Marengo Avenue, Mission Street, El Centro, Milan, Orange Grove; what memories and feelings do these street names evoke? Walking your kindergartner to their first day of school? Heading to the Farmers Market? The smell of Mom’s cookies baking in the house you grew up in? Now you have a chance to own a piece of that history and nostalgia by purchasing your very own, authentic, South Pasadena street sign! The South Pasadena Arts Council (SPARC) and the South Pasadena Educational Foundation (SPEF) are partnering on the Pathways to Art, an on-going fundraiser to support the arts in our community and in our schools.
South Pasadenans have no doubt noticed that our street signs are being upgraded and replaced. As the city has been removing them, they deliver them to SPARC’s storage space, where volunteers have been cleaning, organizing and storing them to prepare them for their new owners. South Pasadenans, or of course anyone who has history with South Pasadena, can purchase a street sign that has significance for them or their family.
“The idea was generated by City Council who asked SPARC if they could do something with the signs or sell them to support the organization” SPARC Director Howard Spector tells us, “we loved the idea and subsequently City Council donated them to SPARC at a Council meeting. SPEF was also interested in the signs, so a partnership was proposed with SPEF to split the project responsibilities and the profits.”
Additionally, the stipulation for the distribution of the funds was that SPARC funds would go to support public art projects, art and cultural programs in the community, while SPEF funds would be used to enhance arts education in the schools. Whenever the final signs are sold SPARC is reserving several for a future public art project.
As a 25 year resident myself and knowing how nostalgic my son is, I knew I had to get the street he was born and raised on. I hope to live here for a very long time, but if I ever do leave, I’m taking a part of South Pasadena with me! Every buyer has a story to tell. Bianca Richards lives in the house where the movie Halloween was filmed; “there’s a famous scene with Jamie Lee Curtis where her character, Laurie Strode, carries a pumpkin and sits on our front steps,” Richards tells us, “we leave out pumpkins all year long so that fans can take a picture on the famous corner of Oxley and Fairview.” For their recent 34th anniversary, Richards and husband Ron Koertge (as Michael Myers) reenacted a scene from Halloween and posted on social media with the quote, “after 34 years of marriage…”
“I was so tickled to get the Brent sign because it’s the street my family first moved to in South Pas back when I was starting kindergarten… and it’s where my first South Pas memories were formed,” says School Board member Julie Giulioni, “and the Lyndon sign is the one I looked at every day from 4th grade on as I walked to Marengo, the Middle School and High School. And I can’t wait for La France to be switched out… we’ve reserved the sign from the street where we raised our kids! I LOVE this sign project. It’s a great win-win that allows SPARC and SPEF to raise funds for things vital to our community… and lets residents have a little piece of the past!”
Longtime South Pas resident, PJ Lutz, tells us, “I purchased the Marengo 1500 block sign for my husband Dave. We moved into our house when the girls were two, and our years in the house on Marengo and also in Marengo elementary school have been so joyful that owning “a piece of Marengo” seemed like a lovely way to commemorate our time here.”
Founding director of SPARC, Lissa Reynolds, tells us how fun it has been to see how creative people are in how they have incorporated the signs into their homes and gardens and goes on to say, “We can’t express how grateful we are to the City Council and City Staff for suggesting this opportunity for SPARC. It is an excellent opportunity for the community to support the arts in a fun way! People both love the signs they buy and the reason for buying them.”
Reynolds continues, “having a collaboration with SPEF is a delight! Both organizations are passionate about our missions. Working closely with SPEF Executive Director Stacey Peterson, Parti Gras Co-Chair Larry Abelson, SPEF Communications VP Sheila Rossi and working closely with South Pas Public Works Director Kristine Courdy and Street Operations Supervisor Eddie Munoz, has been such a rewarding experience. And all the wonderful SPARC volunteers who inventory, clean, stack and deliver are so appreciated. It has been a perfect collaboration and opportunity to move the community forward artistically and educationally.”
Stacey Peterson echoes Reynolds’ sentiments, “The street signs have been such a fun way to meet people in the community! SPEF has been so thankful for the city and SPARC for their partnership in this.” All the proceeds for SPEF from the approximately 300 street signs, (approximated $15,000) is going toward the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Specialist and her related duties in the District. Although the signs have not all sold, SPEF was able to give the District $30,000, with matching funds from their Major Grants Committee , so they could hire Lia Donovan last year to start on the job. The VAPA Specialist works with the arts teachers to enhance our K-12 VAPA program through professional development, articulation meetings, curriculum development, pathway alignment, and program visits throughout Los Angeles County.
SPARC’s funds have supported music concerts at the Eclectic Music Festival, a small mural project at the Public Works Yard created by high school students with a lead artist, and the ongoing exhibition program at the SPARC Gallery inside the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce.
Pathways to Art has created a web site to sell the old city street signs as they are being replaced. The website sale began on September 12, 2016 and is on-going, with more signs being added to the site as they become available from the City. The price of each sign is $100.
SPARC is pleased to announce that brand new inventory has arrived so be sure to check their website for your street sign and buy it before they run out! In fact, you can click Pathways to Art to view the current inventory, purchase a sign and support this collective initiative.
SPARC has also initiated a monthly giving program where you can support the arts in our community at a monthly amount that works for you. For the cost of a latte, you can contribute and be an arts advocate in South Pasadena.
Check the website to find your keepsake sign. If you don’t see the sign you’re looking for, contact Stacey Peterson for more information or to be put on a waiting list: firstname.lastname@example.org or call the SPEF Office at 626-441-5810 x 1163
South Pasadena Arts Council (SPARC)
P.O. Box 3272, South Pasadena, CA 91031
Contact: email@example.com 626-789-5605
The South Pasadena Arts Council is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit arts organization