Armory Center for the Arts

Pasadena, CA

A pioneer in the field of community arts, the Armory offers highly regarded exhibitions-based programs and a lively roster of artist-taught studio art classes for children, teens, families, and adults at its main facility and at satellite locations throughout the City of Pasadena and Greater Los Angeles.

“Stop thinking about artworks as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences,” encouraged composer and musician Brian Eno, in a declaration that could have been informed by any number of precedents – including artists Allen Kaprow, Alison Knowles, Senga Nengudi, and Mierle Laderman Ukeles, and so many more.

In that spirit, Armory’s exhibition and education programs become significant “triggers for experiences” for close to 200,000 visitors annually, from individuals residing in diverse neighborhoods in Pasadena and Los Angeles to communities of artists and cultural advocates from around the globe.​

The Armory’s curatorial staff applies the institution’s site, context, and resources to nurture expanded notions of idea-, object-, and performance-based creative exploration through solo and thematic group exhibitions and related programs, which emphasize emerging and conceptually oriented practices in diverse media considered within social, political and/or historical contexts. Curatorial initiatives coalesce around the intersection of rigorous creative practice, curiosity about one’s world and environment, and productive social engagement.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “Balancing the interests of a community-based educational institution with the interests of contemporary art is a tricky task, often resulting in indignation and anger on the one hand, or cautious, watered-down art on the other. The gallery itself – a mid-sized, high-ceilinged space nestled just beyond the foyer with a winding assortment of smaller rooms branching off and several nook-and-cranny spaces along a mezzanine upstairs – combines elements of both poles: the lively, inviting air of a community center and the professional installation standards of a museum or commercial gallery.” 

As philosopher and educational reformer John Dewey asserted, education and learning are social and interactive, and thus sites of education are themselves places in which social reform can and should occur. He believed that students should directly experience and interact with curricula, a notion Armory puts into practice daily. A key goal is to support and cultivate the student’s nuanced understanding of a broad range of visual culture in order to nurture an informed and engaged democracy.