Friday night started Pasadena’s Art Weekend with ArtNight, a night where the local museums are open to the public with free admission. There are free shuttles to take patrons to and from the participating museums. Food trucks and live performances would also be available to the ArtNight participants at specific locations. I read all about Art Weekend in the Pasadena Weekly and I was excited to check out some of the exhibits–specifically the Pages exhibit at the Art Center College of Design’s Williamson Gallery.
According to the ArtNight website, Pasadena City Hall would be the transportation hub where patrons could catch the free shuttles that would transport them to any gallery of their choosing. There would also be live entertainment and food at the City Hall hub. So I decided that I would begin my night there. I took the Metro Gold Line to the Memorial Park station, located near City Hall. Pasadena City Hall is a work of architectural art. It is a stunning sight to see, especially at night. Once I arrived, I was greeted by an ArtNight volunteer who gave me a map of the museums and shuttle routes. I was also given the official Art Night sticker, proof of my participation in the nightly event.
I looked at the ArtNight brochure and noticed that I needed the North shuttle to reach my destination, Art Center College of Design. So I sat on the steps of City Hall, enjoying the live music as I waited for my bus to arrive. Many shuttles showed up and many shuttles left. I saw the East shuttles, West shuttles and Central shuttles go past me, many times. I didn’t see a single North shuttle. I kept looking at the brochure but it was too dark to really see the map of the routes–I couldn’t make out one route from the other. I saw several others waiting around, waiting for the North shuttle as well. There were ArtNight volunteers roaming around but they didn’t seem to notice all the people standing around looking confused. No one seemed to understand which shuttle went where or how to locate the North shuttle. Finally, a woman (perhaps one of the event organizers) stepped forward to assist with the buses. Several people asked her when the North bus would arrive. Her reply. “The North bus doesn’t come here. It leaves from the Pasadena Museum of History. That is the only place where you can catch the North shuttle.” Seriously? I had wasted all this time waiting for a shuttle that was never going to arrive.
I quickly hopped on the first shuttle that would take me to the Pasadena Museum of History. I managed to catch the West bus, a bus that actually traveled very close to Art Center (when it stopped at KidSpace) but backtracked to the Museum of History. I end up chatting with a family that was just as frustrated as I was. But they had actually started the evening right at 6pm–I waited until 7pm). They managed to stop at the Pacific Asia Museum first. So we all arrived at the Museum of History and had to wait in line for the North shuttle. Thankfully this area was well-organized. They had signs for each bus so you knew where to wait to catch the appropriate bus (they should have done that at City Hall). After three shuttle loads, we were finally on the North shuttle headed up to the Art Center gallery. (This was not a short shuttle ride).
I was so excited when I finally arrived at the Art Center’s Williamson Gallery. I made my way past the student work and into the new Pages exhibit (this was the opening night for the exhibit). At first, I was in heaven with an exhibit focused on books. There were some beautiful photographs of books and a floor to ceiling sculpture of stacked books (I wasn’t allowed to take photos of the artwork).
As you made your way toward the center of the exhibit, you had the opportunity to view books and book pages on loan from the Huntington Library, USC Special Library, and Caltech. For me, this is where I started to feel like the Universe was playing a cruel joke on me. Many of the books on exhibit were books I had seen before, when I went to the Huntington Library. It was January of 2011 and I was at the Huntington Library on a date with Big. However it was the manuscript poem, entitled “Beer” by Charles Bukowski, on loan from the USC Special Library Collection that led to my “Mr. Big” freak out. When Big and I went to the Huntington, we were going for the Charles Bukowski exhibit. Big and I are both book lovers, the book exhibit was our agreed favorite part of the Huntington (I hadn’t yet explored the gardens when I went with him). Big and I met when we were at USC so the whole Charles Bukowski (and Beer, another story I won’t mention), Huntington and USC connection was more than I could handle. It was too weird of a coincidence–the Universe is trying to tell me something, in my opinion. Plus, as a lover of books, I don’t like to see books being destroyed, especially in the name of art. Cutting up books or whiting out the majority of the words just feels like a crime to me. So I was done.
I made my way back to the shuttles. One was leaving and the other still had space. I boarded the shuttle, watched as it filled up and watched as we all just sat there. The shuttle driver was on break. It was 9:25 pm when the shuttle driver finally decided to return and begin our journey back to the Museum of History. Once we arrived at the Museum, then we had to catch another shuttle back to downtown Pasadena, were the majority of the museums live. The event ended at 10 pm so there wasn’t any point in trying to make it to another museum when the shuttle I was on had just departed the Pasadena Museum of History at 9:40 pm.
I arrived back at Pasadena City Hall at 9:59 pm. I wasted the ArtNight experience on the Art Center–and shuttle experience. (And the whole Big connection didn’t help matters). Once again, the Pasadena “bus” service did not work in my favor. At least now I know that next year, I should arrive at 6 pm and stick to the Museums closest to downtown. Or as my California sister advised, “stick to the food trucks.”