Urban art shows the colorful California life at PMCA

If you’re one of those people who hate the idea of spending time out in the dangerous outdoors, the Pasadena Museum of California Art has a set of small exhibits meant for you. California urban life is much different from the grays and blacks of New York City and Manhattan. These three shows remind us that our sunny city is a different type of urban landscape.

In the Project Room Gallery, 26 graphic designers were each given a specific letter of the alphabet and asked to re-imagine it. Curator Amos Klausner ended up with a colorful and lively collection for his “Getting Upper: Graphic Designers and Artists Reconsider the Alphabet.” The letters seemed confined while liberating and deconstructing our alphabet. Have 26 friends? Would that be a great game to try on your own.

We go from colleagues in the field of graphic design to family life upon entering the main gallery where the “Clayton Brothers: Inside Out”  features installations and paintings from Rob and Christian Clayton. If you like cartoons, California skateboard and surf culture with a dash of street art, this might delight you. For us, only the colors delight although that coin laundry brings back both good and bad memories of college barebones budget life.

Also in the main gallery is “Street Cred: Graffiti Art from Concrete to Canvas.” This exhibit features a broad range of Los Angeles graffiti styles and that includes art influenced by gang writings. If you live in one of those afflicted areas or have had to fill out a police report and re-paint surfaces after having your walls tagged, you might not be able to view this exhibit with an unprejudiced eye. Yet this exhibit reminds us that behind the frustration on both sides, behind the poverty there is talent waiting to be discovered. The street art influences the legit paintings of these artists (Michael Alvarez, ANGST, AXIS, Chaz Borjorquez, CODAK, CRAOLA, DASH 200, Ekundaya, EYEONE, HASTE, Paul SKEPT Kanemitsu, Alex Kizu, PUSH, RISK, and ZES). So many of the artists have simple one-word monikers as if they aspired to be as famous as Cher or Madonna and with all-caps, in this Internet-inundated world, they seem to want to yell to attention.

These three exhibits opened on 14 May 2011 and continue until 4 September 2011.

Special PMCA events:

26 June (Sunday) 3 p.m.: Family Day includes fun art projects and includes refreshments. RSVP to 626-568-3665 x17

15 June 2011 (Thursday) 7 p.m.: Lecture by Jim Prigoff, author of “Spraycan Art.” Slide lecture. RSVP to 626-568-3665 x17

4 August 2011 (Thursday) 7 p.m.: Lecture by Los Angeles graffiti historian and author of “Graffiti L.A.” and co-curator of “Street Cred,” Steve Grody. Slide lecture. RSVP to 626-568-3665 x17

21 August 2011 (Sunday) 2 p.m. Exhibit walkthrough.


Pasadena Museum of California Art
490 East Union Street
Pasadena, CA 91101

Wednesday – Sunday
12:00 – 5:00 p.m.
The Museum is closed July 4th, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year’s Day.


$7 for Adults
$5 for Seniors and Students
Free to Members
Free the first Friday of the month
*Special offer with the Pacific Asia Museum on Colorado and Los Robles: Attend both museums in the same day and receive 50% off admission at the second museum when you present proof of entrance.

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