Public Art in Pasadena: Must-See Sculptures and Murals

March 23, 2024 | Posted in Arts & Culture

Art is embedded in Pasadena's DNA. One of our city's defining features is the prominent role it played in North America's Arts & Crafts movement, a legacy that lives on today in pristinely preserved historic landmark Craftsman homes.

Pasadena has long been an incubator for all forms of visual art. Many noteworthy artists and art collectors have called Pasadena home over the centuries. Legends like Ansel Adams and Paul Frank taught at the prestigious ArtCenter College of Design, where the next generation of artists still come to hone their creative talents today. While there's plenty of fabulous artwork to be seen inside the walls of noteworthy museums and galleries like The Huntington and Norton Simon Museum, nearly 100 public works are on display all over town, too. Here's a round-up of art pieces well worth planning a DIY art crawl. The best part beyond the prolific photo ops? It won't cost you a dime to see these sculptures and murals, and you're bound to make some discoveries of your own along the way.

PASADENA SUNSET SYMPHONY
Address: 1543 E Colorado Blvd.

Muralist Victor Ving and photographer Lisa Beggs come together as Greetings Tour to collaborate with communities and create meaningful murals that seamlessly weave local culture, history, landmarks, and nature together. The couple pays homage to City Hall in this art deco style mural located on the historic Route 66.

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PASADENA TOWERS
Address: 800 E Colorado Blvd.

An addition to Victor Ving's portfolio and Pasadena's collection of public art is the story board displayed on Colorado Blvd. and Lake Ave. This location is meaningful to the artist as it is home to his local bank and on the major intersection of the annual parade. He and team of local artists wanted to ensure the artwork reflected this special tribute, so he selected images of the Colorado Bridge, Rose Parade, Rose Bowl, City Hall and special guest, a Peregrine Falcon. Almost every week, a bird handler takes his birds (Harris Hawks & Peregrine Falcons) to the rooftop of the Pasadena Towers for pigeon abatement.

ROSE BOWL STADIUM STATUE COLLECTION
Address: 1001 Rose Bowl Dr.

The historical landmark and iconic Rose Bowl Stadium is home to history, events, sports, and multiple statues that memorialize Jackie Robinson, Brandi Chastain, Terry Donahue, Keith Jackson, and new addition, Archie Griffin. In 2017, the first commemorative statue was unveiled to honor the late Jackie Robinson. The statue shows him as a football player with the number "55" - the number he carried while he played for Pasadena Junior College. (Los Angeles Sentinel, 2024)

Two years later, the stadium commemorated a great athletic moment in the largest women's-only sporting event in history. The U.S. Women's Soccer Team had the winning kick in the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup Final from efforts of Brandi Chastain. After her winning penalty kick, Chastain tore off her jersey and dropped to her knees in elation. (Santa Clara University, 2024)

In December 2019, an additional statue was unveiled near the stadium's south entrance. The "Grandaddy of Them All" is commemorated inside the stadium's broadcast center and outside in the Rose Plaza. The Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation remarks Jackson as "a symbol of togetherness and inspiration for sports fans across the globe." (NBC, 2019)

Dedicated in 2023, stands Coach Terry Donahue surrounded by 151 bronze roses to represent each of his career victories and five footballs to represent the winning conference championships he led. Located inside the Rose Bowl's gates, UCLA players and coaches started a ritual of touching a sign at Donahue's statue as they arrive at the stadium on game days. (Pasadena Now, 2023)

In 2023, the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation announced its next important campaign. In honor of college football's only two-time Heisman Trophy winner, a new statue of Archie Griffin will be unveiled in the stadium's Court of Champions in August 2024 alongside a Legend's Walk honoring19 Heisman winners who also played at the iconic landmark. (ABC, 2024)

SOPHIA LOREN
Address: 60 N Lake Ave.

Down the street from the Boston Court Theatre, artwork by John Park and Julie Marie Hunter spans across the new home of Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana.

BOOKS, COFFEE AND ART
Address: 695 E Colorado Blvd.

WRDSMTH writes a love note for all who pass by and especially those who enter Vroman's Bookstore. Between Laammle Theatres and The Andalucia, Gino Flo tributes the San Gabriel Mountains and creativity in Pasadena.

A public mural by artist WRDSMTH of a red typewriter and love note in Playhouse Village District in Pasadena, CA.
Not Fiction
Inspiration Blvd.

BEE KIND
Address: 655 E Green St.

Southern California-based artist Trek Thunder Kelly encourages us to be kind to others. A portion of this mural was painted by the community during the 2018 Pasadena ARTWalk, in partnership with Beautify Earth behind Jacob Maarse Florist & Gifts.

USC PACIFIC ASIA MUSEUM
Address: 46 N Los Robles Ave.

A Momentous Moment in Time of Passage and Landing by muralist, Dave Young Kim. The mural celebrates the journeys that diasporic communities have undertaken when leaving their homelands to find new places to nest. Each bird pictured is an official national bird from Asia and the Pacific Islands.

DOG GONE LOVING IT
Address: 2160 E Foothill Blvd.

As a proud pet parent, Sel_Dog happily decorated the building of doggy daycare, I Dig My Dog with furry friends.

Artist Sel_Dog painted a mural of two dogs fighting over a toy on the building of pet daycare.

IDEALAB'S MURAL PROJECT
Address: 130 W Union St.

Idealab is well-known for being Pasadena's technology incubator. In 2010, they collaborated with the Pasadena Arts Council and ArtStorm LA to sponsor young artist, Guy Ellis. Inspiration for new ideas is bound to flow all throughout this 250-foot-long piece of street art.

PLAZA LAS FUENTES
Address: 135 N Los Robles Ave.

This postmodernist landscape resides east of City Hall. Its development was a part of the city's plans to improve the historic Civic Center in the late 1980's. After about 67 years of planning, the large courtyard was designed by landscape architect Lawrence Halprin. This civic garden reflects the architectural style of the multi-use complex and heritage of Pasadena. (The Cultural Landscape Foundation, 2024)

Pasadena Civic Center Mosaic with flowers and small fish sculpture.

SINALOA AVE
Address: 1352 Sinaloa Ave.

Located on the side of Nature's Cleaners. Three street artists, Saturno, Atlas and Genoski collaborated to create this mural using spray paint.

CONVALESCENT AID SOCIETY'S CENTENNIAL
Address: 3255 E Foothill Blvd.

Faithful resident of Pasadena, Victor Ving, proudly designed and painted this mural to celebrate the Convalescent Aid Society's 100-year anniversary in 2023. The Convalescent Aid Society was founded in 1923, the same year the Rose Bowl opened its gates to 50,000 fans. Ving recognizes the Colorado Street Bridge, Route 66, and the San Gabriel mountains as a symbol of connection and support the society continues to have on the community.

And that brings us to the end of our public art tour. Keep your eyes peeled as you wander around town because there are so many more gems to see. In fact, you can stop by the Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau Visitor Center in the Civic District to pick up a public art tour map featuring eight different walkable itineraries or download it here. The Playhouse Village also has their own public art tour guide here.