Like prayer flags, more than 50 colorful facial area masks alongside messages of gratitude and hope have introduced new existence to two trees in the Aged Palo Alto neighborhood.
The collaborative art exhibit, which was installed on Dec. 14, is a local community effort by Aged Palo Alto people Connie Chuang, David Peng and Debra Cen, who wanted to rejoice and honor the numerous frontline and vital staff, such as overall health care workers, academics and grocery retailer employees customers, who have offered their time and risked their own lives to help other individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic, they stated in emails.
A indication posted at the website encourages folks to insert their very own unused masks and messages strung from the tree branches at Bryant Street and Lowell Avenue. All through a go to to the show on Monday, an occasional walker stopped to admire the numerous masks, some of which featured whimsical pink flamingos, the concept “Black Life Make any difference,” brilliant California poppies and astronauts floating in space, among other individuals.
The trees, which are positioned in a site visitors median, have been widely celebrated considering that 2012 when Lowell Avenue resident Catherine Debs commenced decorating them almost every single thirty day period about many vacations starting with Halloween. The festive trees galvanized the neighborhood. Debs wasn’t associated in this job, Cen explained, but the neighbors took their cue from her.
“She was our inspiration since she has been decorating these two trees for quite a few years. Her decorations stopped in the past 12 months or two. We miss out on that custom,” Cen mentioned.
About a month in the past, Chuang’s mom, Lolita Chuang, posted images of her daughter’s mask-embellished trees in their yard, said Cen who was motivated to extend the project to the public.
“I assumed decorating these two well known trees in our community will be a fantastic way to honor the tradition and demonstrate like and treatment in the course of the pandemic. So three of us teamed up to commence the project. Both of those neighbors residing future to the trees (Catherine Debs and Angie Wang) gave us their blessings to the task. Catherine reported she liked to see other neighbors step up to adorn these two trees,” Cen mentioned.
Chuang, an artist, designed and designed lots of of the masks. She, Cen and Peng adorned the trees with festive lights and hung the masks from wires with distinct plastic clothespins. They remaining an explanation of the venture together with pens, tags and a bottle of sanitizer and invited neighbors to donate their very own unused masks or insert notes to further decorate the trees, Cen said. Wang, the neighbor who lives future to just one of the trees, stepped up to choose treatment of turning the lights on and off every day. Peng shared his professional pictures capabilities to seize the evolving experience-mask trees, Cen explained.
Inspired by Debs, Chuang stated she was encouraged by her family members and mentors to make masks for the local community display screen.
“Collaborative art assignments give me a terrific sense of pleasure and which means, and it’s been encouraging to see so a lot of folks, together with children in the community, participate so significantly by sharing notes and incorporating a mask,” she explained.
Ironically, Chuang was an “anti-masker” earlier in March, she mentioned in an e mail. “At that time, the success of cloth encounter masks for local community use was however unclear as communicated by the CDC and in the media that I was paying out consideration to,” she stated.
Her brother and numerous spouse and children members, good friends and mentors proposed that she make deal with masks given that she experienced been generating eye masks for decades and owns a sewing device.
Chaung took their assistance, creating more than 500 masks this year and giving quite a few away to friends and relatives in California and across the country, she said. She also gave masks to community U.S. Postal Provider personnel at the Cambridge Avenue workplace, she stated.
“I hope they (the masks) have made a big difference and protected folks I really like and people in our shared communities who we interact with — we are all so super interconnected,” she said.
The undertaking also demonstrates areas of her personal perception of loss. Chuang’s fabric source initially arrived from her mom, a major fan of Finnish business Marimekko’s designs.
“She has been amassing quite a few of their vibrant cloth types about the much more modern several years to provide splendor and cheer into our life, as we have been healing from the grief of shedding my father to lung cancer in 2014,” she reported.
Chuang has chosen other fabric patterns from regional artists, designers, and little organization entrepreneurs, and by Etsy and eBay, which she feels is “further essential to help for the duration of the pandemic and economic downturn.”
One particular of the floral materials was created by her shut friend, Tatiana Martinez, whose styles and story as a breast cancer survivor encourage Chuang. She also uses cloth from socially conscious sources these kinds of as Collina Strada, a New York-based mostly firm that she admires for its inventive vision and the social causes the brand name stands for, such as help for Black and transgender artists, she stated.
This task “has been about these of us neighbors in our community shared community performing together and producing a little something artistic and significant, brilliant and cheerful, with beneficial intentions toward promoting art, group well being, security and safety and solidarity. Artists and neighborhood organizers generally are about envisioning and sharing with others what we hope in our hearts will appear accurate — kind of like developing magic that manifests into reality,” she reported.
The messages men and women have left mirror hope, gratitude, humility and reduction. A blue nitrile evaluation glove hangs in honor of initial responders and clinical teams. A yellow tag memorializes the life of a resident who died on Dec. 23.
“His lifetime was marked by pleasure — go appreciate your espresso, a walk, your household,” a contributor wrote.
Some messages one out personnel from selected sectors, such as educators, design workers and Postal Support staff members.
Cen reported the messages have become so well-known that Chuang’s had to restock tags several instances.
The masks are also continuously transforming, Chuang said.
“We have in fact experienced dozens of masks taken and experienced to preserve replacing them, and as a group we imagine it is improved for these who want or want a mask to choose 1 and use it for safety and basic safety of the local community, even although we did not explicitly make indicators to remember to not acquire them. … We have had lots of people today add their personal unique mask and produce notes as well, so it really is been super heartwarming to know that men and women are collaborating!” she reported.
Peng, who is fairly new to the neighborhood, stated he was honored to be capable to sign up for the challenge. He moved into Old Palo Alto final calendar year and was impressed by the hospitality of the community appropriate away, he stated.
“COVID saved us away bodily, but the terrific initiatives and collaborations hold all people closer. I appear ahead to conference a lot more regional inhabitants in man or woman following COVID,” he explained.
Chuang reported the team has not talked about an close date for the challenge.
“I did post an application for the Palo Alto Neighborhood Artwork Microgrant and stated possibly leaving it up till the conclude of January. With local community projects, I like to believe about overall flexibility and staying open to suggestions, so we can function with the neighborhood and see how points are expert and regulate as we go. It could continue to be up more time if the community appears to be to find it meaningful, or we could choose it down to make place for a new plan!” she said.
Obtain detailed coverage on the Midpeninsula’s response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto On-line, the Mountain Perspective Voice and the Almanac right here.