Palo Alto Art Center: Community Advice 2020

by Tim on Wednesday, September 30, 2020

In the fall of 2020, the Palo Alto Art Center and the Public Art Program collaborated with the Estate of Susan O’Malley to re-present her 2012 project Community Advice.

Artist Susan O’Malley was commissioned to create Community Advice in 2012 in conjunction with the Palo Alto Art Center’s grand reopening exhibition Community Creates. As part of the project, O’Malley interviewed around 100 people in Palo Alto asking, “What advice would you give your 8-year-old self? What advice would you give your 80-year-old self? Using the words of those she met, O’Malley designed ten different letterpress posters. Sometimes the text was used verbatim from the interview; other times she conflated several people’s advice into one. In addition to hanging in the gallery, the posters were installed on electrical poles along Embarcadero Road.

Outdoor Installation

Three large-scale versions of the original posters were produced for installation along Embarcadero Road outside of the Palo Alto Art Center. These are available for the entire community to see and enjoy. Community response to the billboards and the project has been tremendously positive.


Horwinski Printing in Oakland reprinted five of the original posters as part of this project, in a limited edition. Posters have been distributed to senior communities and homeless service communities throughout Palo Alto, including the following: Lytton Gardens, Stevenson House, Channing House, the Opportunity Center, and Avenidas.

Virtual School Tours

The Art Center organized our fall virtual school tours around the Community Advice project. Feedback from teachers and school administrators has been strongly positive, as the tours address the social and emotional learning that most virtual education has left out. The Art Center has engaged 51 classrooms in the program, 18 in East Palo Alto. PAUSD schools include Ohlone, El Carmelo, Walter Hays, Nixon, and Greendell-Full Distance Learning. Ravenswood City School District schools include East Palo Alto Charter School (all classrooms) and Costano School of the Arts. Additional schools include Stevenson PACT, Christa McAuliffe, and the entire eighth grade of Girls Middle School. For their participation in the program, each participating classroom receives a suite of five of the posters.

All content © Copyright 2021 by the estate of Susan O'Malley