On this night only Dianne Reeves belts it out on one of the largest, most star-strut-upon stages in Los Angeles. Orchestra-level seats place you right up front (seating is anything below the balcony section), close enough to feel all of the soulful notes roar. Reeves, a musical titan, part R&B star, part storyteller, and pure jazz from voice to toe, improvises and revises the genre's tradition, singing always her present moment's gospel. She has earned so many Grammys and other shiny accolades that she donates them to children to fill up their birthday piñatas. Her eclectic career defies simplistic labels: she sung the soundtrack to period-piece heavyweight Good Night and Good Luck, closed the 2002 winter Olympic games, and broke through a seemingly impassable cultural barrier by being the first jazz singer to perform in the Arab kingdom of Qatar. With a voice that holds more soul than purgatory, it's an evening not be missed.
Nestled in the historic Rancho Santa Anita—a homestead originally inhabited by the Gabrieleno Tongva tribe—Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden houses wildlife and plants from all over the globe on 127 acres. Its creators opened the Arboretum in 1947 to promote environmental awareness in a sanctuary that reflects the distinct history, flora, and culture of southern California. The grounds reflect the founders' aim—hummingbirds flutter among the colorful blooms in the Grace Kallam Perennial Garden, and wildflowers, herbs, and veggies spring to life at the hands of community volunteers in the educational Garden for All Seasons. Tropical and temperate blossoms embellish the Meyberg waterfall's sun-drenched stone face and blue-gum trees stand guard in front of the Queen Anne cottage, one of several historic sites that was constructed in 1885 to encapsulate Victorian opulence. Peacocks and great egrets strut among living plant collections, which explode into flowery canopies whenever the right garden sprites are available to aid in pollination.
Members often gain exclusive access to the Arboretum's slate of events, which includes workshops, tours, and Yoga in the Garden. Summer camps reawaken brains that usually hibernate until September, and Bookworms Story Time captures attention year-round.
What was once the personal collection of Pasadena residents Bob and Arlene Oltman is now a three-story institution with more than 10,000 square feet of gallery space. The Pasadena Museum of California Art features art, architecture, and design from all over the state and aims to explore cultural issues that are unique to California.
Master mosaic mistress Mina Barnes brings years of experience to her studio classes at Visionary Artware. The 4.5-hour intro class is designed to teach basic tile and grouting techniques in addition to demonstrating how to hand-cut and place custom-glazed tiles to create a personalized 12"x12" stepping stone. Beginners will also gain insight into effective grouting techniques during an hour-long session dedicated to the practice of artfully filling gaps between tiles. More advanced artisans can opt for three hours of studio time, utilizing Visionary Artware's array of materials, equipment, and knowledgeable resources to artfully assemble custom crafts in the inviting confines of Barnes' bungalow studio. Visionary Artware also features a gift shop and gallery filled with notions and knick-knacks from local crafters. Take home hand-glazed tiles (starting at $1.30), satisfy paper needs with a selection of journals (starting at $14.95) and stationery (starting at $2.95), or reclaim boots for your feet with a handmade ceramic vase (starting at $14.95).
At The Pumpkin Factory, festive gourds bring an orange glow to the atmosphere, setting the scene for an exciting fall carnival. At three locations, kids leap into the air in inflatable bounce houses, converse with the goats at the petting zoo, and trot around on gentle ponies. In Corona, a special EuroBobble attraction lets guests play buoy, rolling atop a pool in a clear, inflatable bubble. At the Westminster Pumpkin Factory, helicopters take flight for scenic tours of the fairgrounds. At the end of the day, families can take home a pumpkin of their own to create a gruesome jack 'o' lantern doppelganger of their neighbor.
Teeming with curios and game-changing treasures, The Folk Tree specializes in the one-of-a-kind work of artisans and craftspeople from Mexico and cultures around the world. Dress up desks, end tables, and museum-quality cinder blocks with wooden carvings, clay figurines, pottery, and other objects d'art made with expert craftsmanship and high-level sorcery. Memorialize beloved armadillos of your childhood with an elaborately painted carving from the family of Pedro Ramirez ($68.50 and up), or make conversations with your walls seem normal by decorating them with coconut masks ($16.50). Shadow boxes ($26.50 and up) integrate three-dimensional tableaus and written text to satirical effect, and black-clay lanterns (starting at $9.50) combine an alluring sheen with tamed fire. T-shirts are also available to help keep customers as artfully ornamented as their décor.
PIEAM houses a huge assortment of ethnic art from all over Melanesia, Polynesia, Micronesia, and Hypernesia. The museum was founded by the late medical doctor and Oceania enthusiast Robert Gumbiner, who wanted to preserve the various sculptures, paintings, jewelry, carvings, and tools forged by Pacific Islanders. Tour the facility for a day with a friend, significant other, or sentient shadow or opt for an ultimate membership, which gets two adults and any kids or grandkids under 18 a full year of access to the museum's chambers, as well as eight guest passes, a complimentary copy of The Birds of Yap, and recognition as a founding member in PIEAM promo materials. Click here for current and upcoming exhibitions.