A school drum corps band will march in the street and the mayor of Pasadena will cut a ribbon to open the new Peekaboo Gallery in Pasadena on Saturday afternoon. This new portal to vintage treasures, a former mattress factory built in 1886, is filled with neon signs, carnival attractions, and advertising mascots.
At the center of it all is a main gallery that will rotate with exhibitions designed to be totally immersive environments. The first show: 25¢ a Play: The Art of the Videocade recreates a 1982 mall arcade filled with restored video games and pinball machines. What this version has that the originals never would are early prototype machines, and the actual paintings and illustrations created by artists from Atari and the other major makers used for cabinets and cartridge covers that sold the concept and adventurous fun of the games the same way a movie poster would.
One aspect that’s different than the arcades of yore is that no matter how many quarters you have – these games are not to be played by visitors. Gallery staff will demonstrate on request. These are meticulously restored artifacts and some, like the glorious “Computer Space,” are approaching the half-century mark. That rarity, the first coin-op video game, even makes a cameo in the sci-fi classic Soylent Green.
If you have enough quarters you can take Donkey Kong or Pac Man home with you. Everything is for sale. Even some real groovy Tron-like “circuit socks” that’ll only set you back $18 bucks. The collection was curated by gallery owner Jordan Reichek, a longtime animator with stints at Disney and Warner Bros. who has a passion for pop culture and an eye for vintage Americana.
The gallery will change out the shows bi-monthly, each one designed to transport you to some time machine destination plotted by Reichek, who describes it as a “museum-style theatrical experience.” Sounds like a fun ride!
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