Los Angeles’ reputation as a cultural backwater is as passé as Hollywood gossip columnists with the clout to scare the studios. To number MoCA, LACMA, the Getty, the Huntington and L.A. Opera among the world’s top arts institutions is to merely state the obvious. But it’s only in recent years that the city and its satellites — not least among them, Pasadena — have taken that flowering to the next level, where arts organizations talk to each other and share pieces of a larger cultural pie. I’m talking about arts festivals, with multiple venues coordinating shows and events around a single theme, illuminating it with a multi-faceted brilliance unachievable by any single organization.
This month, Pasadena offers the biggest banquet yet of festival offerings — from the Getty Foundation’s SoCal-wide “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945 –1980” to the Pasadena Arts Council’s AxS Festival, bringing together 16 venues to host exhibitions, performances and events exploring the nexus where the arts and sciences intersect, in honor of the city’s institutional leadership in both realms. In this issue of Arroyo, Noela Hueso talks to organizers to peel back the onion of Pasadena’s unusual festival juxtaposing disciplines usually regarded as mutually exclusive. Bettijane Levine takes a closer look at one offering, Picturing the Bomb at Pasadena City College, an exhibition of archival photographs of the Manhattan Project, co-curated by assistant professor of photography Rachel Fermi, granddaughter of atomic-bomb physicist Enrico Fermi.
Nancy Spiller explores one of “Pacific Standard Time’s” important shows, Proof: The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California at the Norton Simon. And Kirk Silsbee looks at artist Wallace Berman’s outsize influence on L.A.’s creative community in honor of the Armory Center for the Arts’ exhibition, Speaking in Tongues: Wallace Berman and Robert Heinecken, 1961–1976.
All that is in addition to Pasadena’s annual October cultural events, falling on the weekend of Oct. 14 through 16 — ArtNight and Pasadena Heritage’s Craftsman Weekend, which celebrates its 20th anniversary. So take a look around. You’re bound to find something intriguing this month.