Showcase is back with a night of art discovery

By Leah Schwartz

Art should be accessible to everyone: young, old, rich or poor. For more than 20 years, ArtNight Pasadena has created a free, all-ages experience, beyond what arts and cultural institutions offer.

The event is held twice a year — in October and March. This year’s Spring ArtNight will be held 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, March 10, and will have free admission.

“(ArtNight is) a wonderful experience and grants an appreciation for the depth and breadth of our arts and cultural community,” says Rochelle Branch, Pasadena’s cultural affairs manager. “We have an incredibly interesting, creative community here. And each venue has something in particular to offer. I hope that any audience attending would find something new that they could take delight in or enjoy some of the venues they’re already familiar with.”

The event is produced by the city of Pasadena’s cultural affairs division in partnership with local art and cultural organizations and nonprofits. This year’s Spring ArtNight will include 21 locations featuring a variety of art forms like dance, radio theater, music and visual arts experiences and exhibitions.

This year, ArtNight will offer “No Boundaries,” a districtwide kindergarten through 12th grade student art showcase presented by Pasadena Unified School District. Live music and food trucks at the City Hall Hub and live music at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music are part of the program.

Other venues will include the Armory Center for the Arts, ArtCenter’s HMCT and Williamson Galleries, the Jackie Robinson Community Center, Parson’s Nose Theater, Side Street Projects and the Pasadena Museum of History.

Patrons can curate what they want to see of the 21 venues. The city provides shuttle buses with docents and student ambassadors to guide attendees through the stops. ArtNight provides additional information about metro stops for those who prefer to take the metro. Some venues are even close enough to walk from one to the other.

Like the city of Pasadena, ArtNight is constantly shifting, with varying programming each evening; although many of the organizations featured are favorites, there are frequently new events and programs.

In the past few years, ArtNight has added Alkebulan Cultural Center, an African American institution in Northwest Pasadena, the Gamble House and Remainders Creative Reuse, where attendees can create artworks made from recycled materials.

Having returned to in-person programming last October, ArtNight is making a comeback after the pandemic and two years of virtual events. “We are still rebuilding our audience base after the pandemic,” Branch says. Pre-pandemic ArtNights attracted about 22,000 guests. Attendance is slowly climbing, with last fall’s event bringing in about 10,000 attendees.

This spring, Branch hopes that those numbers continue to grow.

“There’s an element of excitement and engagement with people riding the buses, convening in city hall, and attending each of the venues that is really unparalleled,” Branch says.

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