Old Pasadena’s Peekaboo Gallery Transforms Historic Building Into Authentic 1980s Videocade

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By BRANDON VILLALOVOS

6:14 pm | May 21, 2018


Peekaboo Gallery may appear to be indistinct brick facade nestled deep inside Old Pasadena’s Mills Place alleyway. But once you step through its doors, you enter a wormhole into a vibrant 1985 video arcade complete with neon classics, vintage oddities, and other items of collectors’ dreams.

The inaugural show, which debuts Saturday, “25¢ A Play: The Art of the Videocade”, showcases a large collection of classic coin-op video arcade games and pinball machines of the 1970s and ’80s art and ephemera in this category.

“We’ve re-created a 1985 mall arcade complete with original machines in absolute museum condition and offered for sale,” said Peekaboo Gallery Director Matt Kennedy.

It is exactly what Kennedy’s title suggests: a gallery, and not an arcade. The games are for sale and not for playing.

Peekaboo Gallery will offer a museum-style, theatrical experience where the showcased subject matter alternates on a regular basis, according to a press release.

The gallery is the brainchild of Jordan Reichek, a 30-year veteran of the animation industry, who has worked with Walt Disney Studios, Nickelodeon, Dreamworks, Spumco, Warner Bros. and Cartoon Network.

“25¢ a Play: The Art of the Videocade” is the first of an experiential installation at the gallery. where Reichek plans to provide a new experience with themed collections every two months.

Collectors will have the opportunity to not only browse, but also purchase the rare and unusual artifacts presented at each exhibition.

Kennedy says Peekaboo Gallery is a great addition to the arts and culture community in Pasadena.

“We are taking that museum presentation, but saying, ‘hey, these are all museum-quality items, but you get to take these home if you think they match your collection’,” he said.

Guests can experience the early Donkey Kong, Asteroids, Pac Man, Zaxxon, Tempest, Tron and Space Invaders.

Also on view will be rare, early titles such as the notorious, 1976 Death Race driving game by Exidy, which originally triggered the “violence in video games” controversy.

Another rare title will be Atari founder, Nolan Bushnell’s, Computer Space from 1971. This legendary game is credited as being the world’s first commercial coin-op video game.

Vintage arcade lovers and collectors will appreciate some of the smaller and rare items Peekaboo has to offer, such as original Atari art, paintings and box covers, interior manual artworks, production and preliminary designs, and more.

“Things that were in development that never happened. It’s sort of like this great celebration of the video era from 1971 to 1987,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy and Reichek sourced the arcade items from all over the country. They were then trucked to Pasadena from as far as 3,000 miles away in the long search for the best of the best.

But a lot of work went into getting them ready for display.

“When we got them here, we would start our repair process,” said Kennedy.

The repairs consisted of an overhaul of original upgrades which are era-specific and the way you would find the games out of the box in the mid-80s.

“We wanted to make sure that we had the best possible presentation of that machine,” explained Kennedy. “Because these are museum pieces, we’re discouraging actual play, but we are willing to give full demonstrations and we want to make sure that whoever buys these machines is getting the-least played, least-touched machine possible.”

The demos will keep the machines in working order.

“But these games were made to be played and you actually don’t want games to be plugged in or unplugged for too long because you want to make sure they’re staying in good condition,” said Kennedy.

The grand opening show for “25¢ a Play: The Art of the Videocade” kicks off Saturday at 3 p.m. and features with a special ribbon cutting ceremony by Mayor Terry Tornek.

Peekaboo Gallery is located at 40 Mills Place in Old Pasadena and regular hours are 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. daily (or otherwise by appointment).

For more information, go to http://peekaboogallery.com.