Glendale Library, Alex Theatre Renovations Proceed

Elise Kalfayan


From Opera Talks on Rossini to Mark Geragos on the Criminal Law System

The Library Arts and Culture Department, the Friends of the Glendale Public Library and the Associates of Brand Library continue to offer excellent free programs for the community, even as the Central Library facility awaits an $8 million renovation go-ahead and Brand Library and Art Center remains closed while extensive renovations are underway. Meanwhile, the Alex Theatre is preparing for a temporary closure and adjusting its programming schedule. Despite all this, the incredible range of enriching events offered for the community’s benefit continues, and is a point of real civic pride.

She worked on the city’s excellent Armenian Genocide Commemoration program, which completely filled the Alex Theatre April 24, and Library Armenian Outreach Coordinator Elizabeth Grigorian also helped organize Glendale’s Man’s Inhumanity to Man April 26 program at the Central Library. The series, which Glendale sponsors during the month of April, acknowledges tragedies experienced not only by Armenians, but by other persecuted cultures around the world. The Friday library event was a public forum discussing the injustices committed against Korean Comfort Women during WWII, and was a follow-up to a Summer 2012 exhibit on this topic.

In addition, just since the start of 2013, Grigorian has produced eight Armenian cultural events at the Central Library, and is now promoting the next one: Filmmaker Robert Davidian’s screening of his documentary film Armenian Activists Now – Birth of a Movement (Thursday, May 23, 7pm, in the Central Library Auditorium, 222 E. Harvard St., Glendale).

The Friends of the Glendale Public Library continue to support the Children’s Summer Reading program, the literacy program, and the Author & Artist programs of the library system. Community Events VP Leon Mayer persuaded Mark Geragos, JD, and Pat Harris, JD, to discuss their newly published book, Mistrial: How the Criminal Justice System Works…and Sometimes Doesn’t, at the Central Library on Wednesday, May 15, 7pm, just following the Friends annual meeting. Geragos is one of the most recognized criminal defense attorneys in the U.S., and he appears regularly as a legal analyst on CNN, Fox, and ABC shows.

Glendale Central Library Korean Comfort Women Forum April 26. From left to right: Andrew Kim, Scott Ochoa (City Manager), Elizabeth Grigorian (Armenian Outreach Coordinator), Phyllis Kim (Presenter), Jungran Shin, Joachim Suk-Won Youn (KAFC Spokesperson), Keun Hwang, Dan Bell (City of Glendale Community Relation Coordinator)

Arrive early (6:30pm) on May 15 to sit in on the Friends of the Glendale Public Library’s annual membership meeting, held just before the presentation of Mistrial, in the Central Library Auditorium. The meeting will review Friends’ activities, sponsored programs and new initiatives. It will also briefly cover the anticipated renovation of the Central Library facility, which the Friends have been following for some time, as it impacts the location of their book sale operations.

The Associates of Brand Library and Art Center, which supports Glendale’s art and music library branch and offers free music and dance performances, art shows, lectures such as opera talks and more, has temporarily relocated its programs to the Central Library. (Most of the branch’s art and architecture books and music resources are temporarily housed there as well, so they are still available to the public.) The Associates helped sponsor last year’s Library screening of Grandma’s Tattoos, and just produced the Armen Anassian music series.

Associates Board member Caroline Tufenkian, who has curated exhibits at Brand Library and many other galleries, has taken on the job of fundraising chair for the group. She has also organized Associates’ arts tours to the Fine Arts Building in downtown LA and other significant locations. The Associates of Brand Library will hold its annual meeting this Saturday, May 11, 2pm, in the Shoseian Tea House and Garden and the west end of Brand Park.

As it adjusts planning to become self-sustaining after its city management agreement ends in 2015, Glendale Arts has renewed its annual iHeart fundraising drive to raise the profile of the Alex Theatre, the “Jewel of the Jewel City.” The theatre will close from July through November as upgrades to the back stage and other technical improvements are needed to make the Alex a competitive venue in the Southern California entertainment market. It regularly hosts excellent civic events (among them the city’s Armenian Genocide Commemoration). It also is a great venue for charitable fundraising: Glendale Adventist Medical Center’s Dr. Norick Bogossian Cancer Care Guild sold out the entire theatre May 5 for a night of comedy featuring Maz Jobrani and Vahik Pirhamzei.

Glendale Arts brings first-rate programs like the LA Chamber Orchestra, musicals, ballets and comedies to downtown Glendale, where parking is inexpensive and restaurants abound. The newest addition to its programming is Live Talks Los Angeles, which will be holding three live author events in the theatre, starting with multiple Oscar and Emmy award winner/songwriter Burt Bacharach on May 14. The innovative Glendale Pops, whose shows are produced by Glendale Arts under the artistic direction of multi-talented entertainment veteran Matt Catingub, scheduled its last season two concert in a unique venue – prop house History for Hire (a Glendale Arts business supporter) – while the Alex construction start date was uncertain. The Glendale Pops third season will open at the Alex at the end of the year with HolidayPop!, which this past year featured local vocalist Danielle Sadd as well as a Glendale Youth Chorus.

The Friends of the Glendale Public Library, the Associates of Brand Library and Art Center, Glendale Arts, and the city’s Arts and Culture Commission are all communicating with each other to raise the profile of arts and cultural programming within the city.

The city of Glendale officially approved an Arts & Cultural five-year strategic plan in February 2013. The Arts and Culture Commission is now under the purview of the Library Arts and Culture Department, and the strategic planning initiative that begin last fall was coordinated within the city by library staff member and marketing professional Annette Vartanian.

Vartanian says, “The City has made arts and culture one of its priority goals and is making strategic decisions for investing in the arts for the benefit of the entire community. The Plan helps identify Glendale’s identity as innovative and creative. This is something important to every citizen in Glendale because it really shows that the City is committed to expanding the arts and cultural investments and opportunities in the community. The importance to the Armenian community is that we will be exploring new arts and cultural programs and projects that will speak to the Armenian community, as well as providing opportunities for artists in the community that can include artists of Armenian descent.”

More information about library, arts and cultural programming within the city of Glendale can be found on these webpages:,, and

Elise Kalfayan is a Glendale resident, a native Southern Californian, and a combined first/second generation Armenian-American. She has produced or edited print and online pieces on topics ranging from urban development to Armenian Church history. She is the publisher of a Glendale community news blog, and works as a contract writer, editor, and publishing consultant for clients including businesses, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and memoirists. She is also President, Friends of the Glendale Public Library, and a big fan of the Glendale Pops!


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