Transforming Lives Through Art

A decommissioned National Guard armory, designed specifically to keep people out, has spent nearly 70 years coming to bloom as a focal point in Pasadena where everyone is welcome to gather and appreciate art.   

From the street, the building gives the impression of an indestructible stronghold. Tall, thick, gray walls authenticate the fortified structure. The building itself serves as a striking contrast to the sounds of children laughing inside while they paint and play, and a view of impossibly delicate sculptures and paintings through the windows.

Within the building lies a maze of free exhibits with a shared focus of, “inspiring dialogue around visual culture and contemporary life, contributing to global discourses in contemporary art and introducing contemporary visual art to Pasadena,” said Jon Lapointe, Armory director of communications.

Lapointe said the center has exhibited collections and works from profound artists who work in the realm of social justice and beyond, including some of Tim Hawkinson’s first solo museum shows, public projects by Yoko Ono and a Rose Bowl performance for 5,000 spectators by Richard Jackson, who crashed a radio-controlled model military airplane filled with paint into a 20-foot wall, that read “Accidents in Abstract Painting.”

While the Armory features works that are in tune with the center’s mission to transform lives through the arts, Lapointe said at the center of that mission is, “a deep commitment to social justice through arts education.”

Throughout the year, the gallery doubles as a host to studio art classes for all ages where kids can learn, play and express themselves simultaneously. The center’s executive director, Leslie Ito, herself a previous workshop student, says the facility is so passionate about its mission, ardent teachers also offer hundreds of free art classes for the community’s youth in schools, parks, libraries, community centers and juvenile detention centers throughout Southern California.

“(We are) focused on bringing together people from all backgrounds to authentically collaborate, contribute and thrive,” Ito said.

Lapointe said in addition to the armory’s transformation, the last 70 years have also brought about a wave of reputable art museums, cultural institutions, and non-profit arts organizations to Pasadena.

“One other magical thing about this critical mass of nonprofit arts and culture organizations: we all collaborate, respect and genuinely like each other. No competition. We are all on the same team,” Lapointe said.

Being part of that team, Lapointe added, also comes with the responsibility of engaging in work that contributes to diversity and inclusion efforts.

Rather than developing a single committee toward such endeavors, the future for the Armory includes devoting entiretly of the institution’s efforts toward social justice.

“The Armory is on a journey to make this work part of our organizational DNA. We understand this is a process, and it will take time, courage, persistence, and commitment. This is a journey we are ready for. This is the Armory’s future,” Lapointe said.


Armory Center for the Arts
145 N. Raymond Avenue, Pasadena
626-792-5101, armoryarts.org

Easy as Pie

Those eagerly awaiting the release of pumpkin items at Trader Joe’s or Jamba Juice, might want to add variety to their yearly pumpkin pig out. 

The passion for pumpkins began in the Americas. Seeds from related species have been found in archeological digs in Mexico, dating back to 7000 to 5500 B.C. The name actually comes from the Greek word, “peon,” meaning large melon. Native Americans used pumpkins and related fruit as part of their diet before the pilgrims arrived. The marriage of cinnamon and pumpkin came later. Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka and was used in China and ancient Egypt.

Ginger originated in Southeast Asia and nutmeg was from Indonesia. The trade along the silk roads brought these spices to Europe. Without such trade and culinary experimentations between the continents, we wouldn’t have pumpkin spice for November.

Jamba Juice made its fans wait until October 20. Trader Joe’s opened the orange winter squash season on October 1, offering pumpkin bisque, pumpkin bars, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin spice bagels, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin cereal, pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin biscotti, pumpkin cranberry crisp, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin spice almond beverage, pumpkin pie spiced ginger brew, spiced pumpkin madeleines, pumpkin bread mix, pumpkin chocolate chunk oatmeal cookie mix, pumpkin ice cream, pepita salsa and pumpkin cream cheese spread.

Another, and perhaps healthier, choice to fulfill your pumpkin spice needs is a seasonal bagel from Einstein Bagels. You can add pumpkin shmear or splurge on the calories with a pumpkin bagel with a sweet crunchy topping of walnuts and cinnamon.

Of course, you can get pumpkin pie at local pie shops. Moe’s pumpkin pie is $6.50 a slice at the Pie Hole and pecan is also on the fall menu ($7). The Cheesecake Factory has pumpkin cheesecake ($57.95 for a whole 10-inch pie or $8.50 a slice) and pumpkin pecan cheesecake ($58.95 or $8.95 per slice). Pie ‘N Burger has pumpkin and pecan pie, too.

Thinking of trying something savory? Then Suriya Thai has pumpkin curry served with shrimp, white rice, spicy red curry and coconut milk ($11.95). Kabuki Japanese Restaurants are offering a winter special: kabocha squash soup ($3.50 a bowl) while supplies last.

Lêberry Bakery on Colorado has gluten-free pumpkin scones with a pumpkin glaze, pumpkin muffins with a light sprinkle of sugar on top and a danish with pumpkin spread in the center. All are priced at $3, but guests will have to hurry because these goodies will only be offered until the second weekend of November.

Another hurry up and don’t be late pumpkin date is at Alexander’s Steakhouse. The executive pastry chef Gabriela Martinez will be serving pumpkin ice cream with dry ice to make it mysteriously smoky. As part of the complimentary mignardises (mini-bite desserts pronounced min-yar-DEEZ), pumpkin bonbons, pumpkin macaroons and pumpkin tarts are among the selections. Everything is made in-house, including the ice cream, and will only be available until November 15.

The Vanilla Bake Shop has gone wild with pumpkin pie shortbread bars, pumpkin streusel pecan pies, the classic pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice cupcakes and a pumpkin spice cake. The cake comes in two sizes, 6 inch or 9 inch. The pies come as small as a 2-inch round to the regular 9 inch. So go ahead and satisfy your pumpkin passion for as little as $2.50. These pumpkin delights will be available until the end of December.

Sunmerry Bakery in Temple City has pumpkin brownies, matcha-pumpkin danishes and whole wheat pumpkin buns into November. Sunmerry is also offering multigrain cranberry bread to go with turkey.

PattiCakes in Altadena has pumpkin cheesecake in five sizes. Two people can feed off a 3-inch pie, or parties of 50 or 60 can get a 16-inch pie. Pumpkin muffins are also available. The pumpkin party continues at PattiCakes until May.


Where to go

Alexander’s Steakhouse, 111 N. Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, 626-486-1111, alexanderssteakhouse.com

The Cheesecake Factory, 2 W. Colorado Boulevard,
Pasadena, 626-584-6000

Einstein Bros. Bagels, 605 S. Lake Avenue, Pasadena,
626-449-6415, einsteinbros.com

Kabuki Restaurants, 88 W. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena,
626-568-9310; 3539 E. Foothill Boulevard, Pasadena,
626-351-8963, kabukirestaurants.com

Lêberry Bakery, 445 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena,
626-993-9898, leberrybakery.com

PattiCakes, 1900 Allen Avenue, Altadena, 626-794-1128, patticakesbakery.com

The Pie Hole, 59 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena,
626-765-6315, thepieholela.com

Pie ‘N Burger, 913 E. California Boulevard, Pasadena,
626-795-1123, pienburger.com

Sunmerry Bakery Café, 5728 Rosemead Boulevard, Temple City,
626-656-6336 , summerryus.com

Suriya Thai, 123 W. California Boulevard, Pasadena,
626-577-7273, suriyathairestaurant.com

Vanilla Bake Shop, 88 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena,
323-204-4075, vanillabakeshop.com

Selling Happiness

Place Vendôme sits in a quaint courtyard in Old Pasadena, but the jewelry that occupies the shop is anything but humble.

A grand foyer gives way to a gallery of extravagant jewelry, giving guests a peek into a world where beauty, functionality and history collide and shine.

Since the dawn of luxury jewelry, a couple mainstream ideologies have dominated the way the world views the industry: Princess cut diamonds are a girl’s best friend and creativity has to be sacrificed when aiming for functionality.

About 15 years ago, two men who crossed paths by a mix of fate, luck and chance decided to push the limit of what is possible in the industry and feature unique items that are not standard to most jewelry stores.

The two met when Max Emsallem meandered into Michael Merritt’s store looking for a piece of jewelry to gift his girlfriend at dinner.

“I could never find something special enough, most things are safe—ordinary. When I bought her stuff, it was to make her happy, but it was to make me happy, too. So not being able to find unique pieces was disappointing. But when I met Mike, he had stuff I’d never seen before,” Emsallem said.

As the two moved through each piece Merritt had, the jewelry prompted a conversation about the constraints withholding the industry from reaching its full potential in America, in contrast to its thriving European counterpart.

“Design is just part of the culture there and it shows through in everything, even beyond jewelry,” Merritt said. “It’s shoes, it’s clothes, it’s handbags, it’s architecture, it’s beautiful Italian cars. Whereas in America beauty has to be sought out.”

The conversation sparked what would become a revolution in the U.S. jewelry industry and would change the relationship shoppers have with the jewelry they purchase.

Emsallem, who has a 10-year history in the fashion industry, and Merritt who was ready to grow into a new form of the business with a partner, joined their creative forces to open a luxury jewelry store where the pieces had all of the elements they value most—flawless and indulgent design, diverse lines with functionality for all jewelry lovers and a strong history behind each brand—Place Vendôme.

“We choose brands with their past and their stories in mind, because it changes you,” Merritt said. “It changes the way you see the piece. A ring or a necklace suddenly transforms into something so much more relatable and intentional when you know its story.”

Beyond the jewelry, every detail of Place Vendôme contributes each line’s unique features.

Individual galleries line the walls of the store, which Merritt says, allows customers to see where each designer’s vision begins and ends. “You can understand a designer better when you’re not distracted by anything else,” he adds. “It’s a literal window into each designer.”

Within each gallery are small props that continue to tell a story. Some designers choose to create their own layouts and send in decor, whereas others give Emsallem and Merritt full creative freedom.

From textured placemats, picture frames with leather pieces and decorative candleholders, customers can pair the brand’s vision with several textures, colors and dimensions. Tying each gallery together are fabric-lined walls that lead to a massive skylight inspired by Parisian architecture.

But the real magic, Merritt said, happens when customers allow him to “play” and put on the jewelry.

A fan favorite is the Pomellato NUDO ring. Starting at about $2,350, the stackable rings are constructed without prongs holding the stones. Instead, they are fastened on the top with a groove cut around the stone’s base. The gem fits into the metal cup, then the metal is crimped into a groove. Though the process takes much longer than setting the stone in prongs, Merritt said the result is priceless. And his customers agree.

The “little Pasadena store” is the Italian brand’s No. 1 account in North America and outsells all of the Neiman Marcus stores combined.

“The president of Pomellato asked us how we do it, and we just told her we view it as art, and because of that, we’re very passionate about it,” Merritt said. “We’re not just selling it to customers because it’s pretty. It’s so much more than that, the design is intentional. We just pass our passion on.”

Perpendicular to the Pomellato case is the Pasquale Bruni gallery.

The brand is of another luxurious Italian designer, with looks inspired by nature and built with hand-selected stones.

A $14,200 massive Giardini Segreti ring dominates the case—with good reason. Brown diamonds cover the surface of the ring that spans over two fingers. Each stone varies in color, undulating like a real leaf.

The piece is not one guests would be able to find in most other jewelry stores because of its unique approach to stone selection and setting, “but this place is about going beyond the limits of what you think is possible. It’s about being extraordinary,” Merritt says.

The store also sells men’s jewelry, plush pens and collectible watches that run up to $725,000.

Though being unique can be pricey, Emsallem and Merritt agree the pieces are priceless because of the memories they create. From birthdays and anniversaries, to just a moment made special with a piece of jewelry, both Emsallem and Merritt said being part of memorable occasions is one of the best aspects of the job.

“I don’t think we’ve worked since we opened shop. We sell happiness and in turn, that makes us happy,” Emsallem said.   


Place Vendôme
48 Hugus Alley, Pasadena
626-577-7001, plvendome.com

Making Chinese Culture Shine

The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden has grown seemingly overnight into a wonderland of lanterns that represent themes from Chinese culture for its second Moonlight Forest Lantern Festival. 

The seed to create a lantern festival was planted years ago, when arboretum CEO Richard Schulhof traveled the country in search of a special way to honor the culture and traditions of China, as L.A. County has one of the largest Chinese populations in North America.

Though only in its second year, the festival has become a prominent window into the world of Chinese culture, and according the Schulhof, is one of the best in the nation.

“The festival allows us to discover the commonalities that unite us across the globe,” Schulhof says. “There are aspects of the human experience that are so universal. I think among the long list of those aspects is appreciation for art and appreciation for nature, and this festival celebrates both.”

Set with the backdrop of the gardens, lanterns light up the night and play off of the grounds’ features. A 160-foot dragon stands tall as its light bounces off the neighboring Baldwin Lake and forms breathtaking silhouettes of the surrounding trees. A towering fountain display of bright koi fish guides guests along a path that leads them past cavorting panda bears to a massive blue and green peacock, which serves as the festivals most iconic spot to take pictures.

The result is flawless, but the process is anything but easy and straightforward.

The staff at the arboretum are in constant contact with a design team in China’s Sichuan Province. The layout is reworked numerous times as ideas are exchanged and new exhibits are formulated. Once the design of the layout is established, the Sichuan team is flown out to the grounds roughly a month prior to the festival to begin staging the lanterns.

“It’s quite a process, but I think our audience here at the festival is extremely receptive and curious to experience this wonderful culture. It’s their interest that makes the work worth it,” Schulhof says.

To appease even more of guests’ interests, the festival also features various forms of entertainment with craft professionals from Sichuan Province.

Festival goers have the chance to interact with inner bottle painting artists, who create intricate panoramic scenes on the inside small bottles. Dancers and jugglers relay tradition through customary performances, and a conventional face changing dance originated by the Sichuan Opera lures guests into a world of rich culture. Translators are always nearby to give guests an opportunity to speak with the performers and learn more about China.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to interact with these folks who come here from China to share their traditions. Last year people really loved the interactive pieces of the festival, so we wanted to bring that back,” Schulhof says.

The festival is back by popular demand, but Schulhof wants attendees to know this year’s Moonlight Forest has only gotten bigger and better since last year.

“We’re here to serve the community so it’s a constant evaluation of what works, what programming our guests find rewarding and how the arboretum has to evolve to meet the needs of LA County and Southern California. But it’s going to be a wonderful experience and I hope people come ready to take it all in and really enjoy it.”


The Moonlight Forest Magical Lantern Art Festival

Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, 301 N. Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia
5:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, November 9, to Sunday, January 12.
Ticketed entry times are 5:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Tickets are $20 for children 3 to 17; $23 for students and seniors and $25 for adults on Wednesday and Thursday. Tickets are $23 for children 3 to 17; $25 for students and seniors and $28 for adults on Friday and Saturday. arboretum.org

Catching the Bug

The most precious gems the world can offer are buried in the farthest corners of the globe, deep in a cherished book, or in Old Pasadena’s very own Gold Bug gallery-where not all that glitters is gold. 

Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Gold Bug,” the family-owned gallery plays off the short story’s key scene when the protagonist, eager to have more money, follows scarab beetle toward a trove of treasures more valuable than what money could ever buy. In tune with the intellectually suspenseful tale’s motif of the golden bug, the store highlights how much of the world around us is not always what it seems.

Staying true to the somber and eerie undertone of Poe’s works, Gold Bug showcases pieces that are meant to turn heads and make statements about the troubles and glories of the world. Owner Theodora Coleman says each piece was chosen because, “of their ability to make people feel something, or see something in a new light they perhaps never considered before.”

Coleman says many items in the gallery serve as a vehicle to have meaningful conversations about the rich history of the world’s art practices. The gallerist added, other quirky works highlight the environment’s most notable struggles.

“The goal has always been the same and that’s to represent people who are inspired by nature, natural history and science that are doing something natural and will at some point go back to the Earth,” Coleman says.

The gallery boasts works from every corner of the world, but the collection of the items has humble beginnings based in Pasadena.

Before Coleman was born, her parents, Shelley Kimball and Stacey Coleman, owned a restaurant and employed countless actors, filmmakers and artists. In addition to flexible scheduling to accommodate their employees’ demanding dreams, the family showed their support for the arts by hanging the staff’s sculptures and paintings in the restaurant.

“When the art didn’t sell, my parents would show their support by buying some of the pieces themselves. They didn’t do a lot with it, they just kind of held onto it,” Coleman says.

Though the family closed the restaurant, the culmination of strange art pieces and sculptures sent the household down an entirely new path—one that sometimes involves the necessity of death to appreciate the fragility of life.

“There are a lot of things that are hard to look at because there is death in here, there are preserved animals here. I mean it’s a conversation we have a lot. But definitely where I’m coming from and these artists are all coming from is this place of revering nature and supporting systems to preserve it,” Coleman said.

She adds customers often ask about a handful of the gallery’s most eye-catching items. One of which is an isopod that dwells alone in a translucent box.

Isopods are part of the pill bug family and are related to the sand flea, but a prolonged glance at the creature paints an entirely different story. Its gigantic frame is a stark contrast to its roly poly genes, and its pink and tan toned hard shell gives a nod to the being’s prehistoric ancestors.

Though the creature looks like a grenade of historic lineage—able to withstand the test of time untouched—coming across the specimen in an unnatural way exposes its vulnerability to destructive fishing practices.

Deepsea trolling, the practice of clean sweeping the seafloor with a net for commercial fishing, captured the isopod from its dark and empty home at the bottom of the ocean.

“I think (trolling) is horrible and not sustainable, but as a byproduct of that they’re pulling things out of the sea by accident that they don’t have a market for, but I do,” Coleman says. “I get a thrill out of those things that come through the store, like those specimens that you wouldn’t normally see. Plus, it’s a way for us to start educating our customers about what’s happening in the fishing industry.”

Another store item that demands attention is a taxidermized unborn fawn.

With a small crown atop its head, the fawn may be petite, but serves as a mighty symbol of the diseased venison industry.

In the open plains of the Midwest, Chronic Wasting Disease has become an epidemic among farmed deer and has spread to naturally occurring deer in the surrounding area. The condition causes the degeneration of the brain and results in abnormal behavior, emaciation and, ultimately, death.

“I hear from the other side of the room a lot like, ‘oh how sad,’ and I sort of have to present myself and let customers know it’s not, ‘oh how sad,’ it’s just a thing that’s happening in our world today. It’s about making yourself aware of it,” Coleman says.

However, while the isopod and fawn definitely demand attention of curious shoppers Coleman says, “they are just two things in the shop presented in order to bring a little of nature’s pure wonder into the store, embellishing the hundreds of other art pieces that surround them.”

The handful of shocking items in the store is balanced with more delicate works like handcrafted jewelry, sculptures, paintings and prints.

The gallerist said one of the most historic artforms in the gallery may not be as shocking, but still has a deep-rooted history that presents yet another peculiar and noteworthy story of our world.

A company based out of the basement of the Santa Maria Novella church in Florence, Italy, is also home to one of the world’s oldest active apothecaries.

Officially selling products to the public since 1612, the pharmacy has a withstanding history creating perfumes, candles and soaps from natural ingredients. Though the world around the church may have changed over the centuries, the way the products are produced remains the same, and is considered a sustainable practice to Coleman.

“That’s the type of thing I steer people toward because it’s got the history and it’s well known, but still special,” Coleman said. “It may not be as weird as a crystal carved into a skull or some of the other items we carry. I mean this is art with a story behind it.”

From impressive sculptures and historic soaps to just about everything else one could think of, Gold Bug is giving guests a chance to see that not everything is what it seems. Coleman encourages shoppers to come in the gallery of wonders with an open mind, ready to ask questions about why the pieces have a spot in her store.


Gold Bug
34 Union Street, Pasadena
626-744-9963, goldbugpasadena.com.

Gotta Have Art!

As the weather gets cooler, the theater scene is heating up.

This fall, stages across Pasadena and Glendale are showcasing first-class shows with stories that will make audiences laugh, cry and reflect on their own lives through media like dance, performance theater, music and inspirational lectures.

So, grab a warm drink, wrap up in your coziest sweaters and scarves, and prepare yourself for the best entertainment the area has to offer this fall.

Pasadena Playhouse

Pasadena Playhouse has been a hub for creativity in the performing arts world for more than 100 years, and has no plans to slow down. The next century for the theater will bring about many changes. Perhaps the most notable is Pasadena Playhouse’s vision of its purpose, as it transitions from a place of entertainment to a destination of enlightenment through theater. Shows are held at the theater, 39 S. El Molino Avenue, Pasadena.

Info: 626-356-7529 or pasadenaplayhouse.org

The fall series includes: “Little Shop of Horrors,” now to October 20; “A Kid Like Jake,” now through to November 3; and “The Great Leap” from November 6 to December 1.

A Noise Within

A Noise Within’s 2019-20 season features three classic plays that fall under the theme, “They Played with Fire.” They demonstrate the trials, tribulations and, ultimately, the power of change through characters who are willing to give their lives to make a difference in the world around them.

Guests will enjoy each robust show in a massive theater erected in 2011 that boasts 324 seats.

A Noise Within is located at 3352 E. Foothill Boulevard, Pasadena.

Info: 626-356-3100 or anoisewithin.org

The fall lineup for 2019-20 includes: “Gem of the Ocean” through November 16; ‘Buried Child’ from October 13 to November 23; and “A Christmas Carol” from December 4 to December 23.

Boston Court Pasadena

Boston Court Pasadena impeccably blends the drama of theater, movement of music, and an exhibition’s ability to spark one’s curiosity in a single location. Over the next few months, there are seemingly endless opportunities to partake in varied experiences.

Fall will bring about the show “How the Light Gets In,” which highlights the lives of four strangers from drastically different backgrounds, who connect through their loneliness and change each other’s lives entirely when one of them falls apart.

In the auditorium’s lobby, the show will be paired with an art exhibition that plays on the performance’s showcase of vegetation typically seen in Japanese gardens. Both shows are running through October 27. 

The theater also offers music performances of varying types including the conductor-less Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra that was scheduled to perform September 21 and the Grammy-nominated Los Angeles Percussion Quartet set to hit the stage October 17.

Info: 626-683-6891 or bostoncourtpasadena.org

Remaining performances this season include:

• Piano Spheres: Mark Robson, October 4

• Brightwork NewMusic, October 5

• The Viano String Quartet, October 6

• Synchromy, October 12

• Rod Gilfry in Concert, October 18

• Bridge to Everywhere, October 19

• Alexander Miller: To… Oblivion, October 25

• Josh Nelson: Après Un Rêve, October 26

Parson’s Nose Theater

Parson’s Nose Theater believes the classics have withstood the test of time because of the truth they speak to each generation, but also thinks the truth can sometimes be funny.

This season, the theater is featuring “full-out” comedy shows while prematurely celebrating the upcoming centennial year of women’s suffrage. Unlike a large portion of classic plays, in each of the theater’s productions it’s the woman who saves the day.

“Our American Cousin,” the play Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated, will be showcased from October 18 to November 11. The show highlights the story of an awkward and honest American, and her adventures to English relatives as she tries to save her fortune. As per the theater’s culture, the show will include a song and dance or two.

From December 14 to December 22, the Parson’s Nose will also feature a rendition of “A Christmas Carol.” The production is what Parson’s calls “theater unplugged.” During the show, the actors sit along the back of the stage, and present themselves only when needed. In this casual setting they hold their scripts, yet are typically familiar enough with content they’re barely looked over. The actors sing their own carols and create the show’s sound effects by hand and with the help of the audience.

All shows are hosted at Parson’s Nose Theater located at 95 N. Marengo Avenue, Suite 110.

Info: 626-403-7667 or parsonsnose.org

The Rose

The Rose is an intimate live music venue that serves dinner and also manages to have room for a massive dancefloor. Though the inside is a large space that accommodates all types of music shows each month, the location is comfortably tucked away at 245 E. Green Street, Pasadena. It serves as a focal point for music lovers of all types in the area, and a great place to test out dance moves judgment free.

Remaining shows this season include:

• L.A. Guns, opening sets by Wikkid Starr and Six Gun Sal, October 4

• Jim Messina, October 6

• Brian Howe, opening set by Ampage, October 10

• Jon B, opening set by H’atina, October 12

• A Night with Janis Joplin, October 17

• Todrick: Haus Party Tour, October 19

• Sir Mix-A-Lot, October 26

• Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, November 2

• Judy Collins, November 10

• Los Lonely Boys, November 16

• Queen Nation, opening by Slow Burning Car, November 22

• The Association, opening set by Nick Marechal, November 23

• Jonny Lang, December 7

• DSB Journey Tribute, December 27

• Led Zeppelin Tribute by Led Zepagain, December 28

Info: 888-625-5006 or wheremusicmeetsthesoul.com

Fremont Centre Theatre

Since Fremont Centre Theatre’s start in 1997, Co-Artistic Directors James and Lissa Reynolds have worked to produce shows that promote diversity in society, as well as attract diverse audiences from far and wide.

The theater, located at 1000 Fremont Avenue, South Pasadena, will be showcasing the musical “Annie Jr.” from October 4 to October 27.

The show will bring generations together as the story of orphan Annie walks the audience through her struggle after being abandoned on the doorsteps of a rundown orphanage where she is mistreated. Annie will set out to find her birth parents, but along the way she will adopt an entirely new family—one better than in her dreams. 

Info: 626-269-3609 or fremontcentretheatre.com

Alex Theatre

The performing arts and entertainment center, Alex Theatre, has been hosting robust events for more than 80 years and has only increased the quality and quantity of events since its doors opened.

Now serving more than 130,000 people per year, the theater located at 216 N Brand Boulevard, Glendale, hosts events including classical, contemporary and world music concerts, film screenings, live theater, stand-up comedy, dance recitals and musicals.

Remaining shows include:

• Live Talks Los Angeles in association with

Glendale Arts presents: An Evening with Bob Iger, October 1

• AEG presents: Yanni, October 3

• Symphonic Concert Management Ltd presents:

Havasi Pure Piano Concert, October 5

• Boundaryless Productions presents:

Where Is Your Groom II?, October 6

• Los Angeles Times Ideas Exchange presents: Patti Smith, October 9

• Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre presents:

Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre Goes Broadway, October 13

• Center for Inquiry presents: An Evening with

Richard Dawkins and Ann Druyan, October 20

• Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra presents:

McGegan and Denk, October 26

• Right Angle Entertainment presents: Raffi, October 27

• Alex Film Society presents:

Halloween Classics! “The Old Dark House” (1932) and “The Raven”

(1935) October 27

• Musical Theatre Guild presents: “The Goodbye Girl,” November 10

• Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra presents:

Pulcinella and Prokofiev, November 16

• Los Angeles Ballet presents:

The Nutcracker, December 7 and December 8

Info: 818-243-2539 or alextheatre.org

Antaeus Theatre Company

The Antaeus Theatre Company has recently announced its two fall shows, which both share the underlying theme of defying the odds as the past comes back to haunt the present.

The story “Eight Nights,” which the theater will be showing from October 31 to December 16, features the journey of a resilient German Jewish refugee and her family set in a single apartment. From October 3 to November 25, the stage will be absorbed by the cast of “The Abuelas,” a story of an Argentinian concert cellist living in Chicago who will have to face the harsh truths of Argentina’s “Dirty War.”

The theater is located at 110 E Broadway, Glendale.

Info: 818-506-5436 or antaeus.org  

Making Self Expression Relatable

For 34 years, the Contemporary Crafts Market has provided creators and art lovers a place to explore where art, history and science come together. Years past have proven to be successful in connecting people to art they love, however, the retirement of the market’s CEO will bring about the end of an era.

“We are retiring, but art is timeless,” says CEO Roy Helms.

“When I launched this show 34 years ago, my goal was to showcase fine craft and wonderful products you cannot find anywhere else. There’s nothing like hand-crafted artistry to enhance home and everyday life.”

The market serves as not only a place to showcase talent and dedication, but as a medium to exchange stories. From November 1 to November 3, the Pasadena Convention Hall will house more than 150 booths filled to the brim with art that has a strong history and a plethora of stories behind it.

One such booth is that of enamelist Marianne Hunter.

Fifty-two years ago, Hunter started enameling atop pennies that she sold to friends and family. She prides herself in only using each design once, even over the last half century, and being inspired by something new for each piece.

Though her originality has persisted throughout the years, Hunter’s ability to keep simple titles for each piece has not.

“When I’m working on a piece, I have to immerse myself into that feeling,” Hunter says. “I have thought about it and what I’m trying to communicate as my vision comes together. Soon enough my one-word titles for each piece grew longer and longer, so I gave into it and started engraving short poems on the back that tell the piece’s story.”

From the colors used to the shape of the jewelry itself, everything about the piece shares a role in relaying Hunter’s narrative.

While the pieces can be worn, her techniques allow the art to look just as wonderful in a translucent case in which all sides can be seen.

“The biggest thing for me is that I do everything free-hand, every emotion comes through the work naturally. It’s raw, it’s authentic, it’s my vision of the story straight from my soul to my hands to the work itself,” Hunter says.

It can take Hunter anywhere from two weeks to a month to perfect a fired glass piece, which can take more than 120 individual firings somewhere between 1,500 and 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit before completion.

Hunter says, however, she doesn’t mind the process, as delicate and tedious as it may be.

Starting her own small enameling business in the summer of 1967, Hunter says she, “hasn’t had the need for a straight job since. I’ve been self-employed my whole life. I haven’t been to Europe or the other things I might’ve done if I got two-week vacations, but doing this everyday challenges me. It drives me, and there’s no other place I’d rather be than doing this.”

Due to the time, concentration and use of materials, Hunter’s pieces start at $5,000. She has started utilizing a layaway program to make her art accessible to anyone who can relate to the stories she tells through her work.

“I want people who relate to my art and these pieces to be able to have it. That’s what it’s for, that’s the reason I do this. If it speaks to you, you need to have it,” Hunter says.

Through an entirely different medium, watercolorist Liz Covington has also used her art to tell a story entirely her own. Though her art she has expressed the balancing act of being a practicing physician and crafter.

Ten years ago, the painter got her start in the art world through calligraphy, where she specialized in italics. Though she took it on for fun, Covington says it was more demanding than she could have ever imagined.

“I wanted to do something fun and easy to kind of take my mind away from my practice and I enjoyed the technique and discipline, but it’s a lot more involved than most people think,” Covington says.

As she began mastering calligraphy she sought out embellishments like watercolor flowers to pair with her writing. And without a moment’s notice she had discovered her true passion- painting.

“I started in watercolor because it was cheap, but I stuck with it because I think, personally, it’s one of the most challenging ways to deliver a scene. It requires so much practice and patience. I loved it immediately,” Covington says.

Today, Covington is able to produce nature scenes, flowers, portraits and abstract works. She says a particular fan favorite is her mixed abstract-portraits pieces.

As Covington takes on the complexities of nature, politics, and urban unrest, through her art she says painting the world as she views it through watercolor helps her see overwhelming aspects of life in their simplicity.

“I’m eclectic so I usually paint what’s on my mind. Sometimes is soft, and gentle, other times it’s a harsh truth that needs to be acknowledged. Either way, I feel it’s important to put it on paper. Once I’ve painted it, I feel like I’ve expressed it and it’s okay to let it go,” Covington says.

Covington has also explored the fashion market, and has recently gone under contract with a clothing company that put’s her art on shirts, dresses, scarves and bags, which she says brings her art to life.

Though her clothing can only be found online at the moment, Covington will be featuring greeting cards, prints, posters, and originals that range from $10 to more than $250 at the craft fair.

“Really, I just hope my paintings have a unique perspective and composition that provokes you. I want my art to draw you in, and make you think on an emotional level,” Covington says.  


Contemporary Crafts Market

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, November 1, and Saturday, November 2, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, November 3
Pasadena Convention Center Exhibit Hall, 300 E. Green Street, Pasadena
Limited passes are available at craftsource.net

Telling the Story of ‘Arroyo’

Though Pasadena claims to value honesty, integrity, and accountability, one author challenges the seemingly utopic history of the city through his debut fiction novel “Arroyo.”

Pasadena-born Chip Jacobs has spent the last three years studying the idiosyncrasies of the Colorado Street Bridge. While history books portray the bridge as a beacon of Pasadena’s withstanding financial and industrial success, Jacobs has uncovered gruesome truths about the structure locally dubbed, “Suicide Bridge.”

“Pasadena is a beautiful place, but it’s not perfect. No place is perfect that’s made by man,” Jacobs says, adding, “there’s a lot of coffee table books about Pasadena and about our history, and they’re great, but they don’t seem to capture human suffering, drama, and confusion—all things that build a city.”

Having worked in journalism for seven years, Jacobs found the industry was tailor- made for him because of his “curious” and “annoying” personality that made getting to the bottom of stories exhilarating.

There was one story, however, that changed Jacobs’ trajectory in the field of writing.

Jacobs published an article in Pasadena Weekly about a very obscure accident that befell the Colorado Street Bridge in the midst of construction. The catastrophe killed several construction workers, but the brilliance of the bridge shadowed over the lives sacrificed to erect it.

“It really bothered me that these men who died in this dramatic collapse had been forgotten, kind of brushed aside by history; swept over by the glory of this bridge and what it meant for the history of the city,” Jacobs says.

Not long after the story was published, Jacobs began receiving very passionate responses from the community. Some of the letters and emails believed the piece to be distasteful, but others highlighted their appreciation for the truth of what happened to the men killed while building the bridge.

“When you live in Pasadena you’re always connected with that bridge because you drive over it, you know somebody that has gone for a walk or a jog on it and has seen a dead body at the bottom. You’re inundated with lithograph paintings of the bridge in art galleries and in organizational literature. You’re absolutely dazzled by the aesthetics of it,” Jacobs says, adding, “you’re either someone who views it as a symbol of how far the city has come, or how far we have to go.”

Jacobs’ resume includes two nonfiction novels published. “Strange as It Seems: The Impossible Life of Gordon Zahler,” a story about a maternal uncle whom he couldn’t stand, but turned out the be the most astonishing man he’d ever met; and “Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles,” which offers a social—not technical—history of the smog crisis.

Jacobs says he had “all the ingredients to write a fiction novel”—a book-publishing history, a natural curiosity for the world, the ability to dig for the truth and a passion for writing.

“I had so many people tell me ‘with your smart-ass personality and imagination, you really should be going into fiction.’ So I did,” Jacobs says.

“Being a journalist, you’re capturing history on the fly, but I wanted to capture the drama on a deeper spectrum and of course do it with my own sort of flare,” Jacobs says.

And so, “Arroyo,” the novel, was born.

The hilariously grim story embarks readers on a journey through the lens of a young inventor and his dog, inspired by his beloved dog Auggie, in both 1913 and 1993 Pasadena.

Though the inventor was once the “biggest homer, all-American Pasadena boy possible,” in his second life he will discover his purpose as a whistleblower reincarnated to bring truth to the dark past of the bridge as it celebrates its 80 years.

As the inventor discovers the purpose of his second life with the help of his dog, the story walks the audience through the contrasting ideologies of history and myth, progress and vanity, even the contrasting approaches to various obstacles by dog and man.

“Teddy Roosevelt once famously said, not all movement is necessarily progress,’ and I think that does apply to this bridge at this point in our city’s history,” Jacobs says.

Although there are elements to the story that rings true of fiction, like the dialogue, Jacobs says it was extremely important to him that he reflects the information on the bridge accurately when writing the book.

He also insisted on keeping true to the area’s personalities, including hints of a local business owner’s voice, and a pharmacist who recorded the bridge’s history from his perspective as it was under construction. He says both accurately portray the shared feelings of hesitation and excitement for the area’s future.

The book seamlessly alludes to both an epoch of doll-style dresses and ice cream parlor and another era filled with technology and “Seinfeld;” however, while writing the book, Jacobs says switching between two worlds wasn’t effortless.

“Going from a journalist to being a nonfiction author to a novelist wasn’t always easy. I ripped up and threw away thousands of pages. I burned through printer ink like crazy. I got a hand injury from backspacing so much. I was so paranoid about digging in and touching down on that blank page—problems I never had when I was writing nonfiction. I mean it was grabbing me around the throat,” Jacobs says.

Jacobs’ father also died while writing the book, which sent him “sideways.” Beyond the shock of losing a loved one, the conflicted author was writing about a 1913 falsely utopic Pasadena world while in modern-day Pasadena as his world went dark and his family mourned.

“I was split down the middle of these worlds, but that helped me relate to this character even more than I already had because he’s doing the same thing. He’s trying to figure out who he is in this world of confusion and chaos,” Jacobs says.

Jacobs hopes “Arroyo” brings as much clarity and reflection on life and history while looking toward the future to readers as writing the novel did to him.

Jacobs says he believes past decisions affect Pasadena today and hopes readers can learn lessons that carry into their choices.

“Be careful about your secrets and machinations because they might just ricochet back at you in unintended ways,” Jacobs says.