Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

History Lession #344 – Norton Simon Museum

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Andy Warhol, Billy Al Bengston and Dennis Hopper at the opening of Marcel Duchamp's 1963 retrospective at the Pasadena Art Museum. Photo: Julian Wasser

I came across this great photograph in a recent book review from the Wall Street Journal “When the West Coast Went Pop.”  It reminded me of the wonderfully rich and varied history behind the Norton Simon Museum, which perhaps, few people know.   In reviewing two separate books addressing the West Coast and Pop Art, the opening lines from the WSJ posit:

Where else would Andy Warhol have actually met his conceptual godfather,  Marcel Duchamp, in the flesh but in Los Angeles in the 1960s? The  occasion was the opening of Duchamp’s first American retrospective, in  1963, at the old Pasadena Art Museum.

The Norton Simon Museum has a long illustrious history dating back to the founding of the Pasadena Art Institute in 1924.  It became the Pasadena Art Museum in 1954, and concentrated its efforts on the acquisition and exhibition of modern art.  From the Norton Simon Museum’s website:

In 1964, the Museum decided to expand its programs. It commissioned the  Pasadena-based architectural firm of Ladd Kelsey to design a new  85,000-square-foot structure on the original Carmelita Park site.  On November 24, 1969, the new Pasadena Art Museum opened.  Purchases and donations of modern art included works by Larry Bell, Richard   Diebenkorn, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Ed Ruscha, Frank Stella and Andy Warhol.

Gallery of Andy Warhol exhibition, 1970, Pasadena Art Museum.

Over the next two decades the   Pasadena Art Museum earned an international reputation for organizing  and presenting critically acclaimed exhibitions of 20th century art.   They presented the first retrospective of the work of Marcel Duchamp  (with Duchamp attending), exhibitions of Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg,   Joseph Cornell, a landmark Bauhaus exhibition, and many others.

Read the entire history and how in 1975 the name of the institution changed to the Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena at

Don’t miss  Vermeer’s “Woman with a Lute” on Loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art at the Norton Simon Museum through September 26, 2011.

Pasadena Digital History Collaboration!

Monday, November 15th, 2010

We are long familiar with the wonderful archive maintained by the Pasadena Museum of History and have even used historic photographs from their research library on the elevator doors in the three Park & Walk garages, as well as on a photo-mural in the Schoolhouse garage entrance.   These photographs tell the rich story of Pasadena’s early years and so we are very pleased to announce the launch of the Pasadena Digital History Collaboration!  Now you can browse through hundreds of digital images of Pasadena people and places – for free online. Check it out at or on Facebook under Pasadena Digital History.

Original Pasadena Schoolhouse - Park & Walk Garage mural


The Undead visit Old Pasadena

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Night of the Living Dead poster

This weekend marks the final weekend of free screenings for the third annual Old Pasadena Film Festival, but we aren’t going out with a bang… more like a shuffle and moan.  Saturday night, July 31st, we are inviting all zombies and their respective families to Central Park (click here for map) for an outdoor screening of the quintessential “zombie movie” George Romero’s 1968 Night of the Living Dead.  A $100 gift certificate for spending anywhere in Old Pasadena will be awarded to the most creative zombie attire!

Night of the Living Dead (1968)
(Central Park, 120 S. Raymond Avenue) 8:30pm
Bring your own chairs and blankets.
The first of six “Dead” films directed by George Romero, this 1968 black-and-white zombie movie is considered groundbreaking. It tells the story of Ben and Barbara’s efforts, along with five other people, to survive the night trapped in a rural Pennsylvania farmhouse avoiding the mysterious reanimation of the recently dead. Arguably the classic horror film, Night of the Living Dead is on American Film Institute’s list of 100 Most Thrilling Movies.

I was curious about the popularity of zombies in light of the recent record-breaking annual Zombie Walk in Seattle (final count of the undead was 4,233), the great enthusiasm with which the announcement of our movie screening was received, and the fact that there are 11 million results on Google for “Night of the Living Dead”  and 43 million for “zombie”.  Even communications students in the Elon in Los Angeles program will be attending the Old Pasadena Film Festival on Saturday with a choice of viewing NOLD (that’s Night of the Living Dead for the un-initiated) or All About Eve at One Colorado Courtyard (click here for map), arguably another must-see classic.

I checked the Google Trends for “zombie” and was intrigued to find that the Philippines beat the United States in search volume.  More importantly, even with all of the Twilight hype, I compared trends and people search on “zombie” one third more than “vampire”!  So now you know.

The Zombie Research Society informs us that May is official Zombie Awareness Month, and that many zombie films are set in May, including Night of the Living Dead.  As a point of reference, the Society’s mission is three-fold:  Science; Survival (and I quote, “surviving the coming zombie pandemic“); and Art.  I will end this post with their catchy slogan: “What You Don’t Know Can Eat You!”

Google image results for NOLD

Google image results for Zombie

What a nice ending to Historic Preservation Month!

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

In a letter from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, we learned that our plea for votes may not have gone unheard… well, maybe our plea and a few others. The National Trust for Historic Preservation won $200,000 in the Members Project from American Express and TakePart! And it gets even better… Because the intense competition in the Arts & Culture category ended in a tie between the two organizations, the generous people at American Express have awarded $200,000 to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, too.


Tabebuia: Our glorious Trumpet Trees are in bloom

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010
Vertical Wine Bistro

Vertical Wine Bistro on Raymond Avenue

Old Pasadena is home to two varieties of the Tabebuia, or Trumpet Tree as it is more commonly known.  There are approximately 100 different species of the Tabebuia, mostly from South America and other tropical locales.  Tabebuia chrysotricha , one of the many species with yellow blooms, is the national flower of Brazil, and Tabebuia rosea, with a pink bloom, is the national tree of El Salvador.  The wood from the Tabebuia tree, known as Ipê, is in high demand for furniture, particularly in the United States, and conservationists have expressed concern that Ipê wood from the Amazon rainforest continues to be harvested illegally.


Once the Parade Is Over, the Real Work Begins

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010



On Friday, January 1, 2010 at 8:00am, millions of spectators around the world celebrated the New Year with the 121st Rose Parade, themed 2010: A Cut above the Rest. With nearly a half mile of the 5.5-mile parade route and the greatest concentration of spectators along the route running through the heart of Old Pasadena, the volume of trash left behind is enormous. Yet before noon on New Year’s Day, less than two hours after the last float passed through Old Pasadena, the District was completely clean. With a team of less than 20 people, Anna Addis, VP of Operations for Old Pasadena Management District (OPMD) had the streets and sidewalks spic and span. By noon, merchants were able to open for business without their patrons having to step over trash and debris.


A few odds and ends for a Friday afternoon

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Tiffany's Holiday

Interesting Headline

Jennifer Jones Simon

From the Pasadena Star-News: Jennifer Jones Simon, Academy Award-winning actress who transformed the Norton Simon Museum, dies.

Until my boss Steve Mulheim pointed this out, I was unaware (as some of you may be) that Jennifer Jones was married to Norton Simon.  She is credited with bringing Frank Gehry on for the completion of the $3 million renovation of the Norton Simon Museum and with instituting a lending program to local arts institutions, including the Armory Center.  You can read her entire obituary here.

The Shops on Holly

Shops on HollyOld Pasadena’s Holly Street, known for its unique independent boutiques and restaurants has been officially donned “The Shops on Holly.”  Signage has been installed on the brick building above where the delightful Lula Mae store is located.  I am told by property owner Jim Plotkin that soon to follow is a retro-styled clock installed at the corner of Holly Street and Fair Oaks Avenue.  We will follow up with a picture and more details when it is installed sometime within the next few weeks. To quote Pasadena Now: The street is perfect for shoppers seeking something different, a great foil to the chain stores on Colorado Blvd.


25 Random Things about Old Pasadena

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Indiana Colony 1874 - Stereoscopic picture

Indiana Colony 1874 - Stereoscopic picture

1.     Present day Pasadena was settled by a group of Indianans seeking fairer weather following the exceptionally cold winter of 1872-73. The Indiana Colony was incorporated on January 31, 1874, and was later renamed Pasadena because the name “Indiana Colony” was rejected by the Postmaster General.

2.     The official paint color for all street furniture in Old Pasadena is “Tavern Square Green“, as stipulated in the Streetscapes and Alley Walkways Plan.

Original Schoolhouse

Original Schoolhouse

3.     The Schoolhouse parking garage is named for the Fair Oaks schoolhouse, which was relocated shortly after the turn of the century when it became exposed to the bustling activity of the developing center of town and potential danger to the children.

4.     The Old Pasadena Property-based Business Improvement District (PBID) was renewed by petition vote in 2005 for another five year term, by an overwhelming 94% approval by the property owners.  The Continuation Campaign is getting underway for the 2010 renewal.


Unique Experiences at the Old Pasadena Film Festival

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Old Pasadena Film Festival 2009

This year’s edition of the Old Pasadena Film Festival included a very special occasion.  We were offered the opportunity to present a recently restored version of the Mary Pickford silent film Daddy Long-Legs (1919), her 226th film appearance at the age of 27, with a newly commissioned score composed by Maria Newman.  This particular film coined Mary Pickford as “America’s Sweetheart” and one of the most beloved actresses in history.

Daddy Long Legs

The composer Maria Newman was born into one of the most famous and influential musical families in Hollywood. The youngest daughter of the nine-time Academy Award-winning composer/conductor, Alfred Newman (The King and I), she grew up in a family of renowned musicians and composers, including Randy Newman (Toy Story).  Ms. Newman has received numerous commissions from the Mary Pickford Foundation to compose original music for newly restored vintage classic films of the silent era.

Maria NewmanSo it was that on a balmy Saturday evening in Old Pasadena, members of the Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra performed the exhilarating musical score to the silent film under the direction of Maria Newman.  On July 11th, the film was screened for  a capacity crowd in the Courtyard at One Colorado and the musicians received a warm standing ovation at the end of their performance.

We have received wonderfully enthusiastic praise for this event and heard from many people who treasured this magical evening. Don’t miss the last weekend of the 2009 Old Pasadena Film Festival featuring An American in Paris and Gypsy on Friday, July 24th, West Side Story and Twilight on Saturday, July 25th.

Old Pasadena Restaurant Week Extended

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Restaurant Week photos

Due to the success of this first time event, Old Pasadena Restaurant Week has been extended another week until Monday, June 15th.  Don’t miss this chance to try a favorite locale or experience something new.  Either way, our restauranteurs have put together some very enticing prix fixe menu selections for you to choose.  Just check our online directory of participating restaurants and menus.  Best of all, 10% of event proceeds will go to Union Station Homeless Services.