Tuesday, January 26, 2010

We're Listening

As Terry mentioned in her FOLIO editorial, we're looking ahead to the new decade and our 50th anniversary (2014, but it'll be here soon enough) and we want to hear from you. What do we need to pay attention to? Give us your "best of" list -- people you think are doing a great job, exhibitions or performances that really stayed with you, cultural organizations at the top of your list. We are doing some critical thinking about the next few years, mapping out our priorities, and as an organization whose job is to respond to the community and its needs, we want to be working with as much information as possible.

Please post your comments, ideas, gripes, fears, wish list, fan mail and anything else you think we should know about the arts. We've only got nine years and 11 months to get this decade right.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Arts & Culture Commission holds firm

Three years and three months ago the City mandated process for choosing public artworks for the Pasadena Center began. $150,000 has been spent along the way, and the meter continues to run. The Pasadena Center plaza, already wired to receive the sculptures of Hans Peter Kuhn and Dennis Oppenheim, remains empty, and the interior mural that was selected has yet to be painted (it seems a return-air vent was installed where the mural was to have been placed).

What we do have is a memo from the Arts & Culture Commission to City Council members that reaffirms the Commission's recommendation of the Kuhn and Oppenheim sculptures for placement on the Pasadena Center plaza. (See "Commission Report to City Council, 4/24/09," under Links; also check out the latest from the Pasadena Star-News.) Now the ball is back in the City Council's court.

When will they decide if the Art at Pasadena Center planning document and dutifully executed art selection process are to be honored? Unconfirmed rumors are circulating that the City Manager might seek to prevent the increasingly sticky issue from landing on the desks of Councilmembers any time soon by arguing that the City must first create a Public Art Master Plan, an idea that was blasted by the Arts & Culture Commission in its April 24 report. Stay tuned; it gets more Kafkaesque by the moment.

Monday, April 20, 2009

See Work by Kuhn and Oppenheim

The work of both Hans Peter Kuhn and Dennis Oppenheim graces many important public spaces around the world. Click on the links at right to see examples of the sculptures and installations of these two world-class artists.

(For Hans Peter Kuhn, click on "english" and then view "installations.")

Friday, April 17, 2009


The Arts & Culture Commission met last night with a one-item agenda -- "Discussion of Arts and Culture Commission Report to City Council Regarding 90-day Council Directive of a Pasadena Center Operating Company Amended Artist Selection Process."

Chair Dale Oliver helmed a mostly forward-moving discussion about whether to present a one-part or a two-part recommendation back to City Council; the original proposal alone, or a Part A/Part B. Oliver, acting on the consensus from the group's previous meeting, had drafted a two-option proposal, re-recommending in very strong terms the original Kuhn and Oppenheim pieces but adding an "if you still won't go for it" contingency -- that the remaining $630,000 be spent on interior -- hardly public -- art.

The Commissioners in attendance (only six of nine were present) had a meticulous discussion about what was at risk if they returned with the same recommendation they'd submitted back in January; however, Patrick Conyers observed that "it wouldn't be the same recommendation -- there has been more evaluation and more input by the public" and this extended process has only served to strengthen the Commission's resolve.

In the end, the Arts & Culture Commission decided to hold their ground, defending the last three years of diligent planning, selecting and evaluating, and will send their support of "Lightfield" and "Thinking Caps" back to City Council, eliminating the interior artwork option.

In expressing his belief that the Convention Center plaza deserves "monumental works of art," Oliver exhorted the community to demonstrate their support of the artworks to City Council when the moment arrives. He can rest assured that we will.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Compromise = Solution?

A Special Meeting of the Arts & Culture Commission will be held Thursday, April 16, at 5:30 pm in the Hearing Room of the Permit Center (Hale Building), 175 N. Garfield Avenue. This meeting has been called to discuss the options discussed by the Public Art Subcommittee at its meeting last week, as the Commission prepares to take its "information item" -- their decision on sticking with their original recommendation, or another option -- back to City Council.

The Pasadena Arts Council has developed a compromise proposal which it has sent to Commission members and other community leaders. This proposal suggests a re-siting of the Kuhn and Oppenheim works which retains the spirit of the original "Art at Pasadena Center" planning document, addresses the concerns of both Pasadena Heritage and PCOC, and keeps iconic artwork on this important public space.

Please click on the link at the right, "EAST OPTION," to view this proposal as a PDF.

And please plan to attend the Special Meeting of the Arts & Culture Commission on Thursday the 16th. Your voice in support of public art on the plaza is urgently needed.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


The long-awaited meeting between the Public Art Subcommittee and representatives from the Pasadena Center Operating Company finally took place last night at the Conference Center. Less well-attended than the previous (non)meeting, there were nonetheless a number of arts supporters, arts leaders and other members of the public who voiced their support for public art and concerns about the ongoing debacle on the plaza -- including the observation that the place, now empty except for light standards, was actually more interesting during the messy construction phase. Heritage folks were in the audience, though they were silent during public comment.

The Public Art Subcommittee held fast to their position that good -- no, great public art belongs in this space, that the space in its current state languishes, empty and unappealing, and that Pasadena's citizens deserve a lively and significant gathering point. PCOC continued to insist that the entirety of the plaza must be kept clear for money-making events and that the art they envisioned would be attached to the walls in the two pavilion buildings. Back and forth it went, ending up even with some confusion as to whose meeting it was and who was to vote on the issue at hand.

Ultimately, the Subcommittee agreed amongst themselves that they would go back to the full Arts & Culture Commission with the recommendation that the Commission return to City Council with the original Kuhn/Oppenheim option as Option A, and a to-be-determined Option B.

The original 90-day deadline may still be ticking in some minds, but in fact Pasadena Arts Council reps Stephen Nowlin and Terry LeMoncheck have obtained Mayor Bogaard's OK on extending the 90 days to a more reasonable amount of time for the process to have the full measure of deliberation it deserves.

Arts & Culture Commission Meeting
5:30 pm
Hearing Room, 175 N. Garfield Avenue, Pasadena

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Received late Thursday afternoon was a Public Art Subcommittee meeting agenda, short on details and co-signed (in absentia) by Subcommittee chair Wallett and PCOC chair Seifert. All that can be inferred at this point is that there's an agenda. Who shows up from officialdom is anybody's guess.

Public Art Subcommittee Meeting
Tuesday, April 7, 5:30 pm
Pasadena Convention Center, Conference Bldg. Room 211