Downtown Los Altos has long reflected its status as a bedroom community – low-key and sleepy. It was called “the Village” for a reason. The long-running joke was that you could hear a pin drop on Main Street after 5 p.m.
That’s changing, in a big way. Three-story buildings and new businesses have sprouted in the Village. The sounds of construction have replaced the silence, as condos, a boutique hotel, a rebuilt Safeway and office-retail space at First and Main streets are underway.
Now the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is here, making downtown Los Altos a cultural destination. Its “Project Los Altos” officially debuted Friday. The museum has chosen Los Altos to host one of several traveling exhibitions throughout the Bay Area while the museum, located at 151 Third St. in San Francisco, undergoes renovation.
With a big boost from Passerelle Investment Co., SFMOMA has scheduled numerous indoor and outdoor exhibits and programs, some of which involve community participation.
Consider SFMOMA’s presence an opportunity to be educated – and challenged – by the visuals and concepts the artists present. The artists, in turn, want to learn about us. Communication is a two-way street, and art is always about communication. For instance, filmmaker Mike Mills, who has set up shop at the Costume Bank on State Street, features interviews of children whose parents work in high-tech. The artist gleans their views on the future, and viewers learn what children are honestly thinking.
Another exhibit, Katerina Seda’s “Everything Is Perfect,” invites residents to submit unique facts involving “everyday attributes,” such as “the bluest eyes or the largest collection of salt and pepper shakers.” Seda will choose from the submissions, display them in her exhibition space at 359 State St. and publish a record book, similar to the “Guinness Book of World Records.”
Some of the pieces are whimsical, such as Jessica Stockholder’s painted Fourth and State streets intersection and Chris Johanson’s playful, inflated question-mark “sculpture” at Village Park.
The artwork exercises the mind – and the body, too. You have to walk around downtown to really see it. That means more “feet on the street,” a long-sought-after goal for downtown vitality. Thank you, SFMOMA.