Greater Pasadena art venues help us make sense of a complex world
By Kevin Uhrich 08/23/2012
As Americans struggle with the many weighty questions posed by the possibilities of four more years of Democrat Barack Obama or an über-conservative government under Republican Mitt Romney, Pasadenans will have an excellent opportunity this fall to make sense of all the political friction through the prism of a number of artistic works.
One place to better understand the United States of the 21st century under the leadership of the nation’s first African-American president is the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, which this fall is featuring two major exhibitions on the Civil War.
The first, “A Just Cause: Voices of the American Civil War,” opens Sept. 22 and runs through Jan. 7. The second, “A Strange and Fearful Interest: Death, Mourning and Memory in the American Civil War,” runs from Oct. 13 through Jan. 14.
To see presidential themes play out on stage, visit South Pasadena’s Fremont Centre Theatre through Oct. 7 for “How Obama Got His Groove Back,” a comedy that looks at the president on the campaign trail against a formidable opponent. And from Sept. 26 through Nov. 4, celebrity actors Ed Begley, Jr. and Felicity Huffman star in playwright David Mamet’s “November,” a spoof about an unpopular presidential candidate desperately seeking re-election, at the Mark Taper Forum.
Over the past few years, Pasadena has become something of a Mecca in the world of dance, with a number of local residents winding up on shows like “Dancing With the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” In real life, anyone in this city who is interested can partake in dances of all types — ballet, belly, swing, ballroom, even Victorian and English country dance.
At local theaters, there appears to be no shortage of provocative and entertaining productions this season, with a number of world premieres highlighting the community’s busy fall lineup.
At the Pasadena Playhouse, Marcia Milgrom Dodge directs “Under my Skin,” as the Boston Court Performing Arts Center presents Michael Mitchetti’s “Creation,” about a biologist who has a near-death experience and suddenly becomes obsessed with music.
In South Pas, Fremont Centre Theatre hosts the world-premiere production of Paul Kikuchi’s “Slice,” a comedy about a blacksmith trying to make the perfect samurai sword.
In the world of visual arts, the Pasadena Museum of History is preparing to re-open the newly renovated 106-year-old Fenyes Mansion on Sept. 29. The museum’s galleries will also be busy, with exhibits featured on two local topics: “What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been: 35 Years of the Pasadena Doo Dah Parade” and “Pacific Electric Railway Then and Now,” both running through Jan. 13.
“Kimono in the 20th Century” at the Pacific Asia Museum showcases traditional Japanese robes for all occasions, while Offramp Gallery features “Detour,” a collection of photographs and prints by LA artist Anita Bunn on display through Oct. 28.
Beginning in late October, the Pasadena Museum of California Art unveils four new exhibits: “Guillermo Bert: Encoded Textiles”; “A Car and Some Shorts,” by Swedish-American architect/designer Greta Magnusson Grossman; “Take me to the Apple Breeder,” by Jessica Rath; and “White on Black,” a collection of wood engravings from printmaker Paul Landacre. And the Armory Center for the Arts features through Nov. 10 an outdoor gallery installation on Fair Oaks Boulevard called “Roadside Attraction.” From Oct. 7 through Jan. 13, “Between a Run and a Cascade: Constraint, Desperation and Optimism in Water, CA” examines the state’s relationship to water, as imagined by 14 different artists.
At the Norton Simon Museum, Vincent Van Gogh’s 1889 “Self-Portrait,” on loan from the National Gallery of Art, goes on display from Dec. 7 to March 4
In the world of music, Pasadena will remember the great Marvin Hamlisch, the Oscar-winning composer who headed the Pasadena POPS for two seasons and died suddenly on Aug. 6 due to lung failure. Hamlisch will be honored at a Sept. 15 concert by the Pasadena Symphony and POPS. Originally meant as a tribute to symphony supporter Edith Roberts, the show has been reworked to honor Hamlisch and features Rita Moreno, Martin Short, Dave Koz, Liz Callaway, Marc Shaiman, David Garrison, violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and pianist Rueibin Chen.
Along with the Symphony’s Classics Concerts season, Greater Pasadena has a solid concert season ahead, anchored by the 14th Annual Eagle Rock Music Festival, scheduled this year for Saturday, Oct. 6.
Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, socialist or a tea partier, there is something for every artistic taste and interest this fall in Greater Pasadena.