Peninsula Arts Council
Connecting the Arts in San Mateo County



See what’s showing at these
San Mateo County Galleries


Peninsula Museum of Art
1777 California Ave. | Burlingame

Portola Art Gallery
75 Arbor Road (at Allied Arts Guild), Menlo Park

Little House
800 Middle Ave. | Menlo Park

Wiegand Art Gallery at NDNU
1500 Ralston Ave. | Belmont

Caldwell, Memorial and Rotunda Galleries
Downtown Government Center, Redwood City

The Main Gallery
1018 Main Street | Redwood City

Society of Western Artists (SWA) Gallery
2625 Broadway | Redwood City

Art Guild of Pacifica
Sanchez Art Center | 1220 Linda Mar Blvd. in Pacifica Ca.

Silicon Valley Open Studios
First Three Weekends in May

San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties

Coastal Arts League Museum
Zaballa Square | 300 Main Street| Half Moon Bay

Filoli Mansion and Gardens
86 Canada Road | Woodside
Exhibit Schedule


Center for Performing Arts in Menlo Park

Driving by the new Center for Performing Arts at Menlo-Atherton High School, my first
impression was that L.A. architects Hodgetts + Fung were pulling us into the future with
its geometrically angled glass reminiscent of crinkled-up cellophane. I was immediately
drawn to the imposing, modern facade of the building and wanted to find out more.

Cara Acuna, a 2005 graduate of M-A, and the manager of this beautiful, high tech facility, graciously gave me a tour.  As we walked past the Frank Moura Music Facility, which houses the band room, we could hear the sounds of musicians practicing. Adjacent to that area is a 150-person dining/meeting space (with a catering kitchen) which opens to the outside with soaring glass walls, jutting angles, and outside beams cutting through space.

The lobby is light filled, with glass walls, a student art exhibit area, rich warm colors, and a stairway that, while functional, looks more sculptural. Open since October 2009, the theater was designed as a ‘roadhouse theater’, meaning that a seasoned stagehand should be able to come in and know how to use it! And this facility, in addition to being available to the students, is also available to outside groups, and will be a venue this winter for the very popular and successful Music at Menlo.

The Center’s professional sound proof control booth offers state of the art equipment, and students are able to learn about theater tech on site, with safety and accessibility being the highest priorities. Entering the theater, there is an immediate awareness of the acoustics, and the array of features incorporated to provide the highest sound quality is impressive, including acoustically absorbent curtains above the audience, a silent air delivery system using floor vents, and enormous, beautiful, angled and beveled acoustic panels laser cut to reflect the feel of the 200-year-old heritage oak trees right outside.

The reference to the oaks is repeated in the columns at the lobby, and the multi-purpose room. The acoustics were designed by Akustiks- a company from Norwalk, Connecticut.

The Center for Performing Arts accommodates 492 people, and the entire facility is handicapped accessible, and built with energy efficiency and sustainability in mind. The orchestra pit can accommodate 80 musicians, and the roof of the stage is 80 feet high. Many students will first perform on this stage, and Ms. Acuna indicated that she has seen the students really grow and improve in this new space, effectively rising to the level of the space.

There are two catwalks for lighting, and the lights can go anywhere- there is no set place for them, which allows for optimal placement for each individual production. Behind the stage is a stage craft room, for creating props and scenery, and meetings of the tech club. There are great new dressing rooms, theatrical in atmosphere, replete with makeup lights and mirrored walls, with a clean, spare appearance. The lockers look perfect and new- but one of the wonderful, moving, and fun ways the students have made this space their own, is that when you open the lockers, the inside walls are filled with written comments and sentiments about the various plays that have been staged!  AND... there is a green room- and it is actually green, and very hip and cool- like the entire facility! 

To learn more about upcoming events, and about the center, please visit

Article by Mary Alice Bowie