Pasadena’s stay-at-home regimen started shortly after locals were scheduled to gleefully mingle on crowded shuttles between different permanent and temporary art venues for the annual spring Art Night on March 13.
Organizers ultimately made the right decision in canceling all the festivities. But since then, it’s been a tough time for local artists, who must now turn to the Internet for help, with some venerable local venues among the host of artists going online to showcase their work.
For those who want to get outside for a while and explore art in nature, the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens (arboretum.org) is already open, and Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge (descansogardens.org) reopens on Saturday, May 16. Entrance is limited to online ticketing. Face masks are requested and you must bring your own water.
Once you’re back at home, log on and look up the Norton Simon Museum (nortonsimon.org), which has an extensive catalog of lectures you can stream for free.
But if you are hoping to join Pasadena’s creative community, look to the Armory Center for the Arts and the Pasadena Playhouse for at-home opportunities.
The Armory (armoryarts.org) had already been offering video projects (such as how to make a fabric mask and an introduction to ceramic artists). Starting next week, cozy online classes using Zoom will meet online to do things like a paper party (ages 15 and over, $80, limited to six students) or writing quarantine fiction (ages 12 to 18, $75, limited to five students), according to director of communications Jon Lapointe. The kids class for Edward Gorey fans about illustrating fantastical creatures is already full.
As the Armory’s head pixel pusher, Lapointe says he’s been learning a lot more about Zoom. The Armory is also busy with outreach to the Heritage Square Senior Apartments. Of course, if you had been looking forward to seeing Tanya Aguilar’s “Borderlands Within/La Front era Rodent” or John Zhejiang Wu’s “Art Making,” you’ll have to wait. Both exhibits will remain at the Armory until August 9, but Armory staff members are working on some other potential online experiences.
While the Armory classes are meant to create a community and participants will be displayed in a Brady Bunch tiling grid, you don’t have to dress to impress for the Pasadena Playhouse (pasadenaplayhouse.org) class on musical theater. All shows and events are canceled until the end of the month when the situation will be re-evaluated, but there are three online classes that you can join without jumping in your car or even combing your hair.
For kids, there are two classes: “Playtime with Miss Janet,” for ages 4-6, and “Storytime,” for ages 7-10. Both classes start on May 16 for four Saturdays.
Adults and older teens can join Adam Epstein and his “The Broadway Musical and America” ($124 per person or $99 for members per person). Intended to give students a broad overview of the American musical, beginning with “Oklahoma,” the 11-week course started on Tuesday, but you can still join until 11:59 pm. Monday, May 18.
If you miss a class, you have seven days to watch the video. The 60-minute virtual lectures include video clips and you’ll be able to type in questions. At the time of this interview, about 200 people from as far as Florida had already signed up. Epstein noted, “The best thing about this class is there are no official assignments.” In this class, you can see, but not be seen.
Epstein, whose theatrical productions have garnered 12 Tony Awards — including one for himself as producer of “Hairspray” in 2003 — had already presented three classes in person at the Playhouse. His first class in fall 2017 was a general overview like this one. His spring 2018 class started with “Dream Girls” and was called “Contemporary Broadway.” His last class in spring 2019 was “Broadway Musicals: A Closer Look by the Decade” in which he chose two musicals from each decade beginning in the 1940s. The online class talks began in mid-April and a technician is there to insure a smooth transition.
In the past, each series has featured a special Broadway star. Previous guests have been Shanna Bean (an original cast member for “Hairspray,” and she replaced India Mendel as Alphabet in “Wicked”) and Nick Adams. Adams was an original cast member for the 2010 revival cast of “La Cage aux Follies” and starred as Whizzes Brown in the first national tour of the Lincoln Center Theater revival of “Falsettos.”
While previously geography and timing had limited who he could invite, now that the class is Zooming, anyone from anywhere could pop up.
You don’t have to worry about hair, hairspray, highway, parking, social distancing, or face mask. Just break out your laptop and get comfy.