Trees of gratitude: Local community art venture brings alongside one another colorful face masks, heartfelt messages | Information

Catrina P. Smith

Like prayer flags, additional than 50 colourful face masks together with messages of gratitude and hope have brought new life to two trees in the Old Palo Alto neighborhood.

The collaborative art display, which was mounted on Dec. 14, is a local community energy by Outdated Palo Alto people Connie Chuang, David Peng and Debra Cen, who wished to rejoice and honor the many frontline and important staff, these kinds of as health care personnel, lecturers and grocery store employees customers, who have provided their time and risked their have lives to assistance other folks through the COVID-19 pandemic, they mentioned in e-mails.

A sign posted at the website encourages men and women to increase their individual unused masks and messages strung from the tree branches at Bryant Road and Lowell Avenue. All through a check out to the exhibit on Monday, an occasional walker stopped to admire the lots of masks, some of which featured whimsical pink flamingos, the message “Black Life Make a difference,” vibrant California poppies and astronauts floating in place, among many others.

The trees, which are located in a site visitors median, have been greatly celebrated given that 2012 when Lowell Avenue resident Catherine Debs began decorating them nearly every single month all-around a variety of vacations setting up with Halloween. The festive trees galvanized the community. Debs wasn’t involved in this challenge, Cen mentioned, but the neighbors took their cue from her.

“She was our inspiration considering the fact that she has been decorating these two trees for several many years. Her decorations stopped in the earlier calendar year or two. We overlook that tradition,” Cen claimed.

About a month in the past, Chuang’s mother, Lolita Chuang, posted shots of her daughter’s mask-adorned trees in their backyard, explained Cen who was encouraged to prolong the venture to the community.

“I considered decorating these two well-known trees in our neighborhood will be a terrific way to honor the tradition and clearly show enjoy and treatment through the pandemic. So a few of us teamed up to get started the venture. Both of those neighbors dwelling up coming to the trees (Catherine Debs and Angie Wang) gave us their blessings to the job. Catherine stated she cherished to see other neighbors move up to adorn these two trees,” Cen explained.

Chuang, an artist, created and established several of the masks. She, Cen and Peng adorned the trees with festive lights and hung the masks from wires with very clear plastic clothespins. They still left an clarification of the undertaking alongside with pens, tags and a bottle of sanitizer and invited neighbors to donate their own unused masks or include notes to additional decorate the trees, Cen stated. Wang, the neighbor who lives upcoming to 1 of the trees, stepped up to choose treatment of turning the lights on and off just about every working day. Peng shared his specialist pictures skills to capture the evolving experience-mask trees, Cen stated.

Inspired by Debs, Chuang explained she was inspired by her loved ones and mentors to make masks for the community exhibit.

“Collaborative art initiatives give me a terrific perception of joy and indicating, and it is been encouraging to see so many people, together with youngsters in the neighborhood, take part so far by sharing notes and including a mask,” she claimed.

Ironically, Chuang was an “anti-masker” earlier in March, she stated in an e-mail. “At that time, the usefulness of fabric experience masks for local community use was still unclear as communicated by the CDC and in the media that I was having to pay attention to,” she mentioned.

Her brother and quite a few household associates, pals and mentors suggested that she make facial area masks considering the fact that she experienced been earning eye masks for decades and owns a sewing device.

Chaung took their guidance, producing far more than 500 masks this yr and giving a lot of away to buddies and spouse and children in California and across the nation, she stated. She also gave masks to nearby U.S. Postal Company personnel at the Cambridge Avenue office environment, she reported.

“I hope they (the masks) have created a change and guarded people I appreciate and people in our shared communities who we interact with — we are all so super interconnected,” she stated.

The job also demonstrates factors of her individual feeling of loss. Chuang’s fabric source to begin with arrived from her mom, a big supporter of Finnish enterprise Marimekko’s layouts.

“She has been amassing lots of of their vibrant material patterns about the far more new several years to convey elegance and cheer into our lives, as we have been healing from the grief of losing my dad to lung most cancers in 2014,” she said.

Chuang has selected other material styles from regional artists, designers, and smaller business house owners, and by way of Etsy and eBay, which she feels is “more vital to assistance for the duration of the pandemic and economic downturn.”

1 of the floral materials was developed by her close close friend, Tatiana Martinez, whose models and tale as a breast most cancers survivor inspire Chuang. She also takes advantage of fabric from socially acutely aware sources such as Collina Strada, a New York-dependent organization that she admires for its creative eyesight and the social triggers the brand stands for, which include support for Black and transgender artists, she explained.

This undertaking “has been about individuals of us neighbors in our regional shared group performing jointly and generating a thing inventive and significant, dazzling and cheerful, with good intentions toward endorsing artwork, neighborhood health and fitness, defense and security and solidarity. Artists and community organizers normally are about envisioning and sharing with other individuals what we hope in our hearts will occur legitimate — sort of like creating magic that manifests into truth,” she claimed.

The messages folks have remaining replicate hope, gratitude, humility and decline. A blue nitrile assessment glove hangs in honor of 1st responders and health care groups. A yellow tag memorializes the lifestyle of a resident who died on Dec. 23.

“His existence was marked by pleasure — go appreciate your coffee, a stroll, your family,” a contributor wrote.

Some messages one out staff from selected sectors, this kind of as educators, construction workers and Postal Assistance staff.

Cen claimed the messages have grow to be so popular that Chuang’s had to restock tags numerous situations.

The masks are also continually changing, Chuang claimed.

“We have really had dozens of masks taken and experienced to retain replacing them, and as a staff we think it is improved for all those who want or need a mask to consider just one and use it for defense and security of the neighborhood, even however we didn’t explicitly make symptoms to remember to not consider them. … We have experienced many individuals insert their have exclusive mask and produce notes also, so it is really been tremendous heartwarming to know that people today are collaborating!” she stated.

Peng, who is somewhat new to the community, claimed he was honored to be able to join the undertaking. He moved into Aged Palo Alto last calendar year and was impressed by the hospitality of the community proper absent, he explained.

“COVID kept us away bodily, but the good initiatives and collaborations continue to keep everyone closer. I seem forward to meeting more area people in man or woman after COVID,” he explained.

Chuang mentioned the team hasn’t mentioned an stop day for the undertaking.

“I did submit an application for the Palo Alto Group Art Microgrant and outlined possibly leaving it up right up until the conclude of January. With local community assignments, I like to assume about adaptability and staying open to opinions, so we can perform with the community and see how things are professional and change as we go. It could continue to be up for a longer period if the community seems to find it significant, or we could get it down to make place for a new concept!” she said.

Find thorough protection on the Midpeninsula’s response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto On-line, the Mountain Perspective Voice and the Almanac right here.

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