You don't have to be an expert on experimental music or the origins of “The Happening” as an artform to have heard of John Cage, the L.A. native and Pomona College dropout who almost single-handedly changed the character of modern American art. That's right, culture god Cage bailed on school halfway through to instead pursue his intended career as a writer by wandering around Europe and inviting into his life the very operations of chance and chaos that would come to animate his genius. Along the way, the composer of the famous 1952 silent piano work 4'33″ discovered affinities between art, behavior, nature, and philosophy, devising a kind of liminal cultural circus that blasted boundaries, up-ended conventions, and both confused and inspired audiences. Cage was also a brave and prolific writer and painter, plus an enthusiastic amateur devotee of Zen Buddhism. In honor of what would have been his 100th birthday, his former college welcomes him back into the fold, with this sweetheart exhibition of watercolors examining Zen parables of enlightenment. “John Cage: Zen Ox-Herding Pictures” is a particularly poetic way to celebrate his legacy, including series of events with thinkers, artists, monks, and musicians keeping the circus in town through the end of the year. Pomona College Museum of Art, 333 N. College Ave., Claremont; Tues.-Sun., noon-5 p.m.; Thurs., 5-11 p.m.; thru Dec. 16. Free. (909) 621-8283.

Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Sept. 4. Continues through Dec. 16, 2012

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