November 9, 2002 - Pasadena Museum of California Art - Pasadena, CA

After 10 months of dry, the rains finally came to Southern California this week. It began on Friday afternoon, and kind of just kept going. It rained most of Saturday too. Rain makes Southern Californians a bit weird. The streets became slick with oil and wet, last year's umbrellas are lost or broken, and who owns a raincoat in Southern California? I don't. And my umbrella was broken. And we were feeling a bit weird.

But that didn't prevent us from venturing out into the weirdness and exploring the new Pasadena Museum of California Art [PMCA]. It turned out to be a good choice. PMCA is a small, intimate space that was very enjoyable on this wet afternoon.

 

Opened in June 2002, and housed in a beautiful new building designed by the firm MDA Johnson Favaro / Architecture and Urban Design, PMCA is nestled in a section of town surrounded by shopping, residential, and churches not far from Old Town Pasadena.

From the street level, the structure looked very intriguing, but with its' solid light beige exteriors, we had flashbacks to the Museum of Television and Radio and were thinking it might share the same cold, stark, antiseptic feeling.

Parking was a breeze - from one-way E. Union Street, take a left into the small, lower lever parking garage and there you are. Parking is free, and has space for about 30 cars.

It's a bit unclear where the museum entrance is -- a nice sign or two directing visitors to the right place would be wonderful. In the building lobby the staircase leading to the upper floors was closed off, so the elevator seemed the obvious choice. Second floor? Third floor?

We chose correctly -- the museum entrance is on the second floor - but again, a couple of strategically placed signs along the way would greatly improve the flow and experience from parking lot to museum.

The museum foyer is a neat surprise.

With smooth curved walls painted in a solid beige, and light stone tile on the floor, it should have seemed unwelcoming, noisy and scary. Instead, it felt very calming, soothing and cozy. A bundle of 50 inflatable balloon-like objects hung in the middle of the ceiling like a bunch of clear plastic punching bags.

Peculiar, but very dramatic and striking.

We were the only ones in the small foyer, and the staff member behind the desk, immediately greeted us with a smile. We bought our tickets...

Adults - $6.00
Children [under 12] Free
Parking - Free

Total $12.00

...and we each received a PMCA sticker to wear.

 

This large opening in the foyer looks right out onto E. Union Street.

And without any means to shut it, [no glass or closure] it lets the sun and the rain right in. This same window can be seen in the exterior shot of the musum. Just above the parking garage entrance.

 

The current exhibit is:

CAPTURING LIGHT
Masterpieces of California Photography;
1850-2000

and it runs:
September 21, 2002 - January 5, 2003

The staff was quite nice, but gave a stern 'No' when I asked them about taking pictures. And the number of security cameras throughout drove the point home. I didn't even try to sneak one. Understandable, but funny that an exhibit about photography doesn't allow photography. I mean, isn't it just a little funny?

 

 

One glimpse of the gallery through these doors, but this is is far as we go with the camera.

 

 

 

 

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