Crawl’s Well That Ends Well!

Residents walk along South Pasadena’s business district this past Saturday for the annual Summer Arts Crawl. Photo by Henk Friezer

The Summer Arts Crawl once again turned South Pasadena’s business district into a happening, after-dark bright spot.

The Saturday, July 20 event — sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and produced by the South Pasadena Arts Center (SPACE) — encourages residents to get together to celebrate an evening of creativity and community, with businesses staying open late to host open houses and live musical entertainment, in addition to offering sales, fun activities and exhibits.

Oculus Optometry was among the businesses that kept its doors open late, giving people the opportunity to try on eyeglass frames while enjoying complimentary wine provided in the store. Out in front, poet Leah Clancy typed up haikus for passersby on her restored vintage typewriter.

“This is our first year participating in the Arts Crawl,” said Carina Pambakian, who works at Oculus Optometry. “We wanted to engage more with the community, share information with them about our five-year anniversary celebration coming up next month and let them all know what we have to offer. The most memorable experience about today has been getting the chance to know everybody — we’re very lucky to be here in South Pasadena.’’

At the popular Artisans’ Alley located next to the Gold Line station, Arts Crawl attendees had the opportunity to browse and shop a variety of arts, crafts and gifts. ArtGirls Collective, Melissa Finstead Jewelry, SOPA Artists and Stitching Fables were among the artists that had their work on display for purchase.

Artist Ronny Johnson was asked to create a South Pasadena-themed chalk mural for the Crawl. Over the past decade, he has participated in the Pasadena Chalk Festival, where he has won categories such as Most Original and Best Use of Color for his work. He posted up at the corner of Mission Street and Fairview Avenue, where he created a larger-than-life piece depicting a colorful parrot — an homage to the famous parrots of South Pasadena.

“Parrots are historically significant to South Pasadena, I see them fly by all the time,” said Johnson. “I’ve made it so that people feel like he’s stopping to look at them and say ‘hello.’

“I’m also in the process of adding the city’s logo to the top right corner. I’ve been working on this since about 3:30 p.m. This is probably the fastest I have ever worked on an art piece.

“Everyone at the Arts Crawl has been very friendly, and I’m looking forward to walking around and exploring more later.”

Arts Crawl attendees of all ages enjoyed an array of fun activities, including a wind chime workshop hosted by artist Maddie Saunders, a screening of Hocus Pocus at SugarMynt, as well as the chance to create black-and-white physical prints from digital photos at Two Kids Coffee. For those who worked up an appetite during the day, food trucks Sticky Rice LA and Sus Arepas served up treats, while ARO Latin created a signature Arts Crawl cocktail and Radhika offered a food and drink discount during the event.

Down at the South Pasadena Arts Council (SPARC) Gallery in South Pasadena City Hall, visitors were entertained by a string trio in the courtyard while purchasing SPARC T-shirts, bags and mugs — with proceeds going to the organization’s art programs and education.

At South Pasadena City Hall, SPARC displayed work by two artists: a photography series by Kathleen Laraia McLaughlin, as well as the exhibit “Tinkering” by Valerie Wilcox.

At the other SPARC gallery located in the Chamber of Commerce, Shelley Stephens curated a group show, “Textiles Today: Exploring New Possibilities,” featuring local artists Victoria Arriola, Melanie Ciccone, Val Echavarria, Lillian Montalvo, and Cynthia Thiel. 

“We’ve already sold several artist’s paintings in both galleries tonight,” said Lissa Reynolds, Founding Director of SPARC.

“We’re so grateful to the Chamber of Commerce for embracing the arts and the city. We’ve been involved in the Arts Crawl ever since it started — we’re all about celebrating the artists in this amazingly creative community that we live in.”