The Magazine of California Institute of the Arts | Winter 2012
The Magazine of California Institute of the Arts | Winter 2012
Letter From the President
Since the fall, Southern California museums and galleries have been celebrating Pacific Standard Time, a Getty-sponsored array of some 60 exhibitions devoted to the emergence of Los Angeles as a major art center in the years between 1945 and 1980. At the heart of much of this development are CalArts and its influential predecessor institution, the Chouinard Art Institute. Indeed, when asked what changed most significantly during this period, founding faculty member John Baldessari replied, “I think the big change was the impact of CalArts—bringing in other ways and artists from other countries and other cities.” Those “other ways,” based on a new, more open pedagogy, are limned in Freddie Sharmini’s article in this issue, “L.A. Art Looks Back at Itself.” Whether reflected in CalArts’ Feminist Art Program or John Baldessari’s Post-Studio class, students were—as they still are—treated as colleagues, with classes embracing the surrounding world in its diversity of social and artistic influences, and the teaching being often indistinguishable from the artmaking itself. Reflecting on the articles in this issue, I am struck by the continuity of that open pedagogy today: Harry Gamboa Jr., co-founder of the pioneering Chicano art group Asco, bringing his students out into L.A. streets, where his own work began; or students in the School of Theater participating in a Walt Disney Imagineering/CalArts Blue Sky project; or art, music, and film students spending two weeks at the Earthfire Institute’s Wildlife Sanctuary in the Grand Tetons discovering the world of animals in a new way; or our numerous collaborations with peer institutions in Korea, Germany, Russia, China, and around the globe as part of the Institute’s rapidly growing international reach. In each case, students and faculty connect in vital ways with the world beyond our campus, learning by creating in complex and challenging environments, and often, in the process, finding their way to future employment they could not have imagined before. As the recession approaches its fourth year, the economic challenges for students and their families—as for alumni, faculty, and staff—are large, to be sure. Yet our openness to the world has propelled CalArts to international prominence and helped us earn the ranking of #1 college for students in the arts from Newsweek/Daily Beast. This openness will stand us in good stead for the future. Wishing you all the best in 2012, steven d. lavine President, CalArts
CalArts is published twice each year by the CalArts Office of Advancement. California Institute of the Arts Steven D. Lavine, President Bianca Roberts, Vice President, Advancement Editorial: Stuart I. Frolick and Freddie Sharmini Creative Direction: Scott Taylor Design: Joseph Prichard (Art mfa 08) Type in this issue includes: Roletta Sans, Roletta Serif and Spectra Slab by Andrea Tinnes (Art mfa 98), Onick by Ian Lynam (Art mfa 04), International by Lee Schulz (Art mfa 98) and Fernhout Sans by Joseph Prichard (Art mfa 08) Photography: Scott Groller and Steven A. Gunther Telephone: (661) 255-1050 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
THIS PAGE: A Halloween night performance of Mark Z. Danielewskiâ€™s ghost story The Fifty Year Sword at redcat, its eerieness heightened by the shadow theater work of 2012 ted Fellow Christine Marie (Theater-Integrated Media 09) and Ensemble.
First-Ever CalArts Parents Weekend Draws 300 Attendees
BELOW LEFT: CalArts parents join students and faculty in an African drumming workshop.
More than 300 family members and friends of current CalArts students attended the first-ever CalArts Weekend designed specifically for parents on October 21–22. The weekend provided guests with an opportunity to immerse themselves in CalArts culture and meet with faculty, adminis tration and other parents. The program included a welcome luncheon hosted by Tom Lee, co-vice chair of CalArts Board of Trustees; a Parents Circle wine reception with Parents Circle Co-Chairs Edie Baskin Bronson and Trustee Marta Kauffman; state of the Institute remarks by CalArts President Steven D. Lavine followed by a Q&A session; and an alumni panel on work and life after CalArts moderated by LA Stage Alliance ceo and Alumni Association Board Chair Terence McFarland (Interschool mfa 03, Film/Video bfa 00). Panelists were Solid Media advisor Robert Jacobson (Music mfa 00), Dreamworks Lead Lighting Artist Gina Lawes (Film/Video mfa 95), Disney Imagineering intern Laura Youngkin
(Theater mfa 10) and art director and designer Chi-Chi Bello (Art bfa 05). Speaking at the Parents Circle reception, Ms. Kauffman said, “In the past two-and-a-half years my husband and I have grown increasingly impressed by CalArts—by the faculty that teaches our son, by the community of
CalArts Weekend participants take advantage of an array of food trucks in advance of Saturday night’s Wild Beast concert.
artists with whom he collaborates, and by the network of talented alumni that again and again, prove the value of a CalArts education.” In addition to receptions and discussions, CalArts put its own spin on the traditional college parents’ weekend by offering families the opportunity to attend and participate in select Friday classes like African drumming and dance, filmmaking fundamentals and mfa acting, among many others, while setting up special workshops on Saturday that included screenings of the 2011 Character Animation Producers Show, tours of the campus, art galleries and costume shop, and sessions in tai chi, percussion and dna isolation through household products. Other guests attended the CalArts School of Theater production of The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek.
CalArts at Earthfire
In the summer of 2011, four CalArtians traveled to the western slope of Grand Teton National Park for a two-week residency at the Earthfire Instit ute’s Wildlife Sanctuary. The 40-acre Idaho site is home to animals such as bears, wolves, foxes and horses, among others, that cannot be released into the wild. It also provides a place for groups and individuals to retreat and reflect on sustainability issues for the planet. Students Manuel Barenboim (Film/Video mfa 13), John Martin (Art bfa 12) and Jxel Rajchenberg (Music mfa 12)—along with School of Critical Studies faculty member Mike Bryant—received a grant for The Michelle Lund CalArts/Earthfire Residency to create projects that will further the Earthfire Institute’s mission of ecological advocacy. While the artists collaborated on a new work, Bryant, a biologist and statistician, prepared a lecture and helped the Earthfire organization connect its ideas with those of the scientific community.
The weekend culminated with a Los Angeles food truck festival and Wild Beast Concert Series performance of George Antheil’s Ballet Mécanique (1924) and Igor Stravinsky’s Les Noces (The Wedding, 1923) with alumni pianists, faculty vocal soloists, the CalArts Choir and numerous percussionists. The concert proved to be a high note in a nearly pitch-perfect weekend.
“Earthfire exists on the edge of a continuum of ways that people experience wildlife,” says Bryant. “Zoos and wild animal parks offer the chance to see living animals that few ever will in the wild. But the connections made between people and wildlife at Earthfire are far deeper and more profound. A zoo might present “Gray Wolves” with a small sign next to the wolf enclosure. At Earthfire, one sits in the enclosure and if, for example, Cucumber or Apricot want to introduce themselves to visitors, they do so—simply by walking up to you. Referring to the
ABOVE: Michelle Lund (center) with, from left, faculty Mike Bryant and students John Martin, Manuel Barenboim and Jxel Rajchenberg.
animals by name only makes sense when we begin to understand their individual traits or qualities. When we stop thinking about species like wolves on a superficial and generic level, we increase our ability to see the complex roles they play in natural communities.” This is the second year of a partnership between CalArts and Earthfire, envisioned and made possible by Michelle Lund, who serves both on the CalArts Board of Trustees and Earthfire’s board. “I knew that CalArts would be a good fit [with Earthfire]” she says, “because its talented students are full of creative ideas—and they’re driven to introduce new ways of looking at the world. CalArts students are picked from the crème de la crème. They have a real drive that is not fleeting, but is in their soul, and a desire to share their work with the world. The three students who participated in this residency clearly understood and appreciated the Earth fire experience. It was gratifying for me to see that their interaction with the animals inspired their work, which is both beautiful and very interesting.” The third Earthfire residency will send Bryant and a new team of students to Earthfire in the summer of 2012.
Five New Trustees Join the CalArts Board
Recent additions to CalArts Board of Trustees include Alan Bergman, Melissa Draper, Richard J. Grad, Marta Kauffman, and Denita Willoughby. President of Walt Disney Studios, where he oversees strategy and operations for all business units, Alan Bergman joined the CalArts board in October 2009. Mr. Bergman brings deep experience in fin ance, technology and business and legal affairs to CalArts where he serves on the Finance, Investment and Audit Committee of the board. He has also been instrumental in creating relationships between CalArts and a broad range of Disney operating units. Arts and education advocate and former marketing and public relations executive Melissa Draper, currently co-chairs the board of California State Summer School in the Arts (csssa) and is a board director of Population Action International. Ms. Draper joined the CalArts board in October 2010 and serves on its Academic & Campus Affairs Committee. She is taking a lead role in enhancing CalArts’ visibility in the San Francisco Bay Area. Partner in the law firm of Sidley Austin, where he has practiced since 1985, Richard J. Grad joined the CalArts board in May 2011. Mr. Grad’s expertise in
BELOW: From left, President Steven D. Lavine and new trustees Melissa Draper, Richard J. Grad, Marta Kauffman, Alan Bergman and Denita Willoughby.
securities, patent and intellectual property law will be invaluable to the Academic & Campus Affairs Committee on which he serves. As a member of this committee, Mr. Grad has played an active role in CalArts’ search for a new provost. He is also a Board trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art (moca.) Co-creator and executive producer of the TV mega-hit Friends, writer Marta Kauffman joined the CalArts Board in May 2011. Mother of a current student in the Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts, Ms. Kaufman co-chairs the CalArts Parents’ Circle and serves on the trustees’ Academic & Campus Affairs Committee. She also chairs the Board of Directors of the Oakwood School in Hancock Park. Named one of the Most Powerful and Influential Women in California by California Diversity magazine in 2010, governmental affairs and corporate philanthropy executive Denita Willoughby joined the CalArts board in October 2010. Formerly vice president–external affairs for AT&T Los Angeles, Ms. Willoughby, too, brings her extensive experience and expertise to the Academic & Campus Affairs Committee.
berliner photography llc
Jon Lovelace (1928-2011) Elected to CalArts’ Board of Trustees in September 1969, Jon Lovelace’s board leadership positions included Chair of the Board (1983–88), Chair of the Executive Committee, and Chair of the Board Affairs Committee. During Mr. Lovelace’s tenure as Chair of the Board, CalArts grew steadily in prominence, successfully transitioned from one president to another; hosted the first session of csssa; received the largest nea challenge grant ever awarded to an arts training institution (which it used it as the cornerstone of a $10 million campaign); and established an inter school degree program and a joint mfa program in directing in theater and film/video. Under Mr. Lovelace’s leadership the library was computerized; the CalArts budget increased from $4.2 million in 1974–75 to $12.4 million in 1984–85; endowment grew to $21.6 million; a $3 million grant from the Mellon Foundation was the largest grant and had the largest matching ratio (5:1) it had ever awarded to an arts training institution. Mr. Lovelace’s commitment to CalArts, the arts, and arts education created a special bond between him and the CalArts faculty; he was a friend, confidant and advisor to all five presidents of CalArts; and a motivating force and source of wisdom in CalArts’ development. Mr. Lovelace was a quiet, consistent (often “anonymous”) and generous patron of CalArts and charter member of the Walt Disney Associates.
Remembering Jon Lovelace With the death of Jon Lovelace on November 16, 2011, a light goes out in the universe. He was one of the finest human beings my wife Janet and I have ever known: curious about the world, brilliant but without need to display his keen intellect to others; kind, unfailingly generous and unfalteringly loyal; sweet in lovely ways, deeply principled, wise and modest. Jon made one feel better about the human species. CalArts was fortunate to have him as a trustee through nearly all of its history to date; Janet and I were fortunate to count him a dear friend. Jon was both compassionate and strategic in his approach to problem solving; he easily managed logical and mathematical concerns with heart and humor. In a period of high inflation, when I sought Jon’s advice on formatting CalArts’ budgets to clearly articulate the Insti tute’s challenges and accomplishments, I saw the easy and unassuming clarity of Jon’s mind at work. He never forced his solutions on anyone. Rather, Jon waited for others to arrive at the right answer and then he’d heartily agree. Jon and his wife Lillian’s approach to philanthropy was equally strategic and nearly always anonymous. Jon funded whatever critical venture might make the greatest difference for the future, particularly if the project would be impossible otherwise. He supported a full sabbatical system at CalArts to encourage faculty and offer nourishment in the face of tight budgets; and he provided essential support for the first ambitious productions of CalArts’ Center for New Performance. Jon nurtured institutions but always as a way to support individuals in whom he believed, whether it was in business at the Capital Group or in his philanthropy. At CalArts, he endowed chairs in the name of two of his closest friends on the faculty, Mel Powell and Nicholas England, both of whom had played critical roles in the development of CalArts, and he did it while they were alive to enjoy the recognition. Later, when he contemplated a final large gift to CalArts, he chose to endow chairs in the names of the three CalArts presidents with whom he had worked closely, Robert Corrigan, Robert Fitzpatrick and myself. Jon’s generosity toward CalArts knew no bounds. Virtually every area of the life of our institution has been improved through his engagement and generosity. In so many arenas, Jon’s legacy is vast. It will be felt long into the future in the institutions he helped build. Less visibly but just as real, it will be felt by the many people he touched and for whom he stands as an inspiring model of human goodness and humane achievement.
— Steven D. Lavine
by freddie sharmini
OPPOSITE: CalArts field trip for a project called Rolling: Tire, 1972. From left, Dede Bazyk, John Baldessari, Suzanne Kuffler, Matt Mullican and David Trout.
CalArts and redcat present a cultural history of Los Angeles experimental art in the age of counterculture As global megacities go, Los Angeles is a young one, having been a pueblo of only 5,000 a century and a half ago, after surrender by Mexico to the United States. Its popular history since then has been laced with much boosterism, mythmaking, revisionism, and self-regard. There was the momentous arrival of the transcontinental railroad, followed by the discovery of oil; the “diversion” of water from the Sierras; marketing a golden land of citrus and sunshine to Midwesterners; the founding of the tinseltown and aviation industries; mass migration from the Dust Bowl and the South; the influx of Europeans fleeing the war; a long tumultuous record of ethnic strife and police brutality and civic corruption; vast suburban sprawl; maddening automobile traffic; earthquakes and fires. And, as of the latest census, an incredibly diverse population approaching 20 million in the larger metro region, the second largest in North America.
of Southern California artmaking on the world stage is the subject of the Getty’s monumental Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A., 1945–1980, the unprecedented regionwide, six-month-long series of exhibitions, screenings, performances and other programs presented in collaboration with more than 60 partners, among them California Institute of the Arts. CalArts and its predecessor, the Chouinard Art Institute, were cornerstones of this creative development, and dozens of alumni and faculty—both current and former— are duly showcased in Pacific Standard Time’s exhaustive slate of offerings. “It’s hard to imagine the L.A. art scene today without CalArts,” said the Los Angeles Times in its Culture Monster blog. Founding School of Art faculty member John Baldessari (Chouinard 59), speaking at the Hammer Museum recently, was asked what he saw as the biggest development in Southland art over the past 50 years. “I think the big change was the
L.A. also has art. Serious art. BELOW (L TO R):
The Experimental Impulse installation at redcat, designed by Jessica Fleischmann (Art mfa 01), faculty Martin Kersels and Dean Thomas Lawson.
CalArts promotional folder with calligraphy by Sister Corita Kent, from a boxed set screenprinted by Christian Hedberg ihm and David Meckelburg, c. 1968. An outdoor confab at CalArts in the early 1970s.
facing photo: james welling, courtesy of john baldessari studio
By mid-century, Los Angeles had developed its own local traditions of art, design and architecture, with distinctive, albeit eclectic, characteristics. But it was in the decades following the Second World War, most decisively through the turbulent 1960s and ’70s, that the city’s art scene began gaining some measure of international recognition as a much more open, freewheeling alternative to the establishments of New York and the European art capitals. This emergence
A visitor to The Experimental Impulse listens to an audio interview.
Poster for the CalArts School of Design by Sheila de Bretteville, 1970.
Spring Fair at CalArts, 1973.
John Baldessari, 109 items for action, Post-Studio class at CalArts (page 1), c. 1973.
Significantly, the exhibition did not include any artworks. Instead, it consisted exclusively of reproductions and facsimiles of materials culled from publications, institutional archives, and personal collections, as well as new video and audio interviews with artists, designers, writers, curators, patrons, and collectors. Impulse also featured an extended online component, with commissioned essays, videos, and other content available on the School of Art’s online journal East of Borneo, edited by Stacey Allan.
The vibrant, rapidly developing L.A. art scene of the late ’60s is vividly described in a video interview with conceptual art stalwart Allen Ruppersberg (Chouinard 67). There was a lot going on. Among the sizable community of artists were forward-thinking Chouinardians such as Ed Ruscha (60) and Robert Irwin (54). The gallery set-up, operating without much of a market, included adventurous venues such as the Eugenia Butler Gallery and provisional artist-run spaces. The Pasadena Art Museum, under the eccentric Walter Hopps, had visionary programming; the newly relocated lacma was up and running. Passionate patrons, especially Elyse and Stanley Grinstein, encouraged and helped sustain ambitious new work, and there was deepening interaction and exchange with conceptual artists from New York and Europe. And in 1970 CalArts came onto the scene as a game-changer, with its out-of-the-box approach to the arts and pedagogy and professed emphasis on creative experimentation.
As part of the Pacific Standard Time lineup, CalArts has already held two screenings at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (redcat)—with another one on the way. But CalArts’ most expansive contribution to Pacific Standard Time was an idiosyncratic exhibition titled The Experimental Impulse, held at the Gallery at redcat. Put together by the School of Art after two years of collaborative research by students working in a special seminar, “the exhibition tracked developments in critical art practice from 1965 and through the ’70s, and connected those histories to more recent approaches to artmaking,” says School of Art dean Thomas Lawson, co-organizer of the show with redcat curator Aram Moshayedi.
The overall curatorial approach specifically considered the histories in question from the standpoint of artists who live and work in the city today rather than that of art historians. “The most significant discovery the research group made was that they were less interested in the art that was made than the networks of exchange and the support structures to make that art become visible, and viable,” explains Lawson. “Those structures ranged from CalArts itself to various artist-run initiatives, alternative spaces and publications, and even moving past conventional artworks into other forms of performance, like music and the club scene. So we decided to do something impressionistic and it would involve hearing people talk about different aspects of their practice, their thought processes, and the issues they were facing at the time. And we zeroed in on the ’70s as being an important period, when experimentation was particularly significant.”
impact of CalArts—bringing in other ways and artists from other countries and other cities,” Baldessari replied. “And then students from CalArts staying here and going on to teach, and then their students.”
courtesy of john baldessari studio
Sheila de Bretteville, c. 1971.
Visitors at the opening of The Experimental Impulse.
Foundation for Art Resources address book and telephone cover designed by Kim Gordon, c. 1979.
Yet as the 1970s wore on, even as figures like Baldessari and CalArts faculty colleagues Michael Asher, Miriam Schapiro and Sheila Levrant de Bretteville were rev olutionizing art and design education, and CalArts was graduating artists who would soon strike it big in New York, L.A.’s own art infrastructure was beginning to falter, the local scene’s previous energy starting to fizzle. “By ’73, ’74, it was gone, and we were back to square one,” Ruppersberg recalls. The Pasadena Art Museum had closed; lacma was scaling back its program; many private galleries were forced to shut down; Artforum had long shipped off. “All because of money, the bigger picture being, I guess, the economic fallout from the  oil crisis,” offers Lawson. “The city became more provincial again. And it was in that space that artists were thrown back on themselves, left to their own devices. These new conditions gave them permission to experiment even more, and because there was no place for them in this new landscape, they had to create their own space.” +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Fiona Connor (mfa 11), one of the researchers behind The Experimental Impulse, notes that the curatorial focus on the culture of experimentation, on artist-driven alternative spaces, and on creative “self-determinism” had special resonance for the group, who, as artists
coming out of school in a difficult economic climate, are confronted with challenges not dissimilar to those of their earlier counterparts. “We didn’t want to confirm the legacies of individual artists,” Connor says, “but really look at the ways in which people were able to give themselves time and space to experiment, to retain that ‘real-estate’ where art could be made.” As one example, she cites Womanhouse, the landmark 1971 collaborative installation set up in an abandoned Hollywood mansion by students from the CalArts Feminist Art Program, founded by Miriam Schapiro and Judy Chicago. The project’s explicit aim was to make work about women’s lives outside the framework of male-controlled institutions, the artists in effect taking the “institutional” function into their own hands. Womanhouse was followed in 1973 by the opening of the L.A. Woman’s Building, a non-commercial artist-run space started by Chicago and CalArts faculty Arlene Raven and Sheila de Bretteville. The Woman’s Building presented hundreds of exhibitions and continued as a center for performance art until 1991. Other notable alternative organizations were the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art (laica), the Foundation for Art Resources, and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (lace), which is still going today. In addition to its coverage of artist-initiated ventures, the CalArts group focused its research on several special topics. Benjamin Tong documented the progressivehumanistic program of the CalArts School of Design, a separate school until it was incorporated into the School of Art in 1975. Krista Buecking looked at the role of self-published ’zines and journals like Wet and High Performance, while Yogi Proctor followed the emergence of video and other new technologies. The influence of early Los Angeles punk was the subject of Ariane Roesch’s research. Connor, for her part, examined the growing confluence of conceptual art and pedagogy, as
courtesy of dorit cypis
“L.A. was a great place to live and work, and you could get things done,” says Ruppersberg in the video. “Plenty of interesting people from all over, and it was a cheap city. As an artist here, it was the energy you had and that didn’t cost you anything. Everything was accessible. You could go anywhere anytime you wanted to, see work, connect with people. It opened up your mind, not having any limitations.” (The city actually did impose limitations—severe limitations—on parts of its population. See the interview on page 14.)
L.A. Art Looks Back at Itself
Tom Jimmerson, David Askevold and Michael Asher at laica, 1977.
Womanhouse exhibition catalogue, designed by Sheila de Bretteville, 1972.
Students and faculty of the Women’s Design Program at CalArts, c. 1972.
“Experimentation is like sex, it never goes out of style” — Fiona Connor (mfa 11)
Apart from Benjamin Tong’s compilation of materials from the short-lived School of Design, the aspect of the exhibition that speaks perhaps most directly to CalArts’ own origins is the nexus of art practice and teaching, as chronicled by Fiona Connor. Led by founding provost Herbert Blau, the faculty envisioned CalArts as the next Black Mountain College in radical arts education. They saw their mission as not only fostering new forms and expressions, but also finding new methods in the pedagogy of art. A key tenet of their approach was to upend the then-traditional hierarchy of teacher and student, favoring instead a more collegial model of oneon-one relationships. “I did not even call [the students] students,” says Baldessari in a recent interview with Connor. “They were just young artists, and I treated them that way. We were just artists working together, and it kept the wall between teacher and student as low as possible.”
The art faculty also broke open the entrenched divisions of art departments: painting and sculpture in fine art, drawing and photography in commercial art. In another, much earlier interview—this time with the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art in 1992 Baldessari noted that he was originally hired by CalArts as painting faculty. “They didn’t know what else to call me,” he said. “So I said to [School of Art dean] Paul Brach, ‘Can I teach something a little bit more along the lines of what I’m doing?’” What the artist was doing was to “cremate” his entire inventory of paintings, and to turn instead to his iconic early photo-emulsion image-and-text pieces. Brach consented, and the result was Baldessari’s legend ary “Post-Studio” class, a wide-open forum in which students, already encouraged to question every prevailing orthodoxy, were invited to try out photography, video, film, text, sound, performance, or any other media at hand. “I don’t think it’s good to have categories,” Baldessari said to Connor. “Having a post-studio class made sense because otherwise people would have kept on painting and making sculptures while the world was changing and people were experimenting and trying out new things… So post-studio [a term he attributes to Carl Andre] seemed to indicate to people that there might be some other kind of class situation where art could be happening.”
embodied by the likes of Baldessari, Asher, Mary Kelly, Suzanne Lacy (mfa 73), Dorit Cypis (mfa 77) and others, while also interviewing several of their one-time students, such as James Welling (mfa 74, bfa 72) and Christopher Williams (mfa 81, bfa 79).
Blueprint for Counter Education by founding CalArts Critical Studies dean Maurice Stein and Larry Miller, 1970.
Peter de Bretteville and Toby Cowan, Metamorphokit bed, c. 1971.
Robert Covington, Spotting TV Reflections, set up and performance for John Baldessari’s Post-Studio class at CalArts, 1973.
The installation features enlargements of three experimental curriculum posters from Blueprint for Counter Education.
“It was a heady time,” says Baldessari in Connor’s interv iew. “Art was really exciting back then because people thought that art could get better. Now I don’t think there is that feeling. We talk about pluralism and that there are all kinds of ways to do art. But it doesn’t get better; it just gets different.” It is no accident, then, that the CalArts students would want to look back to the heyday of L.A. experimental art in the era of counter-culture. Given today’s economic and political gridlock, it is hardly surprising they should want to rekindle that period’s spirit of enterprise and can-do self-reliance, its sense of possibility, and forward progress. Fiona Connor holds out much hope. “Experimentation is like sex,” she says. “It never goes out of style.”
courtesy of the artist
courtesy of scott taylor
Connor says she found commonalities in interviewing her subjects. “The teaching methods themselves are like conceptual narratives in that they rely on an audience to be complete work,” she notes. “This emphasis on people and audience meant something was at stake in class and at school. The classroom was a place where work was made. And while the artists didn’t know how anything would turn out and experimentation was
happening in the truest sense of the word, there was this sense of progress, on having some influence on art history, and on the world.”
The motley, funny range of activities in the Post-Studio class (some of Baldessari’s epigrammatic class notes are reproduced on page 9) soon blurred the line between teaching and the artist’s own practice. Baldessari has always been frank about teaching as a livelihood, but then at some point he decided “to make it as much like art as I could, given the parameters of the teaching situation. So it came to a point that one will loop back on through the other, that my art would be an example or illustrative of or a metaphor for the things in class. And I was going at my class much like I would do art, which was trying to be as formed as possible but open to chance.” Another example of this “looping” function was the relationship between Michael Asher’s situational conceptualism and his Friday marathon critique classes, which often lasted deep into the night. “For Post-studio, we took the clock out of the equation and forgot about time,” Asher says. “Also, I wanted the students to listen to themselves rather than me.”
The pioneering Chicano art group Asco—comprising Harry Gamboa Jr., Gronk, Willie Herrón III, Patssi Valdez and occasional contributor Humberto Sandoval —has finally received long-overdue recognition as part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A., 1945–1980. CalArts magazine visited with Gamboa, the co-director of the Institute’s Program in Photography and Media, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (lacma) last fall as the museum was holding the exhibition Asco: Elite of the Obscure, a Retrospective, 1972–1987. CALARTS: It must be deeply ironic that lacma is mounting the Asco retrospective, since the group tagged this site in 1972 [in a work called Spray Paint lacma], claiming the whole museum as your artwork by signing it. HARRY GAMBOA JR.: One of the interesting things about the museum affirmation now is that, for many years, Asco—which means “nausea” or “disgust” in Spanish—was so ephemeral that much of the work would instantly disappear. Spray Paint lacma actually existed only for a few hours. [Willie Herrón, Gronk and I] went in at 4 o’clock in the morning, spray painted the entrance to the museum, and I brought Patssi Valdez back at 9 a.m. to photograph her, and by 10 everything had been already white-washed. Not enough time for anyone to complain! CALARTS: Asco’s work—unpredictable, hit-and-run street performance, stylish photography and direction, the early understanding of “media criticism”—was as sophisticated and multifaceted as the conceptual art coming from art schools, except that your work was emerging from everyday life in East Los Angeles. HARRY GAMBOA JR.: I used to tell people that, when I was born, they shook the baby blanket and I flew out and landed in the street. And I went for it. The majority of time was spent on the street instead of school, but
the education there was super intense. We, as a group, had this sense of understanding of what the world was about. In 1972, the demographics in Los Angeles were obviously very different, as was the tone in accepting or understanding people across the city. East L.A. was very segregated, like a separate country, and it was just at the early stages of recovering from very violent social conflicts and police riots. What was in the air, unmistakably, was the intrinsic resistance of institutions accepting even an introduction to Chicano art, banning it from any mainstream systems. Spray Paint lacma wasn’t directed at any one museum, but we felt [the city’s cultural institutions] were missing out on a whole swath of culture in Los Angeles, the second largest Mexican city in the world. CALARTS: Can you talk about Decoy Gang War Victim —which was on the cover of the October 2011 Artforum issue on Pacific Standard Time—and use that piece to talk about the Asco process? HARRY GAMBOA JR.: That piece was a commentary on two major newspapers [the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner] that were utilizing negative Chicano imagery to sell papers, showing Chicanos almost only as gangsters (the other option was “illegal aliens”). And [the coverage] would endanger people, because they would publish names and gang affiliations, home addresses of the victims, where the perpetrators hung out, basically providing a road map for more gang war. So my idea was to have a convincing image that I could present as that of being the last gang member ever killed in East L.A.—then that might break the chain the retribution. In the shoot, we staged Gronk as the fallen “gang member,” set up flares, and utilized the bluish tone of the vapor lamps, and we did it at a site in East Los Angeles where many people had lain dead only about a year earlier. So that added to the overall eeriness of the picture. And as I did with most of our projects, I would make multiples of the picture,
Asco members in 1975, from left, Gronk, Patssi Valdez, Willie F. Herr贸n III and Harry Gamboa Jr.
Chicano Art Heroes
漏1975, harry gamboa jr.
TOP: Asco, Decoy Gang War Victim, 1974. ©1975, harry gamboa jr.
BOTTOM: Asco, Spray Paint lacma, 1972.
— Harry Gamboa Jr.
“I felt I had a bigger story to tell than to wind up in a negative place.”
©1972, harry gamboa jr.
Asco: Chicano Art Heroes
write some texts—often contradictory texts—and then distribute them in packages to various people, at universities, publications, really anybody who I thought might be interested. For Decoy Gang War Victim, I wrote some more text, and then transformed myself, put on a suit, got a shave and haircut, trotted out a briefcase, and I was introduced to several news people on local television. I managed to convince them basically that “This was the last gang member ever to be killed,” and it was broadcast on several of the local television stations. It would be the still image with a newscaster talking over it. That was the idea: to disrupt the flow of the negative imagery. CALARTS: This is long before “media criticism,” or “media intervention,” or “viral media” had entered our lexicon. HARRY GAMBOA JR.: Growing up with the leftist politics of the late ’60s, and having come to the attention of the authorities as a student movement leader, there was the threat of direct bodily harm, and imprisonment—this was the era of assassination. I felt I had a bigger story to tell than to wind up in a negative place. I also felt that where the hatred and the violence starts is in the manipulation of the attitudes of the public, and so my focus, in turn, primarily turned to altering the perception of the viewer. And the idea of altering the perception of the viewer would be part of the very elaborate and sophisticated understanding of what perception is all about. And it involved taking into consideration not only my own cultural background, but things that were going on in the American counterculture. I taught myself to take photographs, with the idea of making sure the performances were directed and photographed in a way to create some level of impact. And to make a convincing argument, for us, needed the creation of something highly stylized and something that was up to a level of professionalism, so that the general viewer often wasn’t aware that [the works] were stranger things to look at and assess than they first appeared. This also required me to learn English at a certain level and certain social cues. CALARTS: What’s remarkable about the Asco pieces from the early ’70s is how seamlessly the work moves from life in East L.A. and iconic elements in Chicano culture to the pop styles of that era, from the modish French New Wave films to stylized glam culture. And that it was morbidly funny. HARRY GAMBOA JR.: I would spend the weekdays in East Los Angeles, but spend the weekends on the Sunset Strip, and see all the big rock stars, and realize there was a whole flip-side to the experience I was getting in East L.A., only a few miles away. And when I first met Patssi Valdez outside Garfield High, she was with a group of other girls, and I thought it looked like a scene out of [Michelangelo] Antonioni. Growing up in
the barrio didn’t preclude awareness of the Beatles, awareness of the earlier films. It was not taught in school, was not available in the libraries, and required a bit of research. Also, there were times when you encountered people who were either television or movie stars and you caught them off the set, and saw them drunk or yelling or trying to remind everybody they’re famous, and you saw them almost as though they were in this psychological quicksand. The barrier between the screen and the reality and the surreality seemed penetrable, and pretty early on, I got the idea that it was all high and low theater. For us, every opportunity was an opportunity to perform, and every opportunity to perform was an opportunity to reflect and introduce the notion of a population undergoing a different experience in America and not being recognized for its deep involvement in production, creative output, and sacrifice in war on behalf of America. CALARTS: Asco, in its early days, received considerable criticism from other Chicano artists. HARRY GAMBOA JR.: Oh yes. We threatened the balance of people who wanted to be folkloric representatives of Chicano culture—who provided the visual experience for those eager to consume the visual experience—and who wanted to go back to a much earlier part of Mexico’s history, even as far back as the pre-Colombian era, which was also mythical. CALARTS: And teaching? When did you first come to CalArts? HARRY GAMBOA JR.: My first teaching experience was at CalArts in 1988. [Longtime faculty member] Allan Sekula was at a panel discussion I did at ucla, which became very chaotic, and at the end the only person who came up to me was Allan, who said he enjoyed the talk. I heard from him some time later and was asked to take his teaching slot during his sabbatical. I came back five years ago. I guess I couldn’t stay away. I’ve been doing classes in which we bring the CalArts students out into the streets of L.A. and show them how to traverse the landscape, to integrate their bodies and imagery into the environment and to alter it. Couldn’t stay away from that, either, I suppose. In the 1980s Asco splintered into a series of sideprojects and solo pursuits until the group disbanded in 1987. Asco: Elite of the Obscure, a Retrospective, 1972–1987 next travels to the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Massachusetts, opening on Feb. 4. More material on Asco is available on the School of Art’s online journal eastofborneo.org. See pacificstandardtime.org for other exhibitions on Chicano art. Harry Gamboa Jr., in addition to co-heading the CalArts Program in Photography and Media, makes artworks such as fotonovelas, performs with a regular troupe, and writes.
BELOW: Walt Disney Imagineering’s project brief placed particular emphasis on communication skills, presenting Theater School students with an unusual “performance” challenge.
From left, Asta Hostetter, Mireya Lucio and Mary Hamrick, the team that explored new directions for the street experience in Frontierland.
by thomas goff
When the José Limón Dance Company arrived in Los Angeles in the spring of 2006, its legendary artistic director, Carla Maxwell, came to CalArts and worked with six stand-out students as she revised founder Limón’s classic Missa Brevis. Undergraduate Jonathan Fredrickson (bfa 06) participated, performed with the full company on stage at the Ahmanson Theater in downtown L.A.—and the company hired him that summer, launching his professional career. When School of Critical Studies Writing Program Director and Interim Co-Dean Janet Sarbanes recommended graduate student Elizabeth Hall (mfa 11) to Teresa Carmody, a founder and co-director of the publishing cooperative Les Figues Press, Carmody offered Hall an internship, and then, upon graduation, hired her this past summer as an assistant editor and external relations chief. Funded visits by percussionists are among the most popular educational programs sponsored by the L.A. Music Center. When Center program coordinator Gregg Johnson (bfa 77, mfa 79), needed a new instructor, he met with Andrew Grueschow (bfa 96, mfa 99), a teacher in the Herb Alpert School of Music, on campus and offered him the position.
Each year hundreds of visiting artists come to CalArts to present or screen their work, teach master classes or direct productions—and each represents an opportunity for students to link up with an artist who may ease their entry into the creative professions. In a typical year, for example, the School of Art hosts more than 80 working artists, designers and theorists. Last spring’s exercise between Walt Disney Imagin eering and the School of Theater was unusual in that 12 students had the opportunity to interact with, be mentored by, and ultimately to present their ideas to wdi executives. CalArts alumni Michael Jung (Theater mfa 93) and Jim Clark (Critical Studies mfa 00) are both corporate leaders at Imagineering, the fabled research and creative technology arm of The Walt Disney Company. Jung, who oversees development of all of Disney’s stage shows, and Clark, a Disney assistant producer, planned a creative exercise with the help of Claudia Bloom, CalArts’ director of institute partnerships and Travis Preston, dean of the School of Theater, designed to provide a taste of “real world” experience for 12 students. Eleven graduate students—plus one undergraduate—from the Theater School were selected to work in teams of three, each group choosing one of 12 Disney-branded options on which to brainstorm and problem-solve. The teams’ selected challenges, all hypothetical, were a new park attraction based on the animated film Tangled, a reinvention of the street experience at Frontierland, a play space based on the character Wall-E, and a festival organized around the Marvel comic book characters recently acquired by Disney. wdi mentors assigned to each team met with the students once a week over the month-long schedule. Jung and Clark, joined as mentors by Imagineers Matt Almos and David Durham, asked the students to create and present their best ideas, on deadline, to some of the toughest judges of artistic talent in the country: the leadership team on Imagineering’s Glendale campus. “The Blue Sky process at Disney is the beginning phase of any project,” says Clark. “At that level we are given complete creative freedom, and I was impressed by how well—and how immediately—the students took to this free-form approach. We introduced them to operations and the pertinent divisions of wdi, and set them loose. They were all enthusiastic. When Mireya Lucio presented with her teammates, they even included some theater and dancing to bring it all home.”
photos courtesy of the walt disney company
Best known for its role in redefining existing art forms and inventing new ones, CalArts also plays a vital role in guiding students toward career opportunities both within and without their artistic métiers. A Blue Sky Project with Walt Disney Imagineering in spring 2011 is a prime example of a corporate relationship that became a win-win for all participants.
While post-project internships were not part of the original Blue Sky Project plan, two participants, Lucio and Tiana Torrilhon, both received calls from company recruiters and each was awarded a paid internship. Says Torrilhon, who nurtured dreams of working on the design of Disney theme parks since childhood: My group tackled the ride based on Tangled. Michael Jung was our mentor and he introduced us early on to the film’s actual directors, producers and art directors. Their insights informed the spirit and intention of our work. Later we met with Tony Baxter who gave us tips on the fine points of ride design. Tony was responsible for the rides at Disneyland Paris and designed Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain—so we were learning from the best.
Blue Sky Pioneers The 12 students from the School of Theater who participated in the Walt Disney Imagineering/ CalArts Blue Sky Project last spring were: Bob Cucuzza (mfa 11), Adam Frank (mfa Lighting Design), Mary Hamrick (mfa 11), Simon Harding (mfa Scene Design), Asta Hostetter (mfa Costume Design), Julianne Just (mfa Directing), Mireya Lucio (mfa 11), Sarah Merkel (mfa 11), Laura Swanson (mfa 11), Alice Tavener (mfa 11), Tiana Torrilhon (mfa 11), Chase Woolner (bfa Scene Design).
In her post-project internship, Torrilhon landed assignments in Imagineering’s advanced research and development division and worked on several actual Disney Blue Sky projects that regularly push across both technological and conceptual borders. She is currently working on project teams supporting Shanghai Disneyland. Lucio, who spent several years in New York honing her acting skills, says, “I came to CalArts because I had shifted my focus from purely acting to the development of my own body of work. I was initially surprised at the interest the R&D department at Imagineering was showing in someone like me, with a background in performance. But the department creates immersive experiences with their advanced technologies. It
welcomed and embraced me precisely because of my understanding of the way people interact in performative contexts, as well as my knowledge of story and structure.” Jung, who is currently creating and testing Chineselanguage shows for the new Shanghai park as well as stage performances for a new Disney Fantasy cruise ship, says that he too, was surprised by his early experience at wdi. “When I came to Disney,” he says, “I thought I would work here one year, at most. I’m past 10 years now and just loving it. My mind explodes when I realize all I have done and am doing here. Imagineering employs artists in more than 140 disciplines, so when I joined the CalArts alumni board last year, I wanted to find a way to open the door to these oppor tunities for more of the kids on campus.” “The support we got from Imagineering was beyond my wildest dreams,” says Travis Preston. “The quality of engagement with the in-house mentors like Jim and Michael was the highest I’ve ever witnessed in all of our outreach or internship programs for the School of Theater.” The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance, which hosted a preliminary master class with professional dancers and choreographers from Disneyland Anaheim in December 2011, will join the wdi Blue Sky Project when it returns to CalArts in spring 2012. Immediate, full time employment isn’t always in the cards for graduates in any of the arts. Those artists who insist on having their own say and ultimate sway over their career paths and artistic outputs long after graduation must build multi-centric careers with many facets and income streams, developing friendships and relationships first established and later enriched at the Institute. Says Bloom: “The wdi Blue Sky Project provides a valuable model for companies that depend on creative talent for their growth. Working directly and intensely with students at CalArts can lead to relationships that both invigorate corporate thinking and steer students toward life-changing careers.” Herb Alpert School of Music dean David Rosenboom notes that a majority of his school’s graduates end up in the careers they trained for at CalArts. “It takes a certain tenacity to even get into CalArts, so the students enrolled here have already self-selected for endurance—and those traits over time, and connections made right here on campus, have helped even the most independent alumni navigate their own successful, if complex career paths.” ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Thomas Goff is a Los Angles-based freelance writer.
The CalArts Connection
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP RIGHT: Julianne Just presenting her team’s vision for a ride based on the film Tangled. From left, Tianna Torrilhon, Julianne Just, Adam Frank, and the Tangled team’s mentor, Disney Imagineering’s Michael Jung. A detail from the Tangled team’s presentation. Sarah Merkel presenting her team’s ideas for a play space built around the character of wall-e.
“Working directly and intensely with students at CalArts can lead to relationships that both invigorate corporate thinking and steer students toward life-changing careers.” — Claudia Bloom, director of institute partnerships
THIS SPREAD: 1— The Zollverein Industrial Complex in Essen, Germany, a unesco World Heritage Site and the location of pact Zollverein. 2— Who For/What For, a multimedia performance by Mélodie Mousset (Art mfa 10), Zachary Sharrin (Art mfa 11) and Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttr (Music mfa 11).
3— Encounters I May or May Not Have Had With Peter Berlin by Mariah Garnett (Film/Video mfa 11).
4— Members of dark fare Trio prepare for their performance. 5— The sanaa Building at pact Zollverein. 6— a, e, i, o, u, y, choreographed and performed by Andrew Wojtal (Dance bfa 11). 7— Preparing for the performance of Who For/What For. 8— KarmetiK Machine Orchestra: GanaPatiBOT v.4, an interactive sound installation by faculty Michael Darling and Ajay Kapur. pact zollverein images: jon rutzmoser
by freddie sharmini
CalArtsâ€™ global presence is expanding through a range of initiatives including partnerships, performances, exchanges and stepped-up recruiting efforts. 8
As the world today grows ever more interconnected in communications, finance, commerce, and politics, so too does it in the arena of arts and culture. In fact, an artist collaborating across national borders is now, if not the prevailing norm, then hardly an exception. Such interconnection also holds true for higher education, as students fan out across the globe in search of the educational opportunities that best suit their interests and professional ambitions. One locale where CalArts is likely to be quite well-known for some time is Essen, Germany, home to the pact Zollverein arts center. Following a previous collaboration, in 2009, pact Zollverein invited the Institute to present a four-day program this past fall as part of the Ruhr Triennial festival—the first time such an invitation had been extended to an arts college. Titled “CalArts Plays Itself,” the showcase featured an extensive range of original work by dozens of students and recent graduates from all six CalArts schools. Emphasizing the collaborative and interdisciplinary ethos championed by the Institute, this was the largest school-wide international presentation ever made by CalArts, with a traveling contingent of more than 30 students and faculty members. “Knocked my socks off,” said the reviewer for the culture site 2010lab.tv, calling the CalArts mini-fest the “potential highlight of the fall.” “pact Zollverein was an absolutely amazing experience,” says choreographer Natalie Metzger (Dance mfa 11), who performed as part of the interdisciplinary group Luminis Sphaera. “It was great to interact with the artists there, including some big names like [choreographer] William Forsythe. Plus the feedback from the German audiences— we had packed houses every night—was very instructive in showing different cultural approaches to the arts.” “Quite a number of our students,” adds Carol Kim, CalArts’ vice president–International Relations, “have actually found their big break abroad, where there are more support structures for young artists, like grants and residencies and fellowships, than we have in the U.S.” “CalArts Plays Itself” comes on the heels of several other extraordinary international projects. Last year saw a collaboration between the School of Theater and the Russian Academy of Dramatic Arts to create an original stage work. Sponsored by the U.S. State Department, the play, Old Boyfriend, was developed at CalArts and received its world premiere in Moscow. Composition faculty Anne LeBaron presented The Silent Steppe Cantata—featuring tenor Timur Bekbosunov (Music mfa 08) and the Sazghen Sazy National Folk Chamber Orchestra—in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and again in the city of Astana. Another new work was a trilingual production of King Lear, called Lear/ Layer. It was created by a joint team from the Institute and Seoul’s Chung Ang University and staged on campus. “Lear/Layer was one of the most distinctive artistic experiences I’ve ever had,” says mfa costume designer Lynne Martens (who also designed costumes for a dance production in “CalArts Plays Itself”). “Two cultures, multiple languages, and different
ABOVE & RIGHT: 1— A local child plays with the AH! opera no-opera Interactive Multi-touch Table. 2— Trailer Trash (Coffee With a Nomad), a performance by Sam Breen (Theater mfa 11), with set/installation by Breen and faculty Michael Darling. 3— The Zollverein Industrial Complex’s 12th Shaft, a modernist landmark and symbol of Essen and the entire Ruhr district. 4— dark fare Trio’s Stephanie Smith (Music mfa 11) in performance. 5— drive by, a video and sound installation by Francisco Janes (Film/Video mfa 12). 6— Concrete Situations, an outdoor installation by Fiona Connor (Art mfa 11) that uses materiality to initiate a dialogue with the site’s architecture.
images: jon rutzmoser
1 THIS PAGE: 1— Cameron Evans (Dance bfa 11) and Princess Mecca Romero (Dance bfa 11) rehearse for Symbiosis Mutualism. 2— Elements from The Expanding Archive, Scott Barry (Art mfa 11) and Neil Doshi’s (Art mfa 10) investigation of the role of the designer as seen through the filter of CalArts’ history. 3— Who For/What For.
OPPOSITE: 4— Life at Sea, a collaborative performance in the Institute’s Main Gallery at the conclusion of the Jakarta Institute of the Arts residency. 5— Artists from Seoul’s Chung Ang University and CalArts collaborated on Lear/Layer, a trilingual adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear.
images: jon rutzmoser
6— Visiting Brazilian students in the cap Summer Arts Program.
“Our challenge is ‘How can we collaborate with international counterparts so that our students can become better connected beyond the domestic scene?’” Carol Kim, vice president, International Relations
artistic métiers—these challenges somehow became creative assets, and made all of the artists think much more carefully about our work.” Composer Paul Fraser (Music mfa 11), another member of the Lear/Layer team, looks to be involved with the upcoming return engagement with Chung Ang in Seoul. “We got a lot out of the collaboration creatively, and made new friends in the process,” he says. “It’d be great to continue from where we left off.” An ongoing partnership with Chung Ang would add to the long-term affiliations the Institute already enjoys with Cultura udg, based at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico, and the Jakarta Institute of the Arts (ikj) in Indonesia. The School of Theater, meanwhile, has been presenting work at the famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe each summer for the past decade, and has had a summer research program based in Kigali, Rwanda, since 2006. In connection with the latter, the School of Theater also holds the annual Arts in the One World conference, bringing in artists and activists from all around the world. On the youth arts education side, CalArts’ Community Arts Partnership (cap) has been hosting students from Rio de Janeiro at the cap Summer Arts Program for the past three years. To keep growing these worldwide partnerships, CalArts has, over the past two years, engaged in an unpreced ented number of international collaborations, exchanges, and other global outreach programs. Kim’s Office of International Relations was launched in 2010 to coordinate the Institute’s array of globe-spanning projects and seek out new partnerships. “The idea behind this office was to find ways to help globalize CalArts even more, just as every other elite institution of higher learning is expanding its international efforts,” says Kim. “Our challenge is ‘How can we collaborate with international counterparts so that our students can become better connected beyond the domestic scene?’ The world is constantly getting smaller, and our graduates have to build more extensive networks and be able to promote their work internationally. This is especially true in some regions—Asia and Europe, for example—where CalArts is almost better known than at home.” “Our international outreach is based on reciprocity, on mutually beneficial exchange,” says Kim. CalArts currently maintains various student exchange programs
with acclaimed art schools in England, Scotland, France, Germany, and the Czech Republic, in addition to those with Cultura udg and the ikj—with more on the way in other nations, such as China. At the same time, the Institute is enrolling more full-time international students than in years before. As of last fall, they numbered 176, representing 44 nations and 12.5 percent of the overall population.” “Historically, the majority of our international students have been from Asia, working mostly in the visual arts,” says Audrey Tanner, the Institute’s associate provost for Enrollment Management who oversees Admissions, Recruitment, and Financial Aid. “But we’re seeing more students from other regions and increasing interest in the full range of CalArts programs.” Why the uptick in international interest? “From a career standpoint, if you have the opportunity to study abroad, having CalArts on your resume really stands out, especially in the animation and film programs that are very well-known in Asia and Europe,” Tanner explains. “But students are also striving to be in the best program possible.”
the collectively created “opera-non opera” AH! directed by music dean David Rosenboom. “The time I have spent at CalArts has totally transformed the way I face art,” he says. “Art is now both more serious— and more playful.” All three students, Wanhang, Mesihovic and Rajchenberg, feel a deep sense of community here—and it is a community becoming more and more globalized. “What an incredible thing to find!” Wanhang proclaims. “All these great artists, from everywhere, gathered in one place. Who would not want to be a part of it?” And like globalization itself, the Institute’s global network has become self-sustaining. Mesihovic says one of her main professional goals is to one day “create an institute of the arts in the Balkans similar to Cal Arts and start an exchange program with the school here.” CalArts, then, can look forward to adding one more international partner.
“On top of our reputation for excellence,” notes Kim, “CalArts is especially attractive in that we offer the creative freedom and the room for independent thought that’s very different from traditional school structures in some other countries. It can be very daunting in the first year for those who may not be used to it, but the sense of growth is huge by the time they graduate.”
Wanhang Chen, an mfa actor from China, does not have to wait to graduate to concur with Kim. “CalArts is very open; you can do in the arts range what you want to do without hesitation,” he states. “Yet the education is very challenging and systematic, based on a step-bystep process. It’s not disorder or chaos.” Undergraduate dancer Mersiha Mesihovic is originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina but was forced to flee to Sweden during the Yugoslav Wars. She echoes Wanhang: “Ever since my first year I’ve been encouraged by faculty to find my own movement language and be as unique as only I can be,” Mesihovic says. “At the same time I am getting a hard-core technical foundation.” Joining in is mfa performer-composer Jxel Rajchenberg, from Mexico, who first got involved with CalArts as one of 10 artists brought together from different nations for
School of Art student Jon Merritt (bfa 4) at work in his studio. Campus construction of 16 new art studios was completed in September 2011. In addition to the individual work spaces, the building also houses a classroom, kitchenette, a row of industrial sinks, storage space for supplies, and an area for the display of work during classes.
DISPATCHES News From Faculty, Alumni, Students and Other Members of the CalArts Community
School of Art Faculty member Karen Atkinson traveled to New York University in September for a series of workshops and lectures devoted to the Biennale de Paris, a movement launched in 1959 by culture mandarin André Malraux and then restarted in 2000, in more uncompromising form. Rejecting art objects and the idea of the artist as the sole protagonist in artmaking, the Biennale, according to its mission statement, “refuses to participate in today’s conventional art world.” Google celebrated the centenary of Chouinardian Mary Blair (1911– 1976, graduated in 1933) with a Google Doodle this past October. She created concept art and color styling for Disney films such as Cinderella (1950) and Alice in Wonderland (1951), and helped design “It’s a Small World,” which first appeared at the 1964 New York World’s Fair before it was installed permanently at Disneyland. Post humously, Blair received the Winsor
McCay Award for lifetime achievement from asifa–Hollywood. The team of Scott Barry (act 11) and Neil Doshi (mfa 10) has been picked for the first design fellowship offered by the Montalvo Arts Center, located in Saratoga, CA. The duo, whose mobile studio, called Woman, is as much installation as workspace, are exploring contemporary design as an extension of everyday life, orienting their practice toward the demands of constantly changing material and geographic conditions. As part of the region-wide series Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A., 1945–1980, the exhibition Doin’ It in Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman’s Building is devoted to the activities carried out at the fabled Woman’s Building, the alternative exhibition and performance space founded by former CalArts faculty Judy Chicago, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville and Arlene Raven. The show, on view at the Otis College of Art and Design’s Ben Maltz Gallery through the end of February, relates how the Woman’s Building served as a home for artistic, social, pedagogical, and political experimentation,
and allowed feminist artists and art cooperatives to work outside the constraints of male-controlled cultural institutions. Opened in 1973, the space continued as a key L.A. venue until 1991, along the way featuring the likes of Suzanne Lacy (mfa 73), Faith Wilding (mfa 73), Susan Mogul (73), Bettye Saar, Ana Mendieta, Martha Rosler, Phranc, Rachel Rosenthal, and Patssi Valdez (see page 14), among many others. Poet Don Mee Choi (mfa 86, bfa 84) received a Whiting Writers’ Award. The prestigious $50,000 prize recognizes 10 exceptional writers each year, with past recipients including Tobias Wolff and Jeffrey Eugenides. Her first book of poems, The Morning News is Exciting (Action Books), was published in 2010. Choi also translates contemporary Korean women poets, the latest being the collection All the Garbage of the World, Unite! by Kim Hyesoon (Action Books). Kim Dulaney (bfa 05) was one of the nine “Young Guns” selected by the Art Directors Club in 2011. She also made Print magazine’s list of
ABOVE: Don Mee Choi. The Women’s Building and the Women’s Graphic Center at 1727 North Spring Street, c. 1983.
The Getty has just published a catalogue raisonné of faculty member Judy Fiskin’s photography, titled Some Aesthetic Decisions: The Photographs of Judy Fiskin. Like many other CalArtians and Chouinardians, she is represented in multiple exhibitions that are part of Pacific Standard Time. Design by faculty members Mr. Keedy and Gail Swanlund (mfa 96) was featured in the exhibition Deep Surface at the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh, NC. The show was co-curated by Denise Gonzales Crisp (mfa 96), a member of the faculty of the North Carolina State University College of Design, also in Raleigh. Faculty member Martin Kersels’ latest show, Passionista, kicked off the fall season at acme in Los Angeles. It comprised new drawings and sculpture, as well as merchandise for sale created by Kersels, fourth-year undergrad Johnnie JungleGuts, and Anthony R. The artists are donating half the proceeds from the merch sales to the Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita.
photo: robert wedemeyer, courtesy of the artist and acme., los angeles
“New Visual Artists.” The New York-based designer, illustrator and art director integrates the beauty, nuance and complexity of nature in her work, replete with fine detail and color.
John Kieselhorst (bfa 00) won a Bronze Cannes Cyber Lion and a Silver Cleo for his work as creative director on Domino’s Pizza’s “Show Us Your Pizza” ads. The campaign took an inside track on the deceptive practices used in food advertising, and had Domino’s pledge to never do so again. Instead, the company asked for user-provided content: customers taking their own photos of pizzas.
School of Critical Studies The Writing Program represented the Institute in style at the 2011 edition of the &Now literary festival. The biannual traveling fest and conference was held at UC San Diego. Participants included alums Harold Abramowitz (mfa 06), Flint (mfa 09), Janice Lee (mfa 09), Eric Lindley (mfa 09), Joseph Milazzo (mfa 09), Robin Myrick (mfa 09), Mathew Timmons (mfa 05), and Laura Vena (mfa 09); current mfa candidate Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal; and faculty Tisa Bryant, Jen Hofer, Writing Program chair Janet Sarbanes, Matias Viegener, Jon Wagner, and Christine Wertheim. An excerpt from Danielle Adair’s (mfa 07) Selma was published last summer in 30 Under 30: An Anthology of Innovative Fiction by Younger Authors (Starcherone Press). Her piece is a “performance-manuscript” that explores the subject of manic-depressive illness by way of “ethnographic” field notes. Sam Benjamin (Critical Studies–Integrated Media mfa 05) has his first book out: American Gangbang: A Love Story (Simon and Schuster). Based on his CalArts thesis, the nonfiction work proposes porn—“the strangest genre”— yaniv shulman
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Martin Kersels, Flotsam (Arms Lightning), 2011, colored pencil on paper, 20 ¾ x 26 ¾ inches. Maggie Nelson’s The Art of Cruelty. The Beijing Dance Theater’s performance of Haze. Nicholas Bruder (bfa 09) performs as Macbeth in Punchdrunk Theatre’s production of Sleep No More. Poster for the whap! lecture series by Augusto Piccio (Art bfa 12).
as an art form, but it is also a memoir, based on Benjamin’s own five-year stint as a director and performer in L.A.’s adult film industry. “One of the sexiest books of the year,” declared the San Francisco Bay Guardian. The Aesthetics and Politics Program has joined up with the city of West Hollywood to offer a lecture series, thanks to the good offices of WeHo councilmember John D’Amico (ma 09). Held at the new West Hollywood Library, the series is called “whap!” Speakers so far have included School of Art faculty member Sam Durant (Art mfa 91), Museum of Contem porary Art head Jeffrey Deitch, Writing Program faculty Maggie Nelson, and philosopher Frédéric Neyrat. The series is organized by faculty Arne De Boever, director of the Aesthetics and Politics Program, and Martín Plot. Marie-Ann Kinney’s (mfa 10) debut novel, Radio Iris, is forthcoming this spring on Two Dollar Radio. It is a richly observed story of a socially awkward daydreamer, caught be tween the expression of her inner life and the deafening banality, often bizarre, of everyday office life.
Faculty member Maggie Nelson’s new nonfiction book, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning (W.W. Norton), considers representations of violence in art, writing, and drama, works designed to shock and awe. “This is an important and frequently surprising book,” said The New York Times. “By reframing the history of the avant-garde in terms of cruelty, and contesting the smugness and didacticism of artist-clinicians like the notorious Viennese Actionist Hermann Nitsch and other heirs of Sade and Artaud, Nelson is taking on modernism’s (and postmodernism’s) most cherished tenets.” The Times later named The Art of Cruelty among its “100 Notable Books” of 2011.
The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance Independent choreographer luciana achugar (bfa 95) and Jonathan Frederickson (bfa 06), formerly of the Limón Dance Company and now of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, have been named by Dance Magazine on its “25 to Watch” roll call of artists for 2011. Nicholas Bruder (bfa 09) received plenty of acclaim for his turn in the title role of Macbeth in Punchdrunk Theatre’s Obie Award– and Drama Desk–winning production of Sleep No More in New York. The site-specific show, which had an extended run through November, called on audience members to don carnival-style masks, a la Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, and wander through three floors of a warehouse in Chelsea. “A voyeur’s delight,” said The New York Times. “Spectacular!” Jessica Gaynor (mfa 02) premiered two new pieces at Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn, NY, this past November. The opener, One, was a reflection on how individuals behave in groups; it began with an intimate solo performed by former Limón Dance Company member Katie Diamond (bfa 03), then moved through various rigorously structured multiple-dancer configurations, and concluded with another solo. The second piece, Happy Time, was a flirtatious quartet set to music by Antônio Carlos Jobim. In addition to Diamond, the ensemble also included Blythe Proffit (bfa 04). Fellow CalArtian Devin Maxwell (Music mfa 02) provided the original music. With two big Snow White movies due in 2012, Ashley Handel (bfa 10) performed in a production of the Grimm Brothers fairy tale by Com pany xiv, a Brooklyn dance, theater and multimedia group. “Fascinating,” averred The New York Times. “How can a theatrical approach be both resolutely traditional and irreverently avant-garde?”
Natalie Metgzer (Dance–Integrated Media mfa 11) has won the 2011 Emerging Choreographer harc (Help Artists and Rehabilitate Children) Award for her piece Sacrament, which was presented as part of her CalArts thesis concert. The work is an abstract descent into a world of cults, violence, and destruction, set amid a futuristic landscape of ruin. One former dancer of Nederlands Dans Theater has described Sacrament as “The Rite of Spring meets Alien meets The Night of the Living Dead.” Robert Allaire (Music mfa 09) scored the piece. Metzger is restaging Sacrament this spring, with the original CalArts cast, at Highways in Santa Monica. Beijing Dance Theater, directed by Wang Yuanyuan (mfa 03), toured the United States in October. The company performed the choreographer’s 70-minute ballet Haze at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York and again at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The ballet deals with the effects of environment degradation in China.
School of Film/Video Andrew Ahn (mfa 09), Rhys Ernst (mfa 11), Rachel Goldberg (mfa 00), and Mason Richards (mfa 10) are among 30 filmmakers to receive nine-month fellowships from Film Independent, the organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival. The fellowships were given through Project Involve, which is dedicated to fostering the careers of filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry. Two Academy Award–winning Pixar animation mainstays, Brad Bird (76; The Incredibles, Ratatouille) and Andrew Stanton (bfa 87; Finding Nemo, wall·e), have turned to liveaction film. Bird directed the fourth installment of the Mission Impossible franchise, called Ghost Protocol, for Paramount Pictures; it came out in mid-December. Stanton co-wrote and directed the Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptation John Carter for Disney, due to be released in the spring. Meanwhile, the pair’s Pixar colleague,
alex j. berliner/abimages
courtesy of the filmmaker
courtesy of the filmmaker
Corny Cole (1930–2011) Cornelius Cole III was an animator, production designer, filmmaker, and beloved teacher and mentor to generations of CalArts students. A famous Malibu surfer and a Chouinardian (58), he enjoyed a colorful career spanning more than 50 years. Having started out at Disney, Cole moved on to Warner Bros. and upa before working with DePatie-Freleng and Hanna-Barbera in the 1960s. Later running his own animation studio, Corny Films, he direc ted two nbc specials featuring the voice of Flip Wilson. Cole designed the 1970 Academy Award-winning animated short Is It Always Right to Be Right?, voiced by Orson Welles. His other production design credits include jon gomez
Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977), for which he won an Annie Award, and The Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie (1981), among many other titles. Cole’s eclecticism took him from creating the titles for the soft-core cult favorite Flesh Gordon (1972) to designing the “Neverwhereland” segment in Heavy Metal (1981). Cole taught at CalArts, in the Program in Character Animation, for nearly two decades, from 1992 until his retirement in 2009. In 2006, asifa–Hollywood presented him with the Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement, the animated film society’s highest honor.
John Lasseter (bfa 79), Disney’s creative chief and the director of Cars 2, was named on the “Time 100” list of influential people and Vanity Fair’s “New Establishment” roster. Not least, Lasseter also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. © disney character animation
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: John Lasseter with his star in front of the El Capitan Theatre, Hollywood. Development art for the Disney Channel series Gravity Falls created by Alex Hirsch. Still from Suzan Pitt’s Asparagus. Still from Travis Wilkerson’s An Injury to One.
As part of Pacific Standard Time, the ucla Film & Television Archive presented L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema, a series that followed the artistic movement of Los Angelesbased African American and African filmmakers whose careers began at ucla. Included were two famous L.A. cinematic landmarks by CalArts faculty: Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep (1977) and Billy Woodberry’s Bless Their Little Hearts (1984). Burnett, who also wrote and photographed the latter, had two more features in the program: My Brother’s Wedding (1983) and To Sleep with Anger (1990). Jason Carpenter (mfa 06) won The Walt Disney Studios Prize for best student animation at the Ottawa International Animation Festival for his thesis film The Renter. The work had already won a number of other awards at festivals elsewhere. Alex Hirsch (bfa 07), the creator of Disney Channel’s Gravity Falls, was named by Animation Magazine as one of last year’s “Rising Stars of Animation.” During Hirsch’s senior year at CalArts, his short Off the Wall became a YouTube sensation, and prompted a lot of industry interest. “The story was funny and I think people really responded to the rough, spontaneous, home-made quality of it,” he admits. “I remember all in one day I got calls from Pixar, Disney, and Jeffrey Katzenberg himself.” Faculty member Adele Horne’s And Again was named Best Documentary Feature at the Chicago Underground Film Festival. The doc juxtaposes government training simulations, in which everyday people are hired to play-act as terrorists and victims, with a theater workshop where members of the local community act out the stories of their own lives. CalArtians once again made a strong showing at the 49th Annual New York Film Festival’s Views from the Avant-Garde series, one of the world’s
premier showcases for experimental film. Screening were two CalArts thesis films, by Laura Kraning (mfa 10) and Natasha Mendonca (mfa 10): Devil’s Gate and Jan Villa, respectively. Other alums in the program were Robert Fenz (mfa 02), with Sole of the Foot, Laida Lertxundi (mfa 07), with A Lax Riddle Unit, and Deborah Stratman (mfa 95), who showed Village, silenced—all new works. Faculty were represented by James Benning’s Twenty Cigarettes, Betzy Bromberg’s A Voluptuous Sleep, Janie Geiser’s Ricky, Lewis Klahr’s Well Then There Now, and Charlotte Pryce’s Curious Light. Film Directing Program faculty member Michael Almereyda, for his part, showed The Great Gatsby in Five Minutes—which ran for 10—in the shorts program of the larger festival. Gina Napolitan-Witz, of the mfa Program in Experimental Animation, and Temra Pavlovic, of the Program in Film and Video, received Princess Grace Awards last year. Among the nation’s most competitive student prizes, the awards are given out annually by the Princess Grace Foundation–usa. Akosua Adoma Owusu (Film/Video– Art mfa 08) is one of five filmmakers to receive funding through Focus Features’ Africa First Program. She is directing a short entitled Kwaku Ananse an adaptation of a traditional Ghanaian folktale that uses both live action and animation. To mark its 50-year anniversary, asifa–Hollywood, the presenter of the Annie Awards, compiled a list of the 50 best animations of the past half century. On that list, selected by an international panel, was faculty member Suzan Pitt’s Asparagus. She actually received the asifa honor in Krakow, Poland, where she was showing her latest work Visitation at the Etiuda & Anima festival. Asparagus is screening next month at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Faculty member Bérénice Reynaud curated a major cycle of new Chinese digital cinema (18 features and 2 shorts) at the San Sebastián Inter national Film Festival in Spain. Twelve of the titles later traveled to the Filmoteca de Catalunya in
Barcelona. Both exhibitions were accompanied by a trilingual catalogue, Sombres Digitales—Cine Chino de Ultima Generacion. The 2011 edition of the Viennale presented a retrospective of films by faculty Lee Anne Schmitt (mfa 03). Travis Wilkerson’s (mfa 01) CalArts thesis film, An Injury to One, has been newly released on dvd by Icarus Films. The much-lauded documentary offers a compelling look at the 1917 murder of Wobblies organizer Frank Little in Butte, Montana. In 2010, Film Comment named the doc as one of the best films of the first decade of the 21st century. This was seconded by the Los Angeles Times, which called Injury “one of American independent cinema’s great achievements of the past decade.” The 2012 Sundance Film Festival will include eight films by seven CalArts alumni; seven short films and one feature will all be premiered in Park City this January. The Sundance “Shorts Program” will include 32 short films from the U.S. selected from 4,083 submissions. The group represents filmmakers from all four programs of the School of Film/Video and includes one interschool student from Film/Video and the School of Art. Three of the shorts were mfa thesis films. CalArts Sundance filmmakers include: Andrew Ahn (Film Directing Program mfa 11), First Birthday, Rhys Ernst (Program in Film and Video mfa 11), The Thing, Aurora Guerrero (dtvc/fdp, mfa 99), Mosquita y Mari, Kang Min Kim (Experimental Animation mfa 2011), 38–39 Degrees Celsius, Christopher Peters (Interschool bfa and mfa 00), The Diatom, Kataneh Vahdani (Character Animation bfa 05, Experimental Animation mfa 08), Avocados, and Travis Wilkerson (Film and Video, mfa 01), Pluto Declaration and Fragments of Dissolution. According to the Los Angeles Times blog post that appeared when the selections were announced: “Getting a short film into the Sundance Film Festival is harder than getting accepted to Harvard, Yale or UC Berkeley with a C average.”
The Herb Alpert School of Music Through United States Projects, the microphilanthropy component of the nonprofit United States Artists, composer-director Sean Griffin (mfa 95) and Opera Povera have received support from legendary composer Pauline Oliveras and the Cheswatyr Commissioning Fund, among others, to produce the forthcoming multimedia opera Baby Mozart Genius. Derived from an eclectic range of archival materials, the piece examines the largely unacknowledged insinuation of eugenics into American culture in the 20th century. Baby Mozart Genius follows Griffin’s earlier work on eugenics, a large-scale opera called Cold Spring that was staged at empac—the experimental media and performance center based at Rensselaer Poly technic Institute in Troy, NY. Composition faculty Ulrich Krieger was on a European tour last summer with rock icon Lou Reed, playing shows in England, France, and Italy, including festivals with audiences of more than 50,000. Krieger has been collaborating with Reed ever since transcribing and arranging the latter’s guitar feedback epic Metal Machine Music for the chamber orchestra Zeitkratzer. Following initial performances in Almaty, Kazakhstan, last spring, faculty member Anne LeBaron’s The Silent Steppe Cantata received its full international debut in December when it was performed at the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation in Astana to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence. Per formed by the Women’s Philharmonic Choir and the Astana Philharmonic Orchestra, LeBaron’s “sonic portrait” of the Central Asian nation featured rising-star Kazakh–American tenor Timur Bekbosunov (mfa 08). The cantata was preceded by a screening of The Nomad’s Song, a documentary by Sandra Powers (Film/Video mfa 08).
Music director, conductor, actress, and media personality Kolleen Park (bfa 90) opened the 2011 Seoul Jazz Festival at the Sejong Art Center to rapturous applause. Later in the year, she returned to the stage as an act ress after a 20-year absence, starring in the Korean production of the rock musical Next to Normal. Park had made her debut as music director in 1995 with The Last Empress, and she has since directed music for hits such as Chicago, Rent, Hairspray, and, most recently, Aida. In fact, Park is an out-and-out popular star: She is a judge on the talent show Korea’s Got Talent, and, according to a survey by a Korean TV program, the celebrity most people want to meet. Park also finds time to serve as artistic director for Kyyk Musical Studio and serve on the faculty of Howon University. Michael Pisaro, holder of the Roy E. Disney Chair in Musical Composition and co-chair of the Composition Program, has released two more discs on his own imprint Gravity Wave: hearing metal (2) and hearing metal (3)—both long works for massed percussion, field recordings and sine tones performed by Pisaro and Greg Stuart. Earlier, Pisaro’s fiveyear sound installation in Neufelden, Austria, a work called flussaufwärt streiben, kicked off last August, with a week of performances. The install ation will move each year along the Grosse Muhl river as it approaches the Danube. Over the past few months, the composer’s music has been performed at venues in Mont pellier, Brussels, London, Berlin, the Carolinas, and Chicago. Faculty member William Powell was co-artistic director of the International Clarinet Association’s ClarinetFest 2011, held at Cal State Northridge’s Valley Performing Arts Center. Three years in the making, the five-day festival drew artists from around the world, and offered a bewildering array of performances (85, in fact), competitions, lectures and master classes. Nearly 40 Cal Artians—students, alumni, faculty and former faculty—took part, but CalArts’ signature event was a program that consisted of clarinet music from India—both northern and southern—and the world premiere of I Nyoman Wenten’s Nirmala
Sangam, for clarinet and Balinese gamelan. It featured clarinetist Pandit Narasimhalu Wadavati, former faculty Poovalur Sriji, on mridangam, and the CalArts Balinese Gamelan directed by Wenten. Mark Reveley (mfa 01) and Mike Dillon’s (mfa 01) music technology company Zero Brainz has released Cycles, the first metronome app lication for the iPhone. Nine Winds Records has issued the first title by Daniel Rosenboom’s (mfa 07) progressive jazz group, the Daniel Rosenboom Septet. The recording, Fallen Angeles, is built around a five-movement suite. The septet includes Rosenboom, on trumpet, as well as faculty Vinny Golia, on tubax and alto flute, and music dean David Rosenboom, on piano. “[Daniel] Rosenboom is a phenomenon,” said Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times. Elsewhere, Rosenboom was touring internationally with star singer-songwriter Josh Groban for a nearly half of 2011. Computer music pioneer Carl Stone (mfa 71) performed at the Getty in November as part of Pacific Standard Time. “Today we take computer music and sampling for granted,” the Getty’s Lauren Kishi told the Los Angeles Times. “But Carl was one of the first people to do it.” The Times also noted Stone’s tenure as music director of the L.A. radio station kpfk in the 1970s. His influential radio show, in which he played minimalist composers like La Monte Young and local experimentalists like David Rosenboom helped shape the city’s avant-garde music scene. Later, Stone moved on to perfect midi (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) technology and was among the first to use sampling. Guitar faculty Miroslav Tadic´ collab orated with the Teofilovic´ Twins, Ratko and Radisa—a well-known Serbian vocal duo—on a forthcoming CD of traditional Balkan music called Vidaric´a. Tadic´’s previous recording, Ponekad dolazim, ponekad odlazim, made with the renowned Croatian actor and singer Rade Šerbedžija, won the Porin—the Croatian equ ivalent of the Grammy. Finally, in December, Tadic´ traveled to India to
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP RIGHT: Lars Jan’s abacus in its inaugural performance at empac in 2010. Ulrich Krieger and Lou Reed onstage at redcat. Harpsichordist Gloria Cheng and composer Carl Stone perform at the Getty Center. Cycles a metronome application for the iPhone created by Mark Reveley and Mike Dillon, a.k.a. Zero Brainz.
courtesy of zero brainz
35 lars jan
perform and teach at the Calcutta (Kolkata) International Classical Guitar Festival. Vocal faculty Tali Tadmor was the only musician among the nine artists who received the Six Points Fellowship last year. The $40,000, two-year fellowships recognize emerging Jewish interdisciplinary artists. Tadmor’s proposed project is called Ella Fitzgeraldberg, and deals with Los Angeles Jewry in the 1940s and, in particular, the musical subculture of Yiddish Swing.
School of Theater Faculty Heather Ehlers’s one-hander Spin, presented at Venice’s Electric Lodge and then in New York, is a funny, brutally honest play that traces her life with stories from ages 15, 30, and 45. In another solo work, new faculty Roger Guenver Smith’s Juan and John is about baseball greats Juan Marichal and John Roseboro, who forged a remarkable friendship after a notorious on-field brawl. Smith played both characters in the acclaimed Los Angeles Theater Center production. In The Carolyn Bryant Project, collaborators Nataki Garrett (mfa 02), assoc iate dean of the School of Theater, and Andrea LeBlanc (mfa 01) consider the part played by the eponymous white Mississippi shopkeeper in the fateful encounter, in 1955, with 14-year-old African American Emmett Till, an exchange that led to Till’s lynching—a crime so heinous that it galvanized the Civil Rights Movement. The cast included LeBlanc and Ryan Anderson (mfa 07). Scene design was by Shannon Scrofano (mfa 06), and lighting by Jeff Teeter (mfa 06) and Laura Mroczkowski (mfa 02). The play was produced by Blank-the-Dog at Highways in Santa Monica. After winning multiple awards for the quality of its dramatic writing over the past two years, Virginia Grise’s (mfa 09) blu received its full professional premiere this past October at Company of Angels in downtown L.A. “Magical realism meets the harsh realities of barrio life,” said the L.A. Weekly, which made blu a “Backstage Critic’s Pick.” “The actors grab hold of their characters with swagger and passion.”
robert gauthier/los angeles times
Director and media artist Lars Jan (Theater–Integrated Media mfa 08) and his company Early Morning Opera are giving three live performances of the multimedia extravaganza abacus as part of the New Frontiers section of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. One of only two live performances to be selected by the festival, the genre-defying, visually immersive work is based on the rumin ations of media visionary and cult icon Paul Abacus, who actually appears in person to expound on his vision. Using the latest in high-tech wizardry and data visualization, the presentation surfs the boundary between real and hyperreal, reflects on our evolving relationship to screens, and proposes a world without national borders. In addition to the three formal presentations, the company is putting on a series of “public choreographies” as extensions of abacus for the crowds on the streets of Park City, UT. Also involved in the project are lighting designer Christopher Kuhl (mfa 05, see below), composer Nathan Ruyle (Music–Integrated Media mfa 08), performer Sonny Valicenti (bfa 08), producer Miranda Wright (mfa 09), and video and scene design faculty Pablo N. Molina. abacus was commissioned by, and premiered at, Rensselear Polytechnic Institute’s empac. Developed at redcat’s now Fest a couple of years ago, abacus will be performed at redcat in January 2012. In other big news, Jan was a 2011 ted Global Fellow. ted (Technology Entertainment and Design) is one of the world’s foremost forums for deepthinking on a variety of topics—“ideas worth spreading” is their slogan. At the annual Ovation Awards presented by L.A. Stage Alliance, lighting designer Christopher Kuhl (mfa 05) nabbed two honors. The Ovation for Lighting Design in an Intimate Theatre for his work on How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found at The Theatre @ Boston Court. Kuhl also garnered the Richard E. Sherwood Award, which provides financial support for
early-career theater artists working in Los Angeles. The prize recognizes adventurous artists in all aspects of the field, and invites creative relationships with Center Theatre Group (which comprises the Ahmanson Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum, and the Kirk Douglas Theatre). This is the fourth time in five years that a CalArtian has won the Sherwood Award, with Kuhl following Ian Garrett (Theater–Integrated Media mfa 08) in 2007, Lars Jan (Theater– Integrated Media mfa 08, see page 35) in 2008, and Sage Lewis (Music– Integrated Media mfa 08) in 2009. Previous awardees include theater faculty Susan Simpson and Alice Tuan (see below), collecting the Sherwood in 2002 and 1999, respectively. Shadow theater artist and designer Christine Marie (Theater–Integrated Media 09) has been selected as a 2012 ted (Technology Entertainment and Design) Fellow, and will take part in ted’s flagship conference in Long Beach later this year. Known for visually spectacular performances in which large-scale shadow project ions are integrated with actors, Marie has turned her attention more recently to pioneering eerie 3-D shadow effects, which require the use of 3-D eyewear and specialized lighting instruments. Allain Rochel (act 01) has been serving as managing director of Hollywood’s Matrix Theater Company, whose recent production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons—featuring interracial casting—drew rave reviews. “This production should not be missed,” said Backstage during the play’s run. Last of the Suns, a drama by CalArts playwriting head Alice Tuan, was published in Version 3.0: Contemp orary Asian American Plays (Theatre Communications Group), the first major anthology of contemporary Asian American drama in nearly two decades. Also featured therein is a work called The Square, a choral piece meditating on 120 years of relationships between the Asian American community and non-Asians,
written by 16 of today’s leading playwrights, including Tuan. Acting faculty Charlayne Woodard wrote and performed in The Night Walker at Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre through late December. The solo piece is about the role of children—nieces and nephews, godchildren, offspring of friends—in the protagonist’s life. Earlier, the celebrated performer and playwright had won an Obie Award— her second—for her starring role in The Witch of Edmonton. The first Obie came in 2000, for her work in the premiere of former faculty member Suzan-Lori Parks’ In the Blood.
LEFT & BELOW: Alice Tuan. Christine Marie. Charlayne Woodard in her one woman show The Night Walker at Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre.
Institute Two portfolios by Institute photo grapher Steven A. Gunther were featured in the December 2011 issue of b&w + color magazine. An Album of Slow, Sad Songs consists of images Gunther shot at India’s Oven, a mid-Wilshire restaurant torched during the L.A. riots of 1992, and Los Abandonados, a recent series of pictures made in abandoned houses, mostly in Texas. The accompanying article was written by Stuart Frolick, CalArts’ director of print communications. Janet Sternburg has been making regular contributions to The Times Quotidian, an online arts and culture journal. Her latest essays on photography and text are “The Ambidextrous Artist” and “Salvage and Sabotage.”
Join the CalArts Legacy Circle Support tomorrow’s artists today by joining a community of artists and other supporters who have provided for CalArts in their wills or estate plans. For more information please contact: Courtney Mcintyre, Director of Planned Giving 661 222-2743 email@example.com calarts.edu/support
East of Borneo New collaborative art journal and multimedia archive edited by Thomas Lawson East of Borneo frames a discussion of contemporary art and its modern history, as considered from Los Angeles
East of Borneo is published by the School of Art at California Institute of the Arts and is funded in part by grants from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the J. Paul Getty Foundation.
Image: Rotraut Klein-Moquay with part of Yves Klein’s Zone for Edward Kienholz, 1963. Courtesy of the Yves Klein Archive, Paris.
15 FEATURING WORK BY Jonathan Lethem, Mark Z. Danielewski, Lynne Tillman, Rick Moody, David Thomson, Claire Phillips, Geoffrey O’Brien, Michael Ventura and other celebrated writers and poets EDITED BY steve erickson www.blackclock.org
new issue out in march
California Institute of the Arts Office of Public Affairs 24700 McBean Parkway Valencia, California 91355-2340
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COVER IMAGE: Quick City, a temporary community of alternative structures built in one day on the CalArts campus, one of several instant communities constructed simultaneously nationwide, 1972.
Headliners — 2 L.A. Art Looks Back at Itself — 6 Asco: Chicano Art Heroes — 14 The CalArts Connection — 18 International Impetus — 22 Dispatches — 29 calarts archive