New Los Altos group aims to revitalize downtown area through public art

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Courtesy of Arts Los Altos
“Dodi,” a lighted sculpture from the Oakland artist collaborative HYBYCOZO, is scheduled for installation Monday at the Assistance League headquarters in downtown Los Altos.

After more than eight years on the Los Altos Public Arts Commission and “not getting much done with city government,” Maddy McBirney figured it was time for an alternative plan for public art in the city.

“It has been brought to our attention that we can do public art on private property with private funding without the need of municipal process,” she said.

So McBirney and friend and former Public Arts Commissioner Karen Zucker – among other local art aficionados – founded a nonprofit, Arts Los Altos. Their goal, according to McBirney, is to “provide beautiful, outdoor art” for downtown Los Altos.

“Our downtown could use some artistic, heartfelt beauty to revitalize its spirit,” McBirney said. “Art created for public consumption can bring people together, whether residents or visitors.”

A year in the making, the group announced its formation last week, along with plans for its first public art installation. Arts Los Altos members plan to install “Dodi,” a sculpture from Oakland-based artists calling themselves HYBYCOZO, Monday on the front patio of the Assistance League building at 169 State St. in downtown Los Altos. Members plan to host an unveiling party in early July.

In a letter to potential donors, Arts Los Altos organizers noted that the piece “will bring color and light to downtown. It is math, science, art and technology at its best.”

Group members hope to raise $60,000 for their first two or three art installations.

“Dodi” is a 6-foot-tall, 12-sided shape with repeating pentagons. It will be illuminated from within, with colored LED lights that produce intricate patterns on the ground surrounding the artwork.

“The sculpture was inspired by the geometry of the flower of life, a symbol found in almost every ancient culture in the world, in plant and flower growth, as well as in the growing embryo during cell division,” Arts Los Altos supporters said in a June 9 press release. “Composed of overlapping circles forming petal shapes, it represents the creation of beauty through unity, a sum greater than the parts.”

"This started with the Assistance League’s request for a 'sculpture with light' for their front patio," said Zucker, the group's director of communications and development. "We researched various sculpture artists, and the Assistance League liked the HYBYCOZO sculpture the best. This was a great fit because it was available and fit within our budget."

Zucker and Adele Hennig of the Assistance League said they were "excited" about the new sculpture.

"I think it will really help revitalize and inspire Los Altos during this difficult time," Zucker said.

Other key members of Arts Los Altos include Sherry Scott, a downtown merchant who runs Sherry Scott Design; Laura Roberts, retired executive director of the MVLA High School Foundation; resident Mike Butensky; and former Los Altos City Council members Penny Lave and Mary Prochnow.

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