The rebirth of the Pasadena Playhouse District and an Art Walk too

osaic skulls by Mary Clark Camargo
October ’tis the season for Mexican skulls — although for mosaic artist Mary Clark Camargo that season is year ’round.

The annual Art Walk in the Playhouse District was a typical local art show — but untypically located under the huge old ficus trees that line Green St.  The temperature was around 90F so the shade was welcome. After stopping by the booths of a few local artists I wandered around taking pictures of the buildings and shops to see how the area has changed since the last time I photographed it a year ago.  The Playhouse District, BTW, is also home to Vroman’s books and a Laemmle theater.

Here is some of what I saw.

Green street shops Pasadena
Green Street is one of the most charming streets in Pasadena. In both Old Town and in the Playhouse District it is lined with unique shops and tall old Ficus trees.
Ceramic snack flip flops by Mariko
So California! Ceramic flip flops to use as snack dishes. These were created by Mariko.
Do it yourself photo flowers
Rather than displaying their own photographs, this photography studio created a paper flower background for anyone to use in their own photos Clever idea! Their studio’s name will show up in every photo taken in front of it.


Urth cafe Playhouse District
This old Spanish Revival building now is home to the Urth Cafe and it was packed with Millenials. Good mosaics and murals on the walls inside.
Zona Rosa Cafe Playhouse District
Next door to the Pasadena Playhouse, which is the official State Theater of California, is the Zona Rosa Caffe. It’s quite small and the coffee is good.  
Nouri rugs Playhouse District
While Millenials flocked to the new cafes and crowded the art booths along Green St., Nouri rugs was open for more traditionalists who love oriental rugs. This shop has been there since long, long before the revitalization of the Playhouse District began.

“Resist” reads the sign at a Metro Gold Line station in Los Angeles

Resist sign along Gold Line
This sign speaks to everyone passing by on the Metro Gold Line going northeast from Union Station.  I also suspect it speaks the voice of almost everyone in this neighborhood.  (The photo was taken through the window of the Metro car so there are reflections. Sorry.)

Shortly after Trump was inaugurated the huge RESIST sign went up on a fence across from a Metro station that is surrounded by angel sculptures high up on pillars.  As Trump rampages through American democracy trying to create his own hideous dictatorship, I hope guardian angels protect us all.  Oh, the artist who designed the station, Teddy Sandoval, called the figures ‘guardians’ rather than angels.

SW Museum angel on pillar
This Guardian Angel is closer to eye-level, although still on a pillar.
SW Museum angel Metro sign
The station artwork was conceived by the late Teddy Sandoval and executed by Paul Polubinskas.
SW museum Metro seating
3 of the angels on pillars are visible in this photo. This Metro station has the quirkiest seating of any of the amazing ones created back in the early 2000s for the Gold and Red Lines.  Sadly, Metro stations being built these days are boringly uniform.

The arts of CicLAvia and some bikes, too

Boy with chromed tricycle
Tricked out, highly chromed bikes — or in this case, a trike–were fairly popular, mostly among young men. The  helmet/hat on this little boy is darling although I don’t know what it is all about. I’m sure, however, with a cool, spiky helmet like that the boy would not have to be reminded to wear it.

The latest installment of the no-cars-on-streets bicycling event dubbed CicLAvia was held on L.A. streets stretching from Boyle Heights to Echo Park to Chinatown last Sunday.  I will spare you the photos of Angelenos cruising along on their bikes.  Take my word for it, there were thousands of healthy, mostly youngish people peddling around the route.

Instead here is some of what I saw at the ‘art hub’, entitled “The Big Draw L.A.”, in Grand Park outside City Hall as well as a couple of interesting bikes.

For information about future CicLAvia events and other open road bicyling activities around Southern California, go here.

Bike hauler CicLAvia 2017 (
Haul the baby. Haul the school-age kid’s bike.  Haul lunch and who knows what else with this custom bike.  It appears someone added snail art to the handlebars of the child’s bike.  There was a booth at this art hub offering to decorate bikes.
dog penguin tape art
Figurative art and abstract art side by side. All of this was created using strips of narrow colored tapes. Kids loved it. So did the adults! Not as messy as chalk art. Faster, too.
Boy tape artist CicLAvia 2017
A young artist working in colorful tape. I suspect this dinosaur-looking creature is a cartoon character but I don’t know which one.
Sumi ink art CicLAvia oct 2017
One tent in Grand Park offered ‘Sumi Ink’ with brushes and long rolls of paper. Kids and adults enthusiastically did their art bit and then the paper was hung up on a fence and another large piece of paper was rolled out  on a table for the next group of painters to use.
CicLAvia DJ at art hub
This DJ under another canopy was great!  She played terrific danceable music with a Latin inspiration. Who knew that Rosemary Clooney’s “Hey Mambo”, a huge hit back in the 1950s, would sound so perfect on an hot October Sunday afternoon in the 21st century!


Shepard Fairey, skateboards, and plastic sugar skulls in Chinatown

Concrete Playground Shepard Fairey
Skateboarding is the sports of teens in Los Angeles — at least it used to be before smart phones came along. This skateboarder by Shepard Fairey is in the Eastern Projects gallery in Chinatown.

On a shopping trip to Chinatown I stumbled across an art gallery  called  Eastern Projects that is participating in the Pacific Standard Time LA/LA exhibitions.  The gallery is located on the street level of those new brilliant red buildings that almost overwhelm the old structures of Chinatown.

Slick skull head
A classic Mexican image is the skull, here interpreted in plastic by the artist named Slick.

Works by Shepard Fairey (of the famous Obama ‘Hope’ poster), Locos, Dusters, Slick and others vaguely followed the Pacific Standard Time ‘theme’ of Latin American art in Los Angeles.

I was especially intrigued by the skateboard and skater images in the show.


Skateboards by Locos and Duster
The skateboard installation at the Eastern Projects gallery in Chinatown.
Skull head skateboard
Another version of the skull head image on the bottom of this skateboard.
Locos Duster skateboard wave
A cooperative endeavor between Dusters and Locos in the Masters of Style show.
Locos skateboard mouse ears
Not only do skateboards hang on the wall in this exhibition, there are videos too.
Slick cross
Visually interesting cross by Slick. The whole show is being promoted as Masters of Style.

Five Lego men on benches in downtown Los Angeles

Lego brick Park People
These Lego figures are a kind of “selfie”. The artist Nathan Sawaya based the sculptures on his own body.


Brookfield Properties sponsors art installations around their investment properties across the U.S.  Nice of them!  And, in this case, fun, too!  They’ve sponsored Nathan Sawaya’s ‘Park People’–figurative sculptures made from Lego® blocks–in the courtyard outside of the Wells Fargo building on Grand near 4th.

Blue Lego Man Park People Los Angeles
Around the corner from Nevelson”s “Night Sails” sculpture was this Blue man made of Lego.

On my way to the Central Library to see the new murals I found five figures: four in the main Wells Fargo courtyard and another, the blue man, tucked away behind Nevelson’s black ‘Night Sails” sculpture.

Meditating lego man Los Angeles
Golden Yellow meditating figure in the ‘Park People’ installation.  Behind him, a green man  faces a family taking pictures. The Red man seemed to be drawing the most attention. 
Yellow lego
Yup! It really is the same Lego you played with as a child!


Hundreds of colorful quilts in Pasadena including a 3-D quilt!

Glendale quilt con overview
Quilts of all shapes and sizes were on display at the Glendale Quilt Guild’s show.  The blue quilt to the left was one of the prizewinners.

The Glendale Quilt Guild‘s annual convention was this last weekend, September 22 and 23, at the Pasadena Civic Center. This year there were over 300 quilts exhibited, but I am only going to show you a few–including a 3-D quilt by Luke Haynes which I have never seen before.

Luke Haynes 3-D quilt
Luke Haynes, a New York artist, was the featured exhibitor at this show. And this quilt was definitely a first. What appears to be a 3-D figure of Ben Franklin is an optical illusion created by a very elongated piece of fabric. Viewed properly the figure appears. I’ve seen 3-D art works at the Pasadena Chalk Festival, but never in a quilt.
Detail cat quilt border
The dozen large cats in the center of this quilt are surrounded by hundreds of tiny cats making up the border. Each one has a different expression on its face!
Cat quilt Glendale quilt con
A very clever cat quilt. I took a closer look and realized what made up the colorful border.


Detail dog quilt Glendale Quilt conv
A close-up look at the dog quilt. Patches alternated between fabric with dog photos and fabric with artistic renderings of dogs.
dog quilt Glendale Quilt convention
The quilt for dog lovers. Every strip of fabric has an image of a dog.
Quilt prizewinner Glendale Quilts
Another prizewinner at the Glendale Quilt show. Beautiful colors!

See the extraordinary new murals at the Los Angeles Central Library: Oaxaca/LosAngeles

oaxacalifornia mural Los Angeles Library
Near each section of the murals is a detailed explanation of the imagery. Some symbols are from Los Angeles, some from Oaxaca.

Neither my photos or words can convey the experience of seeing the new murals in the second floor rotunda at the Central Library.  When I was at the library on Saturday, the day before the “official” opening of Pacific Standard Time LA/LA, there were already crowds of people, armed with cameras, viewing these works of art.

Oaxaca LA murals crowd
Wrapping around the rotunda at eye level are the Oaxaca/Los Angeles murals by the artists, Dario Canul and Cosijoesa Cernas, also known collectively as Tlacolulokos. Above are the faded murals done by Dean Cornwell in 1933, depicting the history of California as it was understood then by him. They are severely faded and need restoration!

Higher up are the pastel murals about California history completed back in the early 20th century. These new murals are clearly works of the 21st Century. And are clearly the works of Mexican-Americans in L.A. Both members of the Tlacolulokos collective were born in Oaxaca. Two women standing beside me commented that they hoped the murals would be permanently on display. I hope so too.

Below are more photos of parts of the mural. There is also a video being shown in the rotunda. If you are anywhere near downtown, be sure to take a few minutes to see the entire set of murals in place.  In fact, you should probably make a special trip to see them.

And a few words for Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions – how can you possibly say that immigrants, especially Latino immigrants, do not contribute to our society!

Tattoo mural Los Angeles Central Library
The conquistador-priest and a tattoo artist — past and present.  I hope that the fact that the murals have been custom designed for the space means they will be staying beyond the end of Pacific Standard Time LA/LA which ends in January 2018.
woman with smart phone mural
Again, the past and present , Mexico and the U.S., in this image.
TLAcoluLA mural L.A. Library
Is this how the artist sees himself? The name TLAcoluLA appears as a tattoo on his arm.

So far I have seen these other parts of the Getty-sponsored Pacific Standard Time LA/LA:

Cuban movie posters at PMCA

The Broad crosswalk and MOCA mural