• Pasadena Museum of California Art (covered in vinyl) circa 2007 (Photo- Kevin Stanchfield, flickr).

      Pasadena Museum of California Art (covered in vinyl) circa 2007 (Photo- Kevin Stanchfield, flickr).

      Chances are by the time you read this article, Pasadena Museum of California Arts (PMCA) has closed its doors for good (last day is scheduled for Sunday, October 7th, 2018).

      By Toti O’Brien

      I will miss the excellent quality of the exhibits the Museum has consistently produced and the clear, informative documentation provided. I will miss the festive quality of the opening nights, all the way from the desk set almost on the street—at the entrance of the ‘Kosmic Krylon’ garage, animated by Kenny Scharf’s whimsical murals—up the stairs where groups of visitors pause to greet, chat and comment, to the gorgeous terrace hosting music or poetry, not to speak of the magnificent view. Openings feel like parties at PMCA—more than usual—maybe due to the beautiful and bizarre architecture, to the infectiously welcoming attitude of staff and organizers, or both. I will miss the programs accompanying the exhibits, always articulate and thoughtful, giving further insight into the artists’ process, inspiration and context.

      A unique color is lost while many don’t know it existed

      On the corner of Oakland and Union, the Pasadena Museum of Californian Arts has the distinctive mission of exhibiting Californian art and design, highlighting its breadth and diversity. Since its inception, PMCA has fulfilled its scope, bringing to the pallet of local art institutions its unique color, adding a sui generis contribution, indisputably enhancing the whole.

      Why would concentrating on the art and artists of the place we live in be important? Let’s take a small detour before answering. Here is another question. Who can possibly be on the side not regretting the PMCA closing? All those who have no idea of what the acronym stands for, though they live next door. I have verified they are, alas, a majority—certainly not by their fault—on two occasions. First, through the micro social online neighborhood networks where the news has spread, causing great amounts of astonished responses. “What is this, and where?” “Sorry, I never heard about it”. Also, as a docent on the Pasadena ArtNight buses, I have witnessed how many residents didn’t know the Museum even existed.

      In spite of dedicated efforts on behalf of the institutions themselves, the press, and the education system, art hasn’t lost her Cinderella status within society, even in the circumscribed universe of a single town. Which explains both why PMCA (a nonprofit mostly based on donors’ generosity) might have met unsurpassable odds hindering its chance to survive, and—circling back to the very worth of its mission—why it is priceless to devote punctual effort to what flourishes on site, right under our eyes, but goes often unseen.

      Pasadena Museum of California Art in Pasadena (Photo - ColoradoBlvd.net).

      Pasadena Museum of California Art in Pasadena (Photo – ColoradoBlvd.net).

      Outstanding competence

      Behind the quality of service PMCA has given the community for sixteen years, there is obviously a number of individuals endowed with outstanding competence, animated by great passion, guided by a clear, lucid vision. I had the occasion to meet some of the donors, and to hear what a pleasure it was for them to sustain this specific institution, due to the genuine involvement of all board members and staff. Competence, passion, and vision don’t die when an organization bumps against a roadblock. There are reasons to believe they will bloom again, soon, in more favorable circumstances.

      Should we intend that PMCA is taking a hiatus, perhaps, of indefinite length? I would like to think in such terms. Museum exhibits and programs are planned with years of advance, as they require more preparation than we can imagine. The brisk closure of a cultural institution leaves a great deal of ‘pending’ works-in-progress. Hopefully, these unfinished projects (meaning those who invested creativity and effort in them) will strive to find other outlets. Doubtless, they will resurrect the Museum in one form or another. They will generate its next incarnation, because passion and vision don’t die.

      > Closing weekend activities:

      Saturday, October 6, 2018: 2:00 pm
      Join Bridget R. Cooks, Ph.D., curator of Grafton Tyler Brown: Exploring California as she leads a discussion with art historian Lizzetta LeFalle-Collins, Ph.D., on the life and work of this groundbreaking artist.

      Sunday, October 7, 2018: 12:30pm – 2:00 pm: Saying goodbye.
      – 12:30 pm: Education & Engagement Coordinator, Leah Clancy, leads a complimentary guided tourof “Judy Chicago’s Birth Project: Born Again.”
      – 2:00 pm: Brody Albert leads atourthrough his exhibition, “Brody Albert: Strata” to provide insight into his practice.

      Toti O’Brien, a Pasadena resident, is a self-employed artist, performing musician and professional dancer.

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      1. Read Goodbye PMCA by Toti O’Brien (ColoradoBoulevard.net)

        Chances are by the time you read this article, Pasadena Museum of California Arts (PMCA) has closed its doors for good (last day is scheduled for Sunday, October 7th, 2018)

        Syndicated copies to:

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      2. Alex Nodopaka says:

        I noticed in 1959, 3 generations ago, upon immigrating to the USA about the paucity of education in the humanities. 60 years later our citizens are even more ignorant than they were then in social sciences. The result is that if parents are not into culture, and they REALLY are not, so are their children. How could they be if schooling doesn’t offer it. Art in the USA is about big money business tax write offs NOT about culture. Culture takes philosophical background and academia, not off-the-cuff artsy-fartsy. I hardly saw any academic philosophical art statements by artists except by art critics for whom it is an exercise in personal status except for the .001 % educated in the subject. Art in America is basically artists doing art solely for artists. So sad to see PMCA disappear!

        • Terri says:

          So sad. When I was in elementary school, (Los Angeles Unified Schools), I remember taking field trips to hear the symphony orchestra and to see the Magic Flute. I attended Gravois Avenue School located below Cal State L.A..The school is no longer there and I believe the college has become a university and changed its name. Maybe it was a poor school and they just wanted the students to experience culture—I don’t know. But I am grateful whatever the reason. Kids are missing out!

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