The Armory Center for the Arts
Part gallery, part community center, the Armory is perhaps best known as a venue for art classes for preschoolers to seniors. The class schedule is both creative and comprehensive. Teens and adults can explore drawing and painting, pottery at the wheel, letterpress typesetting, architectural study, videography and Photoshop. The younger set gets such age-appropriate classes as “Things with Wings,” comic-book writing, pop-up book art, building bridges, designing board games and city planning. There’s a 10% discount for members, plus tuition assistance for those who qualify. Street parking is limited, but you can get a free permit for the lot at the corner of Walnut and Raymond at St. Andrew Church.
145 N. Raymond Ave., Old Pasadena, 626.792.5101, armoryarts.org
Art Center, South Campus
Opened in 2004, Art Center South, located in Caltech’s former wind-tunnel research lab, is a generous venue for the public to study design and visual arts. Children through lifelong learners are welcome to sample a gaggle of offerings, including Art Center at Night (adult classes with open enrollment) and Saturday High (the foundations of design for high school students). Sunday afternoon classes develop visual literacy for kids from 4th to 8th grade, and programs for K-12 teachers help them advance the visual arts in the classroom. The campus buildings are a clever compilation of repurposed materials, and the stepped rooftop garden makes for a tranquil perch from which to survey your registration materials.
950 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, 626.396.2319, artcenter.edu
Farrin O’Connor Design Studio
The jewelry-making classes and studio workshops here emphasize the art of hand fabrication. Wax modeling for metal casting is artist Margo Farrin’s specialty (look for her intricate bead and brooch designs, on display and for purchase). The teaching staff are exceptional metal artists who show at national galleries, and here they cover a broad range of smithing, wire works, precious-metal clay design, forging, soldering, tool making, bezel settings, stamping methods and more. The quarterly class schedule has something for all levels; open studio space is available for enrolled students. Our only complaint: The management can be crotchety.
146 W. Bellevue Dr., Pasadena, 626.796.5300, farrinoconnordesign.com
Foothill Creative Arts Group
Since 1960, this not-for-profit cooperative group of rotating artists has taught a variety of ten-week classes for adults and kids in drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, polymer clay design, paper works, enameling, knitting, jewelry wire wrapping… and since you have to eat, they teach cooking, too. Artists’ works for sale are displayed in the gallery.
108 N Baldwin Ave., Sierra Madre, 626.355.8350, creativeartsgroup.org
Xi’em Clay Center
Industrial designer and Art Center grad Kevin Xi’em Nguyen opened shop in 2003 and found an immediate and devout following. Professional ceramics artists teach six-week classes for absolute beginners through advanced potters, in wheel work, tile making and glaze formulation. The new, state-of-the-art building offers members 24/7 access to studio space; there’s also a serene gallery with regular exhibitions and openings. Nguyen’s own fine work is shown here, and if you’re lucky, you can grab one of his pieces at Xi’em’s annual studio sale.
1563 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena, 626.794.5833, xiemclaycenter.com