A celebration of the life and work of Octavia E. Butler, the late Pasadena author who broadened the scope of science fiction, a dialogue between photographer Edward Weston and poet Walt Whitman, and an exploration of Pablo Picasso’s lithographs composed between 1945 and 1960 are but some of the exhibitions planned  at Pasadena-area museums this fall.    


Armory Center for the Arts and The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens are among the Los Angeles-area institutions participating in “Radio Imagination,” a yearlong commemoration of Butler’s influence on contemporary artists and writers organized by Clockshop, a nonprofit arts group. Butler, the first black woman to gain prominence as a science-fiction writer, died in 2006 at the age of 58.  


“Radio Imagination: The Exhibition” opens at the Armory Center on Oct. 1 and premieres work by Laylah Ali, Mendi + Keith Obadike and other artists whom Clockshop commissioned to create work based on materials from the Octavia E. Butler Archive at the Huntington Library. Coinciding with the opening, “Star Choir,” a choral performance by the musical duo Courtesy the Artists and local singers, will be presented on Oct. 1 at the Levitt Pavilion in Memorial Park. On Dec. 4, Ayana A. H. Jamieson, founder of the Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network, conducts bus tours of Pasadena locations central to Butler’s life and writing; tours begin and end at the Armory Center. 


The Huntington is also taking part in the celebration, staging “Xenogenesis Suite: A Musical Tribute to Octavia E. Butler” on Oct. 27, and “Radical Reproduction,” with philosopher Amy Kind and scholar Shelley S. Streeby discussing concepts of family and reproduction in Butler’s short story “Bloodchild” and other writings on Nov. 3. 


More information about the Octavia E. Butler celebration is available at clockshop.org. 


The Huntington debuts two other exhibitions on Oct. 22: “Geographies of Wonder Part 2” is the second of two exhibitions focusing on the role national parks have played in American history. “Real American Places” combines the work of Weston and Whitman. In 1941, the Limited Editions Book Club commissioned Weston to travel throughout the United States and shoot photographs for a deluxe edition of “Leaves of Grass,” Whitman’s iconic poetry collection. Weston later gave the Huntington the 90 photos he shot for the book. “Real American Places” features 25 of these photos along with two other items from the Huntington’s collection: the book resulting from Weston’s trip and original draft manuscripts from “Leaves of Grass” with Whitman’s annotations.


“States of Mind: Picasso Lithographs 1945-1960” opens at the Norton Simon Museum on Oct. 14. This exhibition traces the evolution of 86 prints from the museum’s holdings, showing the multiple versions, subtle adjustments and radical revisions Picasso employed to produce these individual compositions. Screenings of four French film noir films from the 1950s and 1960s accompany the exhibition: “Touchez Pas au Grisbi” on Nov. 4, “Rififi” on Nov. 11, “Elevator to the Gallows” on Nov. 18 and “Shoot the Piano Player” on Dec. 2. 


In addition, “Mid-Century Macabre” opens at the Norton Simon on Sept. 2 and examines how Edward Kienholz, Joseph Cornell, Clare Falkenstein and other 20th-century artists created works to exorcise their personal demons. 


The Pasadena Museum of California Art will open two exhibitions on Sept. 25. “In the Land of Sunshine” shows how Alson S. Clark, Phil Dike, Rick Griffin and other artists represented the physical and cultural aspects of the California coast from the early 20th century to the present. “A sky in the palm of a hand” pairs large-scale, industrial felt sculptures by Lloyd Hamrol with a video by Joan Perlman based on her interest in the landscape of Iceland and the Far North. These new works explore the two artists’ conceptions of impermanence and the difficulty of reconciling intimacy and distance.


Two exhibitions highlighting Pasadena-based ceramic making open on Sept. 21 at the Pasadena Museum of History. “Batchelder: Tilemaker” chronicles the life and work of noted artist Ernest Batchelder, who established his first tile factory in the backyard of his home on South Arroyo Boulevard. Historian Robert Winter, who lives in Batchelder’s house and wrote the definitive book about the tile maker, is curating the exhibit, which includes some tiles from Winter’s personal collection. “Cast & Fired: Pasadena’s Mid-Century Ceramics Industry” focuses on a less-examined aspect of the city’s history: the Pasadena-based facilities that produced vases, figurines, dishware and other ceramic items for household use from the 1930s through the 1960s.  


The Museum of Neon Art, which opened in Glendale earlier this year, permanently displays neon signs from businesses throughout the United States. A temporary exhibition, “Hats Off to Hollywood,” featuring the recently restored neon sign from the Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood and John Swope’s photos of Los Angeles neon from 1938, opened last month and remains on display through the end of the year.   


Kidspace Children’s Museum celebrates Halloween with its 22nd Annual Kidspace Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 15 and 16 and a Halloween Hunt on Oct. 29. The new Storyteller Studio, where kids can share their stories with others by acting, drawing, sculpting, or singing, will have its grand opening ceremony on Nov. 13. The Outer Space Odyssey on Nov. 20 is an exploration of space science, with a mini-rocket launching area, a pretend-play Martian Habitat and a portable planetarium. Kidspace also features its monthly Free Family Nights on Oct. 4, Nov. 1 and Dec. 6.   


Learning experiences for children 8 years old and younger will be available at the Southern California Children’s Museum, which has moved from its temporary location on South Lake Avenue to a permanent facility on Colorado Boulevard. Details about the official opening date can be found on the museum’s website.   


The USC Pacific Asia Museum remains temporarily closed this fall while the building undergoes a seismic retrofitting and 700 square feet is being added to the gallery space. The museum is expected to reopen in the spring. Until then it will host pop-up activities at other locations to be listed on its website.   

Armory Center 

for the Arts

145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena
(626) 792-5101  


The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

1151 Oxford Road, 

San Marino
(626) 405-2100 



Children’s Museum

480 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 449-9144 


Museum of Neon Art

216 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale
(818) 696-2149 


Norton Simon 


411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 449-6840 


Pasadena Museum of California Art
490 E. Union St., 

(626) 568-3665 


Pasadena Museum 

of History

470 W. Walnut St., 

(626) 577-1660 


Southern California Children’s Museum

459 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 657-0357 


USC Pacific Asia Museum

46 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena
(626) 449-2742