The Magazine of California Institute of the Arts | Spring 2016
Steven D. Lavineâ€™s Three Decades of Leadership
The Magazine of California Institute of the Arts | Spring 2016
———— LETTER FROM THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES This issue of CalArts is devoted almost exclusively to a celebration of Steven Lavine’s 29-year presidency of the Institute. When Steven arrived in 1988, CalArts was a different place, struggling with persistent budget deficits, a shrinking endowment, and low morale among faculty and administration. Based on his résumé alone, Steven was not an obvious choice to take on such daunting challenges. But the Board of Trustees recognized something special in him and decided to take the chance. What a great decision that turns out to have been. With the ever-present help and support of his wife and partner Janet Sternburg, Steven has guided CalArts to its current position of unprecedented strength by every measure. On behalf of the Institute’s Board of Trustees, I thank Steven and Janet for their service, friendship, tireless commitment and deep devotion to CalArts. The Board has begun an international search for the Institute’s fourth president, who will assume leadership when Steven steps down in the spring of 2017. With input from faculty, staff, students, alumni, Overseers and Trustees, I’m confident that we will, together, select a new president who will build upon Steven’s legacy and lead CalArts into the future with prudence, daring, compassion, open-mindedness, levity, and a deep love of the arts and the diverse people who create them. Among the Board’s priorities in its mandate for the new president will be making CalArts affordable for every qualified applicant, building upon our commitment to diversity and extending it to every level of the organization, pioneering curricular innovations, providing graduates with all the tools they need to succeed as “citizen artists” in the wider world, and becoming a more outward-looking and engaged part of our local community in the Los Angeles area, as well as nationally and internationally. With Steven’s departure, a remarkable era in CalArts’ history comes to a close. But the spirit, character and mission of this unique community carry on— a community driven by its passion for the new in all art forms and creative disciplines, eager and prepared to extend CalArts’ and President Lavine’s extraordinary legacy of achievement. Wishing you a wonderful summer, Tim Disney Chairman, CalArts Board of Trustees
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OFFICERS Tim Disney, Chair Thomas L. Lee, Vice Chair James B. Lovelace, Vice Chair TRUSTEES Joan Abrahamson Alan Bergman David A. Bossert Louise Bryson Don Cheadle Olga Cosme, Student Trustee Jonathan Dolgen Melissa Draper David I. Fisher Rodrigo Garcia Harriett F. Gold Richard J. Grad Karen Hillenburg Laurie Jacobs, Staff Trustee Charmaine Jefferson Marta Kauffman Jamie Kellner Jill Kraus Steven D. Lavine, Ex-Officio Thomas Lloyd Michelle Lund Jamie Alter Lynton Leslie McMorrow Greg McWilliams Thomas Newman Michael Nock Tina Perry Janet Dreisen Rappaport David Roitstein, Faculty Trustee Tom Rothman Araceli Ruano David L. Schiff Joni Binder Shwarts Susan Steinhauser Roger Wacker Luanne C. Wells TRUSTEE EMERITI Austin M. Beutner V. Shannon Clyne Joseph M. Cohen Robert J. Denison Robert B. Egelston Douglas K. Freeman Jeffrey Katzenberg William S. Lund Peter Norton C. Roderick O’Neil Michael Pressman Joseph Smith
Joan Holly Padeo’s quartet Platonic & Not. was featured in the end-of-year concerts staged by CalArts’ NEXT Dance Company on campus and at REDCAT. Set to 1960s pop tunes recorded by Françoise Hardy, The Animals, Jefferson Airplane, and Nina Simone, Padeo’s piece was performed by (clockwise from top left) Kayla Johnson, Lexi Shimko, Cynthia Anderson and Bryanna Brock.
———— BOARD WELCOMES HILLENBURG, PERRY
KAREN HILLENBURG KAREN HILLENBURG was raised in Claremont, California, where her lifelong interest in the arts first took hold. “In this world in which everything is commodified and the same, it’s inspiring to see and hear original ideas,” she says. “I admire anyone who can put themselves out there, creating work that is expressive and personal—whether it’s in music, dance or visual pieces. CalArts is an amazing place. There’s nothing like it.”
Trained in culinary school, Hillenburg worked as a chef for many years before opening the New Cooking School in Los Angeles in 2001. She promotes the arts through participation in and support for a number of projects and institutions, serving on the boards of the Pasadena Art Alliance, a 60-year-old arts granting organization, and the Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS); she also is an active board member at her local Planned Parenthood affiliate. “Karen combines a deep engagement in the arts, especially the visual arts, with a long connection to CalArts through her husband Stephen and their many Institute alumni and faculty friends in the art world, including Liz Larner, John Baldessari, Judy Fiskin and Cindy Bernard—artists whose work the Hillenburgs collect,” says President Steven D. Lavine. “She has a clear-headed approach to problemsolving, and I am confident that she is going to make an important contribution to shaping the future of CalArts.” Hillenburg will serve on the Academic and Campus Affairs Committee of the Board.
TINA PERRY “TINA PERRY brings fresh energy and perspec-
tive to CalArts, combining a love of the arts with legal and business acumen, and a wealth of experience in media and entertainment,” says Board Chairman Tim Disney. “I feel sure she will become a mainstay of the Board of Trustees for years to come.” Perry is Executive Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs, for OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. She joined OWN in 2009 following a career as counsel and senior counsel for VH1 and MTV at Viacom. Prior to Viacom, Perry was an associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, LLP, in New York. Born and raised in Oklahoma City, Perry was educated at Stanford University. She subsequently earned a master’s degree in Comparative Social Policy from the University of Oxford, and a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School. Perry is Vice Chair and a founding member of The Mistake Room, L.A.’s only independent nonprofit cultural institution devoted to an international program of contemporary art and thought. She is also a board member of the American Cinematheque, as well as a member of REDCAT Council. “What I love about art,” says Perry, “is coming home from work every day and looking at pieces my husband and I have bought, and feeling the energy and emotion that the artists have poured into those pieces. We believe strongly that patronage is a moral responsibility—to support people who have talents and gifts in the arts so that they can continue to give to the world.” Perry will serve on the Academic and Campus Affairs Committee of the Board.
———— STEVEN D. LAVINE AND JANET STERNBURG SCHOLARSHIP ENDOWMENT CAMPAIGN
WHEN STEVEN LAVINE announced his plans to step down as CalArts’ president, in May 2017 after an unprecedented 29-year tenure, he also shared his plans to focus the remainder of his presidency on raising vital scholarships. He set a goal to raise $15 million in endowed scholarship funds to provide deserving students with access to a CalArts education regardless of their personal financial circumstances.
Providing scholarship support to CalArts students has been a priority since Walt Disney shared his vision for the Institute: “There will be a lot of scholarships at CalArts. Those who can pay will pay; those who can’t will get scholarships. We don’t want any dilettantes at CalArts. We want people with talent. That will be the one factor in getting into CalArts: talent.” To ensure access to the most talented students— given the high-cost model of personalized teaching in small classes—CalArts recognizes the critical need to provide increased scholarship support. Currently, 94 percent of all CalArts students receive some form of scholarship support yet many continue to graduate with significant student loan burdens. Once the campaign goal is reached, the new endowment funds will provide an additional $600,000 annually in scholarships. To date, a remarkable $9,476,904 has been raised toward the Scholarship Campaign. Many donors are choosing to give in honor of Lavine’s extraordinary service to CalArts. Others are honoring a family member or other individual with their support. All scholarship gifts count toward the Campaign goal. An anonymous donor has pledged $1 million if CalArts is able to raise $3 million in matching funds. You can help CalArts meet this generous match with your gift today! For more information, please contact Elizabeth Power Robison, Vice President for Advancement, at 661 253-7707 or email@example.com.
—————— DUENDE CALARTS EXPLORES THE IMMIGRATION CRISIS IN SHELTER
ISSUES OF IMMIGRATION, sanctuary and depor-
tation have dominated national headlines in recent years, especially since 2014, when 69,000 unaccompanied Central American minors crossed into the United States through Mexico in search of asylum. An additional 10,000 minors entered the U.S. last fall. The dramatic, dangerous and heartbreaking stories of these children are given voice in a new play, Shelter, written by CalArts School of Theater faculty Marissa Chibas and directed by Mexico City-based guest artist Martín Acosta, with choreography by Fernando Belo (Theater MFA 13) and scenic design by Efren Delgadillo Jr. (Theater MFA 03). A production of the institute-wide Center for New Performance (CNP) and its Latino(a) theater initiative, Duende CalArts, Shelter premiered in East Los Angeles’ Lincoln Park in April. In the research phase of the project, Chibas captured authentic voices and narratives by interviewing high school students and immigration rights volunteers throughout the city. She and Acosta conceived two versions of the play. In the first, the “site-responsive” version, the story takes place in and around a 20-foot shipping container constructed to suggest travel on la bestia, the infamous train that immigrants ride to the border. In the second, a “mobile theater” version enacted by seven actors on seven chairs can be easily performed in non-theatrical settings such as community centers or conference rooms. Throughout Shelter’s initial run in East L.A., workshops, talkback sessions, and learning
CalArts students perform Shelter in a park in East L.A.
curricula were available to deepen understanding of the issues addressed in the play, and to facilitate community engagement. CNP is a participant in the Global Connections— IN the LAB program, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for professional not-for-profit American theater. Shelter is supported, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and also, in part, by the office of Los Angeles City Councilmember Gilbert Cedillo.
Looking Back, Moving Ahead 4
An Interview with Steven D. Lavine
As he approaches the last year of his 29-year tenure as CalArts’ third president, Steven Lavine’s eyes are fixed firmly on the future. At the top of his wish list for the coming months is raising significant endowment funds for student scholarships, including those to support a Latin American/U.S. Latino Initiative; broadening international partnerships; and creating internal infrastructure to advance the cause and practice of shared governance. When he assumed the presidency of CalArts in 1988, Lavine brought intellectual curiosity, openness and humor to an institution in need of new vision and leadership and, most immediately, financial stability. Since then, his name, face and handshake have become virtually synonymous with CalArts. Institutional history will ultimately decide his legacy, though certainly Lavine has deepened the footprint of CalArts, extending its reach and enhancing its reputation locally, nationally and internationally. Lavine has a genuine love for the arts and artists. He believes in the power of the arts to bridge cultural
Steven Lavine and Janet Sternburg.
differences. He takes great pride in CalArts’ history, mission and alumni, as well as in the institutewide commitment to reshape the creative landscape. While his current mood is anything but nostalgic, in this interview Lavine reflects on some of the defining moments of his presidency. The conversation took place in January 2016, prior to a two-week trip to South America that forged new partnerships and yielded several new commitments in support of scholarships.
STUART I. FROLICK
CalArts: How did you first hear of CalArts?
President’s Picnic, mid-1990s.
SDL: I had encountered many CalArts faculty and alumni in my work at The Rockefeller Foundation, as had my wife Janet, working at the New York Council for the Humanities, so I knew of its seminal importance. One of Janet’s best friends, the writer and director James Lapine, who graduated from CalArts, had told us stories of the crazy early years at the Institute. But when announcement of the search for a new president appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education, I thought there was no point in applying because I had never run even a small organization. Then I received a call, out of the blue, asking whether I would be interested in interviewing for the post, and the rest is history…
Do you recall your first impressions of the campus and community? When the sliding electric doors at the entry to the Main Building opened, you could feel the compressed energy whooshing out: dancers stretching, film students rushing by with equipment carts, posters for productions, exhibitions and visiting artists everywhere. It was electric. And the quality, passion and commitment of the board members Janet and I met in the first phase of the search—Bob Denison, Bob Egelston, Jon Lovelace, Buzz Price and, a little later, Roy Disney and Sharon Disney Lund—were extraordinary. They all were clearly true believers in the arts and CalArts, and individuals of the highest ethical and humane quality. It felt as if with board members like these, how could I fail?
Lavine with Trustee Emeritus Jeffrey Katzenberg (left) and Steven Spielberg (center), cofounders of DreamWorks.
Meeting with Trustee Roy E. Disney (right) and architect Frank Gehry (center) to review designs for REDCAT.
What were some of the early challenges? CalArts had an ongoing structural deficit which, by 1988–89, had led to a budgeted $1.8 million deficit on a $16 million overall budget. When I had shown the audited statements to the treasurer of The Rockefeller Foundation, he advised me not to go near CalArts as it was heading toward bankruptcy. Fortunately I was too naïve to understand how truly grave the situation was. Internally the pressure of a declining financial position had produced an environment in which faculty were behaving as though they were pitted against, rather than cooperating with, one another. So, one objective was to recruit an expanded group of individual and foundation supporters, and another, to make clear my equal commitment to every School and program, and to encourage cooperation in addressing the challenges we all faced together.
How did you begin to tackle some of these problems? Internally, I depended on the steady guidance of Provost Beverly O’Neill, who knew the strengths and weaknesses of CalArts, and on John Orders, who had been [the previous president] Bob Fitzpatrick’s right-hand person and who agreed to stay on for one year to, in effect, teach me my job. Two key steps were (1) asking each School to conduct a self-study and (2) realizing that if I did not assert my own sense of priorities, I would have no standard against which to allocate our extremely limited available funds. Individual faculty were seeking me out to offer very different versions of what was working well and what wasn’t in each of their Schools; I thought that a selfstudy would, at least, force each School and program to reach a consensus about a common story. As for my priorities, they were for CalArts to be intercultural, international, and interdisciplinary. All these years later, they remain at the top of my list. †
1988 ARRIVAL AND FINANCIAL TURNAROUND Steven D. Lavine joins CalArts as the Institute’s third president. Facing a long pattern of budget deficits that threatened the future of the Institute, he works quickly to build a strong financial base and renew the school’s internal leadership. Robert Egelston becomes Chair of the Board of Trustees.
1990 COMMUNITY ARTS PARTNERSHIP (CAP)
Addressing the CalArts community, driven out of doors following the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.
Wasn’t the cost of tuition an obstacle to widening the diversity of the student body?
Community Arts Partnership (CAP) students and CalArts student-instructors gather around Steven Lavine and CAP Artistic Director Glenna Avila at Inner-City Arts in downtown L.A.
Cost has always been an issue, though not to the extent it is today. More central was helping CalArts become more welcoming of ethnic diversity. The first step in this direction was the establishment of the Community Arts Partnership [CAP], which began with the triple goal of providing first-rate arts education to underserved youth in Los Angeles; giving our current students exposure to more of the social and economic facts of life; and tying CalArts more overtly to the needs and priorities of Los Angeles. A recently appointed trustee, George Boone, had offered me $25,000 toward whatever I thought was the highest priority at CalArts, and allowed me to apply most of those funds to starting CAP. We began with three programs with our faculty and students teaching high school students at three prominent community-centered arts organizations: Plaza de la Raza, the Watts Towers Arts Center, and SPARC [Social and Public Art Resources Center]. I didn’t think we were doing anything radical. It just seemed like common sense to share our resources with those who had less. But it turned out to be a new idea that, in fairly short order, attracted both local and national support. Today CAP serves nearly 3,000 students each year through both long-term out-of-school and in-school programs, and thousands more through daylong workshops and performances. CAP has also proven to be a significant driver of diversity at CalArts.
Steven launches the CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP), now an internationally recognized program providing free arts education for youth ages 6–18 in many of Los Angeles’ most underserved neighborhoods. CAP’s success serves as a model for other arts education organizations nationwide.
1993 The largest fundraising campaign in CalArts’ history tops $50 million.
1994 NORTHRIDGE EARTHQUAKE The Institute faces one of its most challenging moments in January of 1994 when damage sustained during the Northridge Earthquake renders the Valencia campus unusable. Steven rallies and unites the Institute’s faculty, staff and students, and leads a $42 million fundraising effort in just eight months, enabling the campus to reopen the following September.
The next “Big Thing”—both for the Institute and your presidency— was the Northridge Earthquake in January 1994.
CalArts MFA candidates in the Creative Writing Program read selections from their work at Skylight Books—one of many off-campus readings held by the program each year.
Where else did you place your focus? I felt we had to increase the visibility of CalArts— to let Los Angeles know what a rich resource lay just outside in Valencia. Bob Fitzpatrick had started in this direction by involving CalArts in the Olympic Arts Festival in 1984. And we had an ongoing new music collaboration—the Green Umbrella concerts— with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. I built on these precedents to collaborate with arts institutions more visible and with larger mailing lists than ours: the Getty Trust, The Museum of Contemporary Art, the Skirball Cultural Center, the Music Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I also joined a number of boards with the goal of learning, helping and linking CalArts to the greater Los Angeles community. I love learning new things, so these engagements combined work and play seamlessly.
Lavine with Herb Alpert—legendary musical artist, entrepreneur, creative education champion, and namesake of the CalArts School of Music.
Yes, by 1994, we were back to a tight but balanced budget; we had appointed a number of new deans; we had completed a $50 million fundraising campaign; and the Schools were working together more cooperatively. Then the Northridge Earthquake, which led to the red-tagging [closing] of all our teaching and performing spaces, threatened to shut us down for good. At first, I was paralyzed. There is no handbook for what to do when you have lost almost everything. Vice President for Administration John Fuller immediately went to work on the dangerous physical issues: gas leaks, broken electrical lines, how to get water in case of fire. And then we just started to do what made sense. We feared that if we closed for the semester, we might never reopen… so the immediate challenge was space in which to operate. We rented party tents so that some short-term teaching and administrative space would be available, and then moved quickly— because we knew others would shortly be looking as well—to rent whatever we could find. A synagogue, store fronts, dance studios in Pasadena… eventually 16 different facilities, the crucial one being the almost 200,000-square-foot disused Lockheed Skunk Works in Rye Canyon, only a few miles from campus. Each evening we met with students to tell them what we had assembled to encourage them to remain for the semester.
How did the recovery play out? There are so many stories to tell from this time, but the essential fact was that everyone rose to the occasion: trustees, faculty, staff, students, friends, colleagues at other institutions. Almost no one complained that we were asking for things that weren’t in their job descriptions. Faculty and staff were imaginative and persistent in delivering CalArts education without our customary resources, technology and performance spaces. Administrative offices found ways to get around the fact that they had to gin up temporary ways to handle Admissions, Financial Aid, Student Affairs—all the supporting functions. The Facilities staff was magnificent, working in, at times, dangerous circumstances, or totally new ones, to do what had to be done. Trustees first helped us secure space and then drew on friendships to persuade a major construction company, which really did not want to have to drive over the broken freeway system to reach CalArts, to take on our work and commit to completing a still-undetermined
1995 THE HERB ALPERT AWARD IN THE ARTS In partnership with celebrated musician and artist Herb Alpert, CalArts establishes The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts—five fellowships and CalArts residencies presented each year to early- to mid-career artists in dance, film/video, music, theater and visual arts. Since 1995, more than 100 fellowships and residencies at CalArts have been presented to groundbreaking artists. Lawrence Ramer becomes Chair of the Board of Trustees.
MID-1990s NEW ACADEMIC PROGRAMS Integrated Media is founded as a supplemental concentration offered by the Center for Integrated Media. The School of Critical Studies offers its first Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Writing.
TOP RIGHT: The exhibition Barry McGee: Advanced Mature Work
at the Gallery at REDCAT. ABOVE: The Wooster Group, the vaunted New York experimental
company, mounted a radical version of Hamlet as part of its multiyear residency at REDCAT. RIGHT: Experimental writer M. NourbeSe Philip speaks at the 2015 &Now Festival, hosted at CalArts by the MFA Creative Writing Program. BELOW: The REDCAT Marquee designed by Frank Gehry.
2003 ROY AND EDNA DISNEY/ CALARTS THEATER (REDCAT) Recognizing the need for a permanent CalArts presence in downtown Los Angeles, Steven champions the creation of the Roy and Edna Disney/ CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex. REDCAT’s theater and gallery extend the reach and impact of CalArts’ mission. REDCAT also serves as a launching pad for alumni careers, and guarantees that L.A. artists participate in the global contemporary conversation in the arts.
10 BELOW: The Institute dedicated The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance in 2003 in memory of the longtime supporter of its dance program. TOP RIGHT: Known early on as a hotbed of both computer music and world music performance, The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts today offers an unparalleled diversity of musical styles and cultures. BOTTOM RIGHT: Scenes from Timboctou, an original co-production of the Center for New Performance and the University of Guadalajara’s Cultura UDG producing arm. Timboctou was staged at REDCAT before traveling to Teatro Esperimental in Guadalajara. OPPOSITE: The president with Sharon Disney Lund, early 1990s.
amount of our construction in time for fall semester. And later, trustees gave with great generosity to help cover the cost of the rebuilding of CalArts. We learned during this time that all of our connecting with greater Los Angeles over the preceding years was paying off, as Southern California foundations recognized us as part of the whole and came to our assistance. We didn’t have earthquake insurance, which had seemed prohibitively expensive for an institution our size—now we have it—so we knew we’d have to raise a lot of money. Over time we learned that the total would be $42 million. One of my key steps was calling the Bay Area institutions that had suffered in the Loma Prieto Earthquake five years before. They had still not received their first dollar from FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency], and I sought their advice, because if CalArts had to wait that long, it would almost certainly have ended up
bankrupt. John Sullivan, who had been managing director of American Conservatory Theater at the time of the Loma Prieto Earthquake, flew down almost as soon as the airports reopened and gave us indispensable advice about the necessity of hiring a lobbyist, who would in turn guide us in engaging our senators and congressman. In the end, we raised approximately $14 million from foundations and individuals, and FEMA provided $28 million toward the rebuilding of CalArts, which was completed in just eight months. That allowed us to reopen our restored and improved facilities in time to return to full enrollment in the fall of 1994.
2004 Did the earthquake have an impact on you personally? Yes, absolutely. I felt as if I had passed my final exam. I could lead CalArts—and if one day St. Peter asked why he should let me into heaven, I could say that I was at CalArts after the Northridge Earthquake and had led the efforts to save the school. Both Janet and I became bonded to CalArts in a new way. At times after the earthquake, I felt as if the damage was to my own body. And in the rebuilding, I saw parts of the facilities I had never seen before, like the top-most level where the two-ton air conditioning units, resting on shock absorbers, had bounced two feet to the west. I still take pleasure in walking past our CAP offices, just opposite Tatum Lounge, and knowing that the wall of the offices is almost two feet thick and is now supporting that whole wing of the building. And as word got out about our spectacular recovery, I received job offers from museums and other educational institutions that I admired. The comparison gave me the certainty that CalArts was absolutely the right institution for me.
What were the long-term consequences of the Northridge Earthquake? The impact of the earthquake was extraordinary. Until then, I think many of the faculty and staff felt that CalArts was just too idealistic and freewheeling to survive. The Bauhaus and Black Mountain College had had a huge impact on the arts but had survived only a short while. Why should CalArts be any different? The recovery from the Northridge Earthquake taught us that we were tough, that what sometimes looked like disorganization was actually individuals taking independent responsibility, and that we could accomplish anything we set our minds to. The result was the establishment of new programs— I think particularly of Integrated Media and the MFA in Creative Writing—as well as the renewal of existing programs. Programs realized that they could be more ambitious for themselves, and I realized we could take greater financial risk in addressing those ambitions, as in the establishment of the Center for New Theater, which became the Center for New Performance. Also, remember that the earthquake came in the midst of the digital revolution, at a time when the costs of technology were still frighteningly high—a single Silicon Graphics Reality Engine listed for $500,000. The earthquake, which destroyed much of our analog equipment—for example, whole racks of sound equipment fell and were buried in rubble—gave us an opportunity to take a big step forward in the digital arena.
Soon after the earthquake The Herb Alpert Awards in the Arts were launched. They, too, were part of the increasing ambition of the institution. Herb Alpert had helped us with scholarships in the Jazz Program. One day a staff member of Herb’s foundation called to tell me that Herb was interested in creating a mechanism to help artists at a stage of their careers at which support could really make a difference. What did I think? A question like that played directly into my experience running fellowship programs at The Rockefeller Foundation, and also an idea a trustee had given me—that if we were involved with
THE SHARON DISNEY LUND SCHOOL OF DANCE The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance is dedicated in memory of the longstanding CalArts benefactor and late daughter of Walt Disney.
2006 Austin Beutner becomes Chair of CalArts’ Board of Trustees.
2008 THE HERB ALPERT SCHOOL OF MUSIC CalArts inaugurates The Herb Alpert School of Music after receiving an historic $15 million endowment gift from Herb and Lani Alpert, following their previous gifts of $10 million in the early 1990s. NEW PROGRAMS In conjunction with the naming of The Herb Alpert School of Music, the Institute announces its firstever doctoral program: the Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) PerformerComposer Program. The School of Critical Studies enrolls its first students in the one-year Master of Arts (MA) Program in Aesthetics and Politics.
2009 THE CAMPAIGN FOR CALARTS The most significant fundraising effort in the history of the Institute is completed. The Campaign for CalArts raises more than $150 million toward the growth of endowment and scholarship funds, securing existing programs and supporting capital projects.
Views of the architecturally distinctive Wild Beast music pavilion, located at the main entrance to campus. The Wild Beast provides an acoustically optimized classroom and performance space, but it also opens up as a band shell for large outdoor concerts.
selecting other artists for support, it would help affirm the quality and importance of CalArts. Together we framed an absolutely clean process, involving nominators and selectors who had no current connection to CalArts—though they could be alumni—and awardees who likewise could have no current connection to CalArts. Although we built in a one-week residency at CalArts, so there would be a genuine link to the education of our students, some of my colleagues thought I was being shortsighted in not building in more for CalArts. I’ve always believed, however, that if something is worth doing, you should do it, and that, in all likelihood, good things will result. Well, wonderful things have resulted. We first met Suzan-Lori Parks—who later started our playwriting program—when she did her Alpert residency, and likewise Anne LeBaron, who is now a core member of the composition faculty in what is now The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts. Stephan Koplowitz, the dean of The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance, first came to CalArts on his Alpert residency, as did Erik Ehn, who later became director of the playwriting program and then, for a time, dean of the School of Theater. And many, many other Alpert recipients have become part of our extended community. Equally important, working on the Alpert Awards together gave us the opportunity to get to know Herb and his wife Lani Hall, who Janet and I now count as real friends, and for them to know CalArts. Over the years, Herb and Lani, through their foundation, have done just amazing things for CalArts, not only sustaining the Awards over what is now 22 years,
Founding School of Art faculty John Baldessari at the dedication of the studio complex bearing his name.
Wasn’t the taking on of a presentation and exhibition space unusual for a college the size of CalArts? Yes and no. Large universities routinely have public presentation and exhibition facilities. I think what’s unusual is for a smaller institution to be equally ambitious in its programming and for that programming to coordinate with its aesthetic and educational mission. That is where we differ. The purpose of REDCAT is less to attract the general public than to help advance the careers of emerging artists in Southern California—many of whom graduate from CalArts and the other colleges and universities in the region—and to make certain that these artists are able to see and be in conversation with others from around the country and the world. Fortunately, as a basis for programming, this approach has attracted capacity and near-capacity audiences as well.
but also becoming critical supporters of our Community Arts Partnership youth programs, of our presentation of emerging artists at REDCAT, and, most remarkably, giving core endowment for The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts.
Speaking of REDCAT, what was its genesis? That’s a long story, but basically, since my first years at CalArts, I had been looking for an off-campus presentation site for CalArts, both to help launch the careers of our graduates and other emerging artists in Los Angeles, and to reinforce CalArts’ presence as an indispensable Los Angeles educational and cultural institution. I was only thinking of a converted warehouse, like The Kitchen in New York. Our trustees and friends had heard me talk about this ambition, so when the opportunity emerged as part of the building of Walt Disney Concert Hall for CalArts to have its own space in the complex, we went for it. The Walt Disney Company made a big gift to the building of the concert hall with the stipulation that CalArts be provided its own space, and that $5 million of its contribution go to CalArts to endow that space. Roy Disney, who must have played a big role in that decision by The Walt Disney Company, then gave an equal amount toward building the facility— and eventually he gave even more. So we named the venue the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater in memory of Roy’s parents, Roy O. and Edna Disney.
Has REDCAT succeeded in enhancing awareness of CalArts as a core Los Angeles cultural institution? Yes, that and more. REDCAT this year is collaborating in its programming with the Los Angeles Opera and The Broad Museum, and has in the past worked closely with MOCA, community organizations like Plaza de la Raza, and many others. More than raising awareness, however, is that REDCAT reflects and makes visible those three priorities I set when I first came to CalArts: that the Institute be “intercultural, international and interdisciplinary.” The majority of the productions and exhibitions at REDCAT are interdisciplinary, with some coming directly from CalArts’ own Center for New Performance. The majority are also either intercultural or international, reflecting the vast ethnic as well as aesthetic diversity of contemporary artmaking in the United States and internationally. And this matches up well with the fact that today our student body is composed,
2010 WILD BEAST OPENING The Wild Beast, an indoor-outdoor music pavilion designed by Hodgetts + Fung, officially opens on the CalArts campus. This beautiful new facility provides much-needed performance, rehearsal and classroom space for The Herb Alpert School of Music and fosters engagement with the local community through public concerts.
2012 ALTERNATIVE INCOME STREAMS Steven introduces a new entrepreneurial spirit at CalArts, establishing innovative areas of alternative earned income that extend the Institute’s approach to creative problem-solving, nationally and internationally, through online platforms and residential programs. After delivering online portfolio development classes for artists, animators and designers, CalArts partners with online education leader Coursera to offer three massive open online courses (MOOCs). The Institute also enters into several partnerships with international organizations, providing workshops and programs based on its proven expertise in creative pedagogy.
2012 JOHN BALDESSARI ART STUDIOS CalArts completes construction on a new School of Art studio building named for world-renowned artist and founding faculty member John Baldessari. The building is officially dedicated in a ceremony in the spring of 2015. Support for construction comes from a special Christie’s auction of artwork donated by alumni, faculty and friends of the CalArts icon.
The latest CalArts offering on the online Coursera platform is a hugely popular graphic design course taught by faculty member Anther Kiley.
on average, of 45 percent domestic students of color and 20 percent international students, coming from between 40 and 50 countries each year. I would go even further to say that today CalArts not only shapes REDCAT, but that REDCAT has begun to shape the rest of CalArts. Certainly the Latin American/U.S. Latino initiative we have been building toward for the last decade reflects what the curators at the REDCAT Gallery have taught us about contemporary visual arts in the U.S. and Latin America, and equally what the theater, dance and music presentations at REDCAT have shown us about contemporary performance in Latin America. Seeing the artistic vitality of so many Latin American
THIS PAGE: The makeover of the Café at CalArts in 2015 improved dining options and transformed the facility into a flexible, multipurpose space—a hub of communal activity on campus as well as a place for more intimate meetings and exchanges for students and faculty. OPPOSITE, TOP: The Patty Disney Center for Life and Work opened in 2014. OPPOSITE, BOTTOM: Artists from Seoul’s Chung-Ang University joined with CalArts students and faculty to stage multilingual, multimedia adaptation of King Lear as part of their residency at the Institute.
countries, it makes sense for us to actively pursue increased scholarship support and enhanced collaborative programming in both U.S.-based Latino and international Latin American communities. Indeed, I now meet CalArts students from around the world who first learned about CalArts because of the international reputation of REDCAT.
We’ve come full circle. Are there other initiatives you’d like to touch on here? Just two. First is the increasing energy we have been putting into supplementary earned income programs over the past decade. As wealth concentrates in fewer hands in the U.S. and around the world, more and more college fundraising is focused on seven-, eight-, and nine-figure gifts. It is a big challenge to help the mega-rich understand that the quality of a smaller institution might outweigh the size and weight of a larger one… although that should be obvious. We must work to attract these large contributions, but at the same time we need to take our future into our own hands by building special programs that generate earned income outside of regular tuition, whether it is through online courses, which we are offering through Coursera, for example; specialist skill advancement, as in our work with the animators at Ánima Estudios in Mexico City; or the CalArts-based short courses in creative problem-solving we have developed with and for students at several Korean universities. We’ve been working in this direction for almost a decade now and the income is starting to help the overall budget. Second is the launch two years ago of the Patty Disney Center for Life and Work, which is designed to help students prepare for the practicalities of launching and sustaining a life in the arts. We need to do everything we can to both push students toward the fullest, most imaginative expression of their vision as artmakers, and, at the same time, through curricular and extra-curricular programs, to help them develop the skills to make their way in the world, both in their art and, as many artists have double and triple careers, in better remunerated areas outside the arts. Each year the individual Schools and programs are doing more to prepare students for the realities of careers in the arts. The Patty Disney Center gives us the capacity to do more to prepare students for mixed careers, and will do still more this summer when we add courses and workshops on entrepreneurship, in advance of launching an accelerator/incubator for projects that have the potential to be self-sustaining.
2014 PATTY DISNEY CENTER FOR LIFE AND WORK The Patty Disney Center for Life and Work expands career preparation for students and alumni. The Center’s staff helps connect current students and alumni to resources for personal and professional development after graduating from CalArts. Tim Disney becomes Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
2015 CAFÉ TRANSFORMATION Construction crews begin a total makeover of the CalArts Café. Completed in September of 2015, the new Café provides the CalArts community with a wide array of healthy food options, and offers a bright, comfortable dining space that quickly becomes a community hub—flexible enough to be used for study areas, meetings and events.
Final thoughts, concerns about the future—or advice for the next president of CalArts?
students. CalArts can only be as good as its students, which means we must continue to enroll the most gifted students, whatever their economic means. I am happy that we are focusing on raising scholarship support—in my and Janet’s honor, or in the names of others as well—during my final year as president; and also that we are about to revise the MA in Aesthetics and Politics to build in a low-cost, low-residency year, which may open the door to reconsidering how many of our programs need to be on campus at full cost, and which may be as successful off-campus at lesser cost. Advice for the new president? Above all, trust CalArts and learn from the faculty and the trustees. Often, though not always, what looks like chaos or poorly organized activity is actually the space of creativity; and often, though not always, what appears to be mere obstructionism is actually a poorly articulated defense of things that work. Change is inevitable and you will find the roots of positive change as you listen to and spend time with the students, faculty, your colleagues in the administration, and the trustees. The trustees, like the faculty, staff and administration, love CalArts, understand what a special place it is, and sincerely want what is best for it. Listen, collaborate, add your own vision, and every good wish as you help carry this wonderful institution into its future.
INCREASED COMMUNITY DIVERSITY, ENROLLMENT AND ENDOWMENT Over Steven’s nearly 30 years as president, CalArts enrollment grows nearly 60% and the school’s endowment increases 476% from June 1988 to April 2015. Its student body includes approximately 45% students of color and more than 40 countries are represented on campus each year, making CalArts both a leader in diversity in arts education and one of the most multi-ethnic highly selective colleges in the country. CALARTS 2030 PLAN The Institute completes its CalArts 2030 Plan, a strategic roadmap of priorities and initiatives for the next 15 years and beyond. INTERNATIONALIZATION Since the beginning of his tenure, Steven has focused on the internationalization of CalArts, dramatically increasing diversity in the student body and forging new artistic and academic partnerships and exchanges in more than a dozen countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Looking to the future of CalArts, I have the highest of expectations and only one real concern. We must continue to work on increasing scholarship support and controlling, and ideally lowering, cost for our SPRING 2016
IN TRIBUTE TO
Steven D. Lavine In his capacity as president, Steven Lavine has worked closely with a wide range of constituencies, from the students, deans, faculty, trustees, staff and alumni that comprise the CalArts community to a great many external organizations and individual artists, educators, arts administrators, corporate executives and public officials. We asked a representative group to contribute their personal impressions of Lavine as a leader, partner and friend.
Tony Jones CBE
Professor of Fine Arts and Arts Leadership Former Dean, Boston University College of Fine Arts CalArts Alumnus, Music MFA 73
President Emeritus School of the Art Institute of Chicago Interim President, Kansas City Art Institute
For many years I have been a reader, a collaborator, a partner, an ally, and, since very early on, a friend of Steven Lavine. He has been, in so many ways, the ideal leader for CalArts in very challenging times. With a clear vision, great generosity, and original ideas and initiatives, he has navigated troubled waters with optimism and determination. His legacy will be a CalArts committed to excellence and collegiality, aware of its place in the arts world and the local and global communities. I can speak firsthand of his values and big-heartedness. Diversity and social commitment are for him not alternatives to excellence, but are at the core of excellence and relevance. His times will be remembered as a reference for future leaders, a real “Golden Age.”
What does Steven already have? Well, first, an extraordinary track record of leadership for so many years at CalArts. And a sense of humor (vital to having accomplished the first…). Operational smarts. High intelligence and a nimble mind. Vision. Warmth of personality. Integrity. Passion and a sense of wonder. Stamina. A deep love of the arts in all their manifestations. An equally deep care that students are given the best experience, and the tools to survive and thrive. So, what can I give him? Just my eternally enduring professional and personal respect. It has been an honor to know him as a colleague and a friend.
Musician, Artist, Philanthropist
If central casting were looking for the perfect president of a school like CalArts, it would have to be someone like Steven Lavine. He totally understands the artist’s temperament and brings his creative juices to inspire and keep students curious about exploring their own uniqueness and finding their voices. Working with him and CalArts on The Herb Alpert Awards in the Arts for the last 21 years has been a seamless pleasure. He has a child-like energy with a super well-organized mind for fairness, mixed with an abundance of integrity.
Leadership comes in many forms. A more unusual but powerful characteristic is the ability to reflect vulnerability; it’s not necessary to have all the answers all of the time. The capacity to project a willingness to be open-minded to challenges to the status quo, to take advice and be responsive to it, is an especially important characteristic for a leader. Steve consistently applies his intellectual curiosity to be open-minded and express that, while he doesn’t have all the answers, that’s okay. The impact is to empower those who work with him, and for all to create a more exciting environment in which to pursue the objectives at hand.
Executive Director, Harlem Stage CalArts Overseer
President Universidad ORT Uruguay
Thoughtful is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Steven Lavine. It seems an overused word that characterizes one who thinks of others and their well-being—a caring and kind soul. While he is that, I use it as a way to describe a person who brings all of his considerable learning and knowledge to bear on every decision. And Steven has had, over the years that I have known him, a considerable amount of decisions to make. I cannot begin to fathom how many in a week, a day, a minute. He is a generous thinker and one who has been able to act on his thoughts, advancing the causes of others. He brings you in, welcomes you to the thinking, the process, the weighing of an idea, addressing an issue, finding the way to solve a problem. He acknowledges your contribution and goes back to the scale, assesses the big picture, determines the course of action, and then reports back to you. Action taken or course adjusted, your engagement and orientation complete.
Steven and Janet have become spiritually part of our extended family. Based on U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay Frank Baxter’s description of Steven and CalArts, I imagined CalArts as Mount Olympus and Steven as Zeus. I was right. It is always very difficult to establish academic collaborations from Uruguay. Most of the world does not know where we come from and the other half does not want to know. Steven took the time to find out about our country and about our university, both little-known in the United States. All cultural, language or administrative misunderstandings were taken by Steven as opportunities to learn more about us rather than to confirm stereotypes about Latin America. When I first visited CalArts, I was more than impressed by the institution and seduced (metaphorically) by Steven from the first moment. He was warm, helpful and respectful, and at the same time, a strict guardian of the interests of CalArts and its faculty. He also tutored me on how to approach donors, an art unknown in Uruguay. Steven helped me and my team re-conceive our notions of what a quality animation curriculum is about. He sent us terrific lecturers that raised the bar of animation teaching in our country (I dare say, in our region). I hope all our future collaborations will have somebody like Steven on the other side.
I’ve joked with Steven that while we are peers, when I grow up I want to be like him. He is a model leader who has lovingly changed his world and our world for the better.
Travis Preston Dean, School of Theater Artistic Director, Center for New Performance Steven is defined by an extraordinary passion for our community—a passion born of deep understanding and respect. Since coming to CalArts I have seen him repeatedly embrace and celebrate the difficult, the idiosyncratic, and the extreme. There is a kind of cheerful anarchy in this approach, an anarchy that slyly resists corporate taste, sensibility and systems. There is hardly anything corporate in Steven’s way of operating. He believes in art, the artist, and the necessity of passionate questioning through practice. This is deeply personal for him. He has helped and guided countless artists—both within and outside the extended CalArts family. I count myself among them. He is my friend and sometime antagonist, asking difficult questions from the perspective of support and affirmation. Steven is incapable of walking away from a good idea—no matter how challenging, taxing, or contrary to conventional wisdom. He is a zealous and uncompromising servant of art, the artist, and CalArts.
Steven is incapable of walking away from a good idea— no matter how challenging, taxing, or contrary to conventional wisdom. —TRAVIS PRESTON
Second Act by Freddie Sharmini
Rebooted for the 21st Century during the Steven Lavine era, CalArts has transformed creative practice all over again. 1
When Steven Lavine became president of CalArts in 1988, the Institute was on precarious footing. On the one hand, in a scant 18 years it had earned a sterling reputation in the arts community, nationally and internationally, for its out-of-the-box, emancipatory approach to creative education, and its commitment to experimentation and emerging expressions—conceptualism, feminist art and design, video, installation, computer music, film graphics, institutional critique. On the other hand, the 1980s had brought chronic budget deficits, growing fragmentation and fractiousness among the faculty, and institutional drift. CalArts was at a crossroads: stabilize financially and reinvigorate its proven methods, or risk the same fate that had befallen a pair of legendary arts education experiments before it. The Bauhaus in Germany lasted a mere 14 years, from 1919 to ’33, while the Institute’s closest antecedent, Black Mountain College, in North Carolina, kept at it for only 24 years, from 1933 to ’57. Hugely influential in the development of the 20th-century avant-garde, both schools had shone heroically, but only for a short time. © Disney Enterprises Inc.
TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS LATER, THE INSTITUTE
has reached nearly twice the longevity of Black Mountain, more than triple that of the Bauhaus. Having attained critical mass and traction, the one-time utopian 20th-century experiment is now an enduring institution with transformational punch and worldwide scope and influence, geared for the 21st Century. Its artists have won the highest accolades— National Medals of the Arts, Pulitzer Prizes, MacArthur Fellowships, Oscars, Emmys,
© Disney Enterprises Inc.
Tonys and Bessies—and CalArts itself has been honored in the halls of esteemed institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Pompidou Center. Spanning multiple generations, the school’s alumni have shaped the direction of major art forms as consistently as they have powered creative communities here at home, in cities stretching across the nation, and abroad, most notably in Europe and the Far East. As President Lavine nears the end of his tenure, one way to look to the future is to first retrace how CalArts has transformed the culture around it, and, as corollary, how the school evolved its own structures and expanded its generative role in that culture.
BETWEEN 1988, WHEN THE INSTITUTE’S NEW
president set out to deliver financial stability, faculty cohesion and renewed purpose, and 1 CalArts students and faculty perform in the opera What to Wear, written and directed by avant-garde icon Richard Foreman, composed by Michael Gordon of Bang on a Can All-Stars, and produced at REDCAT by the institute-wide Center for New Performance.
1994, when the Northridge earthquake dealt a potentially mortal blow, alumni were busy achieving historic breakthroughs. CalArts animation artists—including Glen Keane, John Musker, Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise, Brenda Chapman, Chris Sanders and Rob Minkoff—helped rescue an endangered art form by spearheading the “Disney Renaissance” with the hit animated features
2 The Little Mermaid, co-directed by John Musker, kicked off the Disney Renaissance.
3 The Nightmare Before Christmas, conceived by Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selick, is a cherished landmark of stop-motion animation.
The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992) and The Lion King (1994). Tim Burton styled his gothic visions into live action and became an A-list, albeit offbeat, Hollywood auteur with a string of successes, such as Beetlejuice (1988), Batman (1989) and Edward Scissorhands (1990). John Lasseter, meanwhile, had tenaciously pursued 3D computer animation until landing at a tech company called Pixar, and in 1991 his animation department struck a deal with Disney to produce a series of CG features, the first of which was Toy Story (1995). Developed by Lasseter with fellow CalArtians Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter and Joe Ranft—the first iteration of the “Pixar Braintrust”—Toy Story wowed audiences and critics alike with its new visual style as much as with the warmth and wit of its storytelling. The “Pixar Revolution” was on, changing the animation industry forever. Early School of Art graduates—Jack Goldstein, David Salle, Eric Fischl, Ross Bleckner, Matt Mullican, James Welling, Troy Brauntuch, Barbara Bloom and others—had become known as the “CalArts Mafia” in New York, but in the late ’80s and early ’90s the art world put a spotlight on artists based in Los Angeles, with CalArts alumni front and center. This newly ascendant Angeleno cadre—Mike Kelley, Jim Shaw, Lari Pittman, Stephen Prina, Christopher Williams, Cindy Bernard, Larry Johnson, Meg Cranston and Liz Larner, to name only a few— had internalized the lessons of conceptualism, gleaned from faculty mentors John Baldessari, Douglas Huebler and Michael Asher, before
going on to chart their own new directions. L.A., home to key innovations of the ’60s and ’70s, much of which was connected to CalArts, was finally claiming its place on the international art map. Back in New York, the downtown jazz scene saw an influx of creatively agile players from the CalArts Jazz Program started in 1983 by the late jazz great Charlie Haden. Ravi Coltrane, Ralph Alessi, Peter Epstein, James Carney and others brought to the table a distinctive sensibility shaped not only by Haden but also their exposure at school to West African, Indian and Indonesian music traditions and to the latest experimental takes on composition and improvisation—a blend of influences only found at CalArts. There was plenty more on the way. The decade was just getting started, on the cusp of mass digital connectivity and spedup globalization.
THE NORTHRIDGE EARTHQUAKE COULD HAVE
induced a downward spiral, but instead the recovery effort led by Steven Lavine was so galvanizing that it propelled CalArts into the next phase of its history—its second act. Since Lavine’s arrival, new deans had been appointed at the schools of Art, Film/Video and Music— Thomas Lawson, Hartmut Bitomsky and David Rosenboom, respectively—and Critical Studies elevated to a full-fledged school under Dick Hebdige. By 1994, the new leadership was bedded in and, buoyed by recent alumni
achievements, the Institute was ready for takeoff. The School of Art, known for its conceptualist pedigree, saw a renewed focus on handmade, tactile, yet nevertheless conceptually savvy work with the emergence of painters Mark Bradford, Laura Owens, Monique Prieto, Ingrid Calame and Henry Taylor. In the design program, Geoff McFetridge infused his work with the rawness of street culture, even as CalArts practitioners, like faculty Jeffery Keedy and alumnus Barry Deck, were taking graphic design into the digital age. Yet others, such as Jonathan Notaro, founder of the studio Brand New School, would look to motion graphics as the next frontier. Artists channeled engagement with social and political issues by way of more personal or nuanced methods. Sam Durant, for example, balanced biting cultural criticism with the lighthanded drollness of his sculptures. Later, when the recessions of 2001 and 2007–09 roiled the status quo, many CalArts alumni pivoted altogether from institutional critique to creating their own support structures in ad hoc collectives and artist-run spaces—of which Machine Project, founded in 2004 by Mark Allen, remains the standout in Los Angeles. Dean Thomas Lawson, for his part, delivered a portal into the global discourse on contemporary art, first in the journal Afterall, co-published with Central Saint Martins in London from 2003 to 2010, and eventually via the collaborative online magazine and archive East of Borneo. The School of Film/Video negotiated rapidly evolving technologies while supporting
1 Jazz Program alumni (from left) Peter Epstein, Ravi Coltrane and Ralph Alessi perform at The Wild Beast to mark the 25-year anniversary of the annual CalArts Jazz CD recorded at Capitol Studios.
2 Toy Story, like all Disney/Pixar features that followed it, includes a reference to CalArts animation classroom A113—where numerous Pixar artists have honed their craft.
Photo: Douglas M. Parker
Jack), Lauren Faust (My Little Pony) and Jorge Gutierrez (El Tigre). Bursting onto the scene next, over the past decade, was a fresh group of animation trend-setters, with Alex Hirsch (Gravity Falls), Pen Ward (Adventure Time), J.G. Quintel (Regular Show) and Daron Nefcy (Star and the Forces of Evil), among others. The live-action programs launched a succession of practitioners in experimental
3 Mike Kelley, More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid, 1987, mixed media, 96 x 127 x 5 in., and The Wages of Sin, 1987, mixed media, 52 x 23 x 23 in. Installation view, Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Los Angeles. Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
film (William E. Jones, Deborah Stratman, Rodney Evans, Naomi Uman, Robert Fenz, Akosua Adoma Owusu, Natasha Mendonca), documentary (Travis Wilkerson, Bill Brown, Lee Ann Schmitt), and independent narrative cinema (Aurora Guerrero, Eliza Hittman, Mike Ott, Tariq Tapa). Marked by a high degree of inventiveness in their respective genres, their achievements on the festival circuit and in the
a breadth of artistic output unmatched by any other film school. The gamut ran from hand-painted 16mm film and stop-motion to the newest in digital video and CG animation, from lyrical reveries to harrowing historical investigations. In 2006 this creative diversity went on view at MoMA with the sweeping retrospective Tomorrowland: CalArts in Moving Pictures. “CalArts was one of the few schools in the country that excelled in making the transition to digital,” says curator Joshua Siegel. “Whether it was in experimental documentary or animation, the filmmakers managed to retain a distinctiveness when the medium was moving into something potentially more generic; they made the work tactile and vibrant, kinetic and singular.” Just as the Pixar and Disney feature film units were kicking into high gear, a new wave of CalArts animation artists arrived on the small screen in the role of show creators and developers—artists who had learnt how to marshal the elements of story animation into a compelling whole, shaping it from a unique, often personal point of view. They included Stephen Hillenburg (SpongeBob SquarePants), Craig McCracken (The Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends), Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai
4 First broadcast in 1999, Stephen Hillenburg’s beloved series SpongeBob SquarePants is the highest-rated program in Nickelodeon history.
Courtesy of Early Morning Opera
Courtesy of the artist; Gavin Brownâ€™s enterprise, New York; Sadie Cole HQ, London; Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne
1 CalArts alumnus and TED Fellow Lars Jan and his company, Early Morning Opera, premiered the multimedia stage work Abacus at EMPAC in Troy, NY, before taking it to other venues, including REDCAT.
2 Laura Owens, Untitled, 2002, acrylic and oil on linen, 84 x 132 in. Owens was at the forefront of a resurgence of painting in the late 90s and early aughts.
Courtesy of The Music Center
art world confirmed the school’s commitment to the vision of the individual artist, as it was first molded by faculty guiding lights Jules Engel and Pat O’Neill. In the meantime, James Mangold in Hollywood, Maneesh Sharma in Bollywood, Casey Kriley in reality television, and Kim Yoon-cheol in South Korean TV carried distinctive storytelling into the mainstream media. The School of Music began to better correlate its wide array of programs as part
of a holistic outlook for the creative musical artists of the 21st Century, calling for the skills and agility to move among different musical styles and collaborative settings. Rooted in a global understanding of musicmaking, the school’s multi-skill egalitarianism has fostered fresh, cutting-edge interpretations of contemporary music, found in groups like Wild Up and the Formalist Quartet, as much as surprising crossovers, like Dawn of Midi’s amalgam of electronic dance music and acoustic jazz. The school today is just as much a wellspring for the dreamy chamber-pop of singer-songwriter Julia Holter as for composers and technologists exploring the space between human performer and machine intelligence. Elsewhere in the performing arts, the School of Dance contributed key artistic directors to the nascent L.A. dance community with Jacques Heim (Diavolo) and Laura Gorenstein Miller (Helios), while also graduating postmodernists such as Luciana Achugar and Maria Hassabi, who have sustained careers marked by fierce independence and conceptual daring. Others combined dance with film, digital media or interactive technology, most notably in the multimedia performance company Troika Ranch formed by choreographer Dawn Stoppiello and digital artist Mark Coniglio. In its latter history, ever since Stephan Koplowitz became dean in 2006, the school has dramatically bolstered its connections with the wider
3 The typeface Keedy Sans, created by faculty Jeffery Keedy, was among the first digital fonts acquired by The Museum of Modern Art’s Design and Architecture Collection.
professional dance and performance communities, linking up with international artists as well as the increasingly vibrant local scene populated with multiple generations of CalArts alums, from Heim’s Diavolo to younger companies like BODYTRAFFIC. The School of Theater’s early phase had provided pop culture with the Paul Reubens creation Pee-wee Herman, Katey Sagal’s Peg Bundy from Married with Children…, and David Hasselhoff—simply “The Hoff.” At the same time it produced two of Hollywood’s most decorated actors in Ed Harris (Apollo 13, The Truman Show, Game Change) and Don Cheadle (Boogie Nights, Hotel Rwanda, House of Lies). In more recent years, the vaunted Acting Program—the most diverse of the large programs at CalArts— has produced a procession of alumni who have lit up stage and screen directly out of school, thanks to a combination of top skills, versatility and, above all, creative intelligence. This cadre includes Alison Brie (Mad Men, Community), Eliza Coupe (Happy Endings), Cecily Strong (Saturday Night Live), Condola Rashad (Ruined, Romeo and Juliet on Broadway, Steel Magnolias) and Dana Gourrier (Django Unchained, True Detective). In design, production, and creative management, the school’s track record is dizzyingly expansive, ranging from award-winning work on Broadway (Kevin Adams, Leon Rothenberg, Justin Townsend, Cricket S. Myers) to
5 Faculty member Lorraine Wild designed the catalogue for a 2004 survey of Minimalism at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, among numerous other art publications.
4 Work by a pair of idiosyncratic graphic designers, faculty member Ed Fella and
6 A CalArts orchestra comprising more than 100 students, alumni, faculty and
alumnus Geoff McFetridge, was showcased in the exhibition Two Lines Align at REDCAT.
guest artists performs Terry Riley’s 1964 minimalist epic In C at Walt Disney Concert Hall, with Dean David Rosenboom conducting.
Writing Program. By bypassing the division between “critical” and “creative,” the program strove to do for the art of writing what John Baldessari’s “post-studio” seminar had done for artmaking in the early 1970s: liberate the imagination from hidebound orthodoxies. To date, the program has nurtured an impressively eclectic spectrum of work, from fiction (AnneMarie Kinney, Grace Krilanovich) and poetry (Douglas Kearney, Diana Arterian) to hybrid memoir (Amarnath Ravva), from performance (Malik Gaines of My Barbarian) and media art (Jeremy Hight) to arts criticism and journalism. Over the past decade, some of the best work produced in the program has appeared in the pages of the literary journal Black Clock—the Institute’s idiosyncratic West Coast answer to Conjunctions.
designing for broadcast and live themed entertainment, from original multimedia directions that have earned TED Fellowships (Lars Jan, Christine Marie) to creating sustainable models for the development and production of experimental theater (Miranda Wright). The School of Critical Studies launched its first degree track in ’93 in the form of the MFA
WHEREAS WALT DISNEY’S CONCEPT FOR AN
“all-inclusive community of the arts” derived from the German Romantic ideal of uniting music, drama and visual spectacle, the faculty of CalArts in 1970 looked to the more unruly, paradigm-breaking interdisciplinary model of Black Mountain—the staging ground for
Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
1 Students in the CAP/Plaza de la Raza Youth Theater Program perform in an original musical entitled UAC ETA TBD—short for “Undocumented Alien Children, Estimated Time of Arrival To Be Determined.”
2 Mark Bradford, Black Venus, 2005, mixed-media collage, 130 x 196 in. Bradford is one of five CalArts alumni who have received the coveted MacArthur Fellowship—the “Genius Grant.”
Courtesy of Machine Project
able to thrive creatively as it had before if it became a homogenous, inward-looking, inaccessible ivory tower, or if it couldn’t match the pace of global innovation. Recognizing the need for greater, more open interconnectivity with the world around it, local and global, Lavine set out to return CalArts to its boundary-hopping roots by making it more “intercultural, international, and interdisciplinary.” The first major initiative undertaken by Lavine was the launch of the Community Arts Partnership (CAP) in 1990. As the first collaboration of its kind in the U.S., the free youth arts education program directly linked CalArts with community organizations and, later, schools in Los Angeles County’s most underserved constituencies. CAP provided the means for delivering the Institute’s proven pedagogy to young people, ages 6-18, with the least access
3 Founded by Mark Allen in a storefront space in Echo Park, Machine Project is one of L.A.’s foremost artist-run, non-commercial cultural organizations.
to quality learning opportunities, with the aim of opening pathways to college and potential future careers in the creative economy. Started with two revered grassroots organizations, Plaza de la Raza in East L.A. and Watts Towers Arts Center in South L.A., before expanding to dozens of partners throughout the county, CAP has gone on to serve more than 300,000 young Angelenos—including many from vulnerable districts that bore the brunt of devastating cuts in education and arts programs following the Great Recession. As CAP put CalArts on the map as a viable option in local underserved communities that were beginning to send more young people to college in the ’90s, the Institute went much further to revamp its recruitment efforts, both domestically and internationally, with the aim of opening up access for the best artistic
Courtesy of Two Dollar Radio
modern icons like Rauschenberg, Cage and Cunningham. But there was more to Disney’s vision. As the 1964 promotional film The CalArts Story makes clear, he also advanced a civic purpose. He viewed the Institute at the heart of a new cultural infrastructure alongside the Music Center and the County Museum of Art, attracting creative talents to a “world-class” capital of the arts. Yet this grand vision took a different direction when, after Disney’s death, the planned site for the Institute near the Hollywood Bowl fell through, and the campus was moved to the agricultural exurb of Valencia. As a result, over the next two decades, even as CalArts was in constant dialogue with its counterparts in the international avant-garde, the work carried out at its out-of-the-way location had only a limited impact on the life of its own city. This relative isolation from the local context was a worrying sign for a progressive institution founded on overcoming boundaries, especially when demographic and cultural changes underway in L.A. represented a microcosm of larger trends. In 1988, when Steven Lavine became president, CalArts was barely keeping up with the rising diversity of the U.S. college-age population. Simultaneously, the newest developments in the arts, having led the way in breaking down the barriers that divided cultures and nations from each other, were unfolding on a truly global playing field, with all the speed of electronic media. In all likelihood, the Institute simply would not be
4 Debut novels by Anne-Marie Kinney and Grace Krilanovich are among the most acclaimed books to have come out of the MFA Creative Writing Program.
Courtesy of the filmmaker
1 The School of Theater’s production of Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms, directed by Zoe Aja Moore, featured scene design by Liz Toonkel and technical direction by Benjamin Womick.
2 Stills from Natasha Mendonca’s experimental film essay Jan Villa, which won the prestigious Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, as well as top honors at the Ann Arbor Film Festival.
27 Courtesy of the filmmaker
talents in a wider, more economically and culturally diverse pool of potential students. If the founders had sought to foment creativity through aesthetic heterogeneity—different arts brought together under one roof—surely the same principle applied to a mixture of artists from very many different backgrounds, whose multiple perspectives and voices would provide a dynamic, generative forum for new art. Since Lavine took over as president, students of color at the Institute have tripled, from 14 percent of the population in 1989 to 45 percent in the fall of 2015, outpacing all of CalArts’ peer
institutions. International students, meanwhile, have more than doubled, from 8 percent in ’89 to 20 percent last fall, representing 48 different countries. More than the result of recruitment alone, this worldwide reach was constructed painstakingly over time, through a network of partnerships and exchanges with universities, arts organizations and professional development programs in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. After the launch of CAP with multiple partners across L.A. County, the next institutewide project to connect with communities near 4
3 Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri (left) and Ustad Aashish Khan (right) are the internationally renowned mainstays of the Institute’s graduate North Indian Music Program.
and far was establishing a permanent presence in a more visible, accessible location in the city—such as was imagined by Walt Disney in the early ’60s. Backed by the generosity of the Institute’s greatest supporter, the late Roy E. Disney, this presence arrived with the creation of the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT), housed in Frank Gehry’s iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in the heart of downtown. With Mark Murphy on board as executive director, REDCAT’s role was conceived not as a mere outpost, satellite or vanity venue, but as a living expression of CalArts and its commitment to transformative art. REDCAT opened in the fall of 2003 and its adventurous year-round programming quickly became “the gold standard for the avant-garde in L.A.,” according to The Huffington Post. Guided by the twin CalArts pillars of experimentalism and interdisciplinarity, the quality of the programming—split among established artists brought in from all over the
5 Combining documentary with creative storytelling in the short Me Broni Ba (“My White Baby”), alumna Akosua Adoma Owusu looked at how women in Kumasi, Ghana, learn to braid hair by practicing on Caucasian dolls.
4 CalArts dancers perform a work choreographed by alumnus Jacques Heim, artistic director of Diavolo | Architecture in Motion.
world, emerging voices, and new professional work originating from CalArts—injected formal innovation and challenging, even provocative perspectives into the cultural life of the city. One of the goals all along was the cultivation of the audiences to sustain new art, including the work of future CalArts graduates, and REDCAT became the place where theatergoers could discover, for example, the projection performances of Cloud Eye Control, or the shadow theater of Christine Marie, or the post-punk cabaret of Timur Bekbosunov and Daniel Corral—all freshly minted alumni. It also happened to be where those artists found their most enthusiastic supporters. Since REDCAT’s opening, the CalArts role as presenter has taken on added urgency as original new projects, even by senior artists, today often require the coordinated efforts 1
of multiple institutions—an overlapping patchwork of foundations, nonprofit groups, corporate sponsors and arts venues. Larger, more ambitious undertakings, on the scale of the citywide Radar L.A. Festival of new international theater, for instance, simply could not have happened without the leadership of a CalArts or the curatorial, organizational and technical resources of a REDCAT. Coinciding with the initial development of REDCAT was another groundbreaking initiative: the Center for New Theater, inaugurated at the School of Theater in 1999, and subsequently relaunched in 2006 as the
institute-wide Center for New Performance (CNP). Serving as the professional producing arm of CalArts, CNP uses an alternative artist-driven, project-based model not found anywhere else in American theater or higher education. It joins the brightest talents of the CalArts community with internationally celebrated auteurs to conceive, develop and realize
1 Golden Globe-winning, Academy Award-nominated actor Don Cheadle gives a talk at the School of Theater.
2 Cecily Strong, of Saturday Night Live fame, in the Beijing opera Peach Blossom Fan during her CalArts days.
professional projects that push the boundaries of contemporary theater, music, dance and interdisciplinary performance—original work created from the ground up and staged both on campus and at multiple off-campus venues in L.A. and cities abroad. “The Center for New Performance resets the CalArts role,” says Travis Preston, dean of the School of Theater
3 The CalArts Center for New Performance staged an outdoor production of Prometheus Bound at the Getty Villa in 2014. Directed by Dean Travis Preston from a brand-new translation of Aeschylus, the spectacle featured a five-ton, 23-foot-high steel wheel as its main set.
Courtesy of the Goodman Theatre
© Cartoon Network
and CNP’s artistic director, “so that it’s not only an institution for the training of professional artists, it’s also an originator of daring professional work.”
DURING A TALK AT THE HAMMER MUSEUM,
Los Angeles Times critic Christopher Knight asked founding CalArts faculty John Baldessari about the most significant development in L.A. artmaking over the past half-century. “I think the big change was the impact of CalArts,” Baldessari replied. “Bringing in other ways and artists from other countries and cities. And
then students from CalArts going on to teach, and then their students, and so on.” Baldessari was speaking specifically about the fine art world but, in 2016, his statement holds equally true for any of the métiers taught at CalArts. The work coming out of the Institute has defined the leading edge of creative practice as we know it today, and as its practitioners have spread out to other institutions, so have the methods that continue to drive innovation. Moreover, Baldessari’s observation is one that can be extended easily beyond the city limits of L.A., to, say, the graphic design and digital arts communities
4 Two-time Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad (left) in the world premiere production of Lynn Nottage’s play Ruined at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.
5 Created by Pendleton Ward, the Cartoon Network series Adventure Time earned
of South Korea, which owe as much to the Institute as does the local L.A. art scene. The CalArts community of 2016 and beyond is well and truly global, and its unique approach to artmaking as a transformational force—pioneered by towering figures such as Baldessari and Charlie Haden and refined by their successors— is being propagated not only at the Valencia campus, but also through initiatives like CAP, CNP and REDCAT, a worldwide network of international partners, and, most recently, online learning platforms such as Coursera. It bears emphasizing that Baldessari’s observation is true only because CalArts has managed to sustain its virtuous cycle of teaching and learning over a long time, spanning the experience of multiple generations—as it has done with aplomb during Steven Lavine’s tenure. His vision and leadership guided the Institute as it evolved, staying abreast of the seismic societal, cultural, technological, economic, even paradigmatic changes few could have foreseen three decades ago, let alone five. He helped CalArts reinvent itself at just the right time, coinciding with digital connectivity and globalization, and redefine its institutional role to meet head-on the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century, all the while upholding the core principles the school’s founders first put into practice so many years ago. Throughout the first part of its existence, it could be argued, CalArts was a mercurial community of independent thinkers and innovators that pressed ahead through sheer, dogged determination. It was only later, in the Lavine era, that the Institute actually became an institution. ●
6 Elevator Repair Service’s internationally celebrated production of Gatz made its L.A. home at REDCAT. The bravura seven-hour performance was built around a word-for-word delivery of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
four consecutive Primetime Emmy Awards from 2012 through 2015
John D’Amico West Hollywood Councilmember CalArts Alumnus Aesthetics and Politics MA 09, Theater 83
Steven’s optimism is about the possibility of the individual and the institution acting as catalysts for expanding and deepening what we know about the world. —JOHN D’AMICO
Each and every time I have spoken with Steven over the past 20-plus years, or had the pleasure of hearing him speak in public, I have been left with this singular idea: Steven’s optimism is about the possibility of the individual and the institution acting as catalysts for expanding and deepening what we know about the world. It’s an idea that’s contagious, too. He frames the conversation so that the opportunities are rendered visible. He points out how the world can be a better and better place, and what the institution is doing to help achieve that. Steven leads with that. Each of us matters and the institution has a responsibility. That is Steven, and for me, that is the throughline of his legacy. As an elected official, it is leaders like Steven that I try to emulate when considering how public policy affects the life of the community. Lead with the idea that there is more to be done and we are the ones that must do it. We all learned that at CalArts in one way or another.
Executive Director Plaza de la Raza
Chair, Jazz Program The Herb Alpert School of Music
Steven is the godfather of the Community Arts Partnership Program, which has had such a profound impact on a legion of students at Plaza de la Raza over the years. In addition to numerous classes in music, puppetry, dance and media, the crown jewel of our partnership has been the CAP Theater Program, which is now celebrating 26 years. He’s been a stalwart supporter of the program, which has delivered 26 years of original productions written by mentors and students, and supported by an army of wonderful student interns. I am certain Steven has learned not only what a value it has been to have CalArts students at Plaza come to us and work with our kids, but also what the impact of our community has been on the CalArts students as well. It has been the best of partnerships in that regard. It has been our privilege to perform at REDCAT every spring since it opened thanks to Steven. Imagine sitting in the audience and seeing your child onstage, for the very first time, at REDCAT. That’s what has been made possible by Steven’s vision. Whenever Steven comes to see the production at Plaza, we welcome him home again.
I will always be grateful for Steven’s knowledge and commitment to so many of CalArts’ unique programs. His love for the Institute is matched by his deep interest and support of countless individual initiatives at CalArts. We started the jazz major at CalArts in 1983, and several times I proposed finding a way to partner with a major Los Angeles recording studio in order to document the wonderful new music that was being created here. When Steven began his presidency in 1988, we met and talked about the idea, and he immediately understood how much this project could impact our students’ education and careers. He suggested that Joe Smith, then president and CEO of Capitol/EMI, would be joining CalArts’ board, and that we should meet with Joe to explore a partnership. Steven’s enthusiasm and energy combined with Joe’s vision and generosity, and the CalArts Jazz CD project was born. We are now in the 27th year of the partnership, and the experience of recording at Capitol Studios has changed the lives of more than 500 of our music students, and has been the primary recruiting tool for our program. None of it would have happened without Steven’s devotion and attention to individual programs at CalArts—a rare and invaluable quality in a leader.
IN TRIBUTE TO STEVEN D. LAVINE
He redefined and extended what this inclusive community means, and he made sure the net was enormous. —LAURIE ANDERSON
Laurie Anderson Artist, Musician Steven is amazing. Over the years, even though I haven’t been part of the physical CalArts community, Steven has stayed in touch. He redefined and extended what this inclusive community means, and he made sure the net was enormous. Mostly when I think of Steven, though, I think of his kindness and of the times he invited me to spend time with him and the beautiful being Janet. Active, innovative, smart and kind, they are truly two of the world’s treasures.
Duk Hyung Yoo President Seoul Institute of the Arts One of the first things that Steven will ask me when we meet is, “What’s new?” And in this question you feel his continuous search for new perspectives and directions that can potentially lead to transformation. In this search Steven is an expert listener; he is an artist who creates an environment where the collaborators feel invested and empowered to contribute. This is what excites me the most in my relationship with Steven— us on this journey to explore new possibilities and new ways of looking at the world. I have been inspired and challenged by Steven and I have truly valued our time and look forward to more adventures together.
Michael Pressman Producer/Director Steven called me early on when he was becoming president of CalArts and he did a classy and unique thing that I can’t imagine anyone else but Steven doing. He came over to my house, and suggested that we go to the movies. We saw When Harry Met Sally. I learned more about this man in that one day than one does during many years of board meetings. From that point on, Steven had won me over. For me, Steven embodies opposites. He is a strong leader and a gentle man. He has had to be tough and make tough decisions, and has let his guard down and exposed his emotional side. He is a softy. He is gentle. He is kind. I’ve always enjoyed his company, and he has accomplished something that very few leaders of an institution can do. Steven makes you feel safe.
Bob Brustein Critic, Producer, Playwright, Educator Founder of Yale Repertory Theatre and the American Repertory Theater Under the vital and sustained legacy of Steven Lavine, CalArts has evolved into the most exciting and daring arts program in the country. The students are never encouraged to follow the tried and the true, but rather continuously prodded into new areas of exploration. It has been a pleasure for me to teach such imaginative students. They have expanded the American art scene.
IN TRIBUTE TO STEVEN D. LAVINE
A Woman for All Seasons
by Jane St. Clair
Janet Sternburg is blessed with a Renaissance sensibility rooted in a passion for poetry, film, theater, photography and narrative that transcends boundaries. For some, this spectrum might diffuse focus, but Janet’s vision encompasses a larger scope and a generous landscape. She can trace this way of seeing to a memory. “When I was five years old,” she recalls, “my parents took me to see a movie, the first Fantasia. I remember walking out, and feeling exalted. When I came home I asked my mother for a pencil and I wrote down what I felt. Many years later, I realized that this was not only my beginning as a writer, but also that Walt Disney had showed the child I was how all the arts—images, music, dance, film, theater—could be brought together. That sense of creative synthesis has been an inspiration for me ever since. “When I crossed the threshold into CalArts, I had a very strong sense of homecoming. I realized that its founding idea came from the same sense—all the arts
together—that made Fantasia. And that the child who had experienced this was, in effect, arriving: as though Fantasia led me on a path that took me to CalArts. And it wasn’t the path of a movie. It was the path of a vision.” Janet’s friends used to joke that if the ship of New York were to go down, hers would be the last hand waving. “After Steve’s final set of interviews for president,” she remembers, “we drove up to Montecito to meet Jon and Lillian Lovelace. And when we met them, I thought, ‘If this is the caliber of people who will be in our lives, I want to come here.’” Looking back now, she says, “I realized that my life was on a train heading west.” Jon Lovelace, founding member and then chairman of the CalArts board, invited Steven to become president in 1988. Janet and Steven were not yet married at this point. “Lillian said to me,” Janet recalls, “‘If you come here, I’m going to give you a big wedding party to welcome you.’ And she did.” Lillian Lovelace today sums up the impact of this beginning: “Jon and I were so impressed by their broadbased artistic intelligence and creative energy. We were both very excited about both of them.” This impression then deepened over the years to encompass more than professional respect and esteem. “Somehow they were our family,” she says. “They became dear to our hearts, and we’re very proud of what they’ve accomplished. Pleased and proud.” Janet came to CalArts with an unusual breadth of experience garnered in New York, where she had directed and produced award-winning films for National Educational Television, including El Teatro Campesino and Virginia Woolf: The Moment Whole. She
“Janet’s creative practice deeply informs Steven’s understanding of creative people and his unqualified respect for artists and their work. This valuing of artists is at the core of CalArts and a huge part of their legacy.” —Patricia Gonzalez
Assistant Vice President for Special Projects and Board Relations calarts
Courtesy of Janet Sternburg
had served as director of the Writers in Performance series at the Manhattan Theatre Club, pioneering new ways to bring literature to the stage. In the late 1970s, inspired by the Women’s Movement and its encouragement of creativity, Janet went looking for a book that would explore what it meant to be a contemporary woman who writes. To her surprise, no such book existed. “I began this book because I needed to read it,” she wrote in the introduction to The Writer on Her Work, a seminal collection of essays that she conceived, commissioned and edited. In the preface to the 20th anniversary edition, Julia Alvarez wrote: “It was a first: seventeen women laying claim to rooms of their own in the mansion of literature.” In print for 36 years, the book has sustained a legacy that transcends the historical moment and become a touchstone for all writers, women and men alike, who have struggled to create. Ten years later, recognizing that the landscape of writing had changed, Janet compiled a second volume of The Writer on Her Work, extending its reach to include international writers. In her partnership with Steven at CalArts, Janet has maintained a moving balance, embracing a larger creative stewardship even as she continues to break new ground with her own work. “Janet has always had a clear sense of what a unique and special place this is,” says Steven. “And she has it from the artist’s point of view. The amazing thing is that while keeping focus on her own creative life, she’s been willing to keep the space to engage day after day with CalArts. It’s a dual vision at all times.”
Following on her years of teaching at the graduate program in Media Studies at The New School, Janet taught a course in Writing for Media at the CalArts School of Film/Video, and championed the formation of a multidisciplinary curriculum for writing that eventually became the MFA Creative Writing Program. Then came a pivotal moment. After six years of working to gain financial stability for CalArts, Steven’s efforts were brought to a further test by the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, which nearly destroyed the CalArts campus. Steve and his colleagues rose to the challenge to rebuild and ensure the school’s survival. “It was a turning point,” he says. “It summoned a deeper sense of commitment in both of us. Janet brings clear-eyed analytic ability to her sensibility. And in a crisis, that’s actually what comes to the fore. That
Janet Sternburg, SPLENDOR, 1999
“My work deepened as an artist when I started generating my own work, and that began with The Writer on Her Work. I’m very grateful to Janet, both as the person who was the creator of that very important book, but also with the way she was very supportive of my work.” —Marissa Chibas
Courtesy of Janet Sternburg and Hawthorne Books
Head of Duende CalArts Center for New Performance School of Theater Faculty
Janet’s latest book, White Matter: A Memoir of Family and Medicine, was published last fall by Hawthorne Books.
clarity. There’s not one I’d rather stand with in crisis, and in good times.” The earthquake brought a sharpened sense to Janet of the fragility as well as the strength of all things. Her work as a multiplatform artist grew in scope and depth. Since then, she has written and published two memoirs in what will be a trilogy at the intersection of personal life and medicine, as well as a book of poetry, Optic Nerve: Photopoems, in which she interposes photographs as visual stanzas. Add to that a play, The Fifth String, which has been performed in Berlin and New York. Of her first memoir, Phantom Limb, Bill Moyers wrote: “Janet Sternburg has found the perfect metaphor for… the ultimate inevitabilities of life.” Her most recent book, White Matter: A Memoir of Family and Medicine, was a Publishers Weekly top pick, and garnered praise from The Oliver Sacks Foundation. Forbes magazine declared: “Sternburg uses… the sensitivity, precision and lyricism of a poet, the hard edges of a photographer, and the intelligence and scholarship of an academic, to plumb the many facets of this story and its legacy on her and her family.” In 1998, Janet began a concurrent body of photography, with a distinct visual voice that explores the interpenetration of time and space. Her work has been exhibited internationally, with solo shows in Berlin, Munich, New York, Los Angeles, Mexico and South Korea, where she was commissioned by Seoul Institute of the Arts to create a full-building installation for the inauguration of its Media and Technology Center. Portfolios of her work have appeared in Aperture and Art Journal. Later this year, Overspilling World: The Photographs of Janet Sternburg will be published by
Distanz Verlag (Berlin) with a foreword by Wim Wenders. Janet has a gift of fearless curiosity that summons all of her given and earned powers to immerse her audience, colleagues and friends alike in an experience in which one is afforded an expanded moment, in which “hidden convergences,” as she puts it, come to light and illuminate our own field of vision and creative possibilities. “With CalArts and with Steve, it has been an exquisite match,” she says. “And we have been extremely lucky. We have had almost three decades of living with a consonance between what we care about, our values and our concerns, and what an institution cares about. Fortunate, too, to be in a position to further those commitments: that’s what I call a great luxury.”
Jane St. Clair (Theater–Film/Video MFA 92) studied writing for theater, film and music at CalArts. As her faculty advisor, Janet Sternburg guided and championed Jane’s thesis, an interschool musical, from rough draft to the main stage. Jane has written a novel and two plays since then. She teaches creative writing, songwriting and photography in Los Angeles, where her songs have been recorded by Kenny Loggins and Alan Pasqua.
Photo: Joan Abrahamson
Steven Lavine, one of the longest-serving college presidents in the United States, likes to have breakfast at the Luxe Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. We met there on a recent Saturday morning. He arrived on time in a 14-year-old Lexus, and hanging from the mirror was the collar of one of a number of standard poodles that have played an important role in his life. This one was called Breeze, and Lavine describes her as “a loner who seemed to live with an awareness of the existential condition.” He says her human counterpart would have been a woman in a sports car wearing a cashmere sweater with pearls, an independent soul, not at ease in the universe. He adored her. The Luxe has powerful memories for him, as it is where he once lived for several months after a flood at his Encino home. Lavine and his wife, Janet Sternburg, lived in rooms on the upper level with glass doors that looked onto the hotel’s dog run. It was at the Luxe that Sally, another of Lavine’s beloved poodles, passed away. The hotel employees were incredible, he says. “One of the housekeepers put her arms around Janet to comfort her.” Lavine seems unaware of the nuances passing between the hotel employees and is his usual warm and informal self. Later when he discreetly puts a tendollar bill in the hand of the valet, the man gives Lavine a look that suggests, “This is not necessary; you are in a different category from the others.” When we are seated in the dining room, he knows without consulting the menu what he will order. “I always have the same thing. A mushroom egg-white omelet with pico de gallo and what a barista would describe as a double-tall, sugar-free vanilla soy latte. Coffee is a big part of my life and I probably pour five
A Personal Appreciation of Steven D. Lavine cups a day in my office. The problem is that I get distracted and they almost always get cold before I can get to them, and so my total consumption is more like two-and-a-half cups.” Lavine has a lot on his mind this morning. He talks about “sitting shiva” the previous evening. This is the Jewish ritual of making a visit to the family home of someone who has just died. In this case it was the wife of a CalArts trustee who had died of a brain tumor after years of operations and treatment. “She had the most amazing spirit,” Lavine says, after sitting silently and searching for the words to describe his feelings. “She remained buoyant and never stopped engaging the world. Her husband claimed nothing for himself although he, too, was operating with a huge amount of courage.” The Lavine family had a firsthand awareness of birth and death. The father was a doctor in Superior, Wisconsin, during the time when doctors still made house calls. Everyone called him Dr. I. H. (for Israel Harry),
by Ken Brecher
Time will tell, but Lavine’s success in recruiting and finding funding for students from all over the world may be regarded as his most significant accomplishment.
Photo: Janet Sternburg
and he was regarded as a hero by the rural midwestern population he served. During blizzards he would take appointments over the phone. One such night, his father was on the phone coaching a farmer on how to deliver his own child. “My dad could not get over that this man who was experienced in animal husbandry was totally at a loss as to what was needed for a human birth. The farmer was searching the kitchen for something to cut the umbilical cord and had to be told by the doctor that a butter knife was not going to do the trick.” Harriet, Lavine’s mother, was a talented pianist whose parents mortgaged their house in order to buy †
a grand piano. They lived in Sparta, Wisconsin: population under 5,000. It was no small accomplishment that Lavine’s grandparents managed to send their daughter to college at Northwestern University, and then for a master’s degree at the University of Michigan. Harriet practiced the piano in the evening, and Lavine remembers how she loved the big romantic concertos of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky. When he was a boy, she would take him to hear the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, or to Minneapolis when the Metropolitan Opera appeared on tour. He remembers hearing his mother crying at night while she played the piano. In retrospect, he understands that time and three children had deprived her of the ability to practice and play publicly. She died in 1976 at age 58. Dr. I.H., in straightforward Midwestern fashion, told his son exactly what was required to live a worthwhile life: “A few friends, someone you love, something in your work that benefits others, and a hobby.” On that last point, the president of CalArts has let his father down. “I don’t have any hobbies,” he admits, “but I do have a lot of fun in my job. What I like best is when I am working with a group of people, and there is goodwill and together you have to solve a problem, and nobody is going to give up because it isn’t easy.” This statement triggers another thought clearly tinged with emotion: “I have to admit that I am going to miss the students’ parents as much as anyone else. They have taught me so much. I know how hard they work to make it possible for their children to come to CalArts. At first they are so proud that their child has been accepted by a great institution. Then they are both worried and hopeful about what comes next.”
Photo: Janet Sternburg
He becomes excited when describing how the greatest pleasure in his job has been in “expanding opportunities” for others—something that will remain a priority until he cleans out his desk in 2017. Time will tell, but Lavine’s success in recruiting and finding funding for students from all over the world may be regarded as his most significant accomplishment. It is hard to think of another leading arts college anywhere in America that equals the depth of diversity that defines the student body of CalArts. Soon after our breakfast meeting, he would travel on his own to meet with government representatives and cultural leaders in Chile, Argentina and Brazil. His goal was to convince them to provide government support for their best students to attend CalArts. On those rare occasions when Lavine takes time for himself, he and Janet Sternburg go to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. This is where he has done some of his deepest thinking, his best reading, and where he found a love of drawing. “Drawing requires my totally living in the present. The only focus is on what I am seeing in front of me.” College president, author, dog lover, good listener, seeker of opportunities for others, indefatigable advocate for the school whose students, parents and faculty have taught him about what he believes matters most in life—and yet, I can hear the voice of his father, the good doctor, lamenting that something is still missing: “As I told Steven back in Wisconsin, a man needs a hobby.” Perhaps his father would understand that this man, whose passion for arts and culture is so great, hardly needs a hobby.
Ken Brecher is the President of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. He was the Director of the Sundance Institute for over a decade and before that a museum director in Boston. When they first met, Steven Lavine was Associate Director for Arts and Humanities at The Rockefeller Foundation in New York.
Gail Eichenthal Executive Producer, Classical KUSC Oracle Mensch: Two Haiku for Steven Lavine
Steve Lavine was CalArts but not in the sense that it was his. He was the servant, and CalArts was the mission he loved… —BRENDA BARNES
He leads with kindness See the sparkle in his eyes? The will to invent Dude from Wisconsin Transforms the arts in L.A. Soothes fear of the new
Thomas Lawson Dean, School of Art
Brenda Barnes President, Classical KUSC Whenever we talked with Steve Lavine about CalArts, we never heard “things are fine.” Energy was pumping through Steve’s body and he had a gleam of excitement in his eyes as he told us what was new at the school. If there was ever a person who loved a job more, we cannot think who it would be. Steve Lavine was CalArts but not in the sense that the school was his. He was the servant, and CalArts was the mission he loved and nurtured and grew. His legacy at CalArts speaks for itself and is a result of the enthusiasm, dedication and love he poured into the mission and the students of CalArts. That was a hallmark of his leadership. He will give much of the credit for the success of CalArts to the incredible team that has worked by his side and the unfailing support he has received from his gifted wife, Janet Sternburg. That is Steve’s style. But no team does great work without a great leader, and Steve has been that great leader for CalArts.
Over the course of my 25 years as dean, I’ve worked closely with Steven on many programs and initiatives. He’s always been open to ideas and listens with enthusiasm. Around 2000, London-based film artist Mark Lewis and curator Charles Esche established a new art journal called Afterall under the auspices of Central Saint Martins. I had long considered a regular publication an important way to expand the reach and visibility of the work of the faculty and alumni of the School of Art, and so when Mark was teaching here in Spring 2001, we began to talk. Soon we were envisaging a transatlantic partnership to develop Afterall as a new kind of magazine that would explore the points of contact and difference between art making and art writing in London and Los Angeles. Charles came to Los Angeles and Steven met with the three of us, quickly understanding how this kind of partnership would benefit the School, helping us promote the kinds of art, and approaches to thinking about art, that make CalArts so distinct. Steven helped fund the collaboration and promised to seek support from The Andy Warhol Foundation. Years later, when we moved past print to launch the online journal East of Borneo, Steven was, again, very helpful in thinking through the where and how. He immediately understood how the worldwide reach of the internet gave us a seamless way to grow the internationalism of the journal while allowing us to nurture our own roots in a more substantial way.
IN TRIBUTE TO STEVEN D. LAVINE
Christopher Barecca Head of Scene Design School of Theater When Steven was working to convince me to leave New York and come to CalArts, he said, “You’ll never compete for funding with the football team.” Every year since I arrived, Steven has come to our final portfolio review. He always finds me to say, “Every year I am more amazed.” It’s hard to measure a president’s impact. Steven has always demonstrated the selfconfidence to acknowledge very frankly what he does not know, displaying a tolerance rare in leadership of the anarchy required for true intellectual discovery. This has led to some revolutions, which he always listens to with actual interest. I am now in my 20th year; I’ve never stayed anywhere as long, which says something. If I make it to 25, I will ask Steven back to speak about my time here. He knows me best.
Steve Anker Faculty, Former Dean School of Film/Video During my years as dean of the School of Film/Video (Fall 2002– Spring 2014), Steven offered large-scale financial support for the Character Animation Program that was critical in helping it regain its preeminent position in the field. My team and I proposed a multi-year renewal project that would require millions of dollars. Steven was impressed by, and offered to support, our proposal, and over the next three years the Character Animation Program was virtually reborn. Student satisfaction increased hugely; the program’s reputation was restored and enhanced; and perhaps, most importantly, vital new components of the curriculum and faculty lines were added, while key traditional ones were strengthened. Steven’s help was also critical to the continued growth of the MFA Film Directing Program, and that small program became more secure in its role—both at CalArts and among the diverse and powerful other local narrative filmmaking programs. Steven demanded precision and clear commitment from us in our requests, but once convinced that a new initiative was important to the future of the Institute, he didn’t hesitate in giving us his full support.
IN TRIBUTE TO STEVEN D. LAVINE
Janice Pober Senior Vice President Global Corporate Social Responsibility Sony Pictures Entertainment Imagine. I was escorting Steven Lavine through a tour of the newly opened Imageworks facility in Culver City. It was 1996. Many of Imagework’s staff were CalArts alumni—young, tech-savvy, next-gen, jeans and flannel-shirted animation and visual effects artists—who came pouring out of curtained workspaces to pay homage to the man who opened the doors to their futures. It was like walking a god down the hallway. People flocked to him, grateful for the chance to get a glimpse, personally salute and thank the person who made it all happen. That he made things happen came as no surprise to me. Just one year prior to his visit, we had launched the Sony Pictures Media Arts Program (SPMAP) in partnership with the CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP) and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. SPMAP brings animation training to underserved middle school children in five cultural centers throughout Los Angeles. CAP is a brilliant model that benefits young learners, their instructors and their communities. The program engages CalArts students and graduate students to teach, mentor and inspire youngsters, and to fuel a creative economy eager to welcome them. It took a genius to make it happen. It took Steven. Imagine.
Jacques Heim Artistic Director Diavolo | Architecture in Motion CalArts Alumnus, Dance MFA 91 Steven Lavine is more than the president of CalArts, more than a great leader of an arts institution; he’s also like a boxer who, day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year, fights for us. He fights the fight that very few people want to participate in: creating an environment for students that makes us feel we are special artists and that we will soon become important ones. Steven made CalArts a Mecca of the arts. I always believed that I would succeed, somehow, because I attended CalArts. Steven made me believe in myself all along. He fought hard to raise money for the school. He was on a mission—a difficult one that he fought regularly to conquer. He was never scared or intimidated by the challenge. The bigger the challenge, the more he confronted it. What a fighter!
Jo Ann Callis
Faculty School of Art
Executive Director Villa Aurora
I have known Steve to be a good friend and a caring person whose heart is always in the right place. He has been a great president at CalArts for a very long time, and that is no small feat. I am so appreciative that, throughout most of my tenure here, he has been our tireless leader: lucky for me personally and lucky for all of us. I will greatly miss him, but I know that his legacy will continue to grow for many years to come.
In 1995, Villa Aurora, Marta and Lion Feuchtwanger’s exile residence, was established in Los Angeles as a residence for German-based artists. From the start, Steven Lavine was our staunch ally and advocate. After serving in an advisory capacity for many years, he was elected to the Board of Directors in 2004. It is thanks to his support that Villa Aurora was able to impact cultural life in Los Angeles as a place of intellectual and artistic exchange. Numerous artists from Germany, working in all disciplines, were able to introduce their work to CalArts students; some were featured at REDCAT in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex. In addition, some of the artists Villa Aurora has invited on fellowships to Berlin were CalArts alumni. Steven Lavine initiated a multitude of activities within the context of an intensive transatlantic artistic exchange between Germany and the West Coast. For this commitment and friendship, the Board of Directors, the Board of Trustees, and the members and the staff of Villa Aurora in Los Angeles and Berlin would like to offer their heartfelt thanks. We are happy that Steven Lavine will remain an integral part of Villa Aurora in the future.
Deborah LaVine Director, Film Directing Program School of Film/Video Steven’s devotion to CalArts is legendary and admirable. The richness of Steven’s heart is always apparent when he speaks about CalArts, but it is demonstrated most fully by the immense respect and love he affords Janet, his partner in life and art. Their partnership is inspiring and represents the greatest measure of Steven’s beautiful spirit. Although we’re not related, I’m honored to share the same last name with a man who has tirelessly nurtured and sustained this remarkable, complex, incomparable community, dedicated to art that engages and rattles the world.
The richness of Steven’s heart is always apparent when he speaks about CalArts, but it is demonstrated most fully by the immense respect and love he affords Janet, his partner in life and art. —DEBORAH LAVINE
IN TRIBUTE TO STEVEN D. LAVINE
At CalArts, Students Go Beyond Conventional Boundaries. Support Emerging Artists Who Will Transform Our World.
The CALARTS FUND provides crucial resources so that young artists, regardless of financial circumstances, have the opportunity to develop and refine their talent, build sustainable careers, and positively affect their communities. YOUR GIFT WILL UNDERWRITE THE INSTITUTEâ€™S TOP PRIORITIES:
Providing scholarships and essential student services Furnishing an extensive inventory of production facilities and equipment Supporting faculty work that keeps CalArts on the cutting edge By making a gift to the CALARTS FUND, you become an important contributor to the education and growth of the worldâ€™s next generation of transformational artists. The path to tomorrow begins here and now. Thank you for being part of this collective journey.
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF THE ARTS
NON-PROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE PAID SANTA CLARITA, CA PERMIT #18
Office of Communications 24700 McBean Parkway Valencia, California 91355-2340
Cover Image: Steven D. Lavine, president of CalArts since 1988, is concluding his tenure at the end of the 2016–17 academic year. CalArts is published twice each year by the CalArts Office of Communications.
California Institute of the Arts Steven D. Lavine, President Denise Nelson, Director of Communications Editorial: Stuart I. Frolick and Freddie Sharmini Design: Jacob Halpern (Art MFA 15) with Julie Moon (Art MFA 11), Cassandra Chae (Art MFA 07) Creative Direction: Stuart Smith (Art MFA 02) Typefaces in this issue include: McBean by Benjamin Woodlock (Art MFA 13), LL Circular by Laurenz Brunner, and Portrait by Berton Hasebe Photography: Scott Groller, Steven A. Gunther and Rafael Hernandez (Art BFA 11) Telephone: 661 255-1050 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, October 14 and Saturday, October 15
All welcome • Alumni • Families • Friends calarts.edu/calarts-weekend
Featuring a special evening honoring President Steven D. Lavine’s three decades of leadership.
Registration opens August 1