Ray Bradbury’s longtime affinity for South Pasadena was recently acknowledged with the installation of a series of fused glass windows on the western side of the South Pasadena Public Library.
Located, appropriately, in the Ray Bradbury Conference Room, the three windows are illuminated from the inside and provide a narrative of the prolific, beloved author’s life and work.
“Ray Bradbury loved libraries and even provided a quote for one of our local fundraising campaigns,” said Steve Fjeldsted, former director of the local library. “South Pasadena reminded him of his hometown of Waukegan, Illinois, and he taught himself to read in their local library. It is really fitting that a community which he loved would have a library that he loved and now depicts some of the most famous images from his literary works.”
The installation coincided with the centennial of Bradbury’s birth. The writer, who lived from 1920-2012, not only created more than 50 books, hundreds of short stories, essays, plays and poems but was also a mentor to young writers and creators.
His list of notable works in the categories of fantasy, science fiction, horror fiction and magic realism include “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Martian Chronicles,” “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and “The Illustrated Man.” Bradbury, who began writing at age 11, also penned television scripts and screenplays and, on April 1, 2002, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Bradbury was a lifelong user of libraries as well as an outspoken and articulate public library advocate. He lived in Southern California for more than 75 years and, in his later years, many of his plays were performed at South Pasadena’s Fremont Center Theatre. Given Bradbury’s significant contributions to public libraries and the South Pasadena community, in 2013 the local library’s conference room was renamed for him. The library’s archives include a significant collection of Bradbury’s books, articles and memorabilia. In 2016, he was inducted into the California Library Hall of Fame.
The windows were designed by local artist Tim Carey and created at the Judson Studios’ South Pasadena location. The idea for an art installation at the library was Carey’s, and he first started working on its development in 2018 with Fjeldsted. Carey got the idea from spending time in the park around the iconic Moreton Bay Fig tree with his family and realized how perfect the location would be for glass art.
“Glass is the ultimate painting medium for installations both inside and out,” said Carey. “Because of its ability to transmit and reflect light and transparency, a glass piece is always alive. It is changing with the daylight and engages the environment. Glass can be brought to life at night to invite people to a space.”
The idea for the tribute came from Fjeldsted, who had a long friendship with the famed author.
“When I came to the South Pasadena Public Library, one of the very first things I ever did was write him and asked him to come over,” said Fjeldsted. “We named the conference room after him and there was nothing about it that screamed ‘Ray Bradbury.’ I thought, ‘We have one of the greatest stained glass studios in the world right here in South Pasadena,’ and I felt we could create a more fitting tribute. I think we did.”
Bradbury spoke at the library twice during his lifetime.
“The first time, Ray came and gave a very moving, engaging talk about how he loved libraries, how he got started as a writer and what it’s like to be a writer every day.”
Fused glass is a relatively new technology that allows glass of different styles and colors to be melted together in a kiln to form a single image.
The project was approved in June 2019 by the city’s newly formed Public Art Commission, and funding came from private donors and designations from discretionary funds by Mayor Diana Mahmud and former Councilman Richard Schneider.