Summer Grad Show to try out downtown location

Picture1Grad Show is going on the road—trucks and vans loaded with the models, prints, paintings and creations representing years of blood, sweat and tears, will soon be streaming down Linda Vista and along Green Street—to the heart of Pasadena, where graduating students from all departments will be preparing their exhibits for Grad Show, under one roof for the first time. Everyone is excited by this opportunity but it is a big change for the College so we thought we would check in with Director of Special Events JoJo Tardino to get a little intel about the change and what to expect.

Campus News: Why the Pasadena Convention Center?

Jojo Tardino: The Convention Center provides a large, public-facing venue where we can fit everyone in one spot, allowing visitors to view the work of graduating students from all majors. In addition, the Exhibit Hall is adjacent to the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, where the Graduation Ceremony is held, making it possible for grads, friends and family to walk to Grad Show from the ceremony.

CN: This is a big change for the College—why did we choose an off-campus location?

JT:  Grad Show serves many purposes—it is a recruiting event, a networking event, an exhibition and a celebration of years of hard work. We are always evaluating and looking at ways to improve the experience for all audiences, as well as our students. As the College began to spread out, the challenges of putting on one show over two campuses began to mount and it became evident that we needed some creative solutions. The College convened an internal DesignStorm last term to tap into the thoughts and wisdom of our students, who were asked to explore ideas for “Grad Show 2.0.” Many great ideas were presented but, overall, we learned that students wanted a more unified, cross-disciplinary and more community-facing Grad Show.

Although we will miss seeing our hallways and classrooms be transformed into exhibition spaces, stretching Grad Show over our two campuses made it difficult for visitors to take in the entire show and near impossible for grads to view work of their peers from other departments. We currently don’t have a campus location that can accommodate all departments.

CN: Who made this decision?

JT:  Many parts of the College are involved in Grad Show, from my department, Marketing and Communications, to Career and Professional Development and, of course, the educational departments. We all have input, but, ultimately, the decision was made by the department chairs, with guidance and support from new Provost Karen Hofmann. Together, they agreed that the Summer Grad Show could serve as a pilot, essentially the first iteration of Grad Show 2.0.

CN: What are the challenges presented by the venue change?

JT:  Well, we don’t have 24/7 access to the venue but I like to consider that a positive and hope it means less long nights and missed sleep for graduating students. Producing Grad Show has always been a little like directing a performance, with actors, dancers and musicians who all have different needs, costumes and props. For students, it means they need to prepare an exhibit that can be transported and they will have to carry in everything they need. Loading in and loading out needs to be much more carefully choreographed than in the past.

CN: Everything they need?

JT:  We hope they have everything they need with them but we’ll have a tool station with drop cloths, hammers, drills, etc. Like always, faculty and staff will also be available to lend a hand, helping students straighten a picture frame or aim a spotlight and, perhaps most importantly, offer moral support.

CN: Are students being asked to reduce or make changes to their exhibits?

JT:  Overall, no. But, in conjunction with sustainability efforts currently underway at the College, students at this Grad Show have been asked to consider the materials they are using, and to minimize or eliminate the use of foam board and vinyl, using recyclable materials as much as possible.

CN: Is Thursday still “industry night?”

JT:  Yes. Thursday is an opportunity for our graduating students to network with their future peers in industry, including ArtCenter alumni and potential employers. Grad Show is open to everyone Saturday afternoon, from 1–5 p.m.

CN: Where should people park?

JT:  Anywhere they want! Most people will be familiar with the neighborhood and parking options but, for those haven’t spent much time in Pasadena, the Convention Center has a parking lot and there are large parking structures at the neighboring Paseo Colorado shopping center. Also, the Del Mar and Memorial Park stations along the Metro Gold Line are both about ½ mile from the venue.

CN: Have you heard complaints?

JT:  No! I don’t mean to be surprised, but it is unusual to find this much consensus at ArtCenter. While it’s a big cultural shift for the College, everyone who I’ve spoken with is very excited about the move. Not to mention, people are relieved that other students, faculty and classrooms aren’t being displaced during finals weeks.

CN: What if we have more questions?

JT:  Download our Grad Show app (Apple or Android). Yes, there’s an app! It has information on graduating students, schedules and more.

Visit our website at for information about all of our Graduation activities and links to the main events calendar. Visit the Pasadena Convention Center website for directions and parking information.

We hope to see you there!

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