Back to school

Back to school

Area museums offer A+ education for art lovers with upcoming shows

By Sara Cardine 08/24/2012

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This fall, as local children return to school, consider visiting one (or all) of Pasadena’s many museums to school yourself on what’s brewing in the art community. 
The upcoming season promises to be especially busy for Pasadena Museum of History, as it prepares for the Sept. 29 grand re-opening of the newly renovated Fenyes Mansion. Tour this Beaux Arts style manse, completed in 1906 by architect Robert D. Farquhar for Adalbert and Eva Fenyes and home of the first Finnish consulate in the US. 
Meanwhile, the museum’s galleries contain two different but equally edu-taining exhibits on 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”— which run through Jan. 13.
Giving art lovers a vital cultural connection to the East, the Pacific Asia Museum presents pieces this fall from two different Asian cultures. Continuing through March 10, “Kimono in the 20th Century” showcases traditional Japanese robes for all occasions, including weddings, funerals, teas and flower arranging. And through Oct. 7, catch a glimpse of LA artist Gajin Fujita’s “Ukiyo-e in Contemporary Painting” which fuses traditional Japanese printmaking techniques with contemporary American street and pop art influences. 
After that show wraps up, from Nov. 2 through March 24, the Pacific Asia Museum brings visitors, “Marking Transitions: Ceremonial Art in Indonesia,” an exhibit that takes a look at themes of art and ritual expressed through common objects; here, woven textiles, knives and other hand-crafted objects allude to deeper cultural contexts.
Starting Sept. 16, take a detour to Pasadena’s Offramp Gallery to catch Anita Bunn’s “Detour,” a collection of photographs and prints on display through Oct. 28. A longtime LA resident and Art Center alumna, Bunn ponders the relationship between objects and their ever-changing urban backdrops. An opening night reception with the artist will be held Sept. 16 from 2 to 5 p.m.
From Nov. 18 through Dec. 23, Offramp plans to showcase vivid, ethereal gouaches by LA Chicana artist Patssi Valdez, while an Oct. 7 panel discussion in the gallery garden at 3 p.m. promises to uplift and entertain. 
Beginning in late October, the Pasadena Museum of California Art unveils four new exhibits. “Guillermo Bert: Encoded Textiles” likens modern day barcodes and QR codes to highly symbolic and information-packed Native American textiles. Using high-tech software, Bert transcribes narratives from native leaders into QR codes that are then hand-woven into tapestries by indigenous weavers. 
Other PMCA shows running Oct. 28 through Feb 24 are “A Car and Some Shorts,” work by Swedish-American architect/designer Greta Magnusson Grossman, a porcelain sculpture/photography show by Jessica Rath called “Take me to the Apple Breeder” and “White on Black,” a collection of wood engravings from well-known printmaker Paul Landacre.
Just a few blocks away, The Armory Center for the Arts heads into fall with some creative twists. On view through Nov. 10, an outdoor gallery installation on Fair Oaks Boulevard, “Roadside Attraction,” entices pedestrians and commuters alike. 
Inside the center, from Oct. 7 through Jan. 13, a provocative show, “Between a Run and a Cascade: Constraint, Desperation and Optimism in Water, CA” examines the state’s conflicted and complex relationship to water, as imagined by 14 different artists. 
Meanwhile, now through Jan. 21 at the Norton Simon Museum, “Significant Objects: The Spell of Still Life” attempts to enlighten viewers on the subtle beauty inherent in the art form. Those who prefer a shot of something stiff in their cup of tea might like “Studies in Desperation,” running Oct. 5 through Feb 11. The lithograph series, created in 1963 by World War II veteran and longshoreman Connor Everts, captures that tumultuous year in American history through violent and intriguing images of nature reassembled. 
A real treat for lovers of the masters comes Dec. 7 to March 4, when visitors can get up close and personal look at a monumental classic, as Vincent Van Gogh’s 1889 “Self-Portrait” comes to the Norton Simon on loan from the National Gallery of Art. Painted less than one year before the artist’s death, the portrait was produced from the mental asylum Saint-Paul-de-Mausole in the south of France.
Whatever direction your art druthers take you, this fall you’re sure to find Pasadena’s museums a surprising and ideal destination…for an art lover’s education. 


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