The Pool, Issue 5

Page 1

Issue 5 Summer/Fall 2019


Celebrating the Life

Underdog to Superhero

Madame Writer

Remembering Legendary Animator Stephen Hillenburg

Artist Jorge Gutierrez Talks About Being on the Spectrum

Joy Gregory’s Crisply Styled Words for Madame Secretary


5 From the President 6 From the Editor 8 Letters From You

10 Buzz The migration of Monarch butterflies, an Obama appointee, recipients of four major awards, and a shout-out to Meadowlark Lemon are among the news items keeping The Pool buzzing.

66 Alumnx HQ A new scholarship named for Lorraine Wild, reports on the annual Chouinard reunion, CAPÂ Benefit, and REDCAT Gala, plus a host of initiatives designed to keep alumnx connected to CalArts.

78 Class Notes First Page

Student protest leader Alia Ali (MFA Art 20) addresses the announced tuition increase at a CalArts Town Hall meeting, March 11, 2019.

Alumnx of all stripes and generations update the CalArts community on their whereabouts, accomplishments, and recent activities.

Last Page

Poster informing students how to appeal for additional financial aid to cover increase in tuition for the 2019/2020 academic year.


CalArts Alumni Magazine

99 In Memoriam


20 Stephen

Hillenburg His brilliance as an artist was readily apparent to those who knew him at CalArts. An instructor and his classmates recall the originality of his talent and the great joy of his friendship.

30 Jorge

Gutierrez The animator, director, and painter speaks openly about the relationship between his autism and creativity in this issue’s alumnx interview by Chrysanthe Tan.

CAL38 ACTIVISM John Daversa

Michael Cohen Nancy Barton

53 Dreamers record a triple Grammy-winning album. And an Art Center helps to rehabilitate a small town devastated by Hurricane Irene.

52 Joy Gregory Writer and executive producer of the acclaimed Madame Secretary, Joy Gregory performed as an actress and musician before writing became her career-defining art form.

44 Then & Now Early-day CalArts campus images inspire a photo series of then & now comparisons.

58 125 Lives

Transformed The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts has changed the lives and careers of 125 risk-taking artists in mid-career. Four of them tell us of the Award’s impact and significance. the POOL


Alumni receive 20% off REDCAT membership.

“Global connections bolster local artistry at REDCAT… an atmosphere of creative experimentation, penetrating discussion, and community involvement.”

Photo: Steve Gunther

Christine Marie, Shadow in Stereo: Antiquated A.R. Part of New Original Works Festival 2018.

— American Theatre Magazine

CalArts’ Downtown Center for Contemporary Arts Roy and Edna Disney / CalArts Theater 4

CalArts Alumni Magazine

From the President Now close to the end of my second year as President, CalArts is in the midst of the “Spring Push,” as it was described to me when I started. Last year, I found myself attending performances, lectures, exhibitions, readings, and parties every single day, from morning to night, starting around the middle of April right through graduation—finishing by hatching from an egg and playing trumpet with the Latin Band in the main gallery well past 2 a.m. If memory serves, I slept that entire weekend after graduation, emerging the following Monday to a quiet building in Valencia. I remember feeling a loss at that moment—that first group of students and faculty who had welcomed me to CalArts was gone, and that same group would never come together in the same way again. During that first year, I heard a lot directly from students during what I called a year of listening. This year, a year we referred to as a year of planning, I tried to learn more about some of those things I had heard. One common thread from the students was how they struggled with finances, how they didn’t fully understand how to plan for the costs of college before they came, and how they wanted to know as much in advance about how much CalArts costs so they could better plan. “Could I send a notice in the spring about the new tuition rates for the following year so that students could plan accordingly?” they asked. I knew this to be common practice at many schools, so I thought that at least we could send that notice in the spring, and have meetings to answer student questions. So that’s what we set out to do. This spring a notice went to everyone at the Institute informing them of the new tuition rates for the following year. Two days later, I received a letter from students in the School of Art asking for a meeting about a list of items they wanted to be addressed if the tuition was going to be increased. I met with Art School students that Wednesday afternoon and those students started a protest the following day at the Art School MFA Interview Day. The Student Union converted a meeting we had already scheduled for that Thursday afternoon into an open town hall in the cafeteria, where anyone could ask me questions. A request at that town hall was made to meet with Trustees, and another town hall with trustees was scheduled that following Monday, four days later, in the Main Gallery, where students presented a letter outlining requests regarding their participation in advising on budgetary matters. During that weekend, students turned their concerns, frustration, and anger about the increase in tuition into planning a protest at the Trustee Meeting on Tuesday after the Trustee Town Hall. The Trustees responded to the letter the students sent by issuing a set of resolutions directing the Institute to reallocate as much of the financial aid budget as possible to students that demonstrated additional need caused by the tuition increase, trying to increase aid for those students in the amount of the increase. The Enrollment Management staff and faculty

serving as Financial Aid liaisons from the schools quickly made that happen. Before spring break was finished, they had created a process for students to be able to demonstrate need, request additional aid, and be evaluated through one process that was clear, transparent, and was unified for the whole Institute. This was big. This was a lot of change for CalArts in a matter of a month, changing the way we had been doing things for many years. It’s not likely everyone on-campus welcomed the move. But the students did—it was something for which they had asked by reminding us that, if not for them, there wouldn’t be a CalArts. At the same time, many CalArtians were gathering to remember a fellow member of the “mafia,” Stephen Hillenburg. I was honored to be asked to speak at a memorial at Nickelodeon studios in Burbank. It was one of the hardest things I have done since coming to CalArts. While I only knew Stephen for two short years, it was clear from the moment we met that he was full of innocence. He was curious, generous, and truly valued the importance of friendship. And he was an artist, which is why he came to CalArts. When you talk to people who knew him, at various points in his life, you realize that never changed. He just wanted to create art. This moment is one in CalArts’s history in which we can take stock of all the fantastic things that CalArtians have accomplished over almost fifty years. And it is one in which we can take a moment and focus our attention on artists—artists who have been at CalArts, artists who are at CalArts, and artists who will be at CalArts. For, it’s through these artists that CalArts gets its meaning—it’s by them, through them, and with them that we work to make models of how the world can be, and I can think of no place that is as strongly committed to this as CalArts. Today, immersed in the spring push, I know that the moment when I feel loss as the students and faculty are leaving campus is coming again. But, I also know that I will see many of the faces and hear the voices of students again, maybe not in the same way, but in a new way—as alumnx of the Institute. I’m lucky—in my job I have the privilege of interacting with the “mafia” at many of your events, exhibitions, lectures, readings, and parties, and love when I get that opportunity. Please continue to send information back to us about what you are doing. We love to hear from you. Please do come and join us in the second weekend in October for CalArts Weekend, when we all get to mix again, students current and former, on the hill in Valencia. Wishing you a great summer, Ravi S. Rajan, President the POOL


From the Editor

One of the pleasures of my job is meeting many of the artists that make up the CalArts community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. In the summer of 2008, I was invited to the home of Stephen and Karen Hillenburg to interview Steve for a CalArts magazine story on our Wasserman Scholars. Having three young children at the time, I was thrilled by the opportunity to converse with the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants, a program that had brought so many hours of closely shared laughter and joy to our family. My first impressions of Steve were of a rather subdued, perhaps even cautious person. In the magazine, I reported a seeming disconnect between this calm, collected, soft-spoken artist and the frantic absurdity of his work. But what I learned of him in the hour we spent together, was that Steve was open, honest, humble, and thoroughly amazed by the success of SpongeBob. “I thought maybe we’d get one season,” he said, “and I’d hoped that maybe it would become a cult thing and people would at least respect the show. All of us making it were really shocked that it took off the way that it did.” Preparing to take my leave, remembering that I was a fan, I asked Steve to sign the photograph seen here. That the cover story of this issue of The Pool celebrates Steve’s life and work posthumously, saddens us deeply. Words fail; yet thankfully, Experimental Animation faculty member Maureen Selwood has found many that successfully honor this uniquely talented CalArtian. In the second installment of a continuing series on alumni who are giving back, we profile musician/educator John Daversa, whose big band album, American Dreamers, made with 53 DACA recipients, captured three Grammy Awards this year. The Florida-based Daversa is on faculty at The University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. Also featured are two CalArts alumni, Michael Cohen (no, not that one) and Nancy Barton, who have brought the arts to a small town in Upstate New York, where they are making significant contributions to Prattsville’s youth and the larger community’s civil discourse. Alumna Chrysanthe Tan interviews alumnus, character animator, and creator of The Book of Life, Jorge Gutierrez. Three years ago, when his young son was diagnosed with autism, Gutierrez had himself tested, and the results


CalArts Alumni Magazine

were positive. In this surprising interview, Gutierrez shares his thoughts and feelings about how autism has contributed to his creativity and success. Herb Alpert is one of CalArts’s great friends and supporters. One form of his legendary generosity is The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, now in its 25th year. In partnership with the Institute, which administers the program, The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts recognizes and rewards risk-taking artists in midcareer, in five disciplines, with a hefty check— no strings attached. Our story features four of the now 125 recipients who recall what the award has meant to them, both personally and professionally. What’s it like to write for a topical, relevant TV drama? Critical Studies alumna Joy Gregory (Madame Secretary) answers the question and details stops along the winding road that took her from Cleveland, through Chicago and Valencia before her arrival in Hollywood. And finally, a visual essay offers a look at how much (and perhaps, how little) the CalArts campus and experience have changed in our near 50 years. Please stay in touch and let us know what you’re up to. Until the fall.… Wishing you a relaxing and productive summer, Stuart I. Frolick, Editor

CalArts MA Aesthetics and Politics


The Pool Issue 4 Winter/Spring 2019

Letters From You Yay, Ryan!

How thrilling to find The Pool in my mailbox with my friend Ryan Bancroft on the cover. Ryan’s embrace of the multi-disciplinary landscape of CalArts (from ballet classes, to Ghanian drumming and dance, to classical orchestral conducting) is a testament both to Ryan’s endless creative capacity and to the life-changing impact that the pedagogy of CalArts can have on an artist. Winning the Malko prize is a career-defining achievement, and it’s so gratifying to see your cover story focus on a young alumnx whose career is causing ripples across the international music scene. Congratulations to Ryan, and kudos to The Pool for producing this story. John Schwerbel (Music BFA 14) The Patients’ Journey

I first met Roger [Holzberg] at a mobile health conference in Boston, nearly five years after his cancer diagnosis. We connected like old friends and I knew immediately that our paths would cross again. Later that year, I asked him to join our team at NCI [National Cancer Institute] to reimagine our digital communications. With his passion and real-life


CalArts Alumni Magazine

experiences, Roger provided a surge of creative energy that helped the NCI team to envision an evolutionary path for, one that focuses on the patient journey above all else. Jonathan Cho Office of Communications & Public Liaison, National Cancer Institute Her students were her ultimate masterpieces

As one who studied with Corita [Kent] at Immaculate Heart College in Hollywood (1962–1966), I am always thrilled to see Corita’s work and her story alive and well on campuses everywhere—all over the world, really. In recent years, both the Tang Museum at Skidmore and the Harvard Art Museums have contributed substantially to advancing Corita’s narrative and her work. That a new generation is receptive to her art and her message fills me with hope. Corita used to say that her students were her ultimate masterpieces. I wish for all your students the joy of having a teacher—it only takes one— who believes in you as much as Corita believed in us. It can last a lifetime. Mickey Myers Johnson, VT

Gamboa join the National Portrait Gallery in DC

In the dark of the night you see them—on a deserted parking lot, at a lonely strip mall, in an empty plaza. You confront their firm stand under the streetlights. With their eyes behind dark shades or naked, these men dressed in suits, leather jackets, T-shirt and jeans, or dripping wetsuits look straight at you, unapologetic. For almost three decades, Harry Gamboa Jr. has been subverting the criminalized image of MexicanAmerican men by directing his lens to his peers. Placing his subjects in urban, nocturnal settings and photographing them with a wide lens that heightens their foreground presence, Gamboa Jr. simultaneously summons and debunks our conscious or unconscious fears of the other. The men he systematically portrays, individual by individual, year after year, are accomplished scientists, librarians, visual artists, professors, attorneys, poets, filmmakers, scholars, actors, fashion designers, curators, musicians, and comedians, among others. Together these more than 100 men comprise a multitude of rebuttals of the stereotype of “bad hombres,” and a reframing

We’d love to hear from you! Send a Class Note to Or tell us what you think about this issue of The Pool.

THE POOL ISSUE 5 — Summer/Fall 2019 Published semi-annually by the Office of Marketing & Communications at CalArts. PRESIDENT

Ravi S. Rajan

of Chicano masculinity as assertive, strong, creative, and free. At the National Portrait Gallery, we are proud that recently four Chicano Male Unbonded photographs have entered the collection. Currently on view in Recent Acquisitions 2019 are Rodolfo Acuña, a founding figure of Chicano Studies, and Louie Pérez, songwriter, guitarist, and percussionist of Los Lobos. Taína Caragol Curator of Painting and Sculpture and Latinx art and history, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC RE: CalActivism, Dionna Michelle Danielle

I had the privilege to work with Dionna, as the Director of Visual Arts at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), for one year before she transferred into the UNCSA high school Drama program. In Visual Arts Dionna quickly defined herself as an inquisitive and talented young artist with remarkable drive, independence, perseverance, and a deep commitment to her work. She was an intensely focused individual with a disciplined demeanor and a solid work ethic that allowed her to excel in our program. In my drawing


classes, her work was exquisitely crafted, well composed, innovative, challenging, and possessed a delicate, yet evocative touch that transcended mere observation. Moreover, she was a curious soul who enjoyed new opportunities and committed interaction with her peers. After moving from Visual Arts to Drama, Dionna kept in constant contact with our program and her deep passion for the visual arts. I am sincerely gratified to hear of her accomplishments as a strong versatile creative. She has always, and continues to be, an excellent ambassador of our Visual Arts Program at UNCSA.

Terry Morello

Will Taylor Assistant Dean/Director of Visual Arts, University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Debbie Stears




Roman Jaster (BFA 07 Graphic Design) and Kat Catmur (MFA 14 Graphic Design) CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

Roman Jaster and Kat Catmur COVER PHOTOGRAPH

Mark Osborne (Film/Video MFA 92) PHOTOGRAPHY

Rafael Hernandez (BFA 11 Photography and Media) Angel Origgi ILLUSTRATIONS




Hugh Hart, Andy Levinsky, Denise Nelson, Kirsten Quinn-Smith, Kate Silver, Cooper Wolken (BFA 15 Music) AD DESIGN

CalArts Office of Communications: Stuart Smith (MFA 02 Graphic Design), Julie Moon (MFA 11 Graphic Design), Christina Huang (MFA 19 Graphic Design) PRINTING

Publishers Press, Lebanon Junction, Kentucky TYPEFACES

Arnhem by OurType Soleil by TypeTogether Lapture by Just Another Foundry Prophet by Dinamo



Pollinator, troubadour, and butterfly champion embarks on 2,000-mile bicycle journey

Sowing milkweed next to the LA River

Milkweed and Monarchs and Alex Last fall, Alex Wand (Music MFA 12) loaded up his bicycle with two panniers containing 5 pounds of milkweed seeds and set out on a magical 2,000-mile journey from his home in Los Angeles to Michoacán, Mexico. Wand, who is a composer and songwriter, was following the migratory path of the monarch butterfly, which starts in Canada, passes over Los Angeles, travels through Arizona, parts of New Mexico and Texas, and ends in Michoacán, to the west of Mexico City. He planned to plant milkweed—which monarchs depend on—along the way. His family, worried about his safety, had pleaded with him not to go. But he felt a kind of magnetism drawing him south, not unlike the biological magnetic compass that guides the insects to Michoacán. Wand’s interest in the monarch butterfly, which has been in massive decline in recent years, was piqued by Staying with the Trouble by Donna Haraway, a book that explores the ecological destruction of the earth and challenges the way we think about the future. Within the pages is a science fiction tale, “The Camille Stories: Children of Compost,” that inspired Wand’s trip. “The protagonist, Camille, lives a life that is entwined with the monarch butterfly by planting milkweed and working with people on the monarch’s migratory corridors to protect this threatened critter,” says Wand. “I was inspired by Camille and decided to live out my own real-life version of this fictional story.” His bike was a logical choice for transporting him on the odyssey, because it would allow him to closely follow the butterfly’s path at a 10

CalArts Alumni Magazine


Biking next to the I-5: “The bike path for some reason was closed at Camp Pendleton.”

DAY 10

“Somewhere in a quiet Phoenix suburb.”

DAY 21

Marathon, Texas: “A local gives me the phone number of a woman who might have a place for me to stay.”

DAY 23

“Rain to a monarch is like fog to a cyclist. They both impede safe travel.”

DAY 37

“On my way out of Monterrey, I find myself riding alongside hundreds of Monarch butterflies.”

DAY 39

similar pace to the insect, traveling between 50 and 100 miles a day. “That was a big part of the trip, to experience with the monarch what migration might be like. To go through the whole time scale of a migration in similar ways,” says Wand, who blogged about his trip at Along the route, he had the opportunity to ride with the butterflies many times. A particular moment in Monterrey, Mexico, stands out. On Day 37, he was biking along an unmarked road along a highway. There were no cars or humans in sight, but there were hundreds of monarchs. “It was such a special thing to get to witness that and bike with them,” he says. “It was cool.”

“In the best of worlds, I like thinking of this trip as an anonymous art project for the monarchs who will be munching on the milkweed that I plant.” — Alex Wand

Día de la Revolución in San Rafael.

DAY 41

“I’m a homo sapien, one out of 7 billion. You are a monarch butterfly, one of just a hundred million.”

DAY 51

After traveling 2,000 miles at the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. “Hemos llegado, mariposas.”

The pinnacle of his journey happened at the end, on Day 51, when Wand arrived at the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, about 100 miles west of Mexico City. After hiking for about a half hour, he looked up and saw thousands of monarchs flying above. There were so many he could actually hear the soft sound of their wings, which he recorded. “It’s like a quiet rain,” he says. “A very subtle sound, but it’s a magical sound.” Now, he plans to share the sound—and the journey—with the world. At the end of the trip, Wand had the opportunity to complete a residency at the Guapamacátaro Center for Art and Ecology in Michoacán, where he worked on assembling video he’d taken into a short film. He’s also incorporating the sounds he recorded, along with spoken word and instruments sampled during the trip, into a new album. Through his art, he hopes to awaken a passion in others to do something a little different in their lives, the way “The Camille Stories” lit a flame in him. “I hope people are inspired to plant milkweed for the monarchs, but also, I hope it can be an impetus for people to find their own way of creating a relationship with threatened critters that they care about,” says Wand. —Kate Silver

the POOL



Lauren Halsey stands before her installation The Crenshaw District Hieroglyph Project (Prototype Architecture) at the Hammer Museum. With the Mohn Award money, she plans to build a permanent pavilion as temple, gathering space, and canvas for the South Central LA community.

hieroglyphs amplified with words such as “my hood”; she etched elaborate hairstyles, palm trees, and a DJ in the walls. It’s the kind of art that one could lose oneself in for hours. But that’s just the beginning. The work at the Hammer is merely a prototype. Now, Halsey plans to use the Mohn Award money to build a permanent structure in South Central. In between talks with city government officials, she’s testing out specialty stuccos and concretes to find the best materials. “It’s a true construction project,” she says. The finished piece will be a pavilion that functions as a temple, a gathering space, and When Lauren Halsey (BFA Art 12) thinks about a canvas for local artists, musicians, and her approach to art—and how she encourages schools. It will be engraved by Halsey and by others to approach theirs—she recalls the members of the neighborhood community words of a beloved musician: “George Clinton to be a nod to both early and contemporary says, ‘go fer yer funk.’ Go fer yer funk!” civilizations. “I was just thinking about the Going fer her funk has led Halsey to some function of the hieroglyph as a record of ancient incredible places. Most recently, she has won Egypt, specifically as this record of the phathis year’s Frieze Art Award and debuted a new raoh’s earthly reign and afterlife, and I wanted installation at the Frieze New York art fair in May. to appropriate that idea to describe and archive, permanently, the people and communities of Halsey was also honored with the Mohn Award, a $100,000 prize given by LA’s Hammer Museum downtown South Central LA,” says Halsey. The hieroglyph project is one of many to one participant in the “Made in L.A.” biennial that Halsey’s currently working on. As she’s exhibition. Halsey says she was floored when she got the call: “I was like, ‘What? Thank you!’ It preparing for a number of upcoming exhibitions—including a show at David Kordansky was really beautifully affirming.” South Central Los Angeles is home to Halsey. (MFA Art 02) Gallery in Los Angeles and another She grew up there, and the neighborhood has at Fondation Louis Vuitton—the words of long inspired her art, which she refers to as George Clinton continue to drive her. In fact, “large-scale sculpture animated by architecHalsey’s dream is to one day build a stage for ture.” Her installation The Crenshaw District Clinton’s band, Parliament Funkadelic. She Hieroglyph Project (Prototype Architecture), credits them for inspiring her. “They were which was included in the Hammer show, the first sculptors I encountered that I actulooks like an ancient Egyptian monument at ally remember in my childhood, via their funk first glance. Upon closer inspection, it’s clearly operas and those wild stages they were doing an ode to South Central LA and to all those for their tours.” And they continue to serve as a who contributed in shaping it. Throughout soundtrack for her artistry, reminding this the structure, Halsey carved graffiti-like gifted artist to go fer her funk.


Lauren Halsey’s hieroglyphic ode to South Central LA


CalArts Alumni Magazine

Kevin Young reads his poetry at CalArts. His latest collection is Brown, which has been called “political in the best, most visceral way.”

Kevin Young

A New Yorker at CalArts Distinguished poet and editor, Kevin Young is the 2019 Katie Jacobson Writer in Residence at CalArts. On campus February 7–8, Young conducted workshops with CalArts students in the MFA Creative Writing Program and presented public readings. Young is the director of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem and, since 2017, poetry editor at The New Yorker. “We were thrilled to have Kevin,” says Tisa Bryant, director of CalArts’s MFA Creative Writing Program. “The moves Kevin has made in the arts exemplify the kind of creative life we celebrate in our program, explored not on a single track, but through interrelated fields of inquiry, experimentation, and play. His work is inventive, incisive, and crucial to the conversation we’re always having about life, art, and how we create the culture we live in.” Young has published 13 collections of his own poetry and was described by Harper’s

magazine as “a relaxed lyricist, precise without being precious, [who] expresses enormous feeling with great economy. He’s a natural storyteller.” Brown, the most recent book of poetry, was called “a universal shout—political in the best, most visceral way—while remaining at the same time deeply and lovingly personal” by The New York Times. The Times also hailed Young’s Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts and Fake News as “enthralling, essential history.” Published in 2017 to wide critical acclaim, Bunk received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Nonfiction and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award. Young treated those attending his on-campus reading to poems about the Death Valley landscape, painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, and athletic heroes from his childhood: his all-Black little league baseball team, on-field patter, the glory of the bunt (“the true test of a man”), Roberto Clemente (“Clemente means mercy”), the Harlem Globetrotters (“Meadowlark Lemon!”), and Arthur Ashe (“no more music like yours”). Named in memory of Creative Writing program MFA student Katie Jacobson, the Writer in Residence Program was established in 2013 through the generous support of her parents, Leslie Jacobson and Jeanine Caltagirone. Designed to bring a prestigious writer to campus, the program offers students the opportunity to gain access to leaders in their field, to discuss professional working methods, and to receive feedback on their own work.

the POOL



India honors tabla virtuoso

Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri


CalArts faculty member Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri.

Spider-Man wins for Animated Feature

Faculty member in The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts since 1991, Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri has won the Padma (lotus) Sri Award, one of the Government of India’s highest honors bestowed upon citizens. Recognized for his contribution to Indian classical music, Chaudhuri is known throughout the world for his “purity of sound, depth of knowledge, rhythmic creativity, and dedication to teaching.” He is one of the most accomplished musicians and tabla virtuosos of this or any other time. Quoted in an Indian newspaper, Chaudhuri said that he tells his students, “Thinking about the stage and recognition at an early age doesn’t help. Your quest for knowledge will take you in the right direction.”

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won the 2019 Oscar for Animated Feature Film. The film was directed by CalArts Character Animation alum Bob Persichetti (Film/Video BFA 96), as well as Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman. Backstage in the pressroom, Persichetti said, “Literally, we were just going to thank Stan Lee and Steve Ditko [Spider-Man’s creators] for really inspiring this whole thing … and for being a force of believing that all of us human beings have the potential and the capacity to be heroes.” Asked by a member of the press what they love about being storytellers, Persichetti replied, “It’s really just about connecting with your audience, whether it’s your little kid that you are putting to sleep or, apparently, millions of people who go see your movie. So, I think it’s just validation of being a human and sharing the experience of being a human … it’s kind of an amazing career.” Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was one of three nominees up for the Animated Feature Oscar to be directed by a CalArtian. The other two were Disney/Pixar’s Incredibles 2, written and directed by Brad Bird (Film/Video BFA 76), and Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet, directed by Rich Moore (Film/Video BFA 87) and Phil Johnston. 14

CalArts Alumni Magazine


Spinning Oscar Gold

CalArts alumnus Bob Persichetti (Film/Video BFA 96), second from left, is flanked on the Oscars stage by members of the Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse team, after the film won the Oscar for Animated Feature at the Feb. 24 ceremony.

Open Learning @ CalArts

Launching Spring 2019

Approaching Developed by Marc Lowenstein, Roy E. Disney Family Chair in Musical Composition in the Herb Alpert School of Music, this 4-week online course explores the relationship between the technical and aesthetic details of music.

Through video lectures, quizzes, and short composition assignments, this course guides you into developing a meaningful theoretical vocabulary to help you think and talk about musical style, and expand your appreciation for music. By the end of this course, you will have demonstrated the kind of confident self-analysis needed to help you develop your own musical ideas.

The course resides on the Coursera online learning platform and is open to everyone. Open Learning at CalArts brings together a community of engaged online learners from around the world interested in the arts and creative education. Learn more and sign up for our courses and certificates through

Music Theory M E L O D I C






CalArts alumna joins the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions

Post-presidential Netflix appointment

“Michelle and I couldn’t be more excited about the team we’re assembling.”

— President Barack Obama


Qadriyyah “Q” Shamsid-Deen (Theater MFA 09, Film/Video MFA 10) has been selected by former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama as a creative executive for their Netflix-based company, Higher Ground Productions. She joins Tonia Davis and Priya Swaminathan in a leadership role that will develop a wide range of programming over the next few years. Quoted in The Hollywood Reporter, the 44th president of the United States said, “With Higher Ground Productions, we hope to bring people together around common values and uncommon stories—and Priya, Tonia, and Q are precisely the people to bring that vision to life. They’re masterful storytellers. They’re veterans in the industry. And they not only bring their unique perspectives and life experiences to every project, but they’re committed to finding new voices who have their own stories to tell. Michelle and I couldn’t be more excited about the team we’re assembling.” Mrs. Obama added, “Our goal isn’t just to make people think—we want to make people feel and reach outside of their comfort zone. With 16

CalArts Alumni Magazine

their thoughtfulness, creativity, and empathy, we know that Priya, Tonia, and Q will find the common thread within every story to inspire us to be something more. I’m thrilled about this team as professionals—and as people. They’re wonderful.” In May 2018, Netflix announced that the Obamas had entered into a multiyear agreement for Higher Ground to produce a diverse mix of programming that may include scripted and unscripted series, docuseries, documentaries, and features. Shamsid-Deen is a former Fulbright Scholar and a graduate of Howard University’s directing program and CalArts’s Theater and Film/ Video programs. She has extensive experience in TV and film production. Prior to joining Higher Ground, she worked with Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative, and on film and TV productions that include Carissa, The Mick, Murder in the First, Constantine, Table 19, and Criminal Minds, as well as Murphy’s American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Pose, and 911.


Meet Mackenzie Boudreau, School of Art, BFA 4 “I do a lot of sculpture and ceramics work. Right now, I am working on glaze mixing with cow bone ash, which is one of the only organic materials used in glaze chemistry. “This is my third semester as a caller for the CalArts Fund. I like being able to have real conversations with alumni and to hear about their experiences. During CalArts Weekend last year, I loved seeing alumni from every decade return to campus. It was like seeing my future–one day I will be the alumna giving back. It’s a cycle of giving that has definitely benefited me. Thank you for continuing this tradition!” – Mackenzie Please make a gift to the CalArts Fund. Your generosity is reflected in the extraordinary people and programs that continue to make CalArts a special place.


Singing for Bernie After a 10k run, Laura Jean Anderson still had the energy to fire up a crowd

For most people, running one’s first 10k would make for a pretty memorable day, but for Laura Jean Anderson (Music 13), that was just the beginning. The rising singer-songwriter—who’s garnered attention by delivering electrifying anthems around Los Angeles and the US at large—finished her race only to learn that she’d been invited to perform at the Bernie Sanders rally on that very same day. “It was a last-minute scramble!” enthuses Anderson, who describes the rally as “one of the most amazing experiences of my musical life.” This was the Vermont senator’s first stop in LA on his 2020 presidential campaign, and Anderson reports that she could feel hope in the air. “It was amazing to meet Bernie and to hear him speak,”

“It was one of the most amazing experiences of my musical life.”

Laura Jean Anderson performs on stage in Grand Park, downtown Los Angeles.

she says. “The energy was alive at the rally—I felt that people were in this fight together.” Anderson’s latest record, Lonesome No More, was released last October, and with tracks such as “Silence Won’t Help Me Now,” her pairing with Bernie couldn’t be more appropriate. “Having a big group of people gather like that for change,” she says, “gave the songs I play every day a new meaning.”

Earlier that day, after the 10k race.

— Laura Jean Anderson

Charles Gaines Wins the 2019 MacDowell Medal School of Art faculty Charles Gaines has won this year’s MacDowell Medal that was founded by composer Edward MacDowell who, with his wife Marian, established a retreat for artists, the MacDowell Colony, in 1907. The Medal has been presented since 1960, in recognition of one person, annually, for outstanding contribution to American culture and the arts. Artists in seven disciplines—architecture, visual arts, 18

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music composition, theater, writing, filmmaking, and interdisciplinary art—are considered. Past recipients in the visual arts have included Alexander Calder, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning, Georgia O’Keefe, and Betye Saar. Gaines’s influential conceptual work includes drawings, photographic series, and video installations, engaging formulas and systems that often address relationships between subjectivity and objectivity. His past awards include a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Grant in 1977, a California Community Foundation (CCF) in 2011, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2013, and the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) Award in 2018.

CalArts Hat delights alumni crowd

Coveted by many, claimed by a lucky few The proud winners from last issue’s Class Notes Contest sent selfies to The Pool showing off their new CalArts hats. You can read this issue’s Class Notes starting on page 78. 5







“Hats off to the winners!”

7 8

1 Louise Sandhaus ‘94 2 Guy Eckstine ‘76 3 Jessica Morris ‘02 4 Steven Avalos ‘82 5 Lucy Griffin ‘05 6 Jessica Lawson ‘11 7 Dylan Freeman ‘17 8 Joe Milazzo ‘08 9 Ken Graning ‘66 10 Jennifer Murphy ‘85


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Stephen Hillenburg 1961–2018

Man of Character

Known the world over for the characters he created, Stephen Hillenburg (Film/Video MFA 92) is also remembered for the strength and quality of his own distinctive character—his creative drive and staggering professional achievement, tempered by his delightful sense of humor and genuine humility. Hillenburg’s unusual life journey led him from a deep love of the sea and his study of marine biology, to his passion for art and his study in CalArts’s Experimental Animation Program— and with SpongeBob SquarePants—to one of the most remarkable success stories in American television history.


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The Pool asked Maureen Selwood, one of Hillenburg’s instructors and friends at CalArts, to share some of her memories of this talented and well-loved artist. Maureen herself enlisted a few of Hillenburg’s contemporaries to share additional memories.

By Maureen Selwood Mourning the loss of a member of our community who has become a public figure of immense proportions doesn’t lessen the sorrow felt among those who knew and embraced this loved one, now gone. As we look for ways to speak of that sorrow, those who knew Stephen Hillenburg as a student and friend at CalArts can provide glimpses of how Steve came to be that remarkable, well-known, and well-loved person. Perhaps by hearing from his classmates at CalArts we can begin an open-ended conversation about how Steve Hillenburg became the prodigious artist he was. When I arrived at CalArts in the fall of 1991 to teach in the School of Film/Video’s Experimental Animation program, I was keen to know about Program Director Jules Engel’s teaching philosophy. Jules patiently waited for my questions, but mostly, he was anxious to tell me about the students in the program. This was his greatest pleasure. He particularly wanted to tell me about Stephen Hillenburg, whom he described as “a giant.” Jules often lavished praise on those he felt were contributing something unique to the art of animation. In my new position, I was responsible for assisting students as they shot their films.


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Steve came to me, now and then, to talk about the animation stand and how he could create interesting moves that melded into the animation. His questions were puzzles to be solved. As a lover of drawn animation, it was thrilling for me to see that a piece of paper, graphite, pastels, and some colored pencils were all that was needed to create a good film—and to see how far Steve could take that. Each phase of his work offered me the opportunity to enjoy his curiosity and wonderful sense of humor. The first film Stephen created, The Green Beret, was about a Girl Scout with enormous fists who toppled homes while trying to sell cookies. It was developed during a drawn animation class using the motif of a “knock on the door,”and the “prompt, “cause and effect.” Created with those simple materials, it contained absurd humor. Back then, all the students in the program worked in room A115, where Jules Engel was always available for mentoring. I was impressed with the tight community of students and how they all seemed so well versed in each other’s work. Steve came into the program with an established drawing style, yet it was continually being nourished and developed by new ideas, and he was learning animation for the first time. I loved seeing how Jules worked with our students and how he worked with Steve. My understanding deepened, not so much from their dialogue in class, but from their somewhat mysterious private exchanges that somehow produced new and exciting work. When I began my tenure at CalArts, Steve was an MFA-2, already making Wormholes, his thesis film, spending his time rendering and shooting it. The story centers around the theory of relativity such that he described it as

“a poetic animated film based on relativistic phenomena.” I remember Steve relating that the car trip in Wormholes was reminiscent of his childhood summer vacations, driving with his family back east to visit relatives. It was around these trips and the stops made along the way, that he wove the surreal, playful theory of relativity from a child’s point of view. He captured the world through a wacky, surreal landscape based on the Southwestern terrain. Wormholes was enthusiastically received and heralded by the Program for years afterwards. Jules saw it as a very important work, citing Steve’s highly original drawing style. In turn, Steve always acknowledged the critical role Jules’s mentorship had played in his CalArts and post-CalArts achievements. The summer after Steve’s graduation in 1992, he came to work with me in my West LA studio. I was searching for new territory in the animation for my film, Flying Circus: An Imagined Memoir, and I needed someone to animate circus performers—to make the tension of a tightrope performer feel real. I wanted the aggression of a trickster to tantalize by

discovering new ways of drawing that could test animation techniques. Although I had completed a fairly extensive storyboard before meeting with Steve, the process took on a whole new dimension as we began to work together. He drew incessantly as we talked, trying to understand what I was thinking. As we conversed, he roughed out actions with a prismacolor blue pencil that were complex and full of life. Once we resolved the actions, he went over them with a 6B graphite pencil. It was exhilarating to work with him in this way. Steve’s knowledge of animation techniques, from those of Chuck Jones, to John Hubley, and others, was extensive. He understood the abstraction of speed, which was a Jones device. Details are lost until the action stops. By bringing his own thinking into the movement, Steve showed me how one can be original and independent, without closing off the rich traditions of great animators that had so much to offer. The animation Steve and I worked on was tested over and over again, and yet, when it came time to color the scenes, incredibly, another new stage of discovery began.

Sketch for The Green Beret

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“Wormholes was enthusiastically received and heralded by the Program for years afterwards. Jules saw it as a very important work, citing Steve’s highly original drawing style.”

The animation achieved other layers of magic. That summer, Steve and another assistant from the Experimental Animation program, Isabel Herguera, contributed to one of the most pleasurable productions of my filmmaking life. Steve repeatedly went to a deeper level to understand exactly what the animation was capable of saying about a world in which the balance of conscious and unconscious ideas was interwoven in distinct performative actions. I learned so much from this gifted student. Steve went on to create SpongeBob SquarePants, a show about a character with a gentle spirit who lived amid anarchy in a pineapple under the sea, in a place called Bikini Bottom. Initially broadcast in 1999, it was one of Nickelodeon’s first original Saturday morning cartoon programs. It was followed by The SpongeBob Square Pants Movie in 2004, and SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical in 2017. Steve was married to Karen Hillenburg, a professional chef and current member of the CalArts Board of Trustees. Borrowing from the words of Mark Osborne, “I think it’s important for us all to keep talking about him.” I agree. Whether or not you knew Steve personally, please send The Pool your memories, or tell us what his work meant to you and/or your children. Thank you, M.S.

Preliminary sketch for Wormholes

“Stephen knew all the Latin names for sea worms and mollusks, and his eyes sparkled when he explained the way a sea cucumber ate its lunch.”

Steve Belfer (Film/Video MFA 93, BFA 91) I met Steve on my first day at CalArts and we became instant old pals. We always greeted each other with different variations of our moniker, such as Steverino, Stevie-Wonder, Steve-O… you get the idea. I was the kid from Wisconsin, and Steve, the California surfer. We both came from middle-class families and our dads were into old cars; I felt a brotherly connection with Steve, but we had even more in common creatively. Each of us had constructed whimsical kinetic sculptures incorporating electric motors, we drew underground-style cartoons, and, most importantly, we made each other laugh. Steve and I never hesitated to help one another with our animated films. On the weekends we went to the Saugus Swap Meet, enjoyed Tim-Tom Burgers, or just drove around in his old VW Bug. In addition to his overflowing talent, Steve was a tireless worker. He had switched disciplines (from marine biology) to pursue his CalArts education, and he took his new art career very seriously. Steve was always the smartest person in the room. He knew all the Latin names for sea worms and mollusks, and his eyes sparkled when he explained

the way a sea cucumber ate its lunch. He was also like this in an art museum; Steve appreciated fine art with the same sense of amazement. We formed a goofy CalArts band called Flea Circus, which sounded like a demented middle-school orchestra from hell. Steve was the rare type of friend that would inspire me to do my very best, most authentic work. I always strived to impress Steve because if he liked something I was working on, then I knew it was good stuff. I’m sure others felt the same way. I recall the day he told me about meeting his future wife, Karen. He described her as the most amazing woman and then he exclaimed, “She’s a chef!” Several years after graduating from CalArts, Steve asked me to provide some musical ideas for a show he was developing. I recorded some quirky, underwater guitar tracks, which quickly became part of SpongeBob’s musical DNA. Steve’s belief in my work transformed my career. Steve Belfer continues to write and perform music for SpongeBob SquarePants.

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Stephen soaking up sunshine in 1990. Stephen on the set of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004), with Producer Gina Shay and actor David “The Hoff” Hasselhoff (Theater 73). Mark Osborne, Co-Director of the film with Stephen, in Barcelona, 2010. The two Steves—Belfer, left, and Hillenburg— engaging in campus hijinks at CalArts, early 1990s.


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Mark Osborne (Film/Video MFA 92) If you know SpongeBob, you might think you know Steve—but he was so much more than that indelible creation. You don’t have to look much further than his CalArts student films The Green Beret and Wormholes to discover just what an interesting and special artist he was. Those films can also help you understand a bit more about just how everyone’s favorite sea sponge came to be. When I arrived at the CalArts Experimental Animation program, I was a transfer student from the foundation art program at Pratt Institute, and was very excited about learning to make personal animated films. I was soaking up everything, trying to figure out what I was going to do, when I discovered Steve and his unique work. His enthusiasm, his shaky drawing style, his offbeat sense of humor, and his general weirdness shaped his singular voice and greatly inspired me as a filmmaker. I just

wanted to be cool like him, and when we became friends and helped each other with our films, I found out why CalArts is such a special place. The fact that Steve also asked me to be a part of SpongeBob, that our families became friends, and that our children grew up together, is nothing short of astonishing to me at this point. I was just happy to know him, and I am forever grateful that he invited me to be a part of his creation and life. In the immortal words of Steve’s mentor and “Art Dad,” Jules Engle, I will just end this the way he ended every class he taught, and say to anyone who knew Steve: “I love you all.” Mark Osborne co-directed The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004) with Stephen Hillenburg.

“Steve’s enthusiasm, his shaky drawing style, his offbeat sense of humor, and his general weirdness shaped his singular voice and greatly inspired me as a filmmaker. I just wanted to be cool like him.”

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“I will always remember the day Steve recorded the music for Wormholes, overjoyed as he walked around the sublevel blowing on his trumpet.”

Isabel Herguera (Film/Video MFA 93) I was shown to A115, the experimental animation studio, by the class TA who told me to pick a table that would become my workplace for the year. I chose the one that was close to the telephone with a view of Jules Engels’ office. The student sitting at the table next to me came over, and with a firm handshake welcomed me—giving a shy but intense stare through his very blue eyes. Noticing my accent, he blurted out something in Spanish. But between the noise in the room and the surprise of his words I stared back, remaining speechless. He, in turn, was frozen, waiting for my response. Out of complicity, we immediately started grinning at the same time. That is how I met Steve. Steve was in his second year of MFA work and was developing what would later become Wormholes. During the week, he worked at home, then on Friday he appeared on campus with a huge stack of papers to get the animation test done. Friday after Friday, I learned from him how to be patient, and to love and care for every detail of the entire process: from sharpening a pencil well, to the final stroke of every drawing. As the weeks drew on, my familiarity grew, and my inkwells, cutouts, and all my material started drifting gradually, but surely, toward the edges of Steve’s table. One Friday, a musician friend of mine appeared in A115. With her guitar on her shoulder, she came in furiously, storming the narrow corridor toward my desk, puffing like a caged tiger. Her guitar accidentally kicked Steve’s desk and a jar of ink flew toward


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a week’s worth of Wormholes drawings. We both froze, deep inside the tale of The Accelerator by H. G. Wells; we found ourselves in an animator’s nightmare, as we watched the disaster unfolding in slow motion before our eyes. Somehow, and out of nowhere, (I believe it was his trained animation timing reflex) Steve broke the spell and shot his hand out to save the drawings. He looked at us, still in shock, and laughed out loud. I will always remember the day Steve recorded the music for Wormholes, overjoyed as he walked around the sublevel blowing on his trumpet. That was the day he bid farewell to CalArts. After graduating we lost touch with each other; I returned to Spain some years later, and then, after many, many years without contact, I reappeared to ask him for a big favor. I invited Steve to Barcelona to give the inaugural lecture for the first edition of an animation forum I was organizing. He immediately agreed to come, and I will never forget his generosity, kindness, and the elegance with which he recovered all those threads that time and silence tend to untie. The honesty of his character, the commitment to idealism in his work, and the perseverance with which he pursued his dream has left a great mark on me. Muchas gracias Steve. Isabel Herguera produces and directs animation in Spain and teaches at the Academy of Motion Arts (KHM) in Cologne, Germany





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SCI – ENCE CUL– TURE Chrysanthe Tan talks film, animation, and autism with Jorge Gutierrez


Rafael Hernandez

“Mind meld!” he gasps. “You too?” I am finally speaking with famed Mexican director, animator, and painter Jorge Gutierrez (Film/Video MFA 00, BFA 97), but he is sabotaging my interview. I’m there to talk about him. Why does he keep asking about me? Jorge is an obsessive researcher. Long before achieving The Book of Life and Nickelodeon success, he was the underdog who worked his way up by studying CalArts peers, analyzing their work habits, and learning from their mistakes. He still does this, perpetually, in nearly all areas of his life. the POOL


“ I was obsessed with Pinocchio. I kept saying ‘I want to be a real boy!’ because I didn’t feel like all the other kids. ”

“I’m a scientist of culture,” he says. He can’t help it. Investigation is his natural state of being. Like me, Jorge Gutierrez is proudly autistic. And like many autistic people, he studies others as a way to learn about himself and contextualize his place in the world. While most people focus on the general picture, Jorge breaks things down into excruciating details, synthesizes the data, and builds new and beautiful worlds based on the elements he has collected. He wields extraordinary power, both as a filmmaker and as a human being—and he knows it. In fact, Jorge has his whole narrative nailed down. Like his animation work, his own life story is masterful—a compelling tale, from underdog to superhero. He’s rehearsed the tale a thousand times, too, both an interviewer’s dream and nightmare. I was exceedingly nervous going into this interview, but it turned out to be pure dream. Jorge Gutierrez is an open book, silly and deep, refreshingly self-aware. And our meeting was an autistic, artistic meeting of minds—a wondrous and whimsical conversation with potent truths that I’ll be thinking about for quite some time.

Chrysanthe Tan

We’re finally here! I’m pinching myself.

Jorge Gutierrez

I never get to talk to a fellow artist on the spectrum, so … I’m geeking. Wait, you didn’t know until you were almost 40? How? I was always different, but coming from a Mexican family, they would just say, “Well Jorgito is just a weird kid, in his own world. He’s quiet, having fun by himself, he memorizes movies. Maybe that’s normal.” My family was like, “She’s strange, silent, obsessed with music. Maybe it’s a good thing? Just wish she wouldn’t hide behind the couch with a notebook whenever we have company.” Oh yeah! That social part started to manifest for me around age 10. I had a hard time making friends and just went into drawing and painting. I was so much happier creating stuff and was terrified of being in giant spaces with lots of people. Drawing was my cocoon.


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What did you draw? I was obsessed with Pinocchio, specifically when Pinocchio turns into a real boy. I kept saying, “I want to be a real boy!” because I didn’t feel like all the other kids. So, in order to be like the other kids, I thought I had to draw like the other kids, just copying whatever I saw in movies. Then eventually, I started creating my own characters. The hero was always an outcast who didn’t fit into society. Looking back, I’m like, that was me. You’re very self-aware. When I came to the US, I was super-stubborn about I’m not giving up my Mexican culture. When I found out I was autistic, my friends in the industry were like, “You can’t tell anybody.” But I was always like, “This is the truth, this is who I am.” You’re unapologetic in the best way possible. I think when you’re coming from Latin America, especially Mexico, the act of being an artist is a political act. The moment you say you want to be an artist, you are rebelling in your family. You can’t make everybody happy. I’m not Mexican enough for Mexicans, and I’m too Mexican for Americans. But because I grew up on the border, I am very used to

disappointing both sides. That criticism doesn’t really affect me. You have a history of taking criticism well. How do you do it? Being autistic helps. Autism is my superpower that allows me to do things other people couldn’t do. Animation is very much about details and focusing, and you have to be able to block yourself from giant things in order to concentrate on others. I can read the meanest reviews on the internet and be selective with my emotional response, because I’m focused on other things. I see the bigger picture. There’s a misconception that autistic people only notice tiny details. But you’re a great example of how seeing the details actually helps you understand the bigger picture even more. You zoom in and zoom out. I study and analyze everything, even other people. When I was a BFA, my friends started graduating and I noticed that they hadn’t found work yet. That definitely affected my belief in “art for art’s sake.” I’d thought that as long as you were a good artist and worked hard, you would be okay. But then I realized that’s not enough. You have to study the paths of the people you admire and figure out where you fit. the POOL




Gutierrez calls his feature film, The Book of Life, “a humble epic that came straight from the heart, inspired by all the tall tales heard in my own family.”

El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera (2007) aired on Nickelodeon. The visually dazzling series was created by Gutierrez and his wife Sandra Equihua.

No one is born a director. So, I’d study to figure out how they did it. Brad Bird, what was his path? Disney feature animation to Simpsons and Family Guy to Pixar. What happened to him after school? What were the hard years like? By the time I graduated, I was prepared. What are you studying nowadays? Lately, I’ve tried to force myself to listen to popular music. As an artist, I have to understand the world that we’re living in. I just want to understand all of this stuff, and the same goes for movies and TV shows, too. I want to understand what people like, and why. I read Hunger Games for the same reason. I wanted to understand what other people like. I did that with Twilight. I thought, “If there’s something that can get teenage girls really into vampires, I want to know—just as a scientist of culture.” So, I watched all the Twilight movies and at the end was like, “I don’t understand. I don’t know if it’s the autism or what, but I don’t get it.” 34

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This happens to me, too, and I think autism does play into it. Many storytelling plot points don’t work for me, simply because I don’t understand the emotional implications of everything. Say, if a character goes on a date with a friend’s ex, I’m like, “Are we supposed to be shocked? Mad? Amused? Who are we siding with? Can I have a hint?” I need other storytelling mechanisms in place to guide me or at least keep me invested. Exactly! My wife doesn’t like when I say this, but when I watch movies, I feel like a gynecologist watching porn. I’m studying. I know the intimate details of how this works. When I watch horror movies or Pixar movies, I am impressed by the manipulation of the audience and think, “Oh, they are using this for that and that for this.” You’re honing your storytelling technique. Just like you’ve honed your own origin story. … Oh yeah, I’ve said it hundreds of times publicly. To me, it’s like stand-up, and I just know what works.

It’s refreshing that you readily own that. You are in control of the narrative. There’s a big “overcoming rejection” arc—from your CalArts almost-rejection to studios rejecting Book of Life for years because it was too Mexican, and more. But it’s ultimately a triumphant story. I’ve been editing my story to a T. What happens when your story doesn’t unfold how you want it to? Well, I had a midlife, artistic crisis when I turned 40. Book of Life had just come out, and it was a lot sooner than I expected. It was my dream project. I thought it would take 30 years, but it only took 14. So I was like, “What do I have left? What’s my next big thing?” The dreaded post-project low. And the press was relentless when I was doing publicity for Book of Life, asking what I was going to do next. I felt like I was giving birth and someone was asking me when I’d have another baby. It really weighed down on me, and I had to get away. What did you do to get away?

“ Autism is my superpower that allows me to do things other people couldn’t do. ”

I started painting. So, you took a step away from your main art. Animation has given me so much, but it’s taken a lot. I needed to get away from the studios and away from this idea that I depended on other people to allow me to do my thing. No one tells me what to do when I paint, so I decided to paint. Then I got invited to be in an art show. It was like the universe sent that to me. The guy who asked me, Greg Escalante, said, “Do 9 paintings for me and I’ll give you an art show in a year.” By the end of the year, I’d painted 57 paintings and 2 murals, and that’s when I became a painter. Once again, your art helped you become more yourself. Yeah. That yielded my first Border Bang book, and after that, I was invited to be in art shows all over the world. It was an eye-opening experience, because it taught me that I don’t have to do animation forever. I’m not just an animator. I’m an artist, and how I express myself is not limited to one medium. I even do voice acting now. I act in other people’s animations. Oh, and I started doing stuff for El the POOL


“I will always be a huge fan of Hillenburg’s CalArts films, Green Beret and Wormholes. It’s one of the reasons I went into the Experimental Animation program. To see him eventually create a landmark show like SpongeBob did not surprise me at all. So why is SpongeBob a ‘cartoon killer’ in my painting? Because how else could any of our shows compete in the ratings of life?!”— Jorge Gutierrez

“ Pollo Loco, because when I went to CalArts, that was the only place I could get tortillas that were handmade. I’d put a tortilla on each cheek and say “I’m home. …” I wish we had tortillas on hand for photos. … So, what ended up getting you back into animation after your time away? I just kept doing a variety of artistic things and putting everything online, including my paintings. I got really honest online. Social media allowed me to be very honest about what I wanted to do and what my ideas were. And then, all the work started coming from Instagram and Twitter. That’s even how I got my current job at Netflix. Wow, really? They called me in and they said, “We saw online that you quit your last project. We saw online that you no longer want to do other people’s stuff; you want to do your own stuff. We saw online that you are very much in love with your culture, and we love that. Pitch us your dream thing. Pitch us the thing you don’t think you can get made anywhere.” So, I pitched my dream thing. That day, they were like, “Let’s do it.” I’ve been in the industry for 19 years and never had that experience. I feel like I need to send a check to Twitter and Instagram just to thank them. That’s incredible. Your love of social media is in stark contrast to what I usually hear from other artists. But I agree with you wholeheartedly. For me, social media is an easy way to lay all my cards out on the table without having to speak. Under the right circumstances, it’s an autistic person’s dream. I can just say what I want, on my own terms, and leave if I need to. Yes! It’s like I don’t have to talk to anyone. I can just put it out there. Social media connected me to these new worlds of being honest online, being political, and even hiring people for my show, Maya and the Three. Online, I can see what someone talks about, what work they’ve posted, and see if they’re a good fit. It’s always better to hire people who are already into your thing.

I’m not just an animator. I’m an artist, and how I express myself is not limited to one medium. ” I know you can’t say much about it yet, but I’m ridiculously excited for Maya and the Three. Do you have any ideas for what comes next? Look, I’m very lucky I got to do a TV show (El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera). Very lucky I got to do a movie (The Book of Life). Now, I’m doing a miniseries (Maya and the Three). The thing I want to do next is something I haven’t announced yet. But I don’t want to repeat myself. I know this sounds crazy, but I think I want to retire at 50 to just paint. So, it’s a ticking clock for me. I am writing the narrative of my life, so I’m like, as long as the book is good, the chapters don’t matter. It’s the whole thing that’s going to matter. I used to be obsessed with the pieces, but now I’m obsessed with the legacy of the whole thing.

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CAL ACT IVISM In each issue, The Pool shares stories of CalArtians who cherish their roles as what President Ravi S. Rajan calls Citizen Artists— alumnx who have found their own ways to, in Rajan’s words, “steer us toward a better future.”


Clayton Stromberger

This time around, we meet John Daversa (Music MFA 06)— trumpet virtuoso, arranger, and band leader extraordinaire. His new Grammy-winning album, American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom, provided a platform to draw 53 »Dreamers« into recording studios for a powerful musical collaboration. Then, we drop in on the volunteer work that Nancy Barton (Art MFA 84, BFA 82; Art faculty 84–92) and Michael Cohen (Art BFA 92) are doing. In a remote mountaintop town in the Catskills, they bring the healing power of art—and a rare urban-rural experiment—to a community still recovering from a devastating flood.

John Daversa (right) with young musicians during recording session of American Dreamers.


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»Our project is all about coming together as Americans through music.«

In the fall of 2017, when US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy instituted by President Barack Obama in 2012 was being rescinded, the hopes and futures of an estimated 800,000 young people who were brought illegally to this country as children—a group known collectively as the Dreamers—were thrown back into doubt. And with that declaration, and the emotional and political turmoil following it, the theme and focus of the next album by jazz trumpeter and innovative big-band leader

JOHN DAVERSA began to take shape. A year and a half later, at the 61st Grammy Awards held this past February in Los Angeles, 10 Dreamers who participated in the recording of that new album by the John Daversa Big Band—American Dreamers: Voice of Hope, Music of Freedom—stood alongside Daversa on the Staples Center stage as the album won its third Grammy of the evening, this time for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. the POOL


School of Music at the University of Miami. This talented The album, which also won for Best Improvised Jazz musician says the idea for the album came out of a teleconSolo (on “Don’t Fence Me In”) and Best Arrangement, ference brainstorming session with producers Kabir Sehgal Instrumental or A Cappella (on “Stars and Stripes Forever”), and Doug Davis in the months after the Trump administrafeatures a spirited and soulful collaboration between tion rescinded DACA and then dangled protection for the Daversa’s big band and 53 DACA recipients, who play and Dreamers as a potential swap for Democratic approval of sing on 9 different tracks. This special music spans a range President Trump’s desired $5 billion border wall. from a reworked version of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant “We thought maybe we could do something that would Song,” featuring new rap lyrics by a young man named create a poetic, artful statement of awareness,” Daversa says, Caliph (who came here at the age of 7 from Senegal), to “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos),” anchored by the emo- “so people can see what’s going on—we’d humanize what was being seen just in black and white, tell the stories of tional singing of a young woman named Daisy (who came to these fellow human beings and what they’re going through the US from Venezuela with her family when she was 9, so on a daily basis. Then we wondered, ‘What if we got some of that her sister could receive cancer treatment). them to participate on the album? And what if we reimagA VERY PERSONAL PROJECT ined songs of America, of what it means to be American?’ Daversa and the producers recorded an interview with We all had goosebumps together through that conversation.” each Dreamer, and the voice of a different young person Almost immediately, Daversa worked up a list of songs introduces each track; they tell listeners a bit about how and quickly began writing the arrangements, leaving a they came to this country, what their lives are like now, and variety of openings and solo spaces so that as he and the what their dreams are for the future. The effect is powerful producers reached out to the Dreamer community and and moving. As critic Jim Hynes wrote in Glide: “Jazz has found young musicians to participate, their playing would long been music of protest and freedom of expression. The be woven into the music. dichotomy of the touching stories and the enthusiastic musical pieces is startling, and in its own way invigorating. RECORDED ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY This is one of, if not the most, important musical stateThe first recording session was in March of 2018 at the Frost ments across several genres this year aimed at bringing School. By then, the team had connected with 14 different unity and healing divisiveness.” Dreamers who played violin, flute, piano, percussion, and “I’m a great-grandson of Italian immigrants, so this other instruments. In the studio, they joined forces with a project was very personal to me,” a beaming Daversa told the team of professional musicians and to lay down the core Grammy audience upon accepting the album’s first award. tracks. Then contributions of the other Dreamers were He then gave a shout-out to Denzel, a young Dreamer and recorded individually, often in studios around the country, trombonist in the audience, who wanted to join the military as Daversa continued searching for interested DACA recipibut was denied because of his immigration status. Daversa ents while keeping his regular tour schedule. concluded: “Our project is all about sharing stories like “In Miami, one of the people who works in the office asked me what we were doing, and I told her,” Daversa these and coming together as Americans through music.” recalls, “and she said, ‘A really good friend of mine in American Dreamers has garnered rave reviews from Houston is a singer’”—which is how Daisy came onboard jazz critics, and testimonials from political figures such to sing an emotionally wrenching rendition of “Deportee,” as Senators Kamala Harris and Lindsay Graham. House originally written as a poem by Woody Guthrie and later set Speaker Nancy Pelosi enthused, “May the soaring melodies to music. “It’s a little folk song that I completely tweaked and harmonies of these courageous Dreamers remind around,” Daversa says. “The lyrics are pretty deep and sad, everyone who hears them of the beauty and resiliency of and we had to stop a number of times in the recording the human spirit, and of our responsibility to honor our session because it just got so emotional. And to get Daisy heritage as a nation of immigrants.” through that, and for her to still paint the sound with the DACA allowed children brought to the US under the age emotion she had … it was just so poignant, and so real.” of 16 to be free from the fear of deportation and to obtain Daversa is already at work on his next album, and 2-year work permits, renewable upon meeting certain conthough the theme is still under wraps, he says it will also ditions. The term “Dreamers” originated during an earlier deal with social issues. “I’ve really been turning towards legislative effort to provide a path to citizenship for those an intention to write music that has purpose and meaning who came here as undocumented children. The DREAM Act behind it,” he affirms. “Music is such a potent vehicle.” was a bipartisan proposal that would have offered protections similar to DACA, but was repeatedly voted down by the US Senate between 2001 and 2011. A successful touring artist, composer, producer, arranger, and band leader, Daversa also teaches and holds the position of chair of Studio Music and Jazz at The Frost 40

CalArts Alumni Magazine

The Center has a cheerful, slightly anarchic spirit, and the couple credits their formative years at CalArts.

Walk into the brightly painted Prattsville Art Center on a typical spring Saturday in Prattsville, New York, and you enter a space unlike any other in these mountains, or in the big city three hours to the south, for that matter. Local teen Chris Martin skateboarded over to the restored 1840s building on Main Street first thing this morning and is hanging out with other kids in the little plywood-floored computer lab, as he often does on weekends. Martin likes making art now. In a video on the center’s website he says, “The art center has changed my life. … They have some interesting people here, they make all these events happen. …” Neighbors from down the road who dropped by to say hello are chatting with several artists in residence from New York City. An architect is conferring with center cofounder

MICHAEL COHEN about design plans for the flood-damaged building’s dirt-floored back wing, which will soon be renovated into a performance space. They also discuss the upcoming residency of New Orleans Airlift, an arts organization formed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that will—thanks to an NEA “Our Town” grant—create one of its famous “musical architecture” installations at the center.

In another room, representatives from mountaintop social service agencies are on hand, ready to help area residents with everything from tax preparation to HIV testing. Local artist Edna Arloween is also here, sketching a portrait of

NANCY BARTON the center’s director, who can’t stop smiling, her eyes twinkling behind her large sequined cat’s eye glasses. Arloween began painting at the center a few years ago, and her portraits of the Statue of Liberty were recently shown at a gallery in Hudson—her first show ever. “She was trying to decide how to pose the Statue of Liberty,” Barton recalls, “and she had some choices to make. I said, ‘You don’t have to do just one. Let’s look at a series, look at Andy Warhol. Let’s look at different ways to present the same thing.’ So she went on to make a series of paintings of the Statue of Liberty in different ethnicities, including one that is a Martian.”

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The Prattsville Art Center is an ongoing experiment in bringing together all sorts of people to build community through art.

The range of Art Center activities includes visual art, music, and a variety of social events that promote community across generations.


CalArts Alumni Magazine

Meanwhile, out back, kids are running around inside the Prankster People’s Museum, a playscape in the shape of a coyote head. Founded seven years ago by Nancy Barton and Michael Cohen in the wake of devastating flooding from Hurricane Irene, the Prattsville Art Center is an ongoing experiment in bringing together all sorts of people to build community— and help heal a nearly destroyed town—through art. Here, rural mixes it up with urban, small-town gathers around a wood stove with bright-lights-big-city, blue sometimes dances alongside red at an experimental jazz performance, and preconceptions are challenged daily. “It’s an attempt to bring together different sides of America,” Barton says, “which has become increasingly important in the intervening years since we started the art center.” Cohen agrees: “The dialogue happening here is something that I feel is really important in lowering the blood pressure of the country.” "THE TOWN IS DESTROYED"

Seven and a half years ago, the building that houses the art center (which was once a hardware store, then an antiques shop, and has always had residential space on the second floor) was battered and filled with 8 feet of mud. On the morning of August 28, 2011, Hurricane Irene, then a massive tropical storm, dumped 14 inches of rain over the Catskills, sending a wall of brown water surging into this remote working-class community with the force of Niagara Falls. No lives were lost, but the town was devastated; almost half its buildings—many of them lovingly restored Victorian homes—were swept away or destroyed. A 156-yearold covered bridge that had weathered countless storms vanished. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo helicoptered in a few days later and declared Prattsville the hardest hit area in the state. Barton and Cohen had discovered this remote mountaintop area 17 years previously while lost on their way to a hike on the northern edge of the Catskills. The couple had moved east from LA 5 years earlier when Barton was hired as undergraduate director at the Department of Art and Art Education at NYU Steinhardt. They loved New York City and had busy working lives there; but missing their restorative hiking jaunts in the San Gabriel Mountains, they began looking for new places to escape into nature. Soon they found the Catskills (Rip Van Winkle country), where there was still land that two artist-teachers could afford to buy. “We would come up and just collapse,” Barton recalls. Cohen concurs, “We could breathe again when we came up here.” They would drop in on the local grocery store or café, but their place was across the creek from Main Street and up a hill on 120 acres, so they didn’t spend a lot of time in town. Then came Irene. The couple’s house was on ground high enough to miss the flooding, but the terrified animals they saw scrambling outside during the torrential rains made it clear that something terrible was happening to

Schoharie Creek. A neighbor came by the next morning and said, “You know, the town is destroyed.” “It was very moving to see a place that had been a major part of our lives turn into something out of a science-fiction apocalypse scene,” Cohen recalls. Barton adds, “It was a very chaotic time. There was a very strong feeling that everyone wanted to pull together. … Everybody was wearing mud boots and carrying shovels. We had helicopters landing every day delivering food. The town was really cut off from the outside world for a month because all the roads were destroyed. People were just trying to figure out how to go forward.” A SENSE OF PURPOSE AND JOY

One day many months later, as the town grappled with how to rebuild, Barton was serving as a volunteer on a FEMA community revitalization committee. “A woman kept saying, ‘There's nothing for the young people to do here,’” she remembers. “And I thought, ‘Well, you know … I do a lot of work with young people. …’” “It happened organically,” Cohen recalls. “‘How can we help?’ Well, we know about art. …” So, with a few classes for local kids in the shell of that historic building on Main Street (which was originally slated by its owner for demolition) Prattsville’s first art center was born. A $200,000 Art Place America grant helped with the first round of restoration to the building. Since then, Barton and Cohen have logged countless volunteer hours of grant-writing, network-building, Facebook-posting, and doing everything else it takes to make a nonprofit stay afloat and grow, while somehow maintaining their careers (Cohen also works at NYU Steinhardt as an adjunct professor). Barton spends more time hunched over a computer pursuing funding than she’d like; she recently secured another NEA grant for a fourth annual summer music festival, with the theme of “Diversity on Main Street.” And between mentoring local youth and cooking dinners for the artists in residence, she presides over the whirl of activity with a sense of purpose and joy. “I think of it as an extension of my teaching career,” she says. “At the moment, this is my primary artistic practice.… This kind of creative place-making project is something that is closely related to my art, which was photography in collaboration with people sharing dreams and hopes unrealized in the rest of their lives.” The Center has a cheerful, slightly anarchic spirit, and the couple credits their formative years at CalArts as providing a blueprint of sorts for creating a community from the ground up. In fact, many fellow CalArtians have been involved as visiting artists, and alumnus Lyle Ashton Harris sits on the Center’s board. “I think of CalArts as a laboratory environment that’s not too overwhelmed with what’s commercial at the moment,” Cohen says, “and it has multidisciplinary arts going on all the time that people engage in as their creativity guides them. The Art Center plays that role too.” the POOL


then & now Images separated by almost half a century expose wondrous changes and surprising consistencies in the CalArts landscape When The Pool learned about a research project Christina Niazian (Art BFA 17) was conducting on the institutional history of CalArts, we were intrigued by the early-day campus images she unearthed. The following pages present photographic re-stagings by Rafael Hernandez with texts by Kat Catmur and Roman Jaster that muse upon the 50-year old history of our campus.

Figure 1  —  Lulu May Von Hagen Courtyard It is unclear if the original photograph was staged or whether a student was caught napping. But a mid-day concrete lounge is as much fun today as it was five decades ago.

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Figure 2  —  Outside Main Entrance Off McBean The recently completed main building rises behind two impeccably dressed gentlemen, while in the background, a shirtless gardener is mowing a mighty big lawn. What has changed?


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Figure 3  —  Outside Bijou Theater Hard to believe that the Film Today screenings on Fridays have been a CalArts fixture for almost half a century. Yet, slick graphics have ousted those charming hand-made schedule adverts.

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Figure 4  —  Main Gallery In these contrasting photographs, the main gallery ceiling has clearly upgraded from Tetris to Space Invaders. Concerts noon and night continue to delight and challenge crowds beneath.


CalArts Alumni Magazine

Figure 5  —  Outside D-300 Gallery Dogs then. Dogs now. Is that why the “D”-Galleries are still called the “D”-Galleries? Perhaps, if a kind sponsor stepped forward, they could be given a real name.

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Figure 6  —  Inside Print & Media Lab Some printing processes (exempli gratia, screen-printing) have held their own for all these years. But trees have grown, and a Wild Beast has sprung. Oh, and cell phones.


CalArts Alumni Magazine

MFA CREATIVE WRITING At the apex of creative experimentation, CalArts’ dynamic and innovative MFA Creative Writing program is designed for writers to explore a range of forms and styles. Rather than limit students’ courses of study towards a single genre, students have the freedom to explore fiction, poetry, and nonfiction through an exciting mix of workshops, seminars, and labs intended to inspire the generation of new methods, fresh forms, and expanded practices.

Weaving a path through the Institute’s course offerings, the program’s four concentrations, Writing + Its Publics, Documentary Strategies, Image + Text, and Writing + Performativity, foster interdisciplinary techniques and approaches as students cultivate their writing alongside the other arts.

To learn more about CalArts’ MFA in Creative Writing, its world-class faculty, its roster of distinguished visitors, including this year’s visiting faculty members, contact: Seth Blake 661-253-7716

CalArts MFA writers are encouraged to situate their creative practice in a critical context—to engage with the aesthetic and cultural movements, theory and politics of contemporary writing, and to think hard about what, why, and how they write. Through the Writing Now Visiting Writers series and myriad opportunities for professional development, the program offers graduate students the chance to further develop both their practice and their knowledge base in conversation with the people, projects, and ideas particularly relevant to the world of writing and publishing today.



* “Why,” said the Queen, “sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”—Lewis Carroll

six impossible things before breakfast *

By Patrick L. Kennedy

Erstwhile Lookingglass Theater Company director, Joy Gregory, is busy: She writes for Madam Secretary, her musical The Shaggs is being adapted for cinema, and a new idea for a TV show—based on the life of an indie rock songwriter—is taking shape.


White House headed by a mature, even-keeled, presidential-acting civil servant. Imagine that. Joy Gregory (Critical Studies MFA 99) does. What’s more, she imagines in the same White House a thoughtful, female secretary of state who brings to the office 20 years’ experience in the CIA, an independent streak, and a willingness to respectfully disagree with her boss. As writer and coexecutive producer of the CBS drama Madam Secretary, Gregory scripts, or otherwise breathes life into, scenarios based in just such a political world, nearly every week from October to May. In a little more than four seasons on the job, Gregory has twice been nominated for a Humanitas Prize, which honors film and television writing that inspires compassion and affirms human dignity. Moreover, Gregory is a playwright whose work (with Gunnar Madsen), The Shaggs: The Philosophy of the World, won an Ovation Award in 2004. The musical tells the bizarre, true tale of obscure 1960s rock group The Shaggs. A film adaptation is currently in production.

Joy Gregory, center, in the first ensemble photo of the Lookingglass Theatre Company, 1989.

Gregory is a musician herself, a quondam indie rocker whose Chicago band, Tart, once headlined over Superdrag. She’s also a former actress and publicist who still helps run Lookingglass, the theater company she cofounded in the late 1980s with David Schwimmer (of Friends fame). As well, she’s a wife, mother, committed Catholic, and fervent feminist. And she’s an alumna of CalArts’s School of Critical Studies. “I could feel my brain growing,” she recalls of her dizzying years in Santa Clarita. “To this day, as I examine the culture we live in, I continue to apply the ideas received in classes at CalArts.” ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND Growing up in Cleveland, Gregory had no notion of one day writing for television. In fact, she and her blue-collar family mocked the boob tube for its lack of realism—until Roseanne debuted. Even then, it wasn’t TV but film that most inspired Gregory. “I deeply admired Meryl Streep’s performances in the ’80s,” she says. “They lit a fire in me to want to be an actress.” Gregory attended the Cleveland School of the Arts and went on to Northwestern University in Illinois to major in acting. There, she met Schwimmer, who showed Gregory and some of their classmates a book of photographs chronicling the Manhattan Theater Project’s production of Through the Looking Glass. “We were so captivated by the images of these sweaty, hairy hippies in the ’70s creating a forest with umbrellas and performing Humpty Dumpty’s fall by sitting on top of a pile of chairs and smashing an egg,” says Gregory. The group of friends launched the Lookingglass Theater Company in their senior year. (The company



Joe Sikora and J. Nicole Brooks in Lookingglass’s 2003 production of Race: How Blacks & Whites Think & Feel About the American Obsession by Studs Terkel, co-adapted by Joy Gregory and David Schwimmer.

Joy, left, playing with her band, Tart, in Chicago.

celebrated its 30th anniversary last year.) Its debut production was, of course, Through the Looking Glass—and Gregory starred as Alice. She also played Hester Prynne in the company’s production of The Scarlet Letter. Erelong, though, Gregory realized she was uncomfortable in the spotlight. “I’m a Midwestern girl,” she says with a laugh. But it was in Lookingglass that Gregory pivoted toward her future vocation. “All members could participate in any aspect of theater production,” she says. “I did publicity, I designed the program … but, I also wanted to try writing and directing.” Her first play, All Souls Day, centered on the fantastic legends of early Christian saints Catherine of Siena and Therese of Lisieux. “I wanted to explore these amazing, almost superhero, hagiographic tales about these women who did supernatural things—at a time when women were utterly oppressed.” Two more plays followed. 54

CalArts Alumni Magazine

THE QUEEN OF TART Meanwhile, Gregory was also drawn into the local indie music scene. Perusing a Chicago Reader article about the riot grrrl movement, with photos of rockers Bratmobile and PJ Harvey, convinced Gregory to try to participate rather than just listen. “Once again, published photos played a part!” she says. Gregory and fellow theater-company member Laura Eason had been “serially dating unreliable musicians,” Gregory says, “and we decided, ‘Enough. We want to be musicians. We’ll start our own band.’ We got together and exchanged songs, and found we harmonized well together.” With Eason on bass and Gregory on guitar, their band, Tart, played with a rotating cast of drummers and lead guitarists. Future NPR journalist, Rick Karr, cemented the lineup when he joined on lead guitar. The band gigged at storied rock venues across Chicago, such as the Metro, the Empty Bottle, and Lounge Ax. And, by day, Gregory was teaching first and second grade as a teacher’s aide at the University of Chicago Laboratory. “I was super exhausted,” she recalls, “and super poor.” THE BEST OF EDUCATIONS As her 20s waned, Gregory had a revelation. In living out the starving-artist ideal, she and her friends had, in a way, unwittingly bought into the calculus of the Republican administrations under which they had come of age—a federal regime “that wanted to slash arts funding, that didn’t see the value in monetary terms of investing in art,” she recalls. “We internalized that message, but I believed that I was ready to be paid for my work. I was tired of walking past the mainstream culture of the city that I lived in, walking past restaurants in which people were eating out, and feeling excluded from that, simply because I’d chosen to create theater that I hoped would enrich the cultural life of the city. … So, it was not entirely rational,” Gregory adds with a laugh, “that my response was: Well, then, I’m going to pursue an MFA in Critical Studies! But it was a way to shake up the snow globe.” She picked writing as the one endeavor she wanted to move forward with—to hone her skills in grad school. After researching programs, Gregory chose CalArts. “Its program in Creative Writing didn’t make me choose among writing poetry, critical essays, novels, or plays. CalArts encouraged me to do any or all of that, and whatever else I wanted.” She was not disappointed. “I loved it so much,” Gregory says of her experience at the Institute. “Not only was it everything I wanted it to be, it was a bunch of things I didn’t know I was ready for. “I had somewhat blindly chosen a program called Critical Studies,” she continues, “because I thought it was a writing program under another name. No, this was a critical studies program! It was a philosophy degree.” She studied semiotics, postmodernism, structuralism, and

Téa Leoni stars as Elizabeth McCord in Madame Secretary.

Graduation, CalArts, with fellow MFA alum John Dyer, 1999.

“I had somewhat blindly chosen a program called Critical Studies, because I thought it was a writing program under another name. No, this was a critical studies program!”

the writings of critic-philosophers Roland Barthes and Walter Benjamin. Gregory says it felt like her brain was “a balloon being inflated.” She cites, especially, Jon Wagner’s classes on film and TV theory. “He modeled for me a method of talking about pop culture in a way that didn’t diminish its value both culturally and intellectually, and taught that the most ephemeral, seemingly low form could connect to the biggest ideas shaping our world.” A CAREER OF HER OWN INVENTION After graduation, Gregory stayed in Los Angeles and joined a women’s writing group. She and a fellow member collaborated on a spec script for an episode of The West Wing that led them to staff positions on Felicity, the teen series on the WB network. Having landed in “the heart of soft, mainstream, noncritical culture,” Gregory recalls, she tried to inject some of her recent intellectual growth into the show. Inspired by a CalArts classmate’s thesis project, Gregory pitched an episode in which Felicity runs out of money for school and enters a beauty contest. Repulsed by the contest’s objectification of women, she “rallies a group of women who are awoken to the bullshit of this,” Gregory relates, “and they start an alternative pageant.” The response? “I was quietly informed that I’d no longer be writing for Felicity.” Happily, Gregory next hooked up with writer/producer Barbara Hall on the series Joan of Arcadia. “She’s the reason I’m still a TV writer,” Gregory says of Hall. “She guided me toward never dumbing myself down, never interrupting my critical brain, but finding a way to reach a mass audience with it.” In Joan, God (in various guises) appears to the titular protagonist and discusses “determinism; how physics reflects metaphysics—it was a teen drama in which I got to engage with these big ideas,” says Gregory. the POOL


“I feel like it liberates all of us to see women as admirable and just as flawed as men can be, because guess what? Heroes are human beings.” Since 2015, Gregory has been working with Hall on Madam Secretary, applying those big ideas to the ethical dilemmas faced by fictional US Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni), as well as her husband, Henry (Tim Daly), a theology professor (one who’s not afraid to risk his life saving a crowded mall from a truck bomb, when necessary), and their teenage children. Gregory’s Humanitas Prize nominations hint at the value that viewers find in the show. By depicting a functioning administration, the show offers “42 minutes of respite on Sunday nights,” says Gregory. And yet, the storylines are ripped from the real world’s headlines. For example, the two-parter, “Family Separation,” covered the tearing apart of asylum-seeking Mexican families; the villain was a fictional governor of Arizona. A person of faith hailing from the social-justice wing of the flock, Gregory believes the true national emergency today is not at the border, but in the Oval Office. However, she says, the show’s writing staff “prides itself on being a broad-based CBS drama that appeals to a multi–political party audience of viewers.” The fictional President Dalton’s party affiliation is never stated. Still, certain episodes have riled factions across the spectrum. In one, Dalton (Keith Carradine) took a stand, admitting that climate change was real. “We were only acknowledging a reality that the [reallife] Department of Defense acknowledges,” says Gregory. “But that was the most controversial episode for a certain stripe of our viewers.” Other audience members objected when the show raised the importance of child vaccinations. “Some viewers didn’t like it being pointed out to them that their skepticism [of vaccination] may be another version of climate change denial.” But Gregory is more interested in provoking thought than in preaching. “[She] makes it a point to understand all perspectives,” Hall said of her protégé in an interview with the National Catholic Reporter. “She’s also a great humanitarian and her commitment to social justice is something she practices assiduously.” Gregory particularly relishes the opportunity to depict a female character who is strong, smart—and flawed. When she joined the show three-quarters of the way into the first season, “One of the first things I asked was: ‘Can she not be right in my episode? Can she screw up and the hostage dies?’” Gregory got the green light to “kill my hostage,” she


CalArts Alumni Magazine

Actresses portraying The Shaggs in Playwrights Horizons Off-Broadway production of The Shaggs in 2011. Performers, from left to right: Jamey Hood, Emily Walton and Sarah Sokolovic.

says. “I feel like it liberates all of us to see women as admirable and just as flawed as men can be, because guess what? Heroes are human beings.” CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER If all goes well, this year will see Gregory’s musical, The Shaggs, brought to the big screen. It’s the strange, and strangely true, story of a trio of sisters driven by their nearmad father to record a rock album in 1960s New Hampshire, despite no evidence of musical talent. The band’s recording engineer absconded with much of their funds, their record sold few copies, and The Shaggs drifted into music history’s dustbin until Frank Zappa mentioned them on the Dr. Demento radio show in the 1970s, prompting a rediscovery among crate-diggers. The band’s unschooled sound is unlistenable to some, fascinating to others. Gregory thinks of it as the musical version of the made-up language spoken by Nell, the mountain hermit in the Jodie Foster film of that name. “I’m not a fan of their music,” Gregory says. “I’m more touched by their story.” Music—of the relatively more conventional variety— continues to generate story ideas for Gregory. She is working on a TV show exploring the phenomenon of the professional songwriter (as in one who works behind the scenes with pop stars), but combined with elements of her own indie rock days. And, Gregory continues to draw upon her CalArts education. Not just in her work; she finds she can’t turn it off at home. “My husband and I were talking about luxury brands, and I said, ‘Walter Benjamin would say that in the absence of religion in our mainstream society, luxury has taken its place as an article of faith. He’d say it’s infused with aura, and the way we pay tribute is to pay thousands of dollars for it,’” she relates. “My husband said, ‘Walter Benjamin didn’t say that. I think you put that together.’ “And I said, ‘Wow. I guess CalArts continues to pay dividends!’”


CalArts Legacy Circle is a community of artists, alumnx, and supporters who have provided for CalArts and future CalArtians in their wills.

When you include CalArts as a beneficiary in your will, trust, or retirement plan, or make a life income gift, you have the power to change lives for generations of CalArtians. Planned gifts provide essential funding for student scholarships, programs, facilities, and faculty while creating a lasting legacy.

For more information or to notify CalArts of your plans, please contact Aaron Campbell in the Planned Giving Office at 661-222-2743 or by e-mail at

“Including CalArts in my estate was an easy decision. Without the education acquired from its Film/Video faculty as well as my fellow students, and the graduate degree I earned, I would not have been able to teach cinema at my undergraduate alma mater over the past 30 years. I see my gift as a way to give back to future CalArtians who I hope will get as much out of the school as I have.” - Dave Bussan MFA 85


Reza  Abdoh Theatre

Ann  Carlson Dance


Su  Friedrich Film/Video

Anne  LeBaron Music

Craig  Baldwin Film/Video

James  Carter Music

Suzan-Lori  Parks Theatre


Lisa  Kron Theatre

Jeanne  C.  Finley Film/Video

Joanna  Haigood Dance

Ralph  Lemon Dance

David  Rousseve Dance

George  Lewis Music

Carrie  Mae  Weems  Visual Arts

Roni  Horn  Visual Arts

Pepón  Osorio  Visual Arts

Steve  Coleman Music

Mark  Dendy Dance

W.  David  Hancock Theatre

2001 Ellen  Bruno Film/Video

Erik  Ehn Theatre

Cai  Guo-Qiang  Visual Arts

Zhou  Long Music

Chen Yi Music

Pamela  Z Music

Lourdes  Portillo Film/Video

2000 Peggy  Ahwesh Film/Video

Leslie  Thornton Film/Video

Kerry  James  Marshall  Visual Arts

Danny  Hoch Theatre

1999 Brian  Freeman Theatre

Victoria  Marks Dance


Mel  Chin  Visual Arts

Shirin  Neshat  Visual Arts

John  Kelly Dance

2002 David  Greenspan Theatre


Coco  Fusco Film/Video

Christian  Marclay  Visual Arts

Carl  Hancock  Rux Theatre


Dan  Hurlin Theatre

Jem  Cohen Film/Video

Stephan  Koplowitz Dance


David  Dunn Music

Lisa  Nelson Dance

Rennie  Harris Dance

Miya  Masaoka Music

RTMark Film/Video

Vijay  Iyer Music

Catherine  Sullivan  Visual Arts

Harrell  Fletcher  Visual Arts

Naomi  Iizuka Theatre

Laetitia  Sonami Music

Catherine  Opie  Visual Arts

Renee  Tajima-Peña Film/Video

Donna  Uchizono Dance


Jim  Hodges  Visual Arts — Daniel  Alexander  Jones  Theatre — Sarah  Michelson  Dance — Lawrence “Butch”  Morris  Music — Bill  Morrison Film/Video

2007 Jeanine  Durning Dance

Mark  Feldman Music

Jacqueline  Goss Film/Video

Cynthia  Hopkins Theatre

2008 Derek  Bermel Music

Lisa  D’Amour Theatre

Pat  Graney Dance

Byron  Kim  Visual Arts

Bruce  McClure Film/Video

2009 Paul  Chan Film/Video

Rinde  Eckert Theatre

John  King Music

Paul  Pfeiffer  Visual Arts

Walid  Raad  Visual Arts

Reggie  Wilson Dance

2010 Rachel  Harrison  Visual Arts


CalArts Alumni Magazine

Lukas  Ligeti Music

Susan  Rethorst Dance

Bill  Talen Theatre

Jim  Trainor Film/Video


Natalia  Almada Film/Video

Marc  Bamuthi  Joseph Theatre


Nora  Chipaumire Dance

Eisa  Davis Theatre

Jess  Curtis Dance

Kevin  Jerome  Everson Film/Video

Emily  Jacir  Visual Arts

Myra  Melford Music

Nicole  Mitchell Music

Michael  Smith  Visual Arts


Lucien  Castaing-Taylor Film/Video — Sharon  Hayes  Visual Arts — Pavol  Liska  &  Kelly  Copper Theatre — Alex Mincek Music — Julia  Rhoads Dance


Michelle  Dorrance Dance — Annie  Dorsen Theatre — Daniel  Joseph  Martinez  Visual Arts — Matana  Roberts Music — Deborah  Stratman Film/Video

2015 Tania  Bruguera  Visual Arts

Maria  Hassabi Dance

Sharon  Lockhart Film/Video

Taylor  Mac Theatre

2016 Ishmael  Houston-Jones Dance

Dohee  Lee Music

Simone  Leigh  Visual Arts

Cauleen  Smith Film/Video

2017 luciana  achugar Dance

Eve  Beglarian Music

Daniel  Fish Theatre

Amy  Franceschini  Visual Arts

Julia  Wolfe Music

Anne  Washburn


Kerry  Tribe Film/Video

2018 Courtney  Bryan Music

Arthur  Jafa Film/Video

Robert  O’Hara Theatre

Okwui  Okpokwasili Dance

Michael  Rakowitz  Visual Arts


Meshell  Ndegeocello Music — Beatriz  Santiago  Muñoz Film/Video — Lloyd  Suh Theater — Pam  Tanowitz Dance — Cecilia  Vicuña  Visual Arts

125 LIVES TRANSFORMED For a quarter-century, The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts has invested in artists, enriching CalArts along the way By Kate Silver

the POOL


Twenty-five years ago, Herb Alpert made a life-changing decision to help artists. The year was 1994, and Alpert attentively watched with concern as public funding dwindled for the arts. He considered his own good fortune and opportunities  …he’d been given much, and he wanted to give back. Not only is Alpert a music legend with 9 Grammys and 72 million albums sold, he’s also the cofounder of A&M Records, which was one of the most powerful and successful record labels in the world. In his abundance, he saw opportunity.

Lani, and their foundation have done for CalArts go back to this moment of musical connection.” So, in partnership and collaboration with Lavine, Alpert launched The Herb Alpert Award “I decided I didn’t want to buy a Monet or a

risk-taking, midcareer artists in the categories

wanted to do something more meaningful with

of dance, film/video, music, theatre, and visual

the good fortune I’ve had,” says Alpert. Alpert has supported CalArts in many direc-

CalArts Alumni Magazine

arts. The award is an unrestricted cash prize (initially, it was $50,000; since 2006, it has been

tions, from a host of initiatives in the Institute’s

$75,000) funded by the Herb Alpert Foundation

School of Music that culminated in its 2008

and administered by CalArts. Each year, 50

renaming in his honor, to his foundation’s gifts

nominators, 10 in each field, recommend two

to the CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP)

artists—who are then invited to apply—and five

and the Roy and Edna CalArts Theater (REDCAT).

panels, composed of artists and arts profession-

Former President Steven D. Lavine recalls the

als, select the five recipients.

unique relationship’s origin in this way: “I


in the Arts, which is presented annually to

van Gogh painting and just hang it on my wall. I

In addition to receiving the monetary award,

remember the decisive moment coming when, in

each artist participates in a week-long residency

the course of a visit to CalArts, Herb and I walked

at CalArts. Alpert says he chose to work with

past the music practice rooms. Herb stopped to

the Institute because the school just seemed to

listen to a saxophone player. He turned to me with

click with his vision. “I visited CalArts years back,

a light in his eye and said, ‘You know, when that

and there was something about the place that

student was playing alto he sounded like Charlie

really struck me, like, ‘Wow this is the type of

Parker, but just now when he switched to tenor,

school I would have liked to have gone to,’” he

you could hear a hint of Coltrane.’ The quote

says. “Kids were congregating in the halls, there

may not be exact, but I will always remember

were nooks and crannies where people were

the way Herb lit up. Whether this moment came

discussing art, and musicians playing in all sorts

before or after his first gift to CalArts, I am certain

of places—it seemed like they were really having

this was the beginning of Herb’s deep engage-

a good time while also learning. CalArts struck

ment with CalArts. All the wonderful things Herb,

me as a really creative place.” 60


Lani Hall and Herb Alpert

CalArts President Ravi S. Rajan says it’s been an honor for the school to be a part of the program. “A quarter of a century ago, Herb Alpert decided to try a bold experiment, offering generous funds, unrestricted, to help artists follow their passion,”

“I really feel the heart and soul of our country is shaped by its artists, I think they point the way.” — Herb Alpert

he says. “Herb chose to work with CalArts—a bold experiment, itself—in carrying out this undertaking. Leading up to the 25th anniversary of The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, 125 artists have benefited from the award, and all of the respect, support,

“We are gratified,” said Herb Alpert Foundation President Rona Sebastian, to celebrate

and community that it offers. It’s changed the

with CalArts the shared vision of 25 years of The

paths of their careers in ways that can’t be mea-

Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. Under the exem-

sured. But the benefits also reverberate beyond

plary direction of Director Irene Borger, this

the recipients. Every single one of these artists

program has reached far and wide into the arts

has enriched CalArts, spending time on campus

community and is appreciated for its high level of

and at REDCAT to present, perform, and inspire

compassion, sensitivity, and respect for individ-

the artists of today and tomorrow. A number

ual artists. This unique grant opportunity has

have become faculty here, and several recipients

become an important milestone for midcareer

have been CalArts alumni. It can’t be overstated

artists to be recognized by their peers, and often

that this award has helped make our world a more

is a defining moment leading toward the next

compassionate, insightful, magical place.”

level of their careers.” the POOL


Herb Alpert’s life-changing decision to help artists has affected many lives. In honor of the 25th anniversary of The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, The Pool spoke with four past recipients of the award to find out how it’s impacted them. Here’s what they said.

CAULEEN SMITH THE HERB ALPERT AWARD IN THE ARTS RECIPIENT IN FILM/VIDEO, 2016 Interdisciplinary artist and CalArts School of Art faculty

Sojourner production still, 2018


CalArts Alumni Magazine

Cauleen Smith had been nominated for The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts several times, so she was shocked in 2016 when she learned she’d won. “I applied each time because it’s a great honor for someone to think you’re deserving of it,” says Smith. “And it was really wonderful to know that my work was somehow, finally, deemed worthy of the Award.” Smith is an interdisciplinary artist, with roots in experimental filmmaking, and her

work has screened at Studio Museum of Harlem, Houston Contemporary Art Museum, and MCA Chicago, among other museums and galleries. She says the Award afforded her a kind of financial cushion so that she could focus more intensely on her art, and less on paying bills. “It really freed me up to think about the things I wanted to make, as opposed to how to pay for them,” says Smith. “That was a big shift, and it’s been really helpful.” During her week at CalArts, Smith led a workshop on film production. At the time, a “super bloom” was coloring the desert, and she and her students ventured out to record it. The footage they shot can be seen in one of Smith’s recent films, Sojourner. In 2017, Smith was hired as faculty in CalArts’s School of Art. Here, she says she learns from her students—whom she considers her future colleagues—as much as they learn from her. “I feel like they keep me connected to generations coming forward and keep me really clear on what the priorities should be for all of us when thinking about the future,” she says. “If I do my job well I’ll be seeing them for years to come. I love that part of the process.” When she looks back on the Award and how it’s influenced her, she says that words such as “joyful” and “generosity” come to mind. “I appreciate that they ask very little of the artist. They just give you the money and send you on your way,” she says. “Hopefully, one day I will be able to pay it forward and do the same for other artists.”

ANNE LeBARON THE HERB ALPERT AWARD IN THE ARTS RECIPIENT IN MUSIC, 1996 Composer and performer and faculty in The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts

In 1996, when the award was in its infancy, Anne LeBaron was beginning to make a name for herself as a composer. After being nominated for the award, she applied, submitting her first opera, The E. & O. Line, an electronic blues opera named for Eurydice and Orpheus, set along the Mississippi River Delta. In some ways, the work was ahead of its time: LeBaron used early sampling technology to include fragments of blues recordings and the sounds of whooshing trains and train whistles in an electronic soundscape that reflected the regional and cultural setting. Learning that she had won The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts gave her an enormous boost of confidence in pursuing a full production of the opera. “The Award was a real validation of what I was doing as an artist,” says LeBaron. During her week-long residency at CalArts, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series programmed one of LeBaron’s chamber music works, composed as her


Crescent City, opera, 2012

doctoral dissertation at Columbia University. She had the opportunity to meet the conductor for the concert, David Rosenboom, dean of The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts. Looking back, LeBaron believes that her residency on campus helped, years later, when she joined the faculty at CalArts. While LeBaron—an accomplished harpist and composer whose works have been performed around the world—says she can’t know exactly how the Award has altered her path in life, she can proclaim, with certainty, that it’s sparked a spirit of generosity, whether that means helping students follow their dreams or being benevolent in other ways. “The Award was meaningful for me at the time,” she says, “and I have to say that now, it does inspire me to give back, too.”

Erik Ehn with students at CalArts

Playwright and former dean of the School of Theater at CalArts

Erik Ehn will forever value the twists and turns his career—and his writing—took after receiving the recognition resulting from the Award. “The Award sparked conversations that led to relationships that knit to community, from which, reasons to write well up, and audiences form, and through which standards, practices, and accidents of joy emerge,” writes Ehn, via e-mail. The playwright, whose works, such as Erratics, The Saint Plays, Quiet House, and others, have been performed across the country, the POOL


says that The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts encouraged him to expand and deepen experimentation in his art. It also introduced him to CalArts, which was something of an awakening. “CalArts is a rich and strange space station/biosphere—extraordinary, rare hearts and talents grow there. It’s a truly experimental matrix, and therefore invaluable for the field, both for the quality of the talents it produces, and the dares it throws down, urging itself and others beyond the imaginable.” It was the start of a long-lasting relationship: Ehn went on to become dean of the CalArts School of Theater. In 2006 and 2007, he led a delegation of CalArts students and faculty to Rwanda to explore the ways in which the arts were helping to rebuild in the

Photograph from the set of Mycenaean

CARL HANCOCK RUX THE HERB ALPERT AWARD IN THE ARTS RECIPIENT IN THEATRE, 2003 Multi-disciplinary writer and performer and former director of the MFA Writing for Performance Program in the CalArts School of Theater

Carl Hancock Rux has no doubt that his life is different because of The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. Author of the novel, Asphalt, the Obie award-winning play, Talk, and writer of the opera, Makandal, Rux ticks off the areas the Award has influenced without hesitation: 64

CalArts Alumni Magazine

aftermath of the country’s genocide in the mid1990s. “The time is always right to consider how culture frames and enables inhumanity,” he says, “and how it can share in love’s triumph over suffering.” Following a stint as the director of writing for performance at Brown University, Ehn has gone from teacher back to student, as he pursues a master’s of theological studies at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California. He says that as a past recipient of The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, he still feels connected to a small and vital community. “The Award’s process and follow-through genuinely prizes conversation,” he says. “I feel part of the family there, and have been, and hopefully will remain, in contact for years.”

It helped bolster national awareness and validation of his career as a playwright. It has made him part of a small, exclusive community of talented peers, many of whom are experimental artists who had struggled to be seen and heard. It has given him a platform that made him visible for other awards. It has nourished his confidence as an artist. And it doesn’t stop there. Rux says the Award impacted his career in academia, leading him to a job as the head of the MFA Writing for Performance Program at CalArts. That, in turn, led to other teaching or artist-in-residence positions at schools such as The University of Iowa, Hollins University, Brown University, and Yale University. It has also helped amplify his voice in an area about which he’s passionate. “I am able to advocate, with some authority, for an inclusivity that I have long believed absent in the realm of theater and performance,” says Rux. When reflecting on the Award, it’s clear that it didn’t just impact Rux. He sees every student he’s taught—and learned from—as a tree branch that also traces back to the Award. “I can honestly say I would not have been able to help develop the careers of invaluable new artists without having received The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts or teaching at CalArts,” says Rux. “The Award did as much for my career as it continues to do for the careers of others through my mentorship. It is a generative award that continues to cultivate new art and new forms.”

A quarter of a century and counting, The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts and CalArts have worked together to recognize creative visionaries and culture makers.

Irene Borger, director of the Award program, elaborates: “Herb had a hunch that a prize to artists—artists who took risks—could make a difference to the artists, certainly, and maybe even in the world. He said: ‘what if?’ That’s the commonality between Herb Alpert Award winners and CalArts: asking questions, not knowing what comes next. Or as a friend of mine who taught at CalArts said when asked to think outside the box: ‘WHAT BOX?’” “I really feel the heart and soul of our country is shaped by its artists,” says Herb Alpert. “I think they point the way.” With the support of The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, those artists can focus on their passion and their talents, creating and inspiring a livelier world that benefits us all.

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Alumnx HQ

Greetings from Team Alumnx In addition to dozens of dedicated alumni volunteers, you have a proud and passionate staff serving you: Karolyn Heimes, Sarah Melnick (née Van Sciver) ’16, and Diana Cioffari-MacPhee ’16. It is our mission to empower, support, educate, engage, connect, and celebrate this community. As you’ll see in the following pages, we offer many resources, opportunities, benefits, and programs to CalArts graduates. CalArts relies on you as catalysts, advocates, and ambassadors. We love hearing about your collaborations, creations, quests, and lives. Over the years, your suggestions and general questions have inspired us to expand and improve the depth and breadth of our services.


CalArts Alumni Magazine

We’d love to hear from you. If you’re interested in becoming an alumnx volunteer, send us an e-mail to Please enjoy the recaps of alumnx activity in the coming pages. We look forward to seeing you in person at our CalArts gatherings soon and often. (FROM LEFT )

Sarah Melnick ’16 Assistant Director Karolyn Heimes Associate Director Diana Cioffari-MacPhee ’16 Program Associate 661.222.2742

1 Edda Manriquez 2 Harold Abramowitz 3 Luke Martin 4 Shaina Simmons 5 Soyeon Kim 1



Alumnx Seed Grants Keep Germinating

4 5

The five-member Alumnx Council selects Seed Grant awardees twice a year. The $250 grants fund projects and happenings that promote alumnx community connection, collaboration, inclusion, and impact on the arts. For more info visit Edda Manriquez (Film/Video MFA 14) Edda Manriquez is the founder of Les Femmes Underground International Film Festival, a women’s 501(c)(3). Through the collaboration between Les Femmes Underground International Film Festival and feminist collective, The Kitty Cult, they host several events geared toward women’s empowerment, community healing, and activism. Featuring events such as Books for Babes, Kitty Paradise, and LEFUFF, The Kitty Cult is made up of CalArts alumni and female artists joining together to create a positive social change through the medium of art. The Kitty Paradise event helped raise funds for Kitt Crusaders amongst other initiatives geared toward strengthening our community. Books for Babes is an ongoing initiative focused on providing feminist books to at-need communities. Harold Abramowitz (Writing MFA 06) RAD! Residencies is a new critical-creative literary series that hosts writers to participate in three related events over a defined period of time. Centered around a question or theme they are currently exploring in their work, the plan encourages writers to create community around urgent topics.

Luke Martin (Music Composition MFA 16) and Aaron Foster Breilyn (Music Composition MFA 14) The Co-Incidence Festival is based on an expanded view of art and music. Following Black Mountain College, it brings together radical artists to take part in an event curated as social sculpture. This year’s festival featured artists are Angeles Rojas, Clara Allison, Derek Baron, Joachim Eckl, John Eagle, Jordan Dykstra, Michael Pisaro, Sarah Ayotomiwa Pitan, and Tim Tsang. Shaina Simmons (Acting MFA 17) Shaina Shaina Shaina is filming the pilot for Season 2 of the web series “Shaina Shaina,” a comedic look at the intersections of being black, a woman, and living in the Trump era. Soyeon Kim (Experimental Animation MFA 01) The Sun & The Wind is a short narrative film that is a part of an ongoing production. The film explores the meaning of power and its influence on humankind. While the story unfolds between the two worlds of nature and human, various experimental visual treatments are explored in art direction. the POOL


Alumnx HQ


1 CalArts student activists address Gala guests to protest tuition hikes. 2 Members of the Mudbug Brass Band led the procession into the theater.

1 3

3 The REDCAT Theater transformed by artist Fay Ray. 4 Gala Co-Chairs Tim Disney and Karen Hillenburg address Gala guests. 5 John Kelly performs onstage. 6 Mark Murphy, founding Steven D. Lavine Executive Director of REDCAT, receives proclamation from the City of Los Angeles. 7 Student presenters Lorenzo Fresta (Film/Video BFA 19) and Hanna Kim (Film/Video BFA 19). 8 Provost Tracie Costantino and Dan Barber.



CalArts Alumni Magazine






CalArts REDCAT Gala 2019 On March 16, REDCAT hosted the 13th annual CalArts REDCAT Gala. The event was co-chaired by Chairman of the Board Tim Disney and Trustee Karen Hillenburg. The REDCAT Award was presented to renowned visual artist Henry Taylor (Art BFA 95). Pete Docter (Film/Video BFA 90), Chief Creative Officer of Pixar Animation Studios, received the Distinguished Alumni Award. The Gala also celebrated the legacy of Mark Murphy, founding Steven D. Lavine Executive Director of REDCAT, who has been largely responsible for making REDCAT a vital part of Los Angeles and a leader in contemporary international performance.



9 The evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies, Kristina Wong. 10 REDCAT Award honoree Henry Taylor (Art 95), CalArts President Ravi S. Rajan, and Distinguished Alumni Award honoree Pete Docter (Film/Video 90). 11 Roxana Landaverde and Charles Gaines. 12 John Kelly, Kerry English, Olga Garay English, Adele Yellin, and Edgar Miramontes.


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Alumnx HQ Back row: Gil Draper ‘67, Stephen Johns ‘72, Bill Stout ‘71, Cris Dawson ‘72, Lois DeArmond ‘70, Ed Flynn ‘67, Tim Clark ‘72 Middle row: Joel Goldstein ‘68, Mona Thalheimer ‘71, Barry Friedrich ‘70, Nick Ruiz ‘72, Nob Hadeishi ‘61, Larry Bell ‘59 Front row: Claudia Hurtz ‘69, Carole Anne CastilloRamsdell ‘67, Sylvia Walker ‘65, Barbara Salanitro ‘62, Doris Olga Gotsinas Kouyias ‘69 Also in attendance: Jack Enyart ‘69, Eileen Koyama-Dawson ‘71

Chouinard Reunion 2019 Laughter, reconnections, and nostalgia filled the private ballroom at Maggiano’s Little Italy on Saturday, Feb. 9, as once again, Chouinardians gathered to exchange stories of artmaking and transformation at the 2019 Chouinard Alumni Reunion. With more than 60 guests in attendance, CalArts President Ravi Rajan kicked off the celebration with a champagne toast in honor of Chouinard’s legendary founder, Mrs. Nelbert Murphy Chouinard. “Today would have been Madam Chouinard’s 140th birthday,” said Rajan. “She was a visionary—a feminist who created an art school with the courage and foresight to make it happen. So many have been able to pursue their art because of her vision,” said Rajan, quoting Awards Committee Member Doris Olga Gotsinas 70

CalArts Alumni Magazine

Kouyias ’69. He continued, saying that, “Nelbert Chouinard and her faculty taught and nurtured the gifts of some of the most highly regarded artists of the 20th century. Without Chouinard and its artists, there’d be no CalArts. We continue to be inspired by Chouinard alumni, and we are here to honor Madame Chouinard, and you, and your collective legacy.” Over a full Italian lunch, Chouinard alumni exchanged memories of their classes, colleagues, and projects, followed by a heartfelt awards ceremony and a program that featured both Chouinardians and the current Madame Chouinard Scholarship recipient. Each year, two Chouinard award recipients are selected by a peer committee composed of artist and committee Chair Timothy J. Clark ’72, artist Doris Olga Gotsinas Kouyias ’69, and Glen Kittelson ’56. “There are so many alumni who are extremely talented and well worth the honor—artists who have contributed and made a difference in the art world in their own way,” said Kouyias. “We try to recognize people who have previously gone unnoticed by us.” This year, CalArts and the committee presented the Nelbert Chouinard Award to artist Larry Bell ’59 for his significant influence in glass sculpture, as well as the Grand View Award to

Nobuyuki Hadeishi ’61, for his contributions as an artist and educator. “Larry taught his students to listen to their art, reassuring them that their art would give them the answers they needed,” said Clark. “Larry, we thank you not only for the big picture you contributed to the art world, but also for listening to your art.” Best known for his works in glass and his cube sculptures, Bell’s art resides in numerous museums, public spaces, and cultural institutions, both nationally and internationally. Over the course of his 60-year career, he has influenced form and shape in multiple media, including paintings; constructions that demonstrate volume; cubes that transmit, absorb, and reflect light; sculpture; vapor drawings; light knots; and furniture design, among others. Today, he maintains and produces work in two studios—one in Venice, California, and another in Taos, New Mexico. Among friends, Bell accepted his award with gratitude and shared memories of his beloved time at Chouinard. “I’m totally touched,” he said. “I’m so very happy to be in a roomful of adults who remember what it was like to be at Chouinard. One of my teachers, Bob Irwin, told me to get a studio and see what I could find out about myself. Now, I’ve been in the studio 60 years. There were good days and bad, but I have no regrets. Being an artist is one of the most delightfully selfish things to give to oneself, and I thank CalArts for remembering us and our work.” Applause filled the room as Bell finished, and Doris Olga Gotsinas Kouyias took the podium to announce the recipient of the Grand View Award. “Thank you for teaching us. You are a true pillar of our community,” she said of Nobuyuki Hadeishi. An especially gifted artist and instructor, Hadeishi is best known for his silkscreen and acrylic painting, as well as for his teaching. Recently, Hadeishi helped solve a long-standing mystery when he recognized and located a forgotten mural by David Alfaro Siqueiros, which was painted in the old Chouinard building on Grand View Street in 1932. “It’s been almost a half century since Chouinard closed down,” said Hadeishi, “and I was probably the last person to leave the campus. I remember that place so, so well.” Following the awards ceremony, graphic designer and current Madame Chouinard Scholarship recipient Alene Tashjian (Art BFA 23) shared the following. “I would like to thank the Chouinard community. Without you, I wouldn’t

Scholarship recipient Alene Tashjian (Graphic Design BFA 23) with the Chouinard award recipients Nobuyuki Hadeishi ’61, left, and Larry Bell ’59.

be able to pursue my art at my dream school,” she said. “CalArts has taught me to create abstractly. It’s taught me to collaborate with other artists, and it’s taught me countless lessons about myself. When I look around at the students staying up late, working all through the night, I don’t want to be anywhere else. I can’t imagine not being here. It’s the culture and expression of CalArts that I cannot not live without.” Chouinardians found common ground in her coming-of-age, lived experience shared with a close-knit artistic community. “There are so many talented people at CalArts, and it can be really intimidating. You wonder, ‘Am I really supposed to be here?’” Tashjian reflected. “So, it was really comforting to hear some of these legendary artists say to trust yourself and your voice, to be easier on yourself and follow your art.” Others learned from the legacy of Chouinard that afternoon, too. “This year’s reunion felt more special than ever,” said committee Chair Tim Clark. “The ranks of these graduates are thinning every minute. It makes me more aware that each one of them has a very special story—and we might lose these stories if we don’t endeavor to recognize them today.” —Kirsten Quinn Smith

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Alumnx HQ 2


Alumnx Mentor Program In 2018, alumnx volunteers Erica Larsen-Dockray Film/Video MFA 12, BFA 09) and Kyle Henry (Music BFA 13), along with Karolyn Heimes, Associate Director of Alumnx Engagement, conducted a survey of the CalArts Alumnx community to determine whether a mentor program was an initiative which alumnx would participate in and support. Results were positive and the three followed up by researching mentoring programs at other colleges and universities and designing a framework for a CalArts program. In its initial year, the program attracted nearly 50 participants; this year the number has doubled to just shy of 100 mentors and mentees. The program pairs CalArts graduates just beginning their careers with fellow alumnx who have already navigated similar professional paths. Volunteer mentors range from company CEOs to educators and art therapists, among many others. The program runs March through September, with at least one monthly one-to-two-hour meeting. Some mentor/mentee teams meet more frequently. Consults are conducted in-person or virtually, for those in different geographic areas. In the first four months, conversations focus on the mentee’s immediate 6 to 24-month goals, followed by two months of longer-term career planning. For more information about the program visit


CalArts Alumni Magazine

3 1 Jessica Lawson (Theater BFA 11) Zephyr Ramsay (Theater BFA 17) Ana Perez Lopez (Film/Video BFA 18) 2 Will Smith (Art BFA 12) Sarah Wass (Music BFA 03) Jackie Aldern (Film/Video BFA 17) 3 Program participants in attendance at orientation: Jackie Aldern (Film/Video MFA 17) Sofia Canales (Film/Video BFA 13, MFA 15) Anna Cangellaris (Experimental Animation MFA 18) Ning Cheng (Character Animation BFA 18) Diana Cioffari-MacPhee (Performer/Composer MFA 16) Erica Estrada (Experimental Animation BFA 18) Derek Etman (Composition BFA 16) Brittany Goode (Writing Program MFA 09) Kerstin Hovland (Experimental Animation MFA 12) Jessica Lawson (Costume Design BFA 11) Emery Martin (Experimental Animation BFA 06) Kali Nikitas (Graphic Design MFA 90) Anaeis Ohanian (Art BFA 13) Ana Perez Lopez (Experimental Animation MFA 18) Zephyr Ramsay (Costume Design BFA 17) Tyler Riggin (Acting MFA 18) Lindsay Rosenboom (Music BFA 11) Katherine Shea (Film Directing MFA 18) Will Smith (Photography & Media BFA 12) Robin Sukhadia (North Indian Music MFA 07) Justin Taines (Experimental Animation BFA 05) Chardonnay Tobar (Costume Design MFA 18) Sarah Van Sciver (Performer/Composer MFA 16) Hannah Varamini (Art MFA 18) James Vitz-Wong (Performer/Composer MFA 18) Sarah Wass (Instrumental Performance Flute MFA 03)

Open the Drawing Portal!

Located in a built-out airplane hangar, Open the Portal welcomes alumnx and friends at any drawing level.

In January, Los Angeles Alumni Chapter Leader David Braun ’13 launched Figure Drawing Night at his stop-motion animation studio, Open the Portal. The monthly event attracted numerous alumnx including Sarah Melnick ’16, Diana Cioffari-MacPhee ’16, Theo Burtis ’14, Melissa Piekaar ’12, Leonardo Krotser ’10, Moises Jimenez ’07 & ’11, Hilary Lile ’11, Amanda Smith ’11, Stevie Nemazee ’16, Rigel Yaluk Mosquera ’14, Sandro Del Rosario ’01, Jenny Hatchadorian ’11, Aaron Murtagh ’10, Jushtin Lee School ’11, Nicholas D’Agostino ’17, Kathryn Catmur ’14, and Chardonnay Tobar ’18.

Kazmiera Tarshis (BFA 19) offers her wares. Back row: Erich Schmidt ’86, David Chathas ’15, Bijan Berahimi ’13, Colin Frazer (Art School faculty), Rob Bekuhrs ’83, Walker Cahall ’07, Stephen Lee ’10 Front row: Christine Shen ’15 with her dog Puff, Seamus Kennedy ’78, Eileen Massover ’81, Steve Bilow ’82, Evi Pazmanczyk ’91, Marco Lukini Perez ’17, Karolyn Heimes (CalArts Alumnx Associate Director)

CalArtians invade Portlandia Bijan Berahimi’s (Art 13) gallery, FISK, hosted the gathering of more than 30 CalArtians and guests to view the show, FISK & Friends 2018, featuring alumni work from Sean Soloman, Brian Roettinger (Art 04), Bijan Berahimi, and former faculty member Ed Fella.

Holiday Market While already a distant memory, we think back fondly to last December when the CalArts community gathered for the 3rd Annual Holiday Market. The bazaar included handcrafted gifts, jewelry, ceramics, clothing, and fashion pieces made by more than 40 vendors. Live jazz from Ari Giancaterino (MFA 19), Will Kjeer (BFA 19), and Matt Smith (MFA 19) added to the holiday spirit.

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Alumnx HQ

“Chick Dinner” Alumnx Honor Lorraine Wild with New Scholarship Award earmarked for female graphic design students Graduates from the MFA Graphic Design program (unless otherwise indicated). Back row: Thea Lorentzen ‘13, Kat Catmur ‘14, Katie Hanburger ‘06, Ana Llorente ‘98, Jessica Fleischmann ‘01 Second row: Juliette Bellocq ‘00, Louise Sandhaus ‘94, Kate Johnston ‘12, Yasmin Khan ‘05, Tanya Rubbak ‘07, Xiaoqing Wang ‘06, Julie Cho (PMFA 04) Front row: Lorraine Wild (current faculty), Laurie Haycock Makela (former faculty), Robin Cottle ‘90, Kali Nikitas ‘90 Dogs: Lucky and Ravi


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Winner of the AIGA Gold Medal, she’s designed exhibition catalogs for LACMA, the Whitney Museum, and the Getty Center; produced books about design, art, and architecture through her Green Dragon Office; and became director of CalArts’s Graphic Design Program in 1985 after being hired on the strength of her ground-breaking essay, “More Than A Few Questions About Graphic Design Education.” But among all her achievements, designer, critic, and teacher Lorraine Wild has never had a scholarship established in her name—until now. Starting this fall, the Lorraine Wild Scholarship will award one female MFA Graphic Design candidate with $6,000 annually toward tuition. Wild’s former student, Kali Nikitas (Graphic Design MFA 90), hatched the scholarship idea. “Lorraine really opened up my eyes and my mind to see that there are many ways to engage in the practice of design,” she says. “For me, she

was a significant mentor.” Nikitas, a member of the CalArts Alumni Council, decided to meld her admiration for Wild with a named scholarship that would be funded largely by graduates of the program. She explains, “Part of my mission on the council is to engage with alumni and, quite honestly, to fundraise. The percentage of alumni who give back is small, so when I thought about doing a scholarship in Lorraine’s name, it seemed like a good way to create a real sense of engagement, where people would feel connected through the power of the group.” Nikitas, founding Chair of the MFA Graphic Design Program and Chair of Communication Art at Otis College of Art and Design, conferred with CalArts’s Advancement Office for a crash course in scholarship requirements (a minimum $5,000 annual award for four years). Then, last fall, she invited peers, including classmate Robin Cottle (Graphic Design MFA 90)

“We’d like to see the Lorraine Wild Scholarship become a model for other CalArts alumni who can look at what we’ve done and realize, ‘Wow, this is something I can get behind!’”

and Graphic Design Program faculty member Louise Sandhaus (Graphic Design MFA 94), to join the fundraising cause. “To me and so many of her students, Lorraine embodies a sense of self-permission,” Sandhaus says. “I’m hoping this scholarship encourages students to defy expectations about what they think you’re supposed to do and how you’re supposed to do it.” Nikitas and her team quickly gathered momentum by tapping into an informal network of women who gather every year for the so-called “Chick Dinner.” “Once a year,” Nikitas explains, “a group of local women get together for this wonderful potluck dinner, and it’s one of the highlights of my year. I sent these women a questionnaire asking them what they thought about a scholarship in Lorraine’s name, and the response was overwhelming.” In her e-mails to potential donors, Nikitas broke down the various pledge categories. She recalls, “Some people said, ‘I’m not in a position to give much because it’s been a really tricky year, but count me in for a small dollar figure.’ To me, that kind of response is just as meaningful as a large dollar figure.” Of the 19 Lorraine Wild Scholarship donors, 13 had never given to CalArts before. “Now they’re giving to the school through this scholarship in a way that’s really meaningful to them,” Nikitas says. Within a few weeks, contributors had achieved their financial goal and in December, Nikitas, Cottle, and Terry Morello, senior vice president Advancement and External Affairs Development, met Wild for lunch in a Beverly Hills restaurant. “She had no idea what the lunch was about,”

Nikitas recalls. “When we told her we’d established a scholarship in her name, Lorraine was shocked.” The news thrilled Wild. “To have alumni develop a scholarship in my name was truly thoughtful and unexpected,” Wild says. “I’m deeply grateful to everyone who has contributed to the scholarship fund. It’s my hope that it will help women students to have confidence in their own ideas, and to feel stronger and more independent in the creation of their own body of work. I also hope they understand their connection to this remarkable community of women that have come out of our program.” Nikitas believes the Lorraine Wild Scholarship could spark other alumnx to start up similar scholarships inspired by their favorite mentors. Hundreds of professional musicians, for example, have benefited from programs spearheaded by David Rosenboom, who will step down as dean of The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts in 2020, after 30 years of service. Nikitas says, “We’d like to see the Lorraine Wild Scholarship become a model for other CalArts alumni who can look at what we’ve done and realize, ‘Wow, this is something I can get behind!’ I believe these scholarships are a really powerful way for people to get together and collectively give back to the school.” —Hugh Hart

Kali Nikitas, left, and Robin Cottle, surprised Lorraine Wild (seated) with news of the scholarship named in her honor.

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Alumnx HQ

CAP Benefit Scores Six-Figure Triumph CalArtsX Silent Auction Celebrates Alumnx Works In January, Susan Disney Lord hosted CalArtsX, the CAP Benefit, at her elegant Los Angeles restaurant, The Bel-Air. Highlighted by a cocktail reception and silent auction, the event doubled 2018’s fundraising effort by generating nearly $100,000 toward CAP programming. President Ravi Rajan praised the CalArts Community Arts Partnership for playing a fundamental role in the Institute’s mission. Former CAP student Lani Morales Guerrero then gave a heartfelt speech about how the program impacted her life. Now a first-year music major at CalArts, Guerrero, who grew up in East Los Angeles, said, “When I began taking lessons at CAP, I was encouraged to try as many things as I wanted—jazz band, salsa band, and even a Balkan music ensemble. By teaching me to play many musical genres on multiple instruments, the CAP Music program inspired me to pursue higher education in music.” Among the 123 guests were Chairman of the Board of Trustees Tim Disney as well as trustees and CAP Council members Tina Perry and Janet Dreisen Rappaport. Also in attendance were the Wallis Annenberg Artistic Director of CAP, Glenna Avila; Interim Director of CAP Programs and Operations, Bailey Cool; and CAP Council members Peggy Funkhouser, John Hughes, Jan Kern, Robin Lithgow, and Jill Shinderman. The evening culminated in a silent auction featuring alumnx work from the last 10 years as well as art created by CAP students. Art sales, sponsorships, ticket sales, and an anonymous $50,000 donation added up to record high revenue for the annual gala. 1 CAP Council Member—and the evening’s host—Susan Disney Lord, left, with Glenna Avila, Wallis Annenberg Artistic Director of CAP. 2 Artist Karina Yanez (Art 13), left, with her partner Zsoveonne Mitchell. 3 Niko Solorio (Art 07) while viewing and bidding are underway.


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4 Glenna Avila with Rosie Lee Hooks, Director of the Watts Towers Arts Center. 5 Susan Disney Lord with former CAP participant and current CalArts student Lani Guerrero and Ravi S. Rajan. 6 CalArts Chief Financial Officer Maeesha Merchant, CalArts Trustee Karen Hillenburg, and CalArts Provost Tracie Costantino.

7 Auction artist Rafael Hernandez (Art 11), left, celebrates with Alumni Council Leader Alexi Gehring (Art 00, Film/Video MFA 03) . 8 CAP Council member John Hughes and guests James Lee and Susan Lee.







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Class Notes Class Notes are featured regularly in each issue of The Pool. Share your personal and professional accomplishments with your fellow CalArtians! Send your note to and include a photo if you wish.


Sixties Roberta Griffith ’60 checks in, “In August 2018, I was awarded the prestigious NSDAR American Heritage Award, Women in the Arts. I had two new ceramic installations in Taiwan, StreetStuff, King’s Road, Hong Kong, which were acquired by the museum for its permanent collection; they exhibited New Orientalia last fall. In addition, Unpleasant Conversations at 3-NO, NOT, NOPE was included in the Member’s Exhibition in the Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taipei. I also just received notice that my porcelain installation, Debris Contained, will be included in the collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art. The exhibition will include 35 works by 28 artists—9 artists with Hawaiian connections—and will be on view until the end of September 2019.”



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Ken Graning ’66 writes, “Attached is a new painting that represents a radical departure from my usual post impressionistic realistic painting style. This painting is called Thanksy Banksy. The title is imprinted on the face of the painting using pieces of wooden type (which I had collected as historical artifacts) that were used in poster reproduction dating back to the 1940s through 1960s. I painted each piece of type one at a time and impressed them onto the surface of the board. This painting is an ‘homage’ to the famous New York graffiti artist Banksy. Coincidently I just completed a new abstract painting that I painted with gouache on Yupo paper, which is a bit of a misnomer since it’s not really ‘paper,’ but a derivative of polyurethane plastic that is pressed into sheets and is about the thickness of 150 lb Arches watercolor paper. After finishing the painting, I cut it into sections with the idea of reassembling the pieces on a backing board mounted in such a way that they had a dimensional appearance. After watching the Banksy shredding video on national news, it gave me the idea to pay homage to Banksy by attaching the pieces of the painting inside the frame, as strips that ‘floated’ freely inside the frame, thus placing it into the category of ‘interactive’ painting. If you blow on the painting, the strips dangle inside the frame.”  B Patrick Murphy ’67 says, “Rather than write a long letter I invite you to take a look at what I have been up to, namely my TEDx Talk, How I Turned My Parkinson’s Diagnosis into Fine Art.” Jack Enyart ’69 writes, “It may not be a pipe, but that is Jack Enyart having a last look at Magritte’s masterpiece before LACMA shuts down its galleries for reconstruction. I just concluded a successful four-month run at the La Peer Hotel in West Hollywood doing quick, elegant sketches of the hotel patrons, and I’m looking forward to more such appearances in the LA area. Until next time, keep it surreal!”  A

Steven Gaydos ’72 reports, “Just presented a workshop production of 12 original songs from a new stage musical, The Most Dangerous Song in the World, at the Savannah Film Festival, in conjunction with the Entertainment Arts Department of Savannah College of Art and Design.”


Seventies Mario Uribe ’71 says, “I have worked in many art mediums: illustration, animation, painting, printmaking, and public art. Since 1971, I have completed many murals, large-scale sculpture, and mosaics across the country, plus more than 60 published posters. I served 20 years as creative director of Artstart, a nonprofit dedicated to mentoring young artists. I was director of The American School of Japanese Arts, and founding member of Matsuri Japanese Arts Festival in Sonoma County. My wife Liz and I led trips to Japan from 1998–2017, with a focus on studying traditional arts. My art was transformed by my study of Japanese Arts with masters here and in Japan. My works are in the San Diego Museum of Fine Arts; the Laguna Beach Art Museum; Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts; Musée de L’Affiche, Paris; Amerika Haus, Berlin; and The Sonoma County Museum. I enjoy supporting the arts, and at 76, I am not ready to slow down; I am in the process of opening a café/gallery to support and feature local artists. I thank John Baldessari, who drove me to Chouinard from San Diego in 1967 and pushed me into applying for a scholarship— which I got! I’ve been very lucky.”  C John Collins ’72 writes, “My new art/poetry book is completed and on its way to the printer! Subtitled Antics of Siddhartha (something’s fishy), it promises to be an original creative effort. Also, my long overdue location work, other news, is ready for installation in a storefront window near you. And, of course, I hope to show my epic film, Pit Viper, at CalArts's 50th birthday party in 2021. Did I mention that I currently live in a van, down by the river? Seriously. Live in a Roadtrek, parked next to Bear Creek. Very sweet.”

Darius Gottlieb ’72 “Since my last communiqué with CalArts, my photo work has literally caught fire, with collectors vying for limited editions of my film photos, called Natural Surrealism. I take shots of Nature with an old, antique Canon film camera and then radically transform them, digitally. My fan base is throughout the Western US, as well as art lovers in Australia, England, Germany, and Holland. I continue to work as a recording artist on my turquoise electric cello, built by the late Art Jarvinen, as well as on a rare Stazel acoustic cello. My next fiery album, Tabasco Cello, will be released this year.”

Jon Barlow Hudson ’72 shares, “I was in the class of 1972, the first year in the new building. I have continued with my sculpture and also the Tai Chi Chuan that I learned from Marshall Ho’o in the School of Theater. My last public art commission was installed in Cooper Park by the Dayton, Ohio, library. Titled The Common Good, it was commissioned by the retired city manager to honor public servants. It includes 14 quotes on public service carved in granite. I will be going to Minquin, Gansu, China for a sculpture project this July; will also be creating a public sculpture in May in Nashua, NH, my second in that state. My public sculptures are installed throughout the US and in 27 different countries.”  D Peggy Wolf ’72 checks in: “I’m a journalist now focused on food essays and features. However, in addition to writing a few food stories for the Chicago Tribune, I have developed a project that is starting to take off—helping refugees in Chicago launch a catering business. My job is to keep all the


moving parts in working order, be a culinary watchdog, develop a menu and a website, figure out a business name, and most importantly find catering jobs. I also blog and post on their Instagram pages.” Randy Balsmeyer ’73 tells us, “I’m off to Thailand for a couple of months, working on FX for Spike Lee’s new Netflix picture, Da 5 Bloods. I just finished season 2 of She’s Gotta Have It, and did all the FX and graphics for BlacKkKlansman. It’s been a great run with Spike. Recently wrapped titles for The Goldfinch, and currently working on The Irishman with Martin Scorsese. Also had a fun time directing 2nd Unit for Jim Jarmusch’s zombie movie, The Dead Don’t Die. Making movies in NY is pretty amazing!” Donald Beagle ’73 says his new book, The Hopwood Poets Revisited: Eighteen Major Award Winners, presents a series of Q&A conversations with his fellow Hopwood Award-winning poets spanning decades, including Robert Hayden, John Ciardi, Anne Stevenson, Frank O’Hara, Marge Piercy, Nancy Willard, Keith Waldrop, X. J. Kennedy, Patricia Hooper, Lawrence Joseph, Jane Kenyon, and others. Donald himself was interviewed for this book by Barbara Tierney of the University of Central Florida. In December, the book was named winner of the 2018 Gail O’Day Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry.


Tina Bennett-Kastor ’73 “The past year has brought both life and death, travel and travails, joy and despair. Two new grandsons arrived, but my husband passed away in February of complications from Myelodysplastic Syndrome, and a week later my younger big-hearted nephew died, suffering, literally, from an enlarged heart. We rode the train to Southern California, flew by plane to New Orleans—wasn’t that Roger Stone sitting at the end of the bar at NOLA?— and drove our new Subaru to Wisconsin and Illinois, where in Chicago we saw Stacy Keach play Papa in the one-man show, Pamplona, at Theatre Goodman. We flew from Wichita, headed for Dublin, but instead ended up in the hospital ER back in Chicago. Trump continues his Reign of Error. I have returned to painting and singing, sometimes simultaneously, and am reluctantly learning to walk the ways of widowhood. Soon I will meet my middle daughter, her daughter, and my 90-plus-year-old mother for our annual four-generations’ reunion in Palm Springs. Life does go on, as ever.”  E

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Class Notes A

by her company, Nancy Karp + Dancers, have included On Beauty, a site-specific dance work created and designed for the David Brower Center in Berkeley, CA. Inspired by the Douglas R. Tompkins exhibition honoring the life and work of the late-conservationist Doug Tompkins, with music by long-time collaborator-composer Charles Amirkhanian. Memory/Place, the full-evening work, premiered in San Francisco in 2017, with commissioned music by Kui Dong and Robert Honstein. There’s also a limited edition publication of Memory/Place dance scores from this work. Upcoming projects include a site work for BAMPFA (Berkeley Art Museum, Pacific Film Archives) in December 2019, and a new full-evening work for the dance company in February 2020 in San Francisco (titles and premiere dates TBA).  A Tim Owens ’74, Edward Henderson ’73, and Steve Galloway ’73  B


Megan Anderson Bohigian ’73 shares that her second collection of poems, Vanishing Point, was recently published by The Orchard Street Press, Ltd. In the words of the award-winning poet Corrinne Clegg Hales, “This is an extraordinary new collection by a poet who has mastered her craft and who speaks of life in this world with precision, grace, and often startling clarity.” The poet and editor Christopher Buckley has written of Megan, “She knows the names of things and their music. These poems are full of care, keen attention, and hard-won understanding––line by line, Vanishing Point offers a song and wish for our lives.” Books can be purchased, signed, from the author, or from The Orchard Street Press. Her work has been widely published in journals and anthologized. Her first poetry collection, Sightlines, published in 2013, by Tourane Poetry Press, is available on Amazon. Nancy Karp ’73 says she’s divided her time between the San Francisco Bay Area and Sicily for the past 10 years. Recent projects


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Penney Peirce ’73 checks in: “My degree in Social Design evolved into an interest in intuition development, metaphysics, and the dynamics of consciousness and personal transformation. It seemed to me that design principles and thinking applied to our inner life as well as to societal problem-solving. In the San Francisco Bay Area, I worked with the Center for Applied Intuition and The Intuition Network, and taught at various institutes and graduate programs in consciousness. I worked in Japan annually for more than 20 years, leading trainings and private intuitive readings for both the public and business executives. Similarly, I traveled widely around the country and the world, from South Africa to Portugal to Norway, speaking at conferences like IONS, leading spiritual tours to Egypt and Peru, and doing trainings for a variety C of companies. In 2013, I moved from Marin County to Florida to help my mother, whose health was failing. Since 1997, I’ve written 10 mainstream nonfiction books— among them are The Intuitive Way, The Present Moment, Be the Dreamer Not the Dream, Dream Dictionary for Dummies, Frequency, Leap of Perception, and the latest, released in 2018, is Transparency: Seeing Through to Our Expanded Human Capacity. Several of my books have won awards for Best Alternative Science and Spirituality Book, best book in Science and Cosmology, and best Visionary Book of the Year. I continue to work individually with clients and have a number of writing projects waiting to land. I am also working with a group in NYC to create a company and experiential space based on the material in my book, Frequency: The Power of Personal Vibration.”

Mira Schor ’73 is a recipient of the 2019 Women’s Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award for her work as a feminist painter, art historian, and critic. In 2017 she was elected to the National Academy of Design. In May 2018 a solo presentation of her work from the late ’80s and early ’90s was featured in the Spotlight Section of Frieze New York 2018. In April 2019, she will exhibit work from her 1973 CalArts MFA show at Lyles & King Gallery in NYC in Mira Schor: California Paintings 1971–1973. Schor has written about her experiences at CalArts and the CalArts Feminist Art Program in the light of what she learned about art, art education, and rare moments of freedom and radicalism, in her books Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture; and A Decade of Negative Thinking: Essays on Art, Politics, and Daily Life. Schor and fellow CalArts MFA and FAP friend and colleague, Faith Wilding ’73, recently held a conversation at MAD in New York City. Schor is Associate Teaching Professor at Parsons Fine Arts.  C Alan Toy ’73 “I recently presented on Designing for Diversity at the 2019 World IA Day in Los Angeles, so I am feeling very up-to-the-minute and groovy for an ‘old fart.’ But mostly I am delightfully retired and spend much of my time growing vegetables, working my way through The New York Times Cookbook, and traveling, while I live off of my SAG pension and residuals from M*A*S*H, The Aviator, and 20 years of other film and TV acting credits.” Laurie Raskin ’74, MFA ’83 informs us about her recent work, including a solo show at Skidmore Contemporary Arts in Santa Monica that ran from February to

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Class Notes A

March in 2019, a solo show at Paris Gallerie 55Bellechasse in May 2018, a three-woman show at Rachel Kline Arts Las Vegas in Summer 2018, the Designer Carpet Line Belgium Tiger Lily Rugs, a two-page feature in Paris Match in October 2017 on the rug collaboration, and features in various galleries and art fairs, as well as various collections and magazines internationally. Brian Bailey ’75 writes, “I have been working on a personal photo history of my days at CalArts. During the last 20 some-odd years, I have been sorting and compiling images I made during my time at the Institute, starting from when I arrived in 1971 as a junior in the design school to when I left at the end of the 1988 school year as a technical faculty member in the film school. It is currently in the form of three photo books containing almost 700 photos. If it is ever published, it will be in very limited release.”  A Devo Cutler-Rubenstein ’75 tells us of his interactive Viola Spolin Peace Bench Dedication Tea. “In reaction to the pink wall down the street (which is all about selfies), I wanted to create a space that was all about community and ‘us,’ so I claimed a 20' x 10' space and made a public garden with flags made from kids’ drawings answering the question, ‘What does peace mean to you?’ I then invited folks to create this gigantic necklace that we all made together, with huge beads, and hung in the space with trunks as peace benches. Improvisers, comics, and spoken word, with an art table and


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yoga meditation—Catered food and lots of donated time—it was super fun and a lovely day of art and sharing and food!” Michael Pliskin ’75 “One of my photographs, Coronado Chrome, was selected for the Street Shooting Around the World exhibition at the Los Angeles Center of photography. It was one of 40 photographs selected from more than 700 submissions from all over the world. Also, I taught Photoshop classes in March at the Moviola Education Center in Burbank, and taught Adobe Lightroom at the Creative Photo Academy in Torrance in March, and the Los Angeles Center of Photography in April.

to important contemporary works. Last June, he and the Philharmonic gave the Northwest premiere of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s final composition, The Ecclesiastical Action. Adam is particularly devoted to presenting works by neglected 20th-century women. Recent and upcoming concerts include local and US premieres of music by Ruth Gipps, Elsa Barraine, Helvi Leiviskä, and Grazyna Bacewicz. “I am perpetually grateful to CalArts and my dear late teacher, Gerhard Samuel, for encouraging and nurturing a musical outlook that isn’t nearly so much about style and period as it is about quality and expressive sincerity.”  B Durinda Wood ’75 was recently interviewed for the Star Trek podcast Earl Grey for Trek FM. She discusses her career and design of costumes for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Dan Barber ’76 “In 2016, I retired after 34 years at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where I worked as a mechanical technician. Since then I have used my metal working skills to make some fun sheet metal sculptures.”  C


Adam Stern ’75, MFA ’77 (pictured with legendary Police drummer Stewart Copeland, left) is happily maintaining a busy conducting schedule in Seattle. As Music Director of the Seattle Philharmonic, he continues to program the widest possible variety of music, from time-honored classics

Ben Garfinkle ’76 writes, “I’m continuing my photographic journey while running my 95-year-old family business manufacturing signs and store fixtures for the supermarket industry. Along the way, I’ve received more than 60 patents for a wide range of products. Last year I submitted photographs that were accepted by four juried shows: two at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel and two at the Viewpoint Photographic

Art Center in Sacramento. I received one second place award and two honorable mentions. I was recently selected for another show in April at Viewpoint. I am currently serving as President of The Foundation for Photographic Preservation (FfPP) a nonprofit founded by my CalArts mentor, Al Weber, who passed away in 2016. In 1975, Al became one of the first visiting instructors in the rejuvenated photography program, then part of the Design Department. FfPP is dedicated to helping photographers find the right path for their archive in order to preserve it for future generations. The fundamentals of how to accomplish this readily applies to all the visual arts. Check out the website at I’d like to hear from my CalArts classmates.” Gar LaSalle ’76 says, “After semiretiring from my 40-year clinical and administrative career in emergency medicine, I began writing again. Pleased to note that my first novel, Widow Walk, published in 2013, was recently optioned for a TV production; it’s the ‘#1 best seller’ in Northwest fictional literature, and in the top 0.5 percent of all paid US Kindle sales. Books II (Isthmus) and III (The Fairness of Beasts) in the five-part saga continue the story of the protagonist and her family. Currently, I am completing the series pilot’s screenplay and bundle for presentation to distributors. Very happy to re-establish my friendship with Barbara Halperin at Gersh; maintain my friendship with Sergei Tschernisch, Kate Purwin, and Tom Polizzi; and also to be working again with John Mandel, this time on his second novel.” Pat Ward ’76 “Through the miracle of science (orthopedic surgery), I was able to have a successful dance career, even though my CalArts advisers had, at one point, suggested I go into costume design! One knee surgery later, however, and I was in Las Vegas, dancing at the MGM Hotel (now Bally’s) in Hallelujah Hollywood. I thought it would be relatively simple choreography and easier on my knee—ha! Nothing like dancing 13 shows a week and running up and down C

a million flights of stairs from the dressing room to the stage to wear out the joints (and polish your performance skills)! I went on to dance for 12 more years or so in shows in Mexico, Paris (Lido de Paris), London, LA, and New York. Lots of television in both Europe and the States with the highlight being the Opening Ceremonies of the Statue of Liberty in 1986, which starred all the major stars of the day—Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli, Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley MacLaine, etc. I rarely auditioned and was just called by choreographers and consider myself very, very lucky to have been a dancer and to have had the opportunity to live all over the world doing what I loved. Did need 5 knee surgeries, however, including a total knee replacement a few years back. I moved back to California (Carmel-by-the-Sea) from NYC in 1992, and have been a real estate agent for 20 years. Still kicking up my heels, however, dancing with an incredible choreographer in Santa Cruz, Joy Smith, and having a ball … even if I am 30 years older than everyone else!”


Gregg Barbanell ’77 has won two Golden Reel Awards at the 66th Annual Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards held last February. In the Animation Short Form category, Gregg won for his work on Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch Reunion. In the Computer Cinematic category he won for his work on Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. Gregg has received 29 career MPSE Golden Reel nominations with 9 wins. He has also received 10 career Emmy nominations with one win.  D Gary Chang ’77 has won 14 awards and has screened in 46 film festivals internationally with his abstract animated film, Hallowstide (2018), created by Chang and Stephen Socki ’80. Current film festivals include the Ann Arbor Film Festival and the CineKasimanwa in the Phillipines. Fiona Kelley ’77 “I’m still happily in private practice as a doctor of Oriental Medicine in Nevada and an active member of

Acupuncturists Without Borders (for international humanitarian work). I am an active supporter of Contemporary West Dance Theater here in Las Vegas under the guidance of Bernard Gaddis.” Richard Green ’78 says, “I’m happy and proud to announce that we raised more than $290,000 on Kickstarter for the feature documentary, I Know Catherine, The Log Lady. The film celebrates Catherine Coulson, a world-class theater actress with 22 seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She’s one of the first women in the camera union (Eraserhead, Killing of A Chinese Bookie, StarTrek II: The Wrath of Khan), and is a cult icon in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. We have finished interviews and are now in post-production. Thanks to all CalArts alumni, students, and faculty that contributed. It promises to be a very interesting film.” Roger Holzberg ’78 “In addition to running Reimagine Well, I am honored to be back at CalArts as a professor, teaching the Healthcare By Design class with Shannon Scrofano for the new Experience Design track. This multidisciplinary class has students from the dance, animation, film, music, and theater schools, and will deliver a patient-experience pilot for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in May for pediatric and adolescent patients in chemotherapy infusion. I have tapped several of my former Imagineering colleagues as guest lecturers, including Joe Lanzisero ’78, Joe Garlington ’77, as well as Martin Casella ’78.” L. Martina Young, Ph.D. ’78 reports that she premiered Black Swans, an opera poem: An International Collaboration and Conversation in October 2018 (USA/Reno). She is currently


developing an Australia-based creative team of indigenous, nonindigenous, aboriginal and nonaboriginal artists to reimagine and perform the work. It will be shown at the 2021 opening of the National Museum of Australia’s Black Swan Gallery. Young will present an artist talk, The Mythopoetic Image and Poetic Perception, at the 2019 BOLD II Festival at the National Library of Australia in Canberra ACT, Australia.  E

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Class Notes A

Edward Done ’79 writes, “This is a side note to talk about a sideways direction. I studied at CalArts as a dancer and lighting designer. I’ve since switched to a career in filmmaking and have been making films for 30 years. Now I am exploring the world of sculpture and functional art, working with cocreator Andrew Patch. We have created some fun items. I do believe my two years at CalArts gave me the foundation to continue to explore.”  A John Squier ’79 “Shout out to Jett Jackson ’80 for unwittingly helping to make me a ‘graffiti artist’ in NYC in the ’80s. Also to Davey Crockett Feiten ’79 for inspiring the Collinsville Halloween parade—25 years running.”

Eighties Lisa Popeil ’80 shares, “Greetings! I’ll be touring with ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic on his big 2019 summer tour called Strings Attached. It’ll be a 64-city tour of the US and Canada, and each show will have a full orchestra. I’ll be singing back-up and experiencing the realities of the rock ’n ’ roll lifestyle!” Dana Berman Duff ’81 writes, “In January, I mounted an 8-channel video and sculpture installation at Aspect/Ratio in Chicago—a collaboration with my best friend of 35 years, Sabina Ott—entitled What Does She See When She Shuts Her Eyes. Sabina passed away from cancer six months into our year-long collaboration and I finished the work with the spirit of Sabina in the studio. The exhibition culminated with performances and a group C


CalArts Alumni Magazine

discussion of ‘The Dear Friend’ with writers and artists whom Sabina had affected—and there are many. She was called “the art mother of Chicago” by the Chicago Tribune in 2015, when she was named “Chicagoan of the Year in Art” and won a Guggenheim Fellowship. Documentation of the show can be seen on my website. The installation will be mounted in Scotland at Alchemy Film Festival in May 2019, and we are currently looking for a venue in Los Angeles where Sabina grew up and still has many friends.” Richard Mann ’81 “CalArts’s silent auction, a fund-raising campaign to benefit the CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP), was conducted at Susan Disney Lord’s Bel-Air restaurant in January 2019. Art was donated by various CalArts alumni. Our Rollercoaster-Art donation is titled, Life Is Like A Ride In The Park. The concept of this multicompilated image is that of living notables who have overcome hardships and adversities in their lives, yet succeeded to carry on in light of their difficult situations. The winning bid was $1,000.”  B Eric Post ’81 “I’m celebrating 20 years of my show in Vegas—the longest running show in town—called Marriage Can Be Murder. Two years in a row voted best show in Southern NV.”

Arlington County Bozman Government Center. During the reception the ART bus will come by for a slightly prolonged stop. This provides a rare opportunity to see the artwork displayed on the bus. The installation will be aboard one ART Bus from March 14, 2019 through summer 2020.  C Dave Bossert ’83 In 2014, while working on a Beauty and the Beast iPad App project at Disney, Bossert came up with a concept to repurpose the left and right eye images from the 3-D conversion of the animated classic. The idea was to blend between the left and right eye images using the iPad’s built-in gyroscope to create a 3-D effect without having to wear the 3-D glasses. Disney colleagues at the time—Bryan Whited and Lewis Segal—wrote the algorithm that made it possible, building off some code developed by Robert Neuman. The United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded a patent in November 2018 to Bossert and his colleagues, through Disney, for the invention now known as Parallax Based Monoscopic Rendering. Rob Bekuhrs ’83 has departed from the board and presidency of ASIFA Portland after 8 years. He’s worked for the last 7 years directing and animating, and humbling

Gail Rebhan ’81 tells us, “I’m very happy with my new public art project with Arlington County, Virginia, called Immigration/ Assimilation. I collected immigration/assimilation stories from six Arlington residents. My artwork features recent immigrants, a family that immigrated from England in the 1600s, a Jewish family escaping European anti-Semitism in the 1930s, and an AfricanAmerican family that has lived in Arlington since the Civil War. In this project, my goal is to convey a message of tolerance and promote understanding. The exhibit is part of Arlington Arts’s Art on the ART Bus program. The artwork has two components: an installation of 13 panels on an Arlington Public Transit bus and a display at the B

himself among the talent at SuperGenius Studios in Oregon City. His rubber-stamp short Stamp Out Animation! recently played as the opener for the Center for Book Arts print/animation exhibition in NYC. Last year he presented (to a crowd of a dozen or so in a rainy tent at a Portland film festival) about his 35+ year career in traditional/vfx/stopMo film, and TV attraction and game animation at Disney, Laika, DoubleNeg, Bagdessarian, Kroyer, and other studios. “That was a treat, actually,” says Bekuhrs. “Nice to know that’s been done.” He’s now steeply inclined to continue the character and narrative voice work that he initially cultivated at CalArts so many years ago. “Truly, vigorously, memorably: Viva 1983, a great year for CalArts Animation!” Adriane Jach ’83 says, “I recently completed a comprehensive certificate program in The Art of Death Midwifery from the Institute for Conscious Dying and Family-Directed Funerals. I plan to proselytize the options we have at end of life to the community at-large. This is my evangelical calling as part of the Positive Death Movement.” Fred Cline ’84 is a storyboard artist at Wild Canary Animation for Disney Jr. —shows such as Miles From Tomorrowland, Puppy Dog Pals, and Sheriff Callie’s Wild West. He also teaches design/color fundamentals and character design at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts/Chapman University in Orange, CA. Alexis Krasilovsky ’84 conducted a five-day workshop on screenplay adaptation at the International Academy of Film and Media in Dhaka, Bangladesh, based on

her book, Great Adaptations: Screenwriting and Global Storytelling, and served as one of two American delegates at the Dhaka International Film Festival. She also authored Sex and the Cyborg Goddess under the pseudonym Alexis Rafael, Fall 2017. Brian Evans ’84 updates: “Now happily retired from being a digital media artist/ composer and Professor Emeritus from the University of Alabama (Department of Art and Art History), I’m currently living in the Pacific Northwest exploring the compositional complexities and nuanced jazz intricacies of the tenor ukulele.”


Christian Lukather ’84 writes to say, “Greetings! I recently wrote a book on midcentury ranch homes in the San Fernando Valley. The book is titled: A Birdhouse in Paradise: William Mellenthin and the San Fernando Valley Ranch Homes.” Cynthia Pepper ’84 “I wrote and directed a 30-minute tween film called PIXIE & Dust, which I’m using to teach creativity and innovative thinking classes. My day job: teaching dance in the public elementary schools of San Francisco.”  E Linda Tadic ’84 touches base: “After graduating, I continued playing harpsichord and making experimental films, but it’s hard to make a living doing either of those activities, so I eventually found my career path from my other main activity at CalArts: working in libraries and archives. I’ve spent more than 30 years leading various audiovisual and digital archive organizations and initiatives, eventually founding my own company, Digital Bedrock, that offers managed digital E

preservation services. We’ve preserved Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh’s films; a studio’s high-value episodic content; works by independent producers; collections held at museums, archives, and distributors; and even digital archives from the CalArts Library, where I first received training as a student-worker cataloger back in the early 1980s! Life comes full circle. I’m also teaching as an Adjunct Professor at UCLA; and while in New York, I taught at NYU. On a personal note, I have a wonderful 25-year-old son. And after 20 years in exile—living in Berkeley; Athens, GA; and New York—I finally came home to LA for good in 2011. After all these years, degrees, and professional experiences, I still say that the best education I received was in Michael Asher’s epic seminars. That’s where I learned how to think.” Michael Buckley ’85 During the ’80s, with his actor/producer parents, Michael Buckley founded the American Historical Theatre in Philadelphia, bringing interactive history-based characters to life in theaters and nontraditional performance spaces across the nation. For the past 25 years, Michael has produced and hosted The Sunday Brunch on 103.1 WRNR-FM Annapolis/Baltimore/DC, a unique radio show that is home to multiple musical genres. The innovative radio show offers a thoughtful blend of deep cuts, atmospheric soundscapes, and a balance of new and classic musical selections, plus arts and cultural interviews. The show also features the acclaimed oral history interview series, Voices of the Chesapeake—nearly 20 years running—and 750 interviews with folks from the 6-state 64,000-square mile watershed. Buckley authored a 400-page book of the same name, a CD called Songs of the Chesapeake Bay (featuring three Grammy Award-winners), and a series of voices gallery exhibitions. Buckley produces an annual Riverfront Concert Series at Washington College in historic Chestertown, Maryland, where he also teaches students to shatter the proverbial fourth wall—to knock on doors and record the stories of the people they meet in oral history interviews for archival preservation and web presentations from the college’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.  D Jeanette May ’85 will have a solo exhibition of her Tech Vanitas photography series at Alter Gallery in Shanghai, China, June 1–30.

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Class Notes

May’s photographs embrace our anxiety over new technology and love for beautifully designed, obsolete machines. Her still-life photos reference 17th century Dutch vanitas paintings and their air of craft guilds, international trade, and personal wealth. At the same time, the carefully disheveled compo-



sitions of sleek objects allude to product photography and advertising imagery. The sheer quantity of gadgets collected suggests mass production, waste, recycling, and the passing of time. Finally, these photos reflect our nostalgia for old technology and yearning for the latest, must-have, enchanted objects.   A

William McGuigan ’85 writes, “I’m teaching a class at Stockton University called Technology & Science in Communication. Was hoping to work with Michael Scroggins ’75, MFA ’87 to save a piece of video history, the Wobbulator! Always thinking of how important CalArts is and what is possible! Thanks.” Amy Vuckovich ’85 “Back at set design for season 3 of The Fix!” Melissa Berger Brennan ’86 is celebrating 17 years this May as a talent agent at CESD. She holds two positions: Talent Agent for Film/TV/Theatre and Vice President of Youth Voiceover. Married to William Martin Brennan ’86. Michael McDonough ’86 “During last issue’s Class Notes, my writing partner David Nathan Schwartz and I had just completed our screenplay, O’Malley’s Critter Control. I am happy to report that the script has been doing well in screenplay competitions such as the Fade In Awards, Emerging Writers Awards, and Screencraft’s Family Screenplay Competition. We have also acquired a literary agent, Liz Raci, at Bicoastal Talent Agency. We just finished a new script titled A Girl Like That, about the misadventures of a young man who confuses beauty for love and his quest for the ‘perfect woman.’ Currently, we’re working on a script called The Detail Guys, about two broke adventurers who are mistakenly hired for assassins, but instead of killing, they improve the health/lives of two old guys until the real assassins show up. Wish us luck.”


CalArts Alumni Magazine

Lynn Norton (Hammill) ’86 says, “I have been working for the past four years at the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund. We’re a nonprofit organization that distributes royalties from internet, digital, and satellite radio to nonfeatured musicians. I love being able to use my knowledge of musicians and music to find musicians who are owed money.”  B Douglas Rushkoff ’86 writes, “My new book, Team Human, launched in January 2019. I’ve never written to everyone in my address book before, but this is by far the most important publication of my career: a manifesto arguing for human dignity and prosperity in a digital age. Autonomous technologies, runaway markets, and weaponized media seem to have overturned civil society, paralyzing our ability to think constructively, connect meaningfully, or act purposefully. Yet the root causes for our collective disempowerment are based on some very old, false ideas about competition, individuality, scarcity, and progress. We needn’t embed these values in the digital landscape of tomorrow. They are obsolete. We must stop optimizing human beings for technology, and start optimizing technology for us. It’s time we reassert the human agenda. And we must do so together, not as individual players, but as the team we actually are. Team Human. I would be grateful if you purchase this book, which also supports the Team Human podcast.” C

Morgan Rusler ’86 “I—and fellow CalArts alum Beth Kennedy ’91—held a staged reading of A Julius Weezer Teaser with the Troubadour Theater Company in March, at the El Portal Theater in North Hollywood. The full production of Julius Weezer will go up at the El Portal in May.” Two Troubies do mash-ups of Shakespeare and pop music (Fleetwood Macbeth, All’s Kool That Ends Kool, The Comedy of Aerosmith, Much a Doobie Brothers About Nothing, As U2 Like It, Romeo Hall and Juliet Oates, 12th Dog Night, etc.) as well as mash-up Christmas shows (A Christmas Carole King, It’s a Stevie Wonderful Life, The First Jo-el, etc.).  C Cynthia Blackstone ’87 reminds us, “‘Be who you are and say what you feel, those that matter don’t mind and those that mind don’t matter.’ —Dr. Seuss” Nancy Floyd ’87 In 2018, Nancy Floyd received an Aaron Siskind Photography Fellowship and was a finalist for The Print Center’s 93rd Annual International Competition and the Hopper Prize. In July, her 37-year self-portrait series, Weathering Time, will open at the Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, OR.  D Rich Goodhart ’87 For more than 20 years, Rich has been on the seasonal Core Faculty at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, serving as Qigong & Taiji teacher and musician, as well as shamanic sound healing practitioner, in residence. This past spring, he led his second Sound Medicine Expansive retreat weekend there. His seventh and most recent album of multicultural world music and shamanic sound medicine meditations is titled Forest River Pathway, and is his second double-CD album in a row. (“You know, extended classic-style ‘concept album’ now that very few people are buying albums anymore!”) Patti Preiss-Harris ’87 writes, “2018 was a rough year for me. In August, I was diagnosed with breast cancer that metastasized to the liver. After months of difficulty, pain, and a week-long hospitalization, I am E coming back to life. Using a combination of chemotherapy and alternative plants, teas, and flowers, I’ve reduced my tumor by 80 percent. Although my cancer is considered incurable, I am now able to live a normal life teaching, performing, walking the dogs, and being with friends. I am grateful—and thanks, CalArts, for all your inspiration!”  E Julian David Stone ’87 released a new coffee table book, No Cameras Allowed: My Career as an Outlaw Rock and Roll photographer, which tells the story, in words and photos, of how Stone amassed an incredible archive of more than 10,000 rock and roll photos


by sneaking his equipment into concerts. Starting by simply stashing a camera in his socks, then taping equipment all over his body, to finally customizing a jacket to hide equipment from security guards, he shot dozens of the greatest acts—Prince, U2, the Police, David Bowie, R.E.M., the Ramones, Elvis Costello, the Talking Heads, the Grateful Dead, Joan Jett, and many, many more—all from the unique vantage point of the audience, capturing exactly what the fans were seeing and the way the band meant the

show to be seen. Culled from this incredible, never-before-seen archive, No Cameras Allowed contains more than 250 of his best photos, along with stories of some of the craziest adventures he had evading oversized roadies, aggressive security, and more than a few drunken fans. Peter Duschenes ’88 As cofounder and artistic director of Platypus Theatre, Peter Duschenes has been lauded for his innovation in presenting symphonic music to young audiences. For nearly 30 years, his ability to bring the F concert stage to life by combining theater and music has led to commissions with orchestras from coast to coast. An award-winning playwright, Peter’s writing credits include all eight of Platypus’s symphony plays, the television adaptation of How the Gimquat Found Her Song (winner Best Children’s Program at the 2008 Banff World Television Festival), and the one-act play, Lost River (winner of Theatre BC’s Canadian National Playwriting competition). As an actor, Peter has worked with companies across Canada and the United States. Among his favorite stage roles are Richard in Shakespeare’s Richard II for Quantum Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA, and Louis Ironson in Angels In America at the Centaur Theatre in Montreal. Peter lives in Ottawa with his wife, Sarah, and their two children, Magda and Theo. Joanne Giannino ’88 checks in: “Since graduating from the School of Art with a focus on visual and performance art and writing, I have worked as a reporter and editor (per advice of Norman Klein) for 3 years (not 10 years, as

advised). I received a Master’s in Education in expressive arts therapies, which allowed me to work as an expressive arts therapist in a psychiatric day treatment center and as adjunct faculty at Lesley College graduate school, teaching the thesis writing seminar. I also published a poetry chapbook, JourneyWoman, with a Massachusetts Cultural Council arts grant. I’ve found myself attracted to the Unitarian Universalist faith tradition, and became a religious educator in a local congregation. I published a curriculum, Meetings at the Moon: a six-week spiritual journey for pre-teen girls. Further, I received an M. Div., was ordained as a Unitarian Universalist minister, served four congregations (in Boston; Flagstaff, AZ; and Urbana, IL), got married, raised two boys, and became a grandmother to a smart and beautiful granddaughter. Currently, I am set up in Westmore, VT, on Willoughby Lake in the ‘Northeast Kingdom’ writing poetry, preaching occasionally, and finding ways to make a difference while awaiting the next adventure. Would love to hear from others.”   F

Loch Phillips ’88 After filming for more than 2 years, Loch has begun post production on his feature documentary about the rust belt city of Utica, NY. Utica—The Last Refuge (working title) provides an intimate portrait of a city and the refugees it has welcomed for the past 30 years. Having lost nearly half its population, Utica is now a showcase for postindustrial renewal, rebuilding itself with refugees from Bosnia, South Asia, and Africa, that now comprise 25 percent of the population. This story of community building flies in the face of most of the current talk about immigration in the United States. Todd Licea ’89 is currently playing Ed Boone in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime at Florida Studio Theatre, Sarasota, Florida.

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Class Notes

David Fain ’92 is currently working as an Animatic Editor for the animated series, The Rocketeer, to eventually air on Disney JR. The Rocketeer “follows Kit, a young girl who receives a surprise package on her birthday revealing that she’s next in line to become the Rocketeer, a legendary superhero who has the ability to fly with the help of a rocket-powered jet pack. Armed with her cool new gear and secret identity, Kit is ready to take flight and save the day with her gadget-minded best friend, Tesh, and airplane-mechanic uncle, Ambrose, who join her on epic adventures.” This is a reboot of the Disney live-action film produced back in the 1990s, based on the Dave Stevens comic book of the same name. A

Michael Darmody ’89 informs us: “The latest version of Right-of-Way (a temporary art installation consisting of a line of preliminary centerline survey stakes, bisecting civic or public lands, running due north-south, after ownership rights have been determined and permits obtained) has been approved for Santa Fe’s Railyard Park this coming spring.”

until September! Please visit this wonderful museum.”

Jacqueline Wright ’92 writes, “My play, Driving Wilde, will have its world premiere in Los Angeles. Produced by Theater Of Note, it opens August 16. Driving Wilde is a postmodern reimagining of The Picture of Dorian Gray.”  C

Nineties Jenifer Anisman ’90 is working as a real estate lawyer and commercial litigator in the greater Los Angeles area. Ms. Anisman continues to enjoy playing piano, writing music, and creating art with her 14-year-old musical daughter. She also remains in awe of her incredibly talented 22-year-old, two-time CSSSA-attending daughter, who left a full scholarship at CalState LA to become a bohemian. Robin Cottle ’90 had a recent feature in the LA Times about her Marmol Radziner jewelry. Marianne Thallaug Wedset ’90 says, “My life is filled with light, weather, nature, opera, challenges, new deals, and good people!”  A Jim Byrkit ’91 recently traveled to China with fellow CalArtian Hugo Armstrong ’98 for screenings of their film, Coherence, which has gained cult status in China for its independent spirit and narrative B complexity. The film is currently being remade in India, where it is enjoying similar success. It was directed by Byrkit, from a story written by him and Armstrong (photo by CalArts graduate Peter Konerko ’97).  B Barbara Carrasco ’91 writes, “So happy to share my portable mural with everyone at the Natural History Museum—on display for more than a year now. It will be exhibited


CalArts Alumni Magazine

Marc Ratner ’92 is back in Switzerland, undergoing treatments for a long-standing illness. The creator of “Cal the Artian” and the UC Santa Cruz “Banana Slug,” among other memorable characters, Marc hopes to return beefy, strong, and flexible—like Miley Cyrus’s tongue. Check out his art, posted daily on Instagram, @CaricatoonsStudio.


Patricia Galvis Assmus ’91 says she’s “still leading a busy/fun/productive/ questioning life. Currently working on a 360° stop-motion animation and investigating VR accessibility issues. “I’m now a full professor at UMass Amherst, teaching Animation in the art department. I am also director for the academic Information Technology Program in the College of Information & Computer Sciences, so, I live in two worlds on one campus. Always challenging, always interesting. How technology driven can/should art get? How artistic can technology get?”


Bradley Hughes ’91 is the founder and director of the School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media at Academy of Art University in San Francisco.  D

Paul Livingstone ’93, MFA ’97 is a sitarist, composer, educator, and activist who’s had a seven-concert tour in Pakistan last year as well as performances in Mexico, Argentina, and Chile. He plays regularly around Los Angeles, and teaches world music at GCC as well as in his home studio. Paul has diversified his palette of strings to include upright bass, on which he performs South Asian ragas, jazz, and Latin music. He has played on two Grammy Award records with LA’s iconic Ozomatli and Ricky Kej from Bangalore, India. Paul founded the Soul Force Project, a multimedia musical journey celebrating the relevance of nonviolent action with his ensemble Arohi, including fellow CalArtians Pedro Eustache MFA ’91 and Peter Jacobson ’05. Soul Force presented an interfaith, zero waste, climate-conscious, world music festival in Pasadena this past April. Janice Margolis ’93 writes that after receiving her MFA in film from CalArts, she was an assistant professor of film at the University of Texas in Austin, and became the artistic director and choreographer of Semaphore Dancetheatre. As a choreographer, she was awarded a Massachusetts Artists Foundation grant, and her work was reviewed in The New York Times, Dance Magazine, and The Boston Globe, as well as presented or commissioned by Harvard University’s Fogg Art Museum and Boston University. Her screenplay, Charlotte, is a regional winner of Creative Europe and has been awarded an Irish Film Board Grant. Her short story collection, Termination Shocks,

Eugene Vlassis ’95 writes, “I earned my Practical Nursing certificate at Fort Bliss and served in the US Army for 6 years. I have been a nurse for 11 years. Recently, I H returned to college for a bachelor’s degree in software engineering. I would like to work for the government when I graduate. I still play cello repertoire for myself, or sing it in my head (except for the music learned at CalArts. LOL!)”  H

won the 2018 Juniper Prize for Fiction. Her short story, “21 Days,” was runner-up in the Mountain West Writers’ Contest and published in Western Humanities Review. She is also an AFI Film Finalist, has four films in development, has recently completed a play called God’s Green Earth, and has finished her first novel, World Full of Noise. James and Penny (Pehl) Moore MFA ’93 & MFA’04 write that they are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of running their boutique graphic design studio, Tenderling Design, in Austin, Texas. E



Marion Garver ’95 has been furthering her interest in low-register flutes with three solo concerts in San Diego this year. She’s also forming the San Diego Flute Orchestra—The Santa Ana Winds—with flutist Elena Yarritu and composer Chikako Iverson.  F Barry Morse ’93 modeled for Steven Hull’s ’97 painting for his show Our Little Chapel by the Lake: the transformation of Jesus Christ, exhibited March 23–May 25 at Meliksetian and Briggs.  E Yvonne Papanek ’93 checks in: “Since graduating from the School of Dance, I traveled to Japan and France, where I continued to study dance and develop an authentic style of AgitProp performance art. Last year, in November, I made a site-specific dance in Culver City near the Platform. We danced on September 21, 2018—World Peace Day—wearing white and holding peace flags, complementing the world calendar with images of love, light, and peace, to hold the idea of peace strong in the peoples’ mind’s eye. For my next project, I’m making a service team that will teach dance to underserved communities. The community will NOT pay for the classes. It’s called Yogi Civilian Service Team dancers. Om. Dance is, like art, an expression of freedom. Thank you for sharing.”

Rachel Schreiber ’95 , most recently Provost and Senior Vice President at San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), has been appointed Executive Dean of The New School’s Parsons School of Design, one of the world’s leading art and design schools, effective July 1, 2019. As Executive Dean, Schreiber will serve as Parsons’ principal academic and strategic leader, overseeing an innovative curriculum; financial growth and resource management; fundraising and partnerships; and administration and culture. Schreiber has taught design, studio arts, and interdisciplinary humanities at all levels from first year through graduate studies. She holds a Ph.D. in History from Johns Hopkins University, an MFA in Art and Critical Writing from California Institute of the Arts, and a BFA in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design. Her research explores histories of gender, labor, activism, and visual and print culture. Her visual works have been screened and exhibited internationally, and she has published two books with academic presses, numerous peer-reviewed articles, and other writing.  G

Tamlyn Wright ’95 is a partner at Silent House Productions, a boutique design firm where she has branched into the concert tour and festival world designing shows for Taylor Swift, Cardi B, Selena Gomez, H.E.R., Usher, One Direction, Ricky Martin, k.d. lang, Miley Cyrus, and Lorde. Recent music event design and creative producing include this year’s American Music Awards and Grammy Awards performances of Cardi B and H.E.R. She is still very much a part of the broadcast variety show world, designing stages for music and awards shows. Last year, she created a gameplay league environment for Overwatch at Burbank Studios. This summer she is producing and designing Ignite Equality at Caesar’s Palace, a concert and comedy benefit event for women’s charities. Most recently Tamlyn won the 2019 Parnelli Award for Best Scenic Design for Taylor Swift’s REPUTATION Stadium World Tour. Designing live events and environments that blur the lines of architecture and digital media is a passion in her current work. Denise Gillman ’97 is an Associate Professor of Directing & Dramatic Literature at Christopher Newport University (CNU) in Newport News, VA, and a member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. She coauthored a book chapter with her CNU colleague, Ann Mazzocca Bellecci, for the Oxford University Press Handbook, Shakespeare and Dance. The chapter featured her direction and collaboration with Bellecci on an Afro-Caribbean adaption of Pericles, Prince of Tyre. In support of her teaching, research, and creative activity on sciencethemed plays, she created the first annual Science Play Festival at CNU in the Trible Library Theater. The Festival presented The Children by Lucy Kirkwood, Isaac’s Eye by Lucas Hnath, and The How and The Why by Sarah Treem. Denise collaborated with Kristin Skees, CNU Studio Artist and Lecturer, on The Elegant Universe, an interdisciplinary collaborative art installation and theatrical performance of Nick Payne’s play, Constellations, that explores the mysteries of love, the multiverse, and string theory. In 2017, she launched the science play online database,, and continues to build this vital resource with her students.

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Class Notes

Megumi Nakai ’97 checks in: “It’s been more than 20 years since I graduated from CalArts. Surviving kidney cancer taught me the importance of eating well and working out, so now I’ve got my culinary license and international Sake Sommelier license. I have been working in the kitchen/service staff. The attached photos are of myself learning to make sake at Senkin Brewery in Tochigi-Prefecture, at Nanbu Bijin Brewery in Iwate-Prefecture, and serving sake dressed in our traditional Kimonos. I’m looking forward to serving you delicious sake in Tokyo next year for the 2020 Olympics.”  A Bobby Brewer-Wallin ’98 During the 2018/19 theater season, Bobby designed costumes for Dead City, directed by Jonathan Cole at Willamette University; Cop Out, directed by Kevin Jones and Damaris Webb at The August Wilson Red Door Project; Everybody, directed by Damaso Rodriguez and Jessica Wallenfels ’97; A Doll’s House Part 2, directed by Luan Schooler ’84; and The Revolutionists, directed by Lava Alapai ’00 at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, Oregon. Bobby is Professor of Theatre at Willamette University.



Ashanti Miller ’97 writes that she now works primarily in the games industry, but her passion is her self-published comic series, C HipChick Comics. She completed her second graphic novel, Superficial, in 2017 and is wrapping up a third book, Sabbatical, due later this year. “With so few hip female characters in animation nowadays, studio and game work has become merely a day job. HipChick Comics, my opus, keeps me sane.” You can find HipChick Comics online.  C


CalArts Alumni Magazine

Juliana Haubrich ’99 says, “After leaving NYC, I’ve been lucky enough to be a working Scenic Designer in Berkshire, Massachusetts for the past 10 years. I’m an Associate Artist and Resident Designer for WAM Theatre Company, and was recently accepted into the Scenic Artists Union, Local 829, NYC. I’ve designed shows for Shakespeare & Company, Berkshire Theatre Group, Dorset Theatre Festival, and Chester Theatre Company. This year, I’ll be designing shows at The Arena Theater in Washington, DC, Dallas Theatre Center, and Laguna Playhouse. I’ll also be taking a show to The Atlantic and NYC.” Etta Lilienthal ’99 “Last year, I spent an amazing month in Skagastr ö nd, Iceland, at the NES Artist Residency, where I reconnected to my painting roots, and began an inquiry into combining my light sculpture practice with my painting practice. My small watercolors and larger scale ink paintings explore the way light connects the space between the land and sky—the place humans regularly inhabit. At the core of this new work is how these connections explode out of the two-dimensional painted plane, into three-dimensional space. I have begun using sculpted paper, liquid pigments, clear filament, and light to describe multiple planes and invisible membranes. Silfurá, a new art installation at Mithun’s Threshold Gallery, allows for many angles of view. The installation can be seen from below, above, eye-level, and can inhabit the walls, floor, and hanging volume of the space. Guests are encouraged to record their own inner conversations for others to read. In this way, a shared body of emotional experiences will develop over the course of the installation. This living document will follow both the individual journey and the journey of the group as a whole.”

Todd Simon ’99 tells us his horns have been featured on the new Weezer Black LP, and in arrangements for a new UK artist named Celeste. His DJ/trumpet sets have electrified venues around Los Angeles while his #HodgePodgeLA project has joined forces with the Subsuelo crew for some magical blends of Flamenco, DJs, and live instrumentation. Todd is moving over to Camino Nuevo Charter Academy–Miramar High School in Downtown Los Angeles to pilot a new music program. Pablo Wehby ’99 “I designed an exhibition at Urbanspace gallery in Toronto for part of Canada’s Design TO week. The exhibition, entitled Urban Sensorium, explores the future of the built environment in cities through the lens of sensory experience, and deals with urban planning and climate change.”  B

Double Ohs Vincent Goudreau ’00 is continuing his work on Recordings of an Immigrant, a nonfiction narrative that inspired a multidisciplinary project, including a book compiled from transcribed audio recordings. Partially funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation and Grand Central Art Center, the work includes video/sound pieces, works on paper, and sculptural installations. This is a contemporary narrative amid the US immigration debate that confronts taboo issues and explores how we, as people, judge one another. After Goudreau’s solo exhibition at Grand Central Art Center, he is actively seeking new venues, as well as working toward the project’s multimedia e-book, audio, and Spanish versions. Arabella Proffer ’00 “I’ve recently celebrated the 17th year of Elephant Stone Records, a record label I founded with my husband, and this past December celebrated 8 years of being cancer free. In between a variety of group exhibitions, I have come off two solo shows—one of drawings in Cologne, Germany, and one of paintings in Cleveland, Ohio, during the first FRONT Triennial. I’m currently working on paintings for an upcoming solo show at Boxheart Gallery in Pittsburgh this summer, and one of my paintings made the cover of an upcoming issue of The Portland Review. In the past six years, I’ve moved away from portraiture and have been creating surreal biomorphic compositions, delving into the alchemy of oil painting and relationships to anatomy, biology, and emerging sciences.” John Churchville ’01 has worked with the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum to present the Sonic Workshop, an ongoing public program that features interactive sound exhibits, music creation technologies, and opportunities for visitors to create their own instruments. He also became a member of

the inaugural New Directions in Music Education Committee for the Michigan Music Education Association. John is also presenting with his group, Sumkali, at the Association for Popular Music Education’s National Conference in New York City. They will be presenting on the influence of Indian music and culture in the music of the Beatles. John will also be presenting with Dylan Larkins on the use of open source modular synthesizer software in music education. John presents nationwide seminars on accelerating success in elementary music programs for the Institute of Educational Development. E

Puente Theatre, directed by Mercedes BátizBenét. Fado was also named one of the Top Unproduced Latinx Plays in America in 2018, and one of the top 23 plays in Canada, on The Sure Fire List, from the Playwrights Guild of Canada.


Jonathan Thomas Miller ’02 writes, “Anthroposcenes is my new experimental album. Recorded throughout 2016–2018, the record embraces many of the ideas I’ve had about imperfect music and the joy of finding inspiration in broken materials. Travels to Alaska, Iceland, and Thailand cemented the concept of creating a soundtrack for a world in which climate change had created irreparable and irreversible damage, but reflected through a more personal and emotional lens. I began to think of what music would accompany people thinking back to a time when action could have prevented the inevitable. The result is a collection of often melancholy and challenging musical collages. It’s my homage to the planet. If this all sounds too high-concept, do not despair! The metaphors are only my own, and I want listeners to imagine their own scenes and, perhaps, to use the music to contemplate their current emotions, or just enjoy the visceral experience. Improvised performances with video coming soon.”  D

April Fletcher ’03 says, “In the past year, my creative interests have expanded into video streaming, renewable energy, and autonomous vehicles. Projected for late 2020, I will be launching a streaming channel to be an entertainment and educational resource for the performing arts with the purpose of inspiring interest and stimulating creativity. Related to the channel, but not exclusive to it, I am developing a series focusing on the history of jazz. Lastly, I’ve been inspired by EVShare, an autonomous vehicle company, to become an advocate for their cause, as well as increasing involvement in the clean air, renewable energy, and IoT spaces.” Carole Kim ’03 “Lots of news to share! 2019 began with a collaboration with pianist and former CalArts faculty member, Vicki Ray, for a performance at REDCAT in January, followed by an ongoing collaboration with multimedia performer Dohee Lee in Oakland. I am currently a year-long artist in

residence at Descanso Gardens, furthering my interest in landscape as a three-dimensional canvas for video projection. These experiments will culminate in a solo exhibition and monthly performances from July 14 to October 27 of this year. I was awarded a residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts this spring, where I will be constructing two of the installations for the exhibition at Descanso. It’s a deep dive. Come join me.”  E Goh Kurosawa ’03 writes, “I made my Cuban debut last year, and with the help of the Japanese Embassy, my shows were a part of the 120th Anniversary of Japanese Migration to Cuba celebration. 2019 began with First Night Monterey festival, followed by my February trip to St. Louis, where I received the Wilson School Achievement Award and conducted a music assembly. In April, I fly to Japan for my spring tour, which will include my first appearances in Okinawa. Next year, I perform in Hungary for the first time. Thank you always, CalArts!”  F Marco Neves ’03 “I’m an actor and the Creative Director/CoFounder of the Pasadena International Film Festival, now in its 6th year. For more information, check us out


Jesse Lee Stout ’02, MFA ’11 Since May 2018, Jesse has taken the role of Creative Director for the Grammy Award-winning British rock band MUSE. As CD he oversees and directs all visual aspects of the band’s career: albums, videos, merch, VR video games, photo shoots, and live performances. The band’s current arena and stadium tour, The Simulation Theory Tour, launched on February 22, 2019 in Houston, Texas. Elaine Avila ’03 is the 2019 Fulbright Scholar to Azores, Portugal, where she will write two new plays. Her play, Fado: the Saddest Music in the World, won Best Musical in Victoria, where it received its Canadian premiere at

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Class Notes

online. I hope to see you guys throughout the year at CalArts events!” Josh Stone ’03, MFA ’05 “Hi, Pool! Finishing up getting my teaching credential in art at Cal State Long Beach. Also, I have a solo exhibition of my watercolors of Haunted Houses in the fall, at Kopeikin Gallery in Culver City.”

project documenting the people of the Omo Valley in Ethiopia. I’ve had a few shows and was recently selected as a finalist to be shown at Photo LA at the end of the month. I’ve also self-published a book about the work. Let me know if you’d have any interest in featuring some of my photos/writing in an upcoming issue. VoyageLA published an interview with me that came out this week.” Ami Molinelli ’04 received a grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission to record an album with collaborators Rogerio Souza and Edinho Gerber from Rio, Brazil. The album, A Historia do Choro, was released in March. The album chronicles many different genres. The band Duo Violão Plus 1 toured in March and will tour again in October of 2019. The album art was designed by another CalArts alumna, Juliana Sankarin-Felix ’97. Tamar Salibian ’04 is currently a Media Studies Ph.D. candidate in the Cultural Studies program at Claremont Graduate University. Later this year, she intends to defend B her dissertation, which addresses questions of labor, surveillance, and self-commodification in reality TV and contemporary culture. In addition to her scholarly pursuits, Tamar teaches dance/ fitness classes in Los Angeles.  B


the documentary can be viewed on Amazon and iTunes. This past March, I took part in a giant group art show at Serious Topics in Los Angeles. Dreamhouse vs. Punkhouse features miniature works from nearly 200 artists, including CalArts alumnx Dave Muller, Aaron Axlerod, and Violet Hopkins.”  D Milly Sanders ’05 checks in: “Milly Sanders here, cofounder of SiniSisters Productions. I wanted to share my company’s latest horror short, Casting Couch. I was an actress, writer, and one of the producers on the project. Whoo-hoo!”  E Emery Martin ’06 and Kerstin Hovland ’12 (aka Electronic Countermeasures) just finished working on The 1975’s ABIIOR World Tour. They were the screens producing, video design, and animation team that brought to life the massive LED video surfaces, including an 80-ft.-tall wall. The show has been described as “Gobsmacking” by NME and “A Stunning Assault” by LiveDesign. It was a massive undertaking combining traditional handmade animation, computer-generated imagery, software programming, live-action video, practical special effects, photogrammetry, and

Rebecca Whitehurst ’04 enjoyed cohosting a CalArts alumni event in Austin, TX, during the zany Fusebox Festival, where she has presented performance work. Recently, she moved to Flagstaff, where she is the Assistant Professor of Practice for movement, voice, and acting at NAU. She remarks, “Still choreographing, and thanking CalArts for it!” Christine Beebe ’04 was hired in August 2018 as the Director of Non-Fiction Development for LucasFilm.


Kelly Woessner ’03 updates us: “I took my BFA from CalArts and went on to get a job in marketing for Dark Horse Comics. I’m the Digital Marketing Manager and I oversee the creation of digital assets, including directing and editing comic book trailers. I’m also a collage artist and have had several shows in Portland. My art was recently licensed for the cover of Portland Cello Project’s new album, Homage to Radiohead. You can check out my collages online.”  A Mary Cohen ’04, MFA ’07 “I’m regularly exhibiting in galleries, including Blue 7 on Pico.” Kelly Fogel ’04 says, “I love the alumni magazine and have been working on a


CalArts Alumni Magazine


Sebastian Boher ’05 has combined his experimental creative mind and his love of working with his hands to create Miwak Junior—a ceramics company that creates handmade sculptures, vases, and smoking pipes. The most recent Outsiders pipe collection features one-of-a-kind pipes painted with Sebastian’s signature weird animation. Check them out online.  C W. S. Cheng ’05 writes, “I am currently an Information Security Specialist at Cboe Global Markets. Although I work for a stock exchange company, I am trying to get back to making art these days. Easier said than done!” Nathan Meier ’05 “I have worked for the School of Film/Video at CalArts since 2008 as both Equipment Coordinator and Equipment Supervisor. During that time, I have continued making films, paintings, and drawings. My film feature, Logan’s Syndrome, was released online by Cinedigm in 2018. Centered on disabled artist Logan Madsen, E

CalArts Travel Edinburgh August 6-13, 2019 with the School of Theater

Travel Highlights: • See all three CalArts Fringe productions and meet our Fringe artists and creative team • Experience Edinburgh’s other concurrent festivals, the International Festival, Royal Military Tattoo (incl.), International Book Festival (incl.), and Art Festival • Visit to Gosford House to see one of the largest private art collections in Scotland • Scottish borders visit to Melrose Village, Priorwood Garden, and Lochcarron Mill—Scotland’s leading manufacturer of tartan • Glasgow day trip, including a bespoke experience at the National Piping Centre, Architecture tour of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Art Nouveau works, and the city’s contemporary art scene • See the historic sites of Edinburgh, including a private tour of the Scottish Parliament building and the Palace of Holyroodhouse • Private dining at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, featuring a tutored tasting of rare cask-strength whiskies To make your reservation, please contact Karolyn Heimes at or 661-222-2752.

Class Notes

more. To make it possible, they brought in a number of CalArts alums to collaborate on the project, including Meejin Hong ’12; Melody Yenn ’14; Julian Petshek ’14; Erica Larsen-Dockray ’09, MFA ’12; Tempe Hale ’14; and Oliver Franklin Anderson ’11. The show will tour worldwide throughout 2019 and hit both the Coachella and Governors Ball music festivals.  A Mark So ’06 “I composed the music for The Trip, a new short film by Eileen Myles and David Fenster. It premiered at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago and will show again at CineMarfa in May. A collection of nearly 300 scores from my Ashbery series was recently published as a box of wind by the Marfa Book Company, available at the store and through its website.” Daniel Corral ’07 “I premiered a new piece called Summits on March 20, and performed it in San Francisco on April 13. I also played my solo piece, Comma, at the MATA Festival on April 12 in New York. I’m still special faculty in composition at the CalArts School of Music. I released an album in October 2018, called Polytope.”


and UN Environment, with the support of the Amazon Aid Foundation.  B


Will Kim ’07 As an animation supervisor, Will participated in Cosmic Debris, a short documentary film directed by Patrick Waldrop about Gábor Csupó, an influential and renowned animator, Hungarian immigrant, and lifelong Frank Zappa enthusiast. The film won Best Animated Documentary at DOC LA Awards and was nominated for Best Documentary Short at Tribeca Film Festival 2018. Another feature-length documentary film Will worked on, River of Gold, directed by Reuben Aaronson, won the Best Documentary Film at ARPA International Film Festival in November 2018. The film was screened at the United Nations in Geneva in June 2018, organized with Ciné-ONU Geneva

Moro Rogers ’07 “I have been raising a toddler and working on a long, sprawling, semicoherent sci-fi satire/slob comedy graphic novel called Human Capital.”  C Florencio Zavala ’07 In February of this year, Florencio (Flo) Zavala joined Apple as a Design Director in its Culver City offices. Previously, Flo was Head of Design at Mullen Lowe, working across Acura, Whole Foods, Caesar’s Entertainment, and EVA Air. Additionally, Flo’s work is being featured in the exhibition Ding / Unding, a curated collection of artists’ books at the Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich.  D



CalArts Alumni Magazine

Timur Bekbosunov ’08 “Highlights of 2018 included my debut with Hawaii Opera Theater, a US premiere of Ton Image Charmant by Edison Denisov, the European premiere of Night of Tarantula by Kate Moore at Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam, and a special runway performance, part of LA Fashion Week. Two opera recordings have been released: Young Caesar by John Harrison with the LA Phil, and Naked Revolution by Dave Soldier. 2019 started with a sold-out recital in DC at the Embassy of France, with songs by legendary Soviet entertainers of opera and the cabaret stage. It took me two years to bring together a performance of a chamber cantata, One Body, by John Kennedy and, finally, we’ve had an extremely successful first concert performance in February. We are now developing a staged version. And just when I think I learned how to sing, life changes; last year I became a VP of Creative Affairs of the new film investment company, ACE Pictures Entertainment. I advise on strategic planning, project development, and expansion plans in the US, and overall, serve as an executive producer on films. While singing continues to have a major presence in my life, I am thrilled to be spearheading the creative vision of the company.” Nicholas Grider ’08 recently began his first professional music work, writing an orchestral reduction of an unproduced opera by a nationally known composer. He will have both experimental and “dub classical” albums done this summer, and has nearly completed training to apply to MD/Ph.D. programs (autonomic neuroscience). He’s currently working on a novel, an essay collection about social class and chronic illness, and a video/sound installation exploring gestural languages of masculinity. David Mack ’08 was recently hired as the Executive Director of Invertigo Dance Theatre, one of the leading contemporary dance companies in Los Angeles.

Joe Milazzo ’08 “In July, my chapbook, From Being Things, To Equalities In All, will be published by The Operating System. This manuscript was one of 12 chosen for The Operating System’s inaugural Monthly Digital Chapbook Series. It will also be available as a print-on-demand title. You can learn more on my website, which contains links to The Operating System’s marketing materials for both the chapbook and the chapbooks series.” Silas Munro ’08 In October, 2019, the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University will present Great Force, an exhibition that uses painting, sculpture, photography, video, and performance to examine racial constructs in the United States. The exhibition will feature new commissions and recent work by an intergenerational group of 21 established and emerging artists, including Pope.L, Sable Elyse Smith, Charlotte Lagarde, and Tomashi Jackson. Great Force will be accompanied by a fully illustrated and interactive publication produced by Silas Munro and Brian Johnson, who run the bicoastal studio Poly-Mode. Taking design and typographic inspiration from W.E.B. Du Bois’ migration maps and charts, the publication will include contributions by Nicholas Mirzoeff, Claudia Rankine’s Racial Imaginary Institute, and Rebecca Walker. Steph Richards ’08 is a trumpeter who has released her sophomore record, Take The Neon Lights (Birdwatcher Arts), with fellow CalArtians Sam Minaie ’08, Andrew D

Munsey ’08, and James Carney ’90. Written as an homage to places and poetry of NYC, the record has been awarded four stars on Downbeat and four and a half stars on Free Jazz Collective, which states, “the music’s sense of scale truly lives up to the title... Steph Richards proved herself a virtuoso of nonlinear trumpet playing.” The group celebrated the release with premieres in Boston, Montreal, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn. Richards is faculty at UC San Diego and regularly works with Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, and other luminaries of the avant/jazz world.

Amanda, with San Francisco Unified School District, focuses on youth education and career pathway development, and Maria is a champion of progressive media culture and social action.  D

Paul Turbiak ’08 is playing Cassius in Independent Shakespeare Company’s Julius Caesar alongside Sam Breen ’11 as Antony, and Faqir Hassan ’15 as Brutus. Runs until May 11. Maria Judice ’07 and Amanda Vigil ’08 Over the last 14 months, San Francisco– based filmmaker/educators Maria Judice and Amanda Vigil founded Indigo Impact, an autonomous filmmaking/impact production collective. Indigo Impact is a meditation on creative strategies. The collective has worked on more than 25 left of center films in all stages of development. Maria is currently in production for her feature-length project, Elephant. Amanda is in preproduction for her new-media project, Habit. Indigo Impact will launch both projects in 2020. As two deeply committed people born and raised in San Francisco, we have focused our work on developing and activating the local film and radical justice communities.


Vonzell Carter ’09 has just returned from working in India and Thailand on the Netflix feature film, Dhaka. He was part of the core stunt team, in addition to booking a speaking role. He was last seen on the Freeform TV show, Good Trouble.  E Marsian De Lellis ’09 Stuck Together: Simone Gad, Marsian De Lellis, + Debra Broz opened at Track 16 and features the work of De Lellis. In it, three Los Angeles-based artists create a handmade response to mass-produced images and objects, recontextualizing and repurposing through collage and assemblage. The work consists of anthropomorphic imagery—animals and representations of bodies. Marsian is an interdisciplinary artist and writer who constructs installations and time-based visual narratives that memorialize obsessional lives. Both obsessive and playful, De Lellis’s work for this exhibition draws on a larger installation, which consists of more than 1,000 handmade dolls— damaged objects that show evidence of use, frailty, and their own impermanence. The work invites its viewers to relate to the inanimate objects and contemplate the idea of identity: a repetition of a repetition for which there is no original. The work aims to create authentic, shared, and tactile experiences in response to a life bombarded by an evershifting landscape of technologies. Flint ’09 says, “In the summer of 2017, the incomparable Lidia Yuknavitch doubledog-dared me to write the world’s first prose villanelle, and I am delighted to share that Michael Martone selected the creature-beast I wrote in response, as the winner of the 2018 Arts & Letters Unclassifiable Contest.

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Class Notes

Natalie Metzger ’11 informs us, “I was nominated for a Film Independent Spirit Award for my work as a producer on Thunder Road. My newest film, Greener Grass, is an Official Selection of the Sundance Film Festival!”

A Villanelle By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet appears in the 2019 Spring Issue, which hits the stands and e-streets in just a few weeks.” A

Miriam Nouri ’11 “My partner Zachary Huber and I opened a specialty general store called The Millstone Workshop. The store is inside of a historic post office, circa 1795, in Hillsborough, NJ. We wanted a space that supports artisans while inviting the local community to get cozy. Currently, we’re working to expand the store to include a sitting area, the Book Nook. Opening the store grew out of our love for coffee, but it was important for us to be able to foster a sense of tangible personal connection in a technology overdosed world. Our fouryear-old son Hunter and our three rescue dogs, Odie, Duke, and Bandit, fill out our team. Pop by if you’re in town.”

Twenty Tens Hilary Darling ’10 writes, “Life is fun because Sophie and Zuzu are now old enough to go to clubs—all age-appropriate shows, of course. They are really into bands, as teenagers should be, and so they want nothing more than to go out and hit the town—we love Los Angeles! We had the pleasure of seeing fellow CalArtian Oliver Tree ’17 (my kids LOVE him) at the Roxy in February. It was his very first headlining show, and it was pretty great to be part of the sold-out crowd.” Anne-Marie Talmadge ’10 “I’m so grateful for the inspiration I found at CalArts. When thinking about the past year, I’m blown away by major accomplishments. I’m a Season 12 finalist of America’s Got Talent, where I performed with the innovative dance company, Diavolo. This gave me the opportunity to travel and perform in seven countries around the world. While dancing with Diavolo, my choreographic work also exploded. I won the 2018 Stage Raw Award for Choreography and was commissioned for set work by numerous theater companies around California. My nonprofit organization, Art and Action, produced eight fundraiser events that not only created awareness of topics impacting our community, but gave back to the dance community, the Veteran community, and the environment. The past two years are unforgettable. I couldn’t have done any of it on my own. It was a year of being fully self-expressed and lining up with others to powerfully create and inspire.”  A


CalArts Alumni Magazine


Heather Sorensen ’11 “Titmouse, the great lords of animation, have instructed you to check out the latest Tongue and Pencil episodes on YouTube. Watch the latest episode of The Tongue and Pencil, featuring Nasty Neckface, and check out the latest trailer.” Michael Vanderbilt ’11 was promoted to Associate Production Manager at DreamWorks Animation. Dame-Jasmine Hughes ’12 won an OBIE Award for her performance in Is God Is by CalArts graduate Aleshea Harris MFA ’14 at the SOHO Rep World Premiere. This is followed by Hughes’s 2016 IVEY Award for her performance in Sunset Baby (Penumbra Theatre), directed by Lou Bellamy. Charles Levin ’12 continues to colead and play drums with A Celebration of Joni Mitchell featuring Kimberly Ford. Recent appearances include stops at Yoshi’s Oakland, Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, Reel Fish in El Verano, Namba Performing Arts in Ventura, Fenix in San Rafael, and El Campanil

Theatre in Antioch. Charles also continues to front his jazz quartet, Coda, and recently performed with Pulse Percussion Ensemble featuring CalArts alumni Larry Stein ’74; Austin Wrinkle ’99; Gregg Johnson ’77, MFA ’79; and Leonice Shinneman ’82. Moira MacDonald ’12 “My new shadow puppetry show, Selkie, was accepted into the Skirball Puppetry Festival. The family-friendly festival took place on April 28, 2019.”  B Kristen Rea ’12 let us know that her short musical, End of the Line, was a finalist in the Theater Now New York Soundbites Festival, and she is currently completing the BMI Musical Theater Workshop as a composer. She also oversees the newly opened Birdland Theater in NYC and tours regularly as the French horn soloist in Blast! Victoria Sendra ’12 writes, “A few months ago, I was cast as an on-stage camera operator for the Broadway play Network, starring Bryan Cranston, that Lee Hall adapted from Paddy Chayefsky’s original screenplay. Directed by Ivo Van Hove, with scenic and lighting design by Jan Versweyveld, and video design by Tal Yarden, the show opened on December 6 and will be running (as of now) through June 8, 2019. The show received some nice press in The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, and Vulture.” Leah Olbrich ’13 “I was blessed to have a phenomenal performance encounter this past October with Dundu Giants of Light from Stuttgart, Germany. A handful of Los Angeles puppeteers joined forces with Dundu and performed on the CBS variety competition show, The World’s Best, hosted by James Corden and judged by Drew Barrymore, Faith Hill, Rupaul, and The Wall of the World judges. The puppets are around 15-feet tall and require 5 people to puppeteer each character. It was such a profound lesson in collaboration and nonverbal communication, and it was INCREDIBLE to hear the audience respond so passionately to our performances. The show currently airs on Wednesday nights on CBS, but episodes can also be viewed on The World’s Best website. One of Dundu’s missions is to ‘share the light’ all across the globe, creating encounters and human connection through art and whimsy. Keep a look-out for them as it continues expanding into farther reaches of our world!” Graham Peck ’13 says, “Hello CalArtians! I have spent the past year in a music therapy master’s program at Lesley University in C Boston. I’ve spent my internship hours working on a dementia care unit as a music therapist, and just received my mental health counseling placement for next year with the prestigious Perkins

school for the blind. My side projects include scoring a community production of the original play, Never Land, leading guided musical meditation sessions, and playing indie rock gigs in the Boston area. Looking forward to coming back to campus this August to check in on things!”  C Molly Allis ’14 “Hi! I am creating an LGBTQ/ Social Justice Animated children’s show! I will be doing a Kickstarter campaign soon to raise money to produce a pilot episode for the show. Find me on Instagram to get updates about the project (@mollyallis).”  E Braden Diotte ’14 tells us that avant-garde noise ensemble, EXO//ENDO, released its eponymous debut album on May 16. The album is a joint effort between composer Andrea Young ’14 and collaborators Michael Day ’14, Derek Stein ’10, Sharon Kim ’14, Micaela Tobin ’17, and of course, Braden, plus others. Recorded in part by John Baffa (staff) and mixed in part by Brendan Byrnes ’12, the album features artwork by Kersten Hovland ’12 and Emery Martin ’06.   D

Lily Gottlieb ’14 “I was recently accepted to the Harvard Graduate School of Education to study in the Arts in Education program. Since attending CAP as a high schooler and graduating from the CalArts Photography and Media Program, I’ve worked full time for a summer camp, and currently run programming for teens in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. I am grateful for, and ecstatic about, the opportunity to study in Cambridge, and I look forward to returning to the California sunshine soon! A solo show of my work will open this spring at the Osher Marin JCC, and I’m working on self-publishing an artist book to accompany the exhibition. Shout out to my first student to attend CalArts, Gabe Perluss ’22!” Suzanne Kite ’14 has recently acted as the global research assistant for the first Indigenous Protocols and Artificial Intelligence workshop, asking, “How do we imagine a future with A.I. that contributes to the flourishing of all humans and nonhumans?” The workshop stems from the journal article, “Making Kin with the Machines,” by Jason Edward Lewis, Noelani Arista, Archer Pechawis, and Kite. She is elated to be promoting and contributing to this essential research by a community of indigenous artists and scholars. Quayla Bramble ’15 tells us that on November 18, 2018, under the colorful autumn trees, she and Benjamin Hubbard ’15 were married. A day filled with such joy and love, surrounded by those dearest to their hearts. Muriel Naim ’15 says her short film, Janek/ Bastard, recently won a bunch of awards and international recognition, such as directing awards at the Bali International Film Festival and Watersprite Cambridge Film Festival, Best Short Film at George Lindsay UNA


Film Festival, Official selection to screen at the 2018 edition of HollyShorts, Firenzi FilmCorti, 2019 edition of CBFF, GPJFF, LDS, Cascadia Womens’ International Film Festival, and more. Muriel spoke about directing, user experience prototyping, and involving emotions in data analysis products at Applause’s conference, DIGITALXCHANGE, held in Boston and at LWD Summit in San Francisco. Richard Shanks ’15 has expanded his West Coast offices of Upshift, E the boutique lifestyle branding firm he founded in Chicago after graduation in 1995. UpShift recently opened a new office in Downtown Los Angeles and hired additional staff at its Santa Barbara location. UpShift was recently named one of America’s “Top Boutique Branding Firms” by UpCity!, a peer voting platform in the design community. Susanna Battin ’16 had her first solo show, Key Observation Point, installed at Los Angeles Contemporary Archive. It addressed one of the largest and oldest landfills in California, the Chiquita Canyon Landfill, which is 15 minutes from CalArts and less than half a mile from where she lived as a student. The show aimed to understand and critique the visual politics of environmentalism through collage, painting, and installation. She began making work about the landfill 10 years prior, while living in the small town of Val Verde and attending CalArts. Susanna is the 2019 recipient of the Davyd Whaley Foundation Emerging Artist Grant. She is currently working on a small edition of artist books about the landscape politics around the landfill and Val Verde area. She is the founding member of OOLA, an environmental philosophy reading group in LA.

Diana Cioffari-MacPhee ’16 writes, “I am happy to say that I continue my work in the Alumnx & Family Engagement Office at CalArts as the Program Associate. Outside of my higher education career, I am active in many collaborations with students, alumnx, and other artists. These projects include (but are not limited to) film scoring, performance, composition, and voice acting. I still pursue creative and teaching opportunities, including participating in the Alumnx-toAlumnx Mentoring Program offered by the Alumnx & Family Engagement Office, as both a mentor and mentee. I also continue to create independently in many fields.” Artur Da Silva ’16 is the recipient of the Christel DeHaan Artist of Distinction Award 2019. This funding is being used to develop an experimental documentary film called Americae, exploring the inheritance of European representation starting with the work of 16th-century Belgian engraver, Theodor de Bry, who created some of the earliest images of Native Americans without ever visiting the continent. The film also investigates the occupation of public space by monuments and their role in writing and interpreting history, as well as an analysis of the images published in the media.

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Class Notes

Jordan Dykstra ’16 was credited as a Featured Composer for his work on Hail Satan?—a documentary film that explores The Satanic Temple’s fight for equality, its focus on community, and its devilish sense of humor. It debuted at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in January. He is also a cocomposer (along with Brian McOmber) on the upcoming feature, Blow the Man Down, which will premiere in May at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.  A

Marketing has cost me tons of $$$, but it is working! A rough version of my newest song, Slippin’ Back (performed in my living room/ teaching studio because there’s no time to record properly), is available on YouTube. Thanks for checking it out!” Paola Pilnik ’17 “Since graduating in 2017, I’ve moved to MA, NYC, Czech Republic, and now I’ve established myself in Berlin. I’m currently working on a show called Banana Pride, which will premiere as part of the Expat Expo Festival 2019. Looking to meet other CalArtians in Berlin!” Cemre Su Salur ’17 updates us: “This past August, my original dance-theater piece titled V O I D, was selected for the Co-Op Sublet C Series at HERE Arts Center in NYC. Subsequently, one of the performance photos from V O I D was selected by LoosenArt to be part of an exhibition, Bodies in Movement, that will be exhibited in a gallery in Rome.” Logan Amaral ’18 “Since finishing school in December, I’ve become faculty at CalArts where I teach two classes in the school of music. In other super-exciting news, I am going to be a dad in April! Can’t wait to meet my little one. Will we be seeing a new musician, dancer, or artist?!”  C




Sarah Van Sciver ’16 “I’m psyched to be getting married in June! Keeping busy and loving every minute as the CalArts Alumni team’s Assistant Director. I also run my own freelance company, Songbird, as a composer, arranger, singer, songwriter, pianist, ukulele player, and harpist. I’m always excited to be writing music, sound designing, or editing and mixing for screen, stage, and studio productions. In addition to teaching private lessons, I lead community music and a pre-k/ kindergarten class at a Sunday school in Culver City. For anyone with film, theater, album, or other music/narrative projects brewing, I would love to collaborate and contribute score, songs, sound, or some combination.”  B


CalArts Alumni Magazine

Preston Butler III ’17 “Fellow CalArtians! This past year has been a knockout—literally! I had the privilege of playing not one, but two Heavyweight World Champions, ‘The Greatest’ Muhammad Ali and Jay ‘The Sport’ Jackson (based on Jack Johnson, the first African American heavyweight world champion). I had the honor of collaborating with fellow alum Nataki Garrett ’02 (Dir.) at Dallas Theater Center, and we’ll be teaming up again this summer for a production of Antionette Nwandu’s Pass Over, at ACT Seattle. I’ve also been working with Creative Youth Theater, a program that provides theater education to elementary age students in the Los Angeles area. Catch me on Adventures in Odyssey, as Cooper, or on the radio, pitching you some Popeye’s chicken!”  D Linda Lockwood ’17 tells us, “I finally licensed my business, Mage Music, with the City of Palmdale. I am proud to say that I’m doing most of my work through my own business. Most of what I am doing is teaching music lessons, but every now and then I get recording work. Soon I will be performing, which has always been my dream. It is not easy to move 1,000 miles away from another country and establish oneself without knowing anyone beforehand.

Morgan Day (nee Camper) ’18 signed with CESD talent Agency, theatrically, and Holly Shelton Management. She is currently in a play directed by Edgar Arceneaux ’01 titled Boney M, which is now in residency at the Ford Theatre. Greta Ruth Melcher ’18 “Under the artist name Greta Ruth, I recently released a Super 8 music video for my single, “Sweet Pace.” Soon after, I released my first album titled The Quiet While, and a music video for my song “A World Perhaps.” The album is a collection of four experimental acoustic folk songs, three of which feature musician Connor Nolan ’20 on guitar. In addition to performing my songs around the Midwest, I’ve continued designing jewelry with repurposed instrument strings for my jewelry line, tsii, and enjoy coaching students in vocal empowerment.”  G Marissa Osato ’18 writes, “As a 2019 winner of The Joffrey Ballet’s Winning Works Choreographic Competition, I premiered a new work for The Joffrey Studio Company and Academy Trainees at the MCA Chicago, exactly one year after my CalArts MFA thesis concert premiere!”  E Felicia St. Cyr ’18 “I am residing in LA with two part-time jobs: a resident position as a teacher/choreographer at a local LA dance studio, and intern with renowned dance agency, Movement Talent Agency in

In Memoriam E


Remembering Chouinardians and CalArtians who have recently passed Scott Walker ’64 In March 2019, Chouinard alumnus Scott Walker died at 76, in London. Walker had been living in England since the 1960s when he and his American pop group, the Walker Brothers, had become teenage idols in Britain. Their hits, such as the Bachrach/ David ballad, “Make It Easy on Yourself,” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore,” became #1 best sellers. Walker later devoted himself to experimental music that influenced artists including David Bowie and Radiohead. The New York Times described Walker’s music as “intricate puzzles of shock, indiscretion, non-resolution, theatrical uses of text and extended technique, often with a 40-piece orchestra.” A 2007 documentary on his life and work, Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, was directed by Stephen Kijak and executive produced by Bowie. David Sewell Chouinard ’65


North Hollywood. Most importantly, I’m in the process of curating my first show as a director/choreographer for my self-titled dance company, st.cyr. The work will be premiering this year in a yet-to-be-determined space here in LA. The work will explore the past few decades and how advances in technology have affected current social and political dynamics. We question: What are we exploiting and why? Do we even know we are doing it?”  F Ariyan Kassam ’18 “I’m excited to share what I’ve been up to so far. On TV, I’ve been a guest star on Fuller House, and FX Legion costar. I did voice-over and dubbing on Mickey Roadster Racers for Disney, Nike Dreamerz, Amazon’s 4 Blocks, and more. In theater, I played Galiana/Nikolchev in The Useless Room, a collaboration with Grotowski Institute.”

Douglas Grindstaff ’75 Benjamin Medrano ’80 “My husband, Benjamin Medrano, a guitar major, passed away on January 8, 2018. He always loved getting the alumni magazine, and read it cover to cover.” Stephen Hillenburg’92 (see cover story on page 20) Adam Burke ’93 John McLaughlin ’93 Carl Raggio IV ’04 passed away in February 2019. Known as “C” to family and friends, Raggio had been working as a storyboard artist on Sony Pictures’s Angry Birds 2 at the time of his death. Raggio was raised in Glendale, CA, the grandson of the town’s mayor, Carl Raggio. After graduating from CalArts’s Character Animation BFA program in 2004, he began his career at Cartoon Network as a character designer and story artist. In 2010, Raggio joined Disney TV Animation, where his character designs for Kick Buttowski earned him an Annie Award nomination. More recently, Raggio contributed to The Grinch and the 2015 blockbuster Minions, both from Illumination Entertainment. Brennan Thale ’13

the POOL


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