Here's a model of Pasadena's Civic Auditorium. It's to scale, but it's not accurate; nobody gets to park on Green Street in front of the auditorium like that.
I want you to click on the photo so you can enlarge it and get a look at the art installations proposed for the plaza. On the left (east) is a piece by Hans Peter Kuhn called Lightfield. On the right (west) is a piece by Dennis Oppenheim called Thinking Caps. Pasadena citizens who care about the look of the city should do a couple of things very soon: read about the pieces here, do some web searching and see other photos and blog posts, and perhaps post opinions here.
And go to the Civic Center if this issue concerns you. This model stands inside the nice new headquarters wing just east of the auditorium. Anybody can walk in there and view it.
Then let the City Council know how you feel about these art works. Do it ASAP, my friends, because this Monday, January 26th, the Council is going to decide whether or not to spend many many millions installing these babies and they need to hear from you toot sweet.
I've received several emails from outraged citizens who want me to blog about these artworks. To tell the truth, I'm less concerned about the works than about their placement, not to mention the seriously bad timing of what looks like frivolous spending against the backdrop of national economic news. (Has anyone in charge here been reading the news? Anyone? Or are the numbers of beggars on the freeway off-ramps increasing because folks just like to beg?)
Some people don't want to have to look at pink and green hats when they step out onto the plaza in front of the Civic Center. I don't blame them. The hats are kind of ridiculous. But frankly I think the hats will hardly be noticeable in comparison with the visual slam that is the Paseo Colorado, with its featureless walls and neon signs blabbing about Tokyo Wako and Pacific Theatres.
Look, art is art. Some people will like it and some won't. That's practically how you define it. But Pasadena's Civic Center itself is a work of art. Or it was, before there was a shopping mall.
Not that we could choose to have it removed. I wasn't here but I'm sure the preservationists tried to prevent the building of it way back when. There was a time when citizens had an unobstructed view from the Civic Auditorium to the Central Library, with a wide avenue leading from one to the other. You can get an idea of it from the first page of this .pdf.
There's no bringing back the past. What do you think of the Civic Center's future?
Update: A link was posted today on Pasadena Insight: It takes you to the blog of the Pasadena Arts Council, where the public can vote “yes” or “no” on the proposed Convention Center public art. Who knew the Arts Council had a blog? Go vote!