Tiki "Thinker" at Stanford University
While making plans to visit the Rodin sculpture garden at Stanford University a couple weeks back, I made a startling discovery… the Cantor Arts Center, which manages the Rodin sculptures, also has a second, separate sculpture garden on the other side of campus — and this one is all art from Papua New Guinea.
In 1994, several artists from Papua New Guinea were brought to Stanford to create carvings on-site. The sculptures are all clustered in a wooded area at the corner of Santa Teresa and Lomita. At the center are a cluster of poles carved from trees that are 20-30 feet tall, surrounded by still-untouched trees. There are two large slit drums on the ground, ready to be thumped. To one side, there are some painted poles, and some great tikis. To the south is a large, striking carving with bird wings outstretched, and to the north are a variety of lovely stone carvings.
The Cantor Arts Center museum also has a small collection of Oceanic art, but the real treasure is this somewhat-hidden sculpture garden. Just a short ways down the road from Stanford, right on El Camino Real, is the Palo Alto Trader Vic’s; while this Trader Vic’s pales in comparison to other TVs, it does house an impressive private collection of Papua New Guinea tikis and art, making a visit to both spots in one trip work well.