Will Work for Art: Paul Palacios

"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we take you into the tech shop, where preparator Paul Palacios installs the art that makes the galleries and exhibitions you see possible! Originally from Texas, Paul has been with the Museums for almost thirteen years, minus the two he spent working at the Asian Art Museum during the construction of the new de Young.

What do you do here at the Museums?

I am a preparator/art installer. I work in the technicians' department, and we are responsible for preparing the galleries for exhibits, including the installation of the artwork. We work with the exhibition designers, curators, artists, collectors, couriers from other institutions, and just about everyone else at the Museums. It's one of the aspects of my job I appreciate the most, how we interact with every strata of the museum world.

How did you get involved with the Museums?

A couple of months after I moved to San Francisco from Cambridge, Massachusetts, I recieved a call in the morning asking if I could come in and work at the Museums that afternoon. Of course I did, but I never have figured out where they got my name!

What is your favorite artwork or gallery in the Museums?

Well that's a tough one. There are many pieces I love, Bingham's Boatmen on the Missouri, the Ironworkers' Noontime by Anshutz, and the little A. Pinkham Ryder of the Lone Scout; but overall, I think the building itself is my favorite piece.

I was already a big fan of Herzog & de Meuron's work, so when it was announced they were going to design the new de Young, I was very into it. Some of the interior spaces work better than others; the galleries of the second floor are warm with some very sharp details. The floorboards on the ceiling are one of my favorite details.  As for the exterior, it makes the whole building into a piece of sculpture. The materials and the freakish design make the building a very satisfying enigma. There are so many surprising and unexpected views. Often it seems like an optical illusion. Nothing is predictable. It should be wrong but it feels very right. I love it.

What do you do when you're not at work?

I'm a printmaker, a photographer, a painter, a cook and a collector of things—many things. I might be a hoarder.

Polaroid sx/70 portraits

What are you working on now?

Getting rid of stuff. Oh, and installing a show at the Legion called The Mourners (which opens August 20). It is a collection of tomb sculptures from the court of Burgundy. They are intense, and a national treasure of France.

Do you remember the first time you visited the museums?

Yeah, the first time I worked here.