What is this big thing perched at Valley Medical Center?


Anyone visiting or passing by Santa Clara Valley Medical Center on Bascom Avenue the past few days may have done a double-take and wondered just what that thing is atop one of the county hospital’s buildings. It looks like a robot from a sci-fi movie or maybe an escapee from an intergalactic zoo. Don’t worry; it’s art.

The 30-foot-tall kinetic sculpture perched on the Susanne B. Wilson Women and Children’s Center is called “Sentia,” created by German-born artist Christian Moeller. He specializes in large-scale installations — he’s the artist behind the “Hands” installation at San Jose Mineta airport — and many of them are curvy and colorful like “Sentia.”

In this case, Moeller had a whimsical inspiration — the top-hat wearing drinking birds that dip their heads due to science/heat transfer/thermodynamic principles. Similarly, the sculpture’s belly is meant to sway in the wind, using an electromagnetic system.

“Sentia,” which was installed over the weekend, was funded through the nonprofit Valley Health Foundation (formerly the VMC Foundation). Valley Health Foundation Executive Director Michael Elliott said the sculpture was placed on the women and children’s center for a reason.

“From a kid’s perspective, a hospital can be a scary place,” he said. “We want our young visitors to be greeted by something that inspires wonder instead of fear.”

MUSICAL NOTES: Symphony San Jose is looking forward to a fairy-tale start to its 22nd season with the Cinderella Ball — a dinner at the Silicon Valley Capital Club before the season-opening concert at the California Theatre on Sept. 30. The dinner is well-themed with the program of the 7:30 p.m. concert, “Myths, Fairy Tales & Legends,” which includes music from Lera Auerbach’s “Icarus,” Richard Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde,” and — of course — Sergei Prokofiev’s “Cinderella.”

Proceeds from the dinner will benefit ArtSpark, Symphony San Jose’s music education program, which is a bit of a Cinderella story itself. Tickets are available at symphonysanjose.orgust, but don’t wait around too long. Like Cinderella’s big night, it won’t last forever.

Meanwhile, San Jose Wind Symphony Music Director Edward C. Harris has officially passed the baton to his successor, David Vickerman, who will conduct the “New Dawn” the appropriately titled season-opening concert on Oct. 1 at the McAfee Performing Arts Center in Saratoga.

Only the third music director in the wind symphony’s 65-year history — following Harris and founder Darrell Johnston — Vickerman is an associate professor of music and director of bands at San Jose State University. Tickets to the concert are available at www.sjws.org.

CINEQUEST NORTH: The ShowPlace ICON movie complex in Mountain View turned out to be a really good venue for the final week of Cinequest, which took over three screens at the modern move house. With luxury recliners and super-sharp projection and sound, the new setting — while not the palace that is the California Theatre in downtown San Jose — had a lot going for it. Many also conveniently congregated and compared notes with other moviegoers in the third-floor lounge between screenings.

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