Public Art

The Playhouse District is home to numerous public art installations on crosswalks and utility boxes throughout the area, adding to the cultural richness of Pasadena’s premier arts district.

Crosswalk Art

Pedestrian street art has been installed at seventeen crosswalks in the District. The crosswalk art program is the first of its kind in the City of Pasadena.

The crosswalks can be seen at the intersections of:

  • Colorado and El Molino
  • Colorado and Hudson
  • Colorado and Madison
  • Colorado and Mentor
  • Colorado and Oak Knoll
  • El Molino and Green
  • Los Robles and Green
  • Madison and Green
  • Union and El Molino
  • Union and Lake
  • Union and Los Robles
  • Union and Mentor
  • Union and Oak Knoll
  • Union and Oakland
  • Walnut and Oakland

Crosswalk locations include USC Pacific Asia Museum and the Pasadena Museum of California Art; Pasadena Playhouse, Laemmle’s and Vroman’s; Boston Court Performing Arts Center and the Ice House; as well as other retail and community outlets. All are within walking distance from one another near major boulevards: Colorado, Los Robles, El Molino, Green, Union and Mentor Ave.


Designs were created by artist Cynthia Luna who uses stencils as a means to create repetitive patterns on both large and small scale artworks. The Pasadena crosswalk designs include Gingko, Art Deco and Rose inspired patterns, which make reference to Pasadena’s trees, architecture and Rose Parade, respectively.



Art Deco

The crosswalk design project combines Luna’s training as a print stylist with her skill as a painter. She has created her own decorative technique, combining custom-made patterns with painting to transform spaces and objects. She seeks harmony among wall, floor, window and ceiling surfaces through decorative designs and unique visual elements in her interior works and has also created a number of outdoor public artworks. Her design process involves reinterpreting natural forms through the use of innovative geometric shapes and beautiful color combinations.

Ms. Luna can be reached at moc.o1518903127ohay@1518903127ngise1518903127drevo1518903127lla1518903127.

River Migration

In 2015, the Playhouse District unveiled three new crosswalk designs titled River Migration by local artist Hataya Tubtim. The design uses the movement of Steelhead Trout which are native to the Arroyo Seco’s local natural history over three crosswalk sites to echo the movement of people moving through the urban environment. The new crosswalk design locations are at the corner of Walnut and Oakland, at Union and Mentor, and at Madison and Green.

Hataya Tubtim is a faculty member at Art Center College of Design. Her work includes themes of community, nature and culture and is inspired by histories within places as well as the outcomes of social exchange. Having lived in diverse communities, she wonders how art can spark creative dialogue that gives an equal voice to all participants. She asks how art can make a presence in public space without intruding upon those who will experience it.

Pick up postcards of the PDA’s public art projects from the PDA office (709 E. Colorado Blvd., Suite 160) or at select Playhouse District locations including Zona Rosa Caffe, Vroman’s Bookstore, Canterbury Records, Pasadena Museum of California Art and USC Pacific Asia Museum.

Spun Chairs

The PDA debuts a set of seven red Spun Chairs, designed by London-based architect and designer Thomas Heatherwick. Upright, the fascinating Spun Chair looks more like a sculptural vessel than a seat. But when it leans on its side, it forms a comfortable, functional chair that lets you rock side-to-side or spin around! The Spun Chair is an object that achieves Heatherwick’s most sacred design dictum—that good design must strike a balance between gravity and levity. Gravity literally plays an important role in Spun’s design, as the sitter’s movement causes the spinning top to tilt and turn. And while Spun serves the rather serious purpose of providing a place to sit, its use can lead to infectious smiling and incurable fits of laughter.

Photo by Lyd & Mo Photography

Take a seat, rock side-to-side, or spin around as our Spun Chairs pop around the Playhouse District. Follow @playhousedistrict to see where the twisting fun will be next.

Utility Box Art

“Utility II” by Susan Silton, 2016

This 2016 public art installation on utility boxes is an update of the artist’s 2011 installation called “Utility”. The updated art carries on with the theme of freedom of speech crusaders who shaped our country such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Benjamin Franklin, while incorporating powerful statements evoking responsibility from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cordoza, and workers’ rights leader Cesar Chavez.

The utility boxes are all accessible by car and foot along Colorado Boulevard at the southeast corners of the intersections of Los Robles, Oakland, Madison, El Molino and Oak Knoll.

"Utility II" by Susan Silton

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“Imagination = Utility” and “Education History = Utility” by Alicia Gorecki

Artist Alicia Gorecki designed two utility boxes for the Playhouse District. The first, at the corner of Union and Hudson near Target, is titled Imagination = Utility. The design celebrates imagination through a colorful depiction of a childhood adventure including a purple dinosaur with a donut hanging from its tail and an octopus playing an instrument with each of its tentacles.

Gorecki’s second design at the corner of Los Robles and Union titled Education History = Utility reflects on the usefulness of the investment in education by conjuring local history through the depiction of one of Pasadena’s first high schools that stood near that same corner.

Bio: Alicia Gorecki is an award winning artist, illustrator, and instructor who makes her home in Pasadena. Her roots in painting, drawing, and printmaking, fuse with digital media. She investigates connections, personal or artistic, pursuing new techniques, inspiration, and knowledge. Gorecki’s work bridges multiple arts disciplines, stylistic boundaries, and areas of focus. Her early work concentrates on the figure and self-reflection. Currently she explores the idea of objects/places as representation of self/others as well as personal and public history. This notion was born in her continuing “Autohomography” series and is further examined through her “Junkshop” works. She reminds us to reflect on our own story. Find out more about Alicia at and follow her on Instagram @aliciagorecki.

Education History = Utility

Education History = Utility at Los Robles and Walnut (across from Arco)

Imagination = Utility

Imagination = Utility at Union and Oak Knoll (Target Pasadena)

“Epiphanies in Pasadena” by John David O’Brien and Molly Bendall

John David O’Brien and Molly Bendall’s collaborative design for two utility boxes on Union at Oakland and at Los Robles are titled Epiphanies in Pasadena. The designs incorporate photographs of the area layered with paint by John David O’Brien and text by Molly Bendall. The dreamy designs layer views to offer the public moments of contemplation.Bio: John David O’Brien is a visual artists, writer and curator working between Los Angeles and Umbria. His practice spans studio and public art and her works in an expanded felid where images, objects and texts aim at constructing an art world. Website »

Molly Bendall is the author of four collections of poetry, After Estrangement, Dark Summer, Ariadne’s Island, and most recently, Under the Quick from Parlor Press. Her poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and publications. Website »


Union and Los Robles
(USC Pacific Asia Museum)



Union and Oakland (Fuller Theological Seminary)

“Utility” by Susan Silton, 2011 – 2016

The public artwork installation on utility boxes paid homage to freedom of speech crusaders who shaped our country such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Benjamin Franklin, Frederick Douglas, and George Washington. It was replaced in 2016 with the “Utility II” installation, above.

The utility boxes are all accessible by car and foot along Colorado Boulevard at the southeast corners of the intersections of Los Robles, Oakland, Madison, El Molino and Oak Knoll.

Artist Statement: Susan Silton selected the image and texts for the community of Pasadena as a way of highlighting the Playhouse District as a centerpiece for culture, and the role that freedom of speech plays within culture. Free speech in the form of image and text is a direct and emblematic way to link the mission of the Playhouse District to the importance of our national right to provide a voice to everyone. Utility makes us mindful of this and is a call to action to recognize and utilize this