The ‘End’ is near

McGinty’s studio tour and silent auction to benefit his Gallery at the End of the World

By Justin Chapman Pasadena Weekly, 6/24/2010

One of the few threads holding together Altadena’s community of artists is Ben McGinty’s Gallery at the End of the World, which regularly hosts openings and other events to help Altadena’s suffering economy.
In an effort to promote and sustain McGinty’s struggling art gallery, an Altadena-wide home art studio tour Saturday and Sunday and a silent auction Friday through Sunday will be held, with artists from around Altadena opening studios in their homes to showcase their work. 
“I wanted to start getting Altadenans in line with the fact that we have a strong community of artists,” said McGinty. “This opens 
up the door and will hopefully get people to start realizing that we can pull together and bring awareness to Altadena artists.”
The three-day event will kick off with a gala opening from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday at the gallery. The event will begin with a silent auction, with the bidding ending at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
Friday night’s event will include an open house at the gallery to view the artists’ works, which will be on display at their homes during the tour. 
Tickets are $8 to receive a catalogue with a map of locations of the 12 homes that will be exhibiting about 30 artists, with works that include pottery, assemblage, jewelry, mixed media, bookbinding, photography, and oil, water and acrylic paintings. 
The tour is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and continues from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. The silent auction starts Friday night and continues to Sunday, culminating in a closing reception at the gallery. All proceeds will benefit the Gallery at the End of the World, 2475 N. Lake Ave., Altadena.
“It’s going to be great,” said McGinty. “It’s really going to be a fun tour.” 

Issues in chief

Cops in Riverside questioned as Pasadena welcomes its first Latino chief

By Andre Coleman, Andy Lee, and Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 6/17/2010

City Manager Michael Beck on Tuesday introduced Pasadena’s next police chief, Phil Sanchez, a deputy chief in Santa Monica chosen from a field of three final candidates that included Interim Pasadena Chief Chris Vicino, whose professional future remains unclear after nearly 25 years with the local department.
Vicino was not among the roughly dozen police officials on hand at City Hall to welcome Pasadena’s first Latino chief, an event attended by about 60 residents and officials, including Mayor Bill Bogaard and Council members Jacque Robinson and Margaret McAustin. 
“Pasadena is a city that has some of the best practices in law enforcement,” said the 53-year-old Sanchez, who will start his new job on July 12. “The level of engagement from the community is very high. The citizens are involved and informed. In order to prevent violence, we need to work together. I can’t do it by myself. It needs to be a collective effort.”
“Phil Sanchez has a strong background in police management and a reputation as a leader who is sensitive to community issues,” said Beck. “I am confident he will be well-received in the Pasadena community and the Pasadena Police Department.”
Few — including Bogaard and other Pasadena officials — were aware of stories that appeared the last week in the Riverside Press-Enterprise about the police department in that city, where Beck served as assistant city manager before coming to Pasadena in 2008. Based on deposition testimony of former Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach in relation to a federal lawsuit filed by two former officers over alleged unfair labor practices, the newspaper reported that Riverside City Manager Brad Hudson and Assistant City Manager Tom DiSantis were both improperly given firearms by police in 2005. 
Leach, who recently retired after coming under investigation for alleged drunk driving, also said officials — including Beck — had been granted the use of “cold plates,” or untraceable placards for their city-owned vehicles.
The state Attorney General’s Office found in 2007 that the use of the cold plates and the transactions with the guns were improper, but not illegal. The guns were returned and then purchased through a police sergeant, according to the reports. The Attorney General’s Office also found that the use of badges similar to those carried by police and ordered by the city for Hudson, DiSantis and Beck could be deceptive and possibly illegal. 
Beck did not purchase a weapon from the department and did not use one of the badges, which were never distributed. He did, however, drive a car outfitted with the cold plates until being told to stop, the paper reported. 
Beck said the cold-plating of the car was done by Leach after Beck was issued the vehicle. A police radio was also installed at that time.
“I got one of the cars because it had a police radio and I liked to know what was going on,” Beck said. “That was mainly the reason.”
No Pasadena officials, other than police, are driving cold-plated vehicles, Beck said.
Before the press conference, Sanchez spoke about the recent shootings in Northwest Pasadena — six since March, including two homicides. 
“We need to create jobs for our youth because hopelessness is tied to violence. In my first six months I will be doing a lot of listening and learning,” Sanchez said.
“[Sanchez] seems very approachable and a welcoming type of individual,” said community activist Ishmael Trone. “He picks his words well and it seems like he’s in tune with the issues of the community. He’s ready to listen and understands the relationships that need to be addressed, such as gang problems, education and leadership.”
Sanchez, who is considered a use-of-force expert, has worked for the Santa Monica Police Department for 26 years. He and his wife, Deborah, have four children and three grandchildren and currently live in Orange County. 
“The ACLU has a long standing agenda in terms of the relationship between the Police Department and the community, particularly Northwest Pasadena,” said ACLU spokesman Martin Gordon. “I hope that the new chief hits the ground running, because there are a lot of issues that are ongoing and that need to be addressed. From what we know of him, he seems as if he would like to see more involvement with the community on the part of the Police Department. I hope he engages us in an open dialogue.”
Along with Vicino, Sanchez also beat out Covina Chief Kim Rainey for the position, which was first decided by a secret panel of City Hall insiders selected by Beck to pick a new chief following the departure of former Chief Bernard Melekian, who now heads the US Justice Department’s community policing program. 
Under public pressure, Beck later convened a second panel of citizens to interview the finalists, who were also interviewed in May by City Councilmen Steve Madison, Chris Holden and Terry Tornek. None of those men attended Tuesday’s event. Council members Steve Haderlein and Victor Gordo, the council’s only Latino member, also did not attend the welcoming ceremony for Sanchez.
— Reporters Andy Lee and Justin Chapman contributed to this story

Opportunity knocks

College-bound Pasadena students get a boost from scholarships

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 6/3/2010

Fourteen deserving local youngsters will now have a better chance at higher education after receiving scholarships provided by El Centro de Accion Social, Inc., of Pasadena and Community Organization for Progress and Advancement.
Qualifying seniors from Blair International Baccalaureate School, Marshall Fundamental, Pasadena and Muir high schools, and the Center for Independent Studies on the PHS campus accepted their scholarships during a ceremony held May 27 at Lake Avenue Church. 
The scholarships of $200 for 12 of the kids and $500 for two of them will help with expenses for students attending such prestigious schools as MIT, USC, UC Santa Cruz, UCLA, and other colleges and universities. The money was provided through the El Centro Gloria Delaney Scholarship Fund. Delaney died in January 2009. Her husband, John Delaney, gave the keynote address at last week’s event.
“Each student’s story is extraordinary,” said El Centro Executive Director Randy Ertll. “They have persevered in order to graduate from high school and will now have the opportunity to attend a university.”
Of 30 applicants, Ariana Rojas, Priscilla Perez, Aysha Davis, Sara Leu, Leslie Mena, Ashley Kennard, Janet Yepez, Anni Eloyan, Tania Cardona, Shirley Alonso, Vivian Cardona, Audrey Moreno, Janet Perez, and Julie Guerrero were selected to receive scholarships. 
El Centro was founded in 1968 to improve the lack of social services and serve the needs of the city’s growing Spanish-speaking population. In the late 1960s, the city offered its support by donating a building in Central Park “to be used to offer translation services, referrals to various aid agencies, and any other type of help that the Latino community needed in the late 1960s,” said Ertll. 

Time and place

After getting a ticket, Councilwoman Margaret McAustin feels motivated to improve city parking

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 6/3/2010

Hours after Pasadena Weekly published the results of a state Public Records Act request that found nearly 230 city employees — including City Council members — enjoy unlimited parking privileges by using Official City Business parking placards, Councilwoman Margaret McAustin received a $42 ticket for leaving her car in a space longer than the allotted 20 minutes.
Unfortunately for McAustin, who was the only councilmember last July to vote against a $1.9 million three-year extension of the city’s contract with Inter-Con Security Systems to enforce city parking laws, she forgot to display her OCB placard. 
The city recently hired another firm to collect tickets issued to out-of-state drivers, which McAustin voted for, saying that “it’s important that the city collect all the revenue to which we’re entitled.” And, now that she’s been ticketed, McAustin said she will pay the $42 fine. “But it sucks,” she acknowledged.
As part of a series of stories in the Weekly on the city’s parking and traffic enforcement procedures, the newspaper made 10 recommendations for improvement. 
One of the paper’s proposals included hiring a replacement for former Parking Director Bill Bortfeld, an idea that McAustin supports. 
Other suggestions included:
Form a citywide citizens’ parking commission that would report to the City Council and meet monthly to hear complaints and review reports from Inter-Con.
Freeze fines for expired meters at $30, then raise all other parking fines only every two years.
Increase free parking in city garages from 90 minutes to two hours.
Offer a first-time warning.
Allow any resident to park on the street day and night under one permit. Further, allow residents to obtain overnight parking permits for guests on an annual basis, rather than each time someone needs to stay the night.
McAustin agreed that parking regulations should be addressed on a citywide basis, saying, “We need to have consistency with city rules and implement uniform policies across the city.”
Mayor Bill Bogaard also agreed that there is room for improvement, though he did not immediately support any specific suggestion by the paper. However, Bogaard said he would discuss the recommendations with City Manager Michael Beck to see if any of them are feasible.
“I could see this being referred to staff with the recommendation that staff come back to council with an evaluation and recommendations of actions that might be taken in light of these suggestions,” said the mayor. 

The Africa in us all

Altadena’s Art Aids Art organization raises awareness about South African issues as that country prepares to host the World Cup

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 6/3/2010

Tucked behind a florist shop in Altadena, artists working in a one-room office have for more than a decade been reenergizing, educating and inspiring a small township just east of Cape Town, South Africa. And now, with the world’s most popular event — the FIFA World Cup —  being held this month in South Africa, the nonprofit Arts Aids Art is poised to raise awareness like never before about that country from here in Altadena and Pasadena, which hosted the 1994 World Cup and hopes to hold another in 2018 or 2022.
Since 1999, Art Aids Art, co-founded by Altadenans and former Pacific Oaks College teachers Tom Harding and Dorothy Yumi Garcia, has transformed the township of Khayelitsha, populated by thousands of rural migrants struggling to overcome poverty, substandard housing, high unemployment, relentless crime and ever-increasing rates of HIV infection, to say nothing of a drastic lack of schools and social services. 
After visiting South Africa in 1999, hearing countless heartbreaking stories and seeing families barely surviving, Garcia and Harding organized literacy workshops in Khayelitsha, drawing on their backgrounds at Pacific Oaks. They began collecting what teachers and parents said they needed the most: multicultural children’s books and black dolls.
“The problems in South Africa are overwhelming,” said the 42-year-old Harding. “We decided to work in one community and do as much as we can and create as much opportunity as we can in that community.”
“I do have a political ideology when I work with these women,” said Garcia, “and that is for them to have the same choices I do. I don’t have to have children if I don’t want to, and neither should they. In a country that has these complexities, you can’t look into the eyes of these women and say, ‘You can’t use condoms.’”
Garcia and Harding say they don’t have a romantic view of the work they do; they simply try to meet the needs of what people say they want.
In 2003, a retired school teacher in El Paso, Texas, decided to support their work with a donation from her retirement fund, which led to the formal foundation of Art Aids Art. In 2006, Art Aids Art purchased a property from a Khayelitsha artist using donations from Garcia’s friends and family.
Altadena architect R. Steven Lewis led the design of Art Aids Art’s multipurpose community center on their new property, strategically located in a residential area lacking social services and economic opportunities. Called eKhaya eKasi, or “Home in the ’Hood,” it opened on World AIDS Day in December 2008 and, according to Harding, serves as an oasis for families impacted by poverty and HIV/AIDS. People there were looking for skills and leadership. Garcia, who taught for more than 10 years at Pacific Oaks, and Harding, who taught early childhood development and conducted teacher training courses at the school from 1995 to 2000, learned very quickly that a little goes a long way. Harding said the situation illustrates the positive side of the adage, “Give them an inch and they’ll take a yard.”
“If you give them an inch of your energy and your knowledge, they’ll run with it for miles,” Harding said. “It’s just incredible to see so many who have so little and who could complain so much be so creative and work so hard.”
The center is a home for education programs of all kinds. It generates local income by combining an art boutique, café, and bed and breakfast to draw tourists into the community, which was generally avoided because of blight and crime. The café is named after the late Pasadena community activist and former Art Aids Art Board Member Judith Zitter, who died in 2008 at the age of 53. The ultimate goal for the center is to achieve sustainability and have it be locally run.
A new skills training program designed to develop independence and AIDS awareness for women, dubbed Women Averting AIDS, was launched at the center last month. Former Pasadenan Tina Carrari applied for a grant from the Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas to fund the program. Formerly unemployed women who participate in the program get the opportunity to have their products sold at eKhaya eKasi’s art boutique.
Their art will also be sold at home parties in Greater Pasadena, a technique that has served as the financial and moral lifeblood of Art Aids Art.
“In 2003, Art Aids Art began to transport artwork to America to give South African artists international exposure,” said Harding. “To keep overhead low, the first event was held at the Altadena home of Board Member Beverly Heath [wife of legendary jazz musician Albert “Tootie” Heath]. The response was tremendous and the entire stock sold in an hour. Several attendees offered to host their own house parties, and through word of mouth and volunteer support, a growing network of Art Aids Art supporters has been hosting parties ever since at homes, churches and community gatherings.”
More than 100 parties have taken place in dozens of American states, even in Florence, Italy. Local hosts have included All Saints Episcopal Church, United Nations Association of Pasadena, Vroman’s Bookstore, the Light Bringer Project, Caltech and Marshall Fundamental School, among many others.
Any individual, community organization, or faith community can host events that include multimedia presentations and fundraiser sales of beadwork, rtisan jewelry and wearable art handmade by South African women. The artists get paid upfront at fair trade prices and the profit made from sales in America is reinvested in Khayelitsha. In July, Art Aids Art will be wholesaling South African art for the first time at the L.A. Mart Gift Show. Meanwhile, the organization continues to raise awareness about South African issues here at home.
“We are developing a multi-disciplinary curriculum about contemporary South Africa and how the issues the country is facing are connected to our own communities,” said Harding. “The goal is to pilot this educational program in Pasadena area schools, connecting it to the city’s anti-Apartheid activism of the 1980s and 90s."
"While things are better, poverty is a song we all know,” said Garcia. “It’s not a good song.”
In that vein, Art Aids Art also leads service-learning trips to Cape Town called Jungle Justice excursions, giving anyone the opportunity to experience the cultural and scenic beauty of South Africa while participating in local service projects and helping out at eKhaya eKasi. The next trip is scheduled for September. Visit for more information.
“No matter what skills you possess, you can go on one of these trips and impact lives in South Africa,” said Harding.
Heath’s grandson, Brook Barnes, said going to South Africa with Art Aids Art was a life-changing experience.
“The people there really embraced me,” he said. “I’ve never felt so at home. Helping the people of South Africa had to be one of the happiest moments of my life, and it is something I will remember forever.”
Garcia also stressed the life-changing nature of the Jungle Justice trips.
“We are all Africans,” she said. “Come with us and find Africa in you.”