Art at the Arclight
How about a little art with your popcorn? Arclight Cinemas showcase local talent in their nontraditional art galleries.
By Brenda Rees 12/02/2010
First-run flicks, reserved seating and a snazzy snack bar weren't ArcLight Pasadena's only draws when the modern movie palace opened its doors this past May. Adorning its hallways is a mini–art gallery that showcases the work of local artists, making this the city’s latest nontraditional art space for the culturally adventurous.
“The space has an open and wide art-gallery feel, but without the pretensions of a typical art gallery,” says Kjose Elliott, a Los Angeles–based photographer whose work is on exhibition there through February, his second ArcLight show after last year’s maiden voyage at the Hollywood venue. “You can browse and don’t have to worry about others asking you to hurry up. You can take your time and not feel intimidated.”
Locating an art gallery within the walls of a theater (also done at L.A.’s other three ArcLights) broadens the artistic experience for moviegoers, says Chad Brice, the chain’s operations manager, who handles fine art and special events. “Our guests don’t just come to a movie; they can have an enhanced evening experience that will make them want to linger,” he says.
While some gallery space may be lent to props and costumes from big theatrical releases (costumes from the latest Narnia flick will be on display this month in Pasadena, for example), exhibition space is usually devoted to paintings, collages, prints and photography. Brice says ArcLight is open to “just about any kind of art” as long as it’s 2-D and appropriate for public space (no nudity, violent themes, etc.). “The question I ask is, ‘Will the guests enjoy?’” he says.
They do, says Ana Mejia, Pasadena operations manager. “We have regulars who come just to check out the artwork and not the movies,” she says. “It’s really fun for them to see the new displays.” (Exhibitions typically last for three months.)
It’s a plus for artists as well. Their costs are low –– they pay ArcLight only for the cost of mounting the show. And beyond expanding their audience, artists keep all the proceeds from their sales, which usually average four to five pieces during their run. (Traditional galleries typically keep 20 to 40 percent as a consignment fee.)
“It’s great overall exposure and I have gotten new customers from my ArcLight shows,” says Los Angeles artist Leah Devora, who has shown her work at three ArcLight locations, most recently in Pasadena. “They have the kind of audience I wanted to reach out to. And let’s face it: I think most people in L.A. go to movies more than they do art galleries.”
Galleries have another advantage over conventional movie theaters –– the propensity for creating community among total strangers, says Brice. “I’ve seen that happen at exhibition openings,” he says. “It can be a remarkable experience.”
ArcLight Pasadena is located at 336 E. Colorado Blvd. (at Paseo Colorado), Pasadena. For information about gallery exhibitions, call (626) 568-8888 or visit arclightcinemas.com.