SPARC Art Gallery at City Hall

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As part of an ongoing commitment to advance and celebrate the arts, The City of South Pasadena and the South Pasadena Arts Council (SPARC) have partnered to create the SPARC Gallery @ City Hall.

To visit: City Hall is located at 1414 Mission St. in South Pasadena. The Gallery features rotating exhibits in the 1st Floor lobby area, and on the 2nd Floor, which accessible by stairs or elevator.

For more information: please visit SPARC's web site.


Current exhibits at the SPARC Gallery @ City Hall are:


 José Ramirez: Art for the People

January 5 - March 1, 2019

SPARC Gallery @ City Hall 1st Floor

The art of José Ramirez is deeply rooted in the urban fabric of Los Angeles. Raised in El Sereno, the offspring of Mexican immigrants, Ramirez has devoted his paintings to capturing Latino life in this city, exploring the unique socio-political, economic, and cultural conditions that impact his people.

Deeply influenced by Mexican muralists Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros (Los Tres Grandes) and by the populist Chicano Art Movement of the 1960s, Ramirez’s work features an array of places and characters – humble peasants, ancient warriors, gangsters, laborers, innocent girls, mystical creatures and wide-eyed children—seen against Downtown’s jagged skyline or in lush, tropical forests, reflecting the city’s unique Latino experience.

Enthusiastically for and of the people, Ramirez’ paintings can be simple or bewilderingly complex, captivating viewers with bold compositions, stylized forms, and vibrant primary colors. The artist often begins a canvas with a modest line drawing, slowly building the final work in layers of dark underpainting, bright overlaid pigment and black outlines.

The resulting images resemble strange, dream-like apparitions that bring to mind the enchanted realism of Latin American writers like Gabriel García Márquez, Jorge Luis Borges or Laura Esquivel. Ramirez creates canvases both tiny and monumental, making his work available at any budget. He has illustrated children’s books, painted murals and completed commissions for numerous local organizations and individuals.

As an educator, he has worked in the Los Angeles Unified School District for over 25 years and currently teaches third grade at Esperanza Elementary School in L.A.’s Pico-Union district. He incorporates art and culture into his lessons and inspires his students to reflect on their ancestral past as they imagine themselves as future leaders and creative professionals. He is also an avid horticulturist, who maintains a large perennial garden behind his City Terrace home, filled with plants native to Mexico. Ramirez’ garden frequently appears in his paintings, providing the mysterious backdrop in front of which his myriad stories unfold.


Cyndi Bemel: Into the Unknown – A Portrait of South Pasadena

SPARC Gallery @ City Hall 2st Floor

November 10 - March 3, 2019

Situated on the edge of the second most populous city in the USA, is a hidden treasure of a community, South Pasadena. I have made this town my home since 2005 and immediately began to photograph intimate portraits of the streets, back roads, homes, people, events, shops, flora and everything in between.

Taking my camera as I venture into South Pasadena’s neighborhoods gives me an excuse to “look closer” at what I otherwise might pass by. As I walk across the three square-miles, I am endlessly discovering something unique, beautiful, and rare. I’ve climbed onto rooftops, biked on Route 66, hung out on friends’ porches and engaged with many of the 26,000 people that give South Pasadena a strong sense of place and community. 

Into the Unknown was born from my passion as a photo-ethnographer and storyteller. I’ve been roaming the city as an integral part of my personal journey, and this documentary project is far from over. Many of the images capture new perspectives of familiar places.

I enjoy juxtaposing my images with reflections and textures of our urban landscape combining the old with the new. Experimenting with light and dark enhances the intrigue of the everyday moment. I appreciate how the black and white of my images taps into a deeper vision of what we might otherwise take for granted, a fresh visual interpretation of the day to day. I strive to capture the subtleties of the world and offer an impression of the ever-changing environment that reflects the tremendous vitality of South Pasadena.