The elephant in the room: Scrapbookers descend on Altadena

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30900-RBLOG-SCRAPBOOK.JPGAhhhh, scrapbookers.

We love niche interest groups, and the scrapbooking community is one of the best. Their dedication to crafting perfectly themed pastiches of photos, patterns, paint and glitter makes the rest of feel shameful for still having decades-old photos stuffed into a shoebox in the closet.

And when they go the extra mile (or two or three or four) … well, just look at Karen Myers’ latest customer in her shop on Lake Avenue in Altadena.

The Star-News reports the life-size replica of a pachyderm is on loan to Karen’s Hallmark Shop from St. Elizabeth School in Altadena to promote Shop Hop, a 37-store promo for scrapbooking fans around SoCal.

The theme of this year’s hop is “Safari,” hence the elephant. (Scrapbookers sure love their themes, huh?)

The So Cal Shop Hop runs through Aug. 23. And if you visit at least 18 of the 37 participating retailers, you can enter a contest for prizes.

That’s a lot of extra miles, but who are we to stand in the way of a herd of scrapbookers?

(Photo by Walt Mancini)

Shop the block: Runway fashions, piercings and unmentionables on E. Green

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  • 1035 E. Green, Boutique Divas

Signature pieces fill the racks at this shop that envisions itself on a Parisian sidewalk. Owner and designer Deborah Myles-Green, at top right, crams everything avant garde into her store without reservation. She says her eye for fashion starts with the runways and extends to vintage cuts. (626) 793-3222

  • 1039 E. Green, Anomaly Studios

This piercing parlor gets rave reviews from customers, and is one of the area’s safest — and friendliest — places to get jabbed with metal (really). The pros at Anomaly handle first-time ear piercings for the young’uns, as well as more complex body piercings and modifications for the older, more adventurous set. Upstairs is an airy, lofted hair salon. (626) 793-8930

  • 1045 E. Green, Risque

European lingerie brands are the domain of Ellen Sepulveda’s
unmentionables boutique. Prime finds include Betsey Johnson nighties
and the funky designer’s hard-to-find swimwear line. Another essential
item for stockpiling: Spanx, always in stock here, too. Sepulveda is
also your right-hand gal to plan a private, in-store bridal shower or
bachelorette party. (626) 796-1100

Pictured are some Rose Magazine summer-issue outtakes:

At top, Boutique Divas owner Deborah Myles-Green, who is also a fashion and shoe designer.

Second from top, Beach Joy Bikinis Swim Wear from Miami at Risque.

Third from top, Brandi Lansill of Highland Park gets her hair cut and styled by Rai Mercado of Pasadena.

Bottom, owner of Anomaly Studios Eric Anderson.

(Photos by Walt Mancini)

Four Edgar Degas works go on display at Norton Simon in Pasadena

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Four Edgar Degas works that have not been on view in nearly six years are now on display at the Norton Simon Museum, the arts institution’s officials said.

The works, two charcoal drawings and two landscapes, went on view today in the museum’s 19th century wing, said spokeswoman Leslie Denk.

Pictured here, at top right, is “Dancer (Battement in Second Position),” 1874, a charcoal and chalk work that was a study for “The Rehearsal.”

At bottom right is “Olive Trees against a Mountainous Background,” c. 1890-1892. The Norton Simon Web site notes that Degas is seldom remembered as a landscapist.

You can interact with both these works, and the other two newly displayed pieces, on the Norton Simon site:

But, more importantly, get thee to the Norton Simon and experience them firsthand.

Hours: Mon., Wed.-Thurs., Sat.-Sun. noon to 6 p.m.; closed Tues.; Fri. noon to 9 p.m.

(Photos courtesy Norton Simon Museum)

Snap judgment: Capturing Pasadena in more than its most iconic structure

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It’s a challenge for the ages: Try to capture the spirit of Pasadena in a photograph, without pointing your lens toward City Hall.

Writes reporter Janette Williams in Monday’s Star-News:

Chamber of Commerce President Paul Little’s only suggestion for last year’s “Images of Pasadena” competition was to find a compelling cover image for the annual directory that wasn’t City Hall.”

Here’s last year’s winning image.

The impulse is understandable; It’s obviously an iconic structure (pictured above in a 2005 photo by Leo Jarzomb). But where’s the creativity Pasadena? Perhaps we’re too focused on the big picture, literally, and missing all the little, intricate, raw details that make up life in the city.

Those things are what make this other image among our favorites of Pasadena City Hall.

It doesn’t look like much, until you examine it closely — both the work and the artist. The canvas is denim: Actually, a pair of jeans Isaiah Hinnerichs wore when he was just a teen, homeless and living on the city’s streets.

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Hinnerichs, seen at right with another work, is also legally blind. He paints by studying images in extreme close-up, held within inches of his eye. The structure of City Hall in his painting is not quite right, but the idiosyncrasy doesn’t detract from its weight.

What magical idiosyncrasies could you capture on camera to tell Pasadena’s story at a glance? The gauntlet has been thrown down again for this year’s directory-cover competition. Entries are due Sept. 30. For more details, call (626) 795-3355 or e-mail paul@pasadena-chamber.org

(Photo of Hinnerichs by Keith Birmingham)

No meteors here: A message in the heavens for Pasadena

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In exactly one month, you should look up into the skies above Pasadena. (Don’t worry, we’ll remind you.)

In conjunction with the Armory Center for the Arts 20th anniversary exhibition — “Installations Inside/Out” — the Armory will carry out an exhibition that was proposed in 1969 but never made it into production.

Maybe the 40 year delay was because this piece, titled “1969/2009,” requires a very large canvas — the sky.

Conceived of by contemporary American artist Bruce Nauman, noted by Armory staff for his “mischievous humor,” the skywriting display will contain a special message pertaining to land use and art.

If you want to read the exact message that will be spelled out across the sky above the Arroyo, feel free to do so here (you’ll need to scroll down through the calendar), but we think the display will carry more gravity (and poignant laughs) if you ignore the spoilers. (We wish we had.)

The part-visual, part-performance art will take place on Sept. 12 over the Arroyo Seco, with the best viewing lasting from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on La Loma Bridge, the Colorado Street Bridge and in Brookside Park.

And, lest your eyes deceive you, the exhibition is free and open to the public. That’s right folks: Use of your eyeballs = still priceless.

(Photo, not the work of Nauman but playful nonetheless, courtesy Kayla Campana)

Local artist lands cover of BL!SSS magazine

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Local artist Nathan Spoor, who was featured in Rose Magazine’s summer edition, has landed the August cover of BL!SSS Magazine.

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View the cover in all its glory here.

We’ve also spotted the Los Angeles-based artist, alongside fellow visual genius Lola, at the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, where the pair said they have a favorite dealer for vintage frames (of the picture variety — not eye wear).

Spoor’s work with GelaSkins, at bottom right, was spotlighted in our recent shopping spread. (See more of his GelaSkins.)

Visit his blog for upcoming exhibition details.

(Top photo courtesy of Nathan Spoor. Photos at right courtesy of GelaSkins.)

Twotations: Local personalities on Twitter

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Laurie Allee, Glimpses of South Pasadena, @laurieallee:

“cosmic glitter falls / look quick! (flash ephemeral) / sky reaches for us … #haiku #perseids #meteorwatch

Carina Ost and Josie Mora, Uncouth Gourmands, @uncouthgourmand:

We were talking
about being rich neighbors & living in San Marino. I agreed right
away & responded, Good we’ll be closer to San Gabriel food

Manhattan’s own San Gabriel Mountains

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If you’re visiting Manhattan before Oct. 24, you can camp out among the majestic San Gabriels.

Geographically confusing, but true.

Environmental artist Fritz Haeg has created “Dome Colony X in the San Gabriels,” an 8,000-square-foot installation at X Initiative art space in Chelsea.

The project invites visitors to populate a “mountain colony” of dome tents arranged around a circular stage. A silhouette of the San Gabriel Mountains covers the surrounding walls.

Last year, Haeg designed a local “Edible Estates” installation at Descanso Gardens. That project was based on his book “Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn,” which challenges landowners to replace traditional grass yards with sustainable gardens.

Above, “Dome Colony X in the San Gabriels,” installation view at X Initiative, New York. Below, the image and silhouette of the San Gabriels. (Photos courtesy of Fritz Haeg and X Initiative)

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What’s to become of the former YWCA building designed by Julia Morgan?

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Curbed LA has obtained renderings for a proposal to restore the historic YWCA building designed by Julia Morgan.

The images come on the heels of a Pasadena Weekly story about the growing movement by city officials and preservationists to breathe life back into the vacant Marengo Avenue property.

The renderings are part of a proposal that was designed by Cal Poly architecture student Milad Sarkis for his master’s thesis. Earlier this year, he presented the plan to the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

As part of his plan, the restored facility would also become a new headquarters for Pasadena Water and Power.

The city hasn’t yet settled on any proposal.

With officials and residents mulling future uses for the YWCA building, we decided to dig through our photo archives for images of the 1920 structure.

At top is a photo by Walt Mancini taken in 2006. The image just below it is also from the same photo shoot, after the crumbling N. Marengo structure was put on Pasadena Heritage’s endangered buildings list.

At the time, there were discussions about developing the property into a boutique hotel. Those plans were scrapped.

Third from top is a historical photo, from the J. Allen Hawkins studio, courtesy of the Pasadena Museum of History.

The bottom three are historic images, re-photographed by Sarah Reingewirtz in Dec. 2008, when the Pasadena YWCA celebrated 102 years in the city.

The YWCA sold the historic Julia Morgan
building for $1 million in 1996.

It’s worth weighing in: What would you like to see happen in a restoration of the YWCA building?

Dining adventure: Naga Naga Ramen on Colorado Blvd. in Old Pasadena

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We stopped by the new-ish Naga Naga Ramen in Old Pasadena this weekend to see how it would stack up to the San Gabriel Valley ramen stalwarts, like Ajisen Ramen in Temple City.

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The most intriguing points on the menu were non-traditional ramen fusions, combining the basics of the Japanese noodle dish with other culinary influences like tom yum (Thai), kimchee (Korean), and tan tan (Moroccan). Naga Naga has actually trademarked this portion of their menu as “Revolutionary Ramen.”

I don’t know if that’s the adjective I would employ, but the Tan Tan Men ($7.95) — with pork slices, ground pork, shredded cabbage, Chinese pickles, curly yellow ramen in a hot and sour soup — was exceptional. It’s listed with a bold-faced “!” to indicate (or shout?) spiciness, but I found the blend of peppers and spices to be fairly mild, and I have a very heat-sensitive palate.

In the name of balance — most certainly not an “eyes-bigger-than-stomach” thing — I also ordered a cold dish. The Cold Noodles ($7.50) come with ham, imitation crab, egg, cucumber, carrots and enoki mushroom slices over curly ramen in a sesame soy sauce. The sauce, a light hint of sesame that complemented every ingredient, really made that dish. I enjoyed combining the elements into different flavor combinations — a bite of faux crab, egg and mushroom here; now some ham, cucumber and noodles there. It was a simple, healthy and exciting dish that didn’t become boring after three bites.

The standout was actually an appetizer: Naga Naga Tofu. I was mildly alarmed when the dish arrived and it appeared to be … well, alive. Paper-thin meat shavings were wiggling and dancing along the top of the dish. It seemed to emulate the way sea anemone sway in the manipulating currents at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I was so amused by this phenomenon, I decided to capture it on video (you can view it below). It was likely caused by heat waves emanating from the high-temperature hot plate and mixing with the freezing-cold, air-conditioned dining room. (That was my rationalizing, anyway. Please, no “Soylent Green” references.)

I wondered if they keep the room temperature so low in an effort to produce that delicious steaming effect that makes every bowl of ramen look so darn slurpable. (In any case, bring a sweater, or order something “!”)

The tofu dish itself was delectable: moist, savory, egg-based, almost like breakfast. In fact, I’d recommend it for breakfast. The delicate meat shavings reminded me of the reason I adore Southern-style grits: the bacon bits, obviously.

Naga Naga Ramen is located at 49 E. Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena. Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (626) 585-8822

(Photo and video by Evelyn Barge)