Friday the 13th may be your lucky day. You can revel in a citywide celebration of music, art, history, theater and more — all for free as city-sponsored shuttles chauffeur you between 14 venues.
During ArtNight Pasadena, ghosts get literary at the Pasadena Public Library, and singing nuns parade at the Pasadena Playhouse. While deejays spin the latest tunes on the scenic rooftop of the Pasadena Museum of California Art, the Pasadena Symphony brings to life the playful pranks of a rapscallion named Till who inspired storytellers centuries ago.
This unique blend of current and historical, local and international, visual and aural, fantastical and creatively practical promises something for everyone.
In fact, Ernest Figueroa, special projects and grants consultant for the city of Pasadena, has the stats to prove it. Surveys from past events show an equal spread between age ranges, education and income of attendees. The pie chart is perfectly cut into fifths, Figueroa said. Talk about egalitarian art.
“It’s amazing,” Figueroa added. “Most events don’t appeal to everyone in every category.”
The ethnic diversity is not so evenly divided, but that’s because the city’s demographics aren’t either. This year’s event aims to reach an even wider and more diverse audience as Saturday and Sunday’s ArtWalk, ArtMarket and the Pasadena Latino Heritage celebration turn ArtNight into ArtWeekend.
Seven years ago, ArtNight began as part of the Art and Ideas Festival
coordinated by the Pasadena Arts Council under the guidance of Terry LeMoncheck. Institutions including the Armory Center for the Arts, Norton Simon Museum and Art Center College of Design opened their doors for free, and Southwest Chamber Music performed a concert gratis.
After that, ArtNight became its own separate, semiannual event with the support of the city’s cultural affairs division. And the excitement has been steadily increasing: Six venues grew to 10 and then 14. The crowds doubled from 3,000 people three years ago to 6,000 at March’s event. The Pasadena Public Library and Art Center South Campus joined the party in March, and new this time around is the Pasadena Playhouse, currently prepping for an entertaining romp with “Sister Act the Musical.”
According to Figueroa, the Norton Simon Museum remains the biggest draw. Its renowned collection, which includes works by Degas, Monet, Picasso and Rivera, attracts more than 2,000 visitors each ArtNight.
Jonathon Glus, executive director of cultural affairs for the city, said that the reason ArtNight appeals to both the art institutions and the city is that it is a creative way to get people in the door and interested in the thriving art world around them.
“This city has evolved very, very quickly,” he said. “Because of the demographics, there are still plenty of people that don’t feel they have access to our institutions; they don’t know it yet. There are real barriers, and there are perceived barriers. There are also cultural barriers: Some of our new residents have come from places that are not as culturally rich as Pasadena, so they don’t have the experience or the exposure. There are financial and language barriers. There are barriers of having children and working hours that don’t give you access.
“We all know the variety of barriers,” Glus added, and ArtNight breaks those down twice a year.
“On ArtNight at my venue,” said Stephen Nowlin of Art Center College of Design, “the audience is entirely different than the audience that usually comes to other receptions or openings, so I think ArtNight has been very effective in connecting with this larger and more diversified audience.”
This year, the city collaborated with other venues to plan ArtWeekend in the hopes of reaching the largest number of people yet. On Saturday, the Playhouse District presents its free inaugural ArtWalk, including a juried art exhibition and five stages of entertainment, and Washington Park hosts the Latino Association of Pasadena’s annual celebration with art, entertainment and food. On Sunday, ArtMarket at One Colorado will feature works for sale by students, faculty and alumni from Art Center College of Design, Armory Center for the Arts and Pasadena City College.
With all that going on, plus the usual theater and nightclub offerings, restaurants and other attractions, Figueroa added, “There’s no excuse not to come to Pasadena this weekend.”