By May S. Ruiz
There is no shortage of artistic talent among Pasadena students as the upcoming 12th annual ‘No Boundaries’ will once again prove.
Scheduled to open on Friday, March 10, which coincides with ArtNight Pasadena, and running through March 19, at The Shops on Lake Avenue, this art exhibition provides a platform for young artists in the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) to showcase their two- and three-dimensional art. Presented free to the public, gallery hours are Monday to Friday, from 3 to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.
The exhibition is also a host site during ArtNight Pasadena on Friday, March 10. ‘No Boundaries 12’ is housed in a commercial space on 345 S. Lake Avenue lent for the occasion by Merlone Geier Partners as a giveback to the community. It will be a shuttle stop during the citywide free evening of art, music, and entertainment when Pasadena’s most prominent arts and cultural institutions open their doors.
ArtNight Pasadena, sponsored by the City of Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission and the Division of Cultural Affairs, is an ongoing partnership between the city and local cultural institutions. Twice each year, many of the city’s non-profit arts and cultural establishments open on a Friday night to provide a variety of art, culture, and music to the public free of charge.
According to Jennifer Olson, District Arts Education Coordinator for PUSD, the first ‘No Boundaries’ was started by a former Pasadena high school teacher, Alex Schultz, and the former PUSD District Arts Coordinator, Marshall Ayers. It has always been a group effort involving Arts teachers, community arts partners, parents, and volunteers.
Olson related, “The first year it was just middle and high school student work and it was all put up in one night in the wind tunnel at Art Center. The next year the District Arts Office decided to include every school, and the structure was set that informs how we still do it today. There is an arts representative designated at each school who selects between 12 and 32 artwork per school, depending on the size of the school and whether it is an elementary, middle or high school.”
All 26 PUSD schools submit their highest quality work which are organized visually (2D, 3D, video), rather than thematically. The exhibit is a monumental undertaking given the number of students and schools involved.
“It is a gargantuan effort!,” Olson agreed wholeheartedly. “We started accepting delivery of artwork February 2, and the exhibition doesn’t open until March 10. So there are several weeks of registrar work – entering all the student information and statements – mounting all the artworks, and then of course building out the space, curating the art pieces, hanging the show, marketing, and event planning.”
Continued Olson, “For many years we have had a district arts team/community arts team, and this is a major endeavour undertaken by that group. We also work with the Pasadena Educational Foundation to help us find volunteers to help with all aspects.”
“‘No Boundaries’ is a true community effort,” proclaimed Olson. “We work side-by-side with our community arts partners, teachers, and parents to make this exhibition happen. By that I mean if you walk in on any given day during installation, these folks are the people painting the pedestals, nailing up the student statements, and installing the promotional posters.”
Rochelle Branch, manager of the Cultural Affairs Division of the Pasadena Planning and Development, created ‘Bridging Boundaries’ in 2007 as an offshoot of ‘No Boundaries’ to expand access and highlight the collaboration between the City of Pasadena, and PUSD’s Arts Education. She said, “‘Bridging Boundaries’ references the connection between the city and PUSD, but also the geographic location of what we call the Student Art Wall which is near City Hall bridge.”
“Arts Commissioners and a member of the community attend the installation of the PUSD’s ‘No Boundaries’ exhibition and select artworks based on high artistic quality and merit,” Branch explained. “They provide a small tag that says ‘Arts & Culture Commission selection awardee for Bridging Boundaries Exhibition’. Everyone who goes to ‘No Boundaries’ will see the selected art.”
“When ‘No Boundaries’ ends on March 19, the selected pieces are taken to a professional framer and mounted in two installments at ‘Bridging Boundaries’ exhibition hall outside City Hall Council Chambers,” added Branch. “The city contracts with Pasadena-based artist, Denise Seider, to curate ‘No Boundaries’ and ‘Bridging Boundaries’. For about five months, each student group will have its artwork up for public viewing.”
“Students get back their artwork professionally framed and get city-wide acknowledgement of the quality of their piece. They get to come with their families and friends and see their creation outside of City Hall,” Branch concluded.
Olson shares that sentiment when she declared, “The greatest joy of this project is seeing students come in with their family members, bursting with pride when they find their artwork and they see that it is professionally displayed like a ‘real artist’”.
This joint collaboration – among the City, PUSD, and Pasadena’s arts and cultural organizations – celebrates, showcases, and shares students’ artistic talents with the entire community. But more than public recognition, these young talented students’ self-satisfaction in their accomplishments may be the greatest reward of all.