color samples than as photographs," Yates explained. <br/> <br/>Yates expects to finish calculating the overall color of Palo Alto by Arbor Day, April 24, and will publicly present his findings Aug. 5, the seven-year anniversary of the project's start. <br/> <br/>Yates was first invited to propose a public art project for Palo Alto at the opening at a Napa museum of one of his previous art works - a vehicle he separated into individual pieces, then filed by descending weight in the world's tallest file cabinet, as recognized by the Guinness World Book of Records. <br/> <br/>In 2001, Palo Alto's Public Arts Commission awarded Yates a $10,000 commission to digitally photograph the city's 17,739 parcels, which he did between the first Monday and the last Friday of 2005. <br/> <br/>"More and more Priuses show up in the photos as the year goes on," Yates noted. <br/> <br/>To navigate the city's 556 streets Yates rode an electric scooter, which he charged with the solar panels installed on his "office as sculpture" garage in front of City Hall since 2004. <br/> <br/>"Palo Alto has a history of people inventing things in garages," Yates said. <br/> <br/>As part of the "zero-emissions project," the garage-office was made entirely from salvaged materials, including the former bowling alley lane that served as its floor, he said. <br/> <br/>Surviving on the $10,000 commission was not always easy. Yates spent one year living in his car, sleeping under the car cover, and stayed with six host families during the project's duration. <br/> <br/>"All my stuff is still in storage in New York," he said. <br/> <br/>Finally, at the end of his year behind the camera, Yates secured the funding to have the photos installed at City Hall: $25,000 from the art commission and $40,000 from Hewlett-Packard, whose equipment he used in the project. <br/> <br/>He spent the following year culling through his photographs to find each parcel's straightest, most focused snapshot. <br/> <br/>"I listened to books-on-tape endlessly," he said. <br/> <br/>On Thursday and Friday, Yates and three other men installed the photos, which will continue to serve other purposes when the City Hall display comes down in September. Yates is entering them into the city's geographic information system, where most city departments plan to access the pictures, updating them whenever new permits are required. And since 2003, the city's emergency dispatch center has been planning to incorporate the photos into its response to each 911 call. <br/> <br/>Meanwhile, Yates has become something of an expert in Palo Alto trivia, including with which letter the most city streets begin. With 64 streets, the letter "M" tops the list. <br/> <br/>"Palo Alto has zero 'X' and 'Z' (streets)," Yates said, "and only one 'Q.' " <br/> <br/> <br/> <br/>E-mail Kristina Peterson at kpeterson@dailynewsgroup.com. <br/>
First Prev
of 2
Next Last
bellesdottir

Medford, OR

#1 Mar 23, 2008
When I first heard of this project, I was amazed that anyone would spend that much time and money to determine what one of the previous comments pointed out: the color will be brown, or a variation of that. Anyone with an iota of color knowledge would say the same. And besides that, who cares? Like someone else said, when the utilities are increasing so much, this project is just esoteric nonsense.
Brian Sullivan

Cupertino, CA

#2 Mar 24, 2008
This is an amazing product. Mr. Yates commitment to every detail is nearly overwhelming. Artists like this are few and far between.
PAUL SHYKORA

Calgary, Canada

#3 Mar 24, 2008
AHHHH HA!! Yous' say--COLOR,...We say...COLOUR.....Eh...Thankyou s' all.GOD Bless..The hillbilly farmboy has spoken....eh...
Steve Broyles

San Josť, Costa Rica

#4 Mar 25, 2008
Its exciting to see someone including technology and environmentalism into a public art project.

The potential benefits listed in the last bit of the article alone are worth the $$ that PA invested, let alone the fact that we are all supporting an fun and innovative project.

Kudos to Yates!
paul shykora

Calgary, Canada

#5 Mar 25, 2008
ART IS GOOD....eh..
Shaun Carrigan

United States

#6 Mar 25, 2008
This project is awesome. The dream and actuality of completing this effort is incredibly inspiring. Thank you Mr. Yates for showing us a long complicated project is capable of being finished. I can't wait to check it out.
Tara

Half Moon Bay, CA

#7 Mar 26, 2008
What an interesting year it must have been! I can't wait to see what the color is.
Close CT

Stanford, CA

#8 Mar 27, 2008
The color will be dreck brown. What a waste of time and money. Yates needs to get a real job and a life--what a sad pathetic individual.
James

Morgan Hill, CA

#9 Mar 27, 2008
This piece of "art" is right up there with that crap you call "art" at EL Camino real and Page Mill.
$200,000 for this,$15,000 for the MLK plaza. Can we waste money any better??
Kasey

Walnut Creek, CA

#10 Mar 28, 2008
Let's see, this guy received only a $10,000 commission, spent 6-1/2 years on this project, lived in his car in one of the most pricey areas in the country and managed to photograph every single parcel (17,739 parcels!) in Palo Alto. The article says he took over 22,000 photographs in this process; the additional funding sounds like it is going to pay for the installation and equipment. Even if Mr. Yates manages to keep some portion of that $65K for himself, considering that he devoted 6 years of his life, it sounds like Palo Alto got a good deal for a small amount of money (if you think art should only be about the amount of money spent). Not only do the results of this project promise to be an interesting documentation of a beautiful that has seen a lot of change in the past several decades, various city departments will be able to put the data generated from this project to use in practical ways.

Plus, "anyone with an iota of color knowledge" who bothers to read the article should understand that this not about choosing one average "color" to represent the entire town. I love the idea that people will be able to select paint colors based on Mr. Yates' work. I really look forward to seeing the many results and outputs of this project. Kudos to Palo Alto for supporting this innovative art!
PAUL SHYKORA

Calgary, Canada

#11 Mar 28, 2008
all dha arts are ...good....eh..
Bush on Crack

Seattle, WA

#12 Mar 28, 2008
PAUL SHYKORA wrote:
AHHHH HA!! Yous' say--COLOR,...We say...COLOUR.....Eh...Thankyou s' all.GOD Bless..The hillbilly farmboy has spoken....eh...
Hey hillbilly , don't you have a horse to go screw or something? Beside that's what hillbillies does on their down time.
David Evans

Miamisburg, OH

#13 Mar 28, 2008
I look forward to painting my home office walls in Ohio the color of Midtown...it will set off the Bear flag that flew over Paly High in the early 70's!
PAUL SHYKORA

Calgary, Canada

#14 Mar 29, 2008
Bush on Crack wrote:
<quoted text>
Hey hillbilly , don't you have a horse to go screw or something? Beside that's what hillbillies does on their down time.
...god bless a total loser,tooo booot...eh..
Bush on Crack

Seattle, WA

#15 Mar 29, 2008
PAUL SHYKORA wrote:
<quoted text>...god bless a total loser,tooo booot...eh..
Canadians are the Loser!
Bush on Crack

Seattle, WA

#16 Mar 30, 2008
PAUL SHYKORA wrote:
<quoted text>...god bless a total loser,tooo booot...eh..
Nah, let me rephrase that. "GAY"NADIANS ARE LOSER'S.
SpaceJam

Seattle, WA

#17 Mar 30, 2008
Can't we all get along!!
paul shykora

Calgary, Canada

#18 Apr 2, 2008
..COLOUR...IS.....LOVE...love. ...is...love....eh..
paul shykora

Calgary, Canada

#19 Apr 2, 2008
Bush on Crack wrote:
<quoted text>
Nah, let me rephrase that. "GAY"NADIANS ARE LOSER'S.
..YOUs' have a very -'''deep subconcious-need''' to peep into other persons dark-hole,fantasizing.....cryi ng....wishing....BUT,I's do have a great,spiritual-love for dhat...LADY IZZY,toooo booot!!!...eh.thankyous'.GOD Bless.The hillbilly farmboy has ..spoken.....eh...
Senseless in Palo Alto

Fort Mill, SC

#20 Apr 2, 2008
Waste of money..waste of time..only in Palo Alto

Tell me when this thread is updated:

Subscribe Now Add to my Tracker
First Prev
of 2
Next Last

Add your comments below

Characters left: 4000

Please note by submitting this form you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator. Send us your feedback.

Palo Alto Daily News Discussions

Title Updated Last By Comments
Serra now officially a WCAL North lightweight (Jun '09) Dec 17 Where is Serra 744
Surenos gang member gets new trial date (Aug '08) Nov '14 jeff6 281
Andrea Spira: Beads & Hypocrisy (Jan '09) Nov '14 Borreka1 9
Police: Man wanted to execute pregnant woman (Jan '07) Sep '14 Amer80 46
Hearing begins for Daly City man accused of wif... (Jan '07) Aug '14 Nursing School Mate 299
Unemployment nears 10 percent (Mar '08) Mar '14 Stuart Cudahy 2
..to....IZZY NEWKIRK... (Jan '13) Feb '14 SHKORA PAUL arts 3
More from around the web