Colorful artwork gets a new home in downtown San Jose

Recent visitors to the Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose have been greeted by a colorful, new sight. But, in fact, “Civic Stage Set” by artist David Bottini isn’t really all that new.

The metal sculpture popping in primary colors was relocated to Woz Way near the walkway to the Purple Museum’s entrance and its fading colors were given a much-needed refresh. It had spent the previous three decades on Park Avenue in front of Parkside Hall, which at the time of the piece’s installation was San Jose’s convention center.

Quite frankly, this is a way more visible location for Bottini’s fun piece. Though it was steps away from the Tech Interactive’s group entrance on Park Avenue, the placement of “Civic Stage Set” somehow managed to allow it to blend into its background. And with the demolition of Parkside Hall in anticipation of a planned development on the site, the artwork had been behind a construction fence anyway.

“The new home for the work is a much better fit than the previous location, as it complements nicely the idea and importance of building blocks, color, and balance, all integral elements in childhood development,” said Michael Ogilvie, San Jose’s public art director.

Another Bottini piece, “Great Planes Study VII,” was purchased by San Jose in 1976 and put on display on Market Street. The 20-foot-high abstract sculpture was not universally loved, and the story goes that the Chamber of Commerce even planted a screen of trees to block it from view of its office. Adding injury to insult, the 7,000 lb. sculpture was damaged when a contractor attempted to move it during construction of the Fairmont Hotel in the mid-’80s and wound up being scrapped. And, that wasn’t even reported or noticed until the city’s public art director walked by the site and saw it missing from its base.

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The city smoothed things out with Bottini, who didn’t know his piece was being moved, by agreeing to purchase “Civic Stage Set” for $25,000. It would have been a sad irony if “Civic Stage Set” had also been damaged or lost due to construction, but Bottini was notified and involved with this move — so it’s one relocation story with a happy ending for everyone, especially the kids who’ll get to see the sculpture from now on.

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: West Valley Community Services will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year at the 13th annual Chefs of Compassion: Cooking for a Cause benefit gala March 8 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. The fundraiser challenges three chefs to prepare a three-course dinner using ingredients sourced from the Cupertino-based social-service agency’s in-house market.

This year’s chefs are Apurva Panchal of ROOH Palo Alto, Katie Voong of Sunnyvale’s KTea Cafe and Kerry Yepiz, director of child nutrition at Los Gatos Union School District. Their results will be evaluated by both a judging panel and the audience.

West Valley Community Services got its start in 1973 when it was founded by three public health nurses as the Cupertino Roundup. So it’s only fitting that at the Chefs of Compassion event, the agency will be honoring another trio of nurses: El Camino Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Cheryl Reinking; Elaine Ware, chief nurse executive for Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center; and Stacy Alves, chief nurse executive at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center.

Tickets are available for $185 each at

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LEGAL EAGLES: An in-house lawyer charged with killing the CEO of the medical company they worked for was found not guilty — thanks to the strong defense delivered by Lynbrook High School’s team at the Santa Clara County High School Mock Trial Tournament. The Lynbrook defenders “out-lawed” the prosecution team from Prospect High in the championship round Feb. 13, which was held in the Santa Clara County Superior Court’s Old Courthouse in downtown San Jose.

The tournament among 21 public and private schools — sponsored by the Santa Clara County Office of Education in partnership with the Santa Clara County Bar Association and the Santa Clara County Superior Court — was presided over by sitting Superior Court judges and was scored by hundreds of county attorneys. Lynbrook advances to the state championship in Los Angeles on March 22-24.

Besides the big verdict, Prospect High’s Hylim Lee won this year’s Santa Clara County Courtroom Artist contest; Jhun Madriaga received the Johnny Gogo Award for his commitment to promoting and coordinating the mock trial program for the Santa Clara County Office of Education; and Gunderson High School teacher and coach Sonia Rebelo was inducted into the Coaches Hall of Fame.

ASTAIRE WAY TO HEAVEN: This weekend, the Stanford Theatre kicked off an eight-week showcase of movies starring Fred Astaire with two of the dancer’s best musicals, “Top Hat” from 1935 and 1953’s “The Band Wagon.” Astaire is paired with Ginger Rogers in the former and Cyd Charisse in the latter, and moviegoers should recognize some classic tunes from both films including “Cheek to Cheek” and “That’s Entertainment.” You can get the full lineup for the festival, which runs through April 14, at

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The Stanford Theatre Foundation also is partnering with Cinequest again this year for a silent movie night at the gorgeous California Theatre in downtown San Jose during next month’s film festival. This year’s double-bill on March 8 features Douglas Fairbanks in 1920’s swashbuckling “The Mark of Zorro” and Buster Keaton in the comedy “Our Hospitality” from 1923, with Dennis James on the Mighty Wurlitzer for both. Tickets are available at or at the California Theatre box office before the 7 p.m. show.

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