Arts Crawl highlights culture in South Pasadena

By Ashton Carless
Staff Illustrator

Photos by Brandon Yung
Assoc. News Editor

From the arts and crafts to the food trucks, nothing screams South Pasadena louder than the Arts Crawl—a fixture of my childhood life. This year’s Arts Crawl featured halloween themed arts and crafts, a groundbreaking photography exhibit, high-quality food trucks, and a discussion by cartoonist Dan Piraro. I wandered around the town with fellow Tiger staffers Truman Lesak and Brandon Yung, meeting them near the South Pasadena Metro station, the focal point of the event.

Fine art, photography, handmade clothing, and food trucks lined the area all along the Metro station. So that’s where we picked up a map of the night’s event, and started our “crawling.”

Just a couple blocks from the Metro station, SPACE was hosting a kids mask making event at the town hall. Adults and children alike created monster masks from pieces of cardboard, paper, coffee filters, and crayons. Truman and I couldn’t help ourselves; we created masks amongst intimidated children before donating our creations to the stand to be displayed as examples.


Dinosaur Farm’s backroom then caught our attention. Kidd’s Jewelry Heist, located in the backroom, was hosting a paper skeleton making workshop. What really stood out to me, however, was the surrounding wild western decor. Featured in the popular child activities blog, Red Tricycle’s “most amazing birthdays in LA” list, this birthday party provider gives kids the three things every child really wants: bling, a creative outlet, and the wild west. After completing our simple spooky paper skeletons, we needed something a little more stimulating. We then made our way down to the SPACE store, or at least its remains, to see a socially communicative exhibit.

What was formerly the SPACE store (having recently left the storefront) hosted William Howard’s exhibit “Portraits from the U.S. – Mexico Border,” a powerful series of photographs focusing on the people who live on both sides of the Mexican-American border. Shot in 2006, these photographs have become extremely pertinent with Donald Trump’s rise and increasing anti-immigrant dialogue entering American dinner-table conversations this past year. The exhibition broke down the walls which seem to separate two groups. The colorful, large prints gave a very intimate look into the tangled mess of a social issue.

The library, with help from the Friends of the South Pasadena Library, put on an event featuring David Margolis and Dan Piraro. David Margolis, who works at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music, started off by playing “the best songs of the past 300 years.” His stoic classical guitar filled the community room for twenty or so minutes. The three movements he played ranged from minimalistic and refined, to wildly complex. Following his beautiful guitar playing was the famed cartoonist Dan Piraro, creator of the comic strip Bizarro. Dan is a local, hailing from Pasadena, and has been coming to South Pasadena for years. The Friends of the South Pasadena Library, in partnership with Vroman’s book store, invited Mr. Piraro to talk about his recently released adult coloring book.   


Having published a daily cartoon for the past 31 years, Piraro is a veteran of the cartoon world. Throughout the presentation he shared pages from his new coloring book. He described his illustration process, highlighted his favorite parts, and showed that coloring books can be for adults. He was oozing with enthusiasm the entire time, which initially surprised me, considering that he was presenting to a room with an average age of 65. Yet, as the evening went on, I realized that he could have been presenting to an empty room and still would have been just as enthusiastic. It really was inspiring listening to him speak, not only because I am also an aspiring artist, but because he is able to do what he loves for a living.

It is a night when the families of South Pasadena are able to come together as a community, when involved families participate and contribute to gallery spaces and children’s workshops. It seems that each Arts Crawl gets better year after year. The exhibits were great, the food was top notch, and my hero Dan Piraro was there. More than just quality public schools, nice housing, and geographical placement, the Arts Crawl shows why South Pasadena is a great town: its community.

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