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CREATIVE CATALYST: Individual Artist Fellowships

Why be concerned with artists? What value do they contribute to our communities and what kind of demand is there for their work and social contributions? How many artists live and work in San Diego and where do they make their homes and studios? What kinds of material supports – employment and benefits, grants and awards and space – do artists need to survive? Do artists have adequate training to advance their careers and what kinds of connections and networks enable them to thrive? These questions and more were at the center of discussions initiated by The San Diego Foundation more than four years ago as it considered the threat of the Great Recession on our region’s quality of life. Concern for the well-being of artists, who even in good times work in a fragile state, was heightened. Informal dialogue turned to research which turned to practice, informing the development of what we now know as Creative Catalyst, an umbrella funding and capacity building initiative that focuses on the needs of artists as important contributors to San Diego’s creative economy. This fall, we celebrate the second year of Creative Catalyst: Individual Artist Fellowships, the initiative’s cornerstone program, which seeks to fill the gap in direct philanthropic support for individual artists in San Diego. Now under the Malin Burnham San Diego Center for Civic Engagement, the guidelines for this highly competitive program have been sharpened. In return for providing artists with the gift of time and mentorship to create new work, successful candidates will connect their art to community issues using music, film, theatre, and visual arts as tools for civic engagement and social change. This year, 117 local artists competed for ten awards totaling $200,000. The ten exemplary San Diego artists who were selected will use the funding to advance their careers and position themselves to match the success and growth of last year’s outstanding Creative Catalyst awardees. From a puppet theatre production about global urban development to a documentary about the real world of comic artists, the ideas behind their creative interventions will inspire us all to see and think about our community in fresh new ways. We invite you to join us in congratulating this year’s awardees and to support the Creative Catalyst fellows with your participation and patronage throughout the year!

Jill G. Hall

Bob Kelly

BongHwan “BH” Kim

Felicia W. Shaw

Chair, Creative Catalyst Initiative San Diego Center for Civic Engagement

President & CEO, The San Diego Foundation

Vice President/Executive Director, San Diego Center for Civic Engagement

Director, Arts and the Creative Economy San Diego Center for Civic Engagement

Creative Catalyst: Individual Artist Fellowships The Importance of Direct Support to Artists The Creative Catalyst: Individual Artist Fellowships help advance the careers of selected San Diego artists by providing opportunities to develop new work under the mentorship of sponsoring nonprofit arts and culture organizations. Artists of all disciplines and at all stages of their careers – emerging, mid-career and established – deepen their practice, experiment with new art forms and work across disciplines - all in the spirit of creativity. Creative Catalyst also advances the goals of the Malin Burnham San Diego Center for Civic Engagement, The San Diego Foundation’s hub of civic leadership and community building; and Our Greater San Diego Vision (the Vision), an unprecedented community visioning process that engaged tens of thousands of San Diegans in imagining the future of our region. Creative Catalyst fellows develop their work around issues that San Diegans care about and engage residents in a variety of outreach opportunities - through hands-on workshops, studio visits or social media - that help deepen our understanding of art as both creative practice and an agent of social change. Informed by ongoing research, the Vision and the goals of the Center, the fellowships and the larger Creative Catalyst Initiative are grounded in the belief that direct support to artists has a positive and demonstrable impact on the vitality and vibrancy of neighborhoods and the lives of its residents. From improving civic dialogue to defining and expressing community and cultural identity, promoting cultural tourism to integrating the creative arts into our learning environments, providing direct support to artists invests in individuals and strengthens our communities, economies and cultures. ARTS AND THE CREATIVE ECONOMY | CREATIVE CATALYST INITIATIVE l 1

The 2013 -2014 Creative Catalyst Fellows The following are the biographies and project descriptions of the 2013-2014 Creative Catalyst fellows. Between July 2013 and June 2014, they will build on their proposed concepts and use their funding to create new works. What results may be the completion of an idea that the artist has been developing over months or years; in other cases, the final outcome may be just the first step forward for a new idea and its long creative journey. Overall, process is valued as much as product, as we appreciate the importance of artistic excellence as well as trial and error in the development of any new innovation – particularly in the arts. Each proposed concept is expected to evolve over the coming months as the artists conduct research, experiment with various processes, ask questions, receive criticism, and allow their own creative energy to move the work in new and unexpected directions. They may partner with other artists, purchase new equipment, take workshops to learn new skills, or quit that part-time job at Starbucks so that they can simply devote more time to their craft. Along the way, the fellows may learn that the scope and scale of their projects will need to be adjusted to the realities of time and money or to unforeseen opportunities that could elevate their ideas to new heights. We are excited about the possibilities that all these project ideas present and invite you to follow the paths of all of the fellows as their projects take shape.


Creative Catalyst Fellows Andrew Bracken -

Digital Media Andrew Bracken is a producer of digital media and has worked in both the film and video game industries for more than 15 years. Bracken seeks to explore new and innovative forms of documentary storytelling with an artistic sensibility. According to Bracken, watching documentary media seems too often like taking vitamins or eating your vegetables; they may not be fun, but they are good for you. Conversely, he believes that documentaries can be just as entertaining and poetic as any good piece of fiction. His documentary works include To the Other Side, a film about an American expatriate who deserted the U. S. Army in the 1950s and fled to the Iron Curtain to settle in East Germany; and Chicago, an experimental audio documentary on mental illness. Videogame projects on which he has worked have been nominated for multiple Interactive Arts and Sciences awards.

Andrew Bracken and Media Arts Center San Diego Andrew Bracken will create 18 Bakers, a web documentary about the 2008 immigration raid on a San Diego bakery and its effects on the local community. 18 Bakers aligns with Media Arts Center San Diego’s (Media Arts) mission. Media Arts selected Bracken because of his artistic excellence and the focus of his work that resonates with the Latino community, a large percentage of Media Arts’ constituency and of San Diego’s population. This tie will enable Media Arts to assist Bracken in reaching both the Latino population and media community for production and exhibition purposes. Additionally, the digital media requirements of this project draw upon the equipment and technology resources readily available at Media Arts Center, as well as the expertise and interests of staff.

Jamex De La Torre - Visual Art Jamex De La Torre explores the visual dynamics of border life, the emigrational experience and aspects of acculturation. His work draws its initial inspiration from Meso American art, Baroque art and the Mexican vernacular, mixed with modern issues and materials. Working in partnership with his brother, Einar, he likes to refer to his works as “onions” with multiple, and sometimes contradictory, layering in terms of content and materials used; it is an additive process that starts with layering which happens when people collaborate. He and Einar have been collaborating in the production of various projects for the past 20 years. They have accomplished six major public art projects, 15 museum exhibitions and traveled widely around the world to teach, show and produce their artwork.

Jamex De La Torre and Casa Familiar Jamex De La Torre’s project, Whysidro, is proposed as a suite of art works that expose the richness and hidden beauty expressed in the commerce and human condition of the San Diego/Tijuana border. The works will be created using an advanced lenticular printing technique that produces a spectacular 3D effect. (continued)


Casa Familiar, which is steps from the San Diego/Tijuana border, is a natural match for De La Torre and the Whysidro project. Casa Familiar will provide a working space and an open studio so that the artists can share their process with the public. Working together, the De La Torre brothers will culminate their project with an exhibition of works produced throughout the fellowship at Casa Familiar’s The Front Gallery.

Iain Gunn - Multi-Media/Performance As an artist, Iain Gunn has always tried to reflect the unseen to audiences, revealing the contradictory nature or hidden aspects of life; the sublime, humorous, tragic, and scary aspects. He loves theatre because for him, it has the most impact, the most visceral emotional effect of any art form. He chose to work in this medium because it plays to his abilities and strengths while being true to his personal vision. Iain attests to a love of puppetry because the nature of its physical presence can amplify ideas and enable him to work with a much smaller cast while fulfilling a grander vision. Gunn’s practice involves collecting and saving odd cast-offs, broken bits remaindered from industry, thrift stores and surplus finds that can be re-purposed and re-fashioned into puppets, sets and installations. He earned a BFA in Photography, Painting and Printmaking from the University of British Columbia and received the Jim Henson Foundation Seed and Project Grant for his work, The Collector, in 2010 and 2011.

Iain Gunn and La Jolla Playhouse Iain Gunn will create Paper Cities, a multi-media puppet theater production that engages histories of global urban development and transforms commerce, architecture and politics into poetry, movement and sound. La Jolla Playhouse’s goals and objectives align perfectly with those of the Creative Catalyst fellowships. A significant part of their organizational mission is focused on “providing unfettered creative opportunities for the leading artists of today and tomorrow.” They chose to work with Iain, as they do hundreds of individual artists, to provide him with the support and resources necessary to refine his craft.

Miki Iwasaki - Visual Art Most of Miki Iwasaki’s work moves between the worlds of architecture, design and art. He does not believe that there are distinct separations in these fields, but rather, opportunities to operate within them simultaneously. He is particularly interested in projects that respond to and involve the viewer. Iwasaki wishes to create a more active, engaged relationship between the space or object and the individual. He has learned a great deal by observing how people interact with their physical and built environment and feels strongly that physical objects and environments are powerful tools that can alter our perception. Hopefully through experience with his work, the viewer is prompted to consider how materials, light, scale, texture, color, and shape impact our world view. Iwasaki earned a Masters in Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. His architectural experience includes work in New York, Los Angeles and San Diego firms, and spans a variety of projects including residential, office, restaurant, retail, and gallery work. He is currently adjunct faculty at Woodbury University San Diego, School of Architecture.


Miki Iwasaki and the new children’s museum Miki Iwasaki has proposed cumulous clouds, an interactive lighting installation powered by wind and energy and built and activated by visitors. The project will be installed at the new children’s museum in downtown San Diego. Iwasaki chose the new children’s museum because the organization’s mission to celebrate children and the arts aligns closely with his own. As both an educator and a father, he looks for opportunities to educate and incorporate the language of art into children’s lives. The new children’s museum encourages visitors to not just witness art but to also learn about the creative process through hands-on engagement, a perfect opportunity for helping cumulous clouds come to life.

Neil Kendricks - Film

Nelvin C. Cepeda / U-T San Diego

The visual art practices of Neil Kendricks veer away from the slick, fast and easy-to-digest methods of making cinematic and photographic images. A focus on substance over technique helps him realize a more lucid and meaningful translation of his creative thought through film. Kendricks says that his photographic and filmmaking practices are a “meditation on what it means to be an outsider in contemporary society and culture – either by choice or circumstances.” All of his films and photography stem from a belief that art functions as an ongoing investigation into the question of what it means to be human.

His artwork and photography have been exhibited at The San Diego Museum of Art and London’s Royal College of Art. His award-winning short films include Sigh (2001), Loop (2002), and Cipher (2006) which has been screened at numerous international film festivals. For over ten years, Kendricks was a contributor to the U-T San Diego and has been a freelance arts writer for The Independent Film & Video Monthly, New York since 2001.

Neil Kendricks and Pacific Arts Movement Neil Kendricks’ documentary project, Comics are Everywhere, will explore the pop-cultural intersection where alternative comics, animation and the traditional art world collide as seen by a number of emerging comic artists. His film will bridge the divide between the insiders and beginners who are seeking to learn what makes more experienced comic book artists successful. Footage from inside ComicCon serves as a vibrant backdrop to the documentary. The Pacific Arts Movement chose to support Neil Kendricks and his project, Comics are Everywhere, because the film serves to transform audiences’ perceptions about an art form that is growing in popularity but generally misunderstood. The film has the potential to create social change by reexamining the role and importance of animation and comic art in today’s world, particularly as it highlights the life of an Asian American female comic artist seeking to thrive in the male-dominated comic business.

Cy Kuckenbaker - Media Cy Kuckenbaker describes himself as an ethnographic filmmaker and photographer. Each of his projects begins as an encounter with a new place. Kuckenbaker’s creative process is rooted in his personal experiences, which contrast against the popular narratives he’s absorbed through television news, books and movies. When he identifies disconnections between his personal experience and the mediated version of the same story, Kuckenbaker says that he is compelled to act. He begins his creative process with research, followed by project design, execution and finally production (continued)


and distribution. Through his work, he strives to produce nuanced investigations of large-scale social phenomena to deepen our understanding of everyday narratives. Kuckenbaker completed a BA in Communications, Film and Television at San Diego State University and an MFA in Film Direction at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. Fellowships and awards include a Fulbright Fellowship in Filmmaking (2004-2005), winner of the Best Documentary Short at the 2007 LA Film Festival and Winner of the Best Feature Documentary at the 2011 New Jersey International Film Festival.

Cy Kuckenbaker and the Museum of Photographic Arts Cy Kuckenbaker’s project, The San Diego Studies: Air, Sea & Land, will engage the public in creating a series of ten short place-based video art pieces that reveal the unseen rhythms and movements of San Diego. The Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) chose to sponsor Kuckenbaker’s fellowship because of his demonstrated artistic talent, innovation, clear vision for the project, and strong commitment to civic engagement as a fundamental aspect of his work. Further, MOPA responded strongly to the opportunity to work with a video artist as it is an integral part of the Museum’s mission but has been under-represented within the Museum’s program until recently.

Wu Man - Music Since coming to the U.S. in 1990, Wu Man has been an important voice for cross-cultural collaboration between her instrument – the pipa – a 3000-year-old Chinese plucking instrument – and musicians, composers and artists around the world. Man has premiered hundreds of new works for the pipa while spearheading multimedia projects to both preserve and create awareness of China’s ancient musical traditions. A member of the ute family, the instrument is related to the Western guitar, the Middle Eastern ud-lute and the Indian sitar. She has been eager to seek out opportunities to collaborate with other traditional instrumentalists from various cultures. Accepted into the conservatory at the age of 13 and hailed as a child prodigy, Man is now recognized as an outstanding exponent of the traditional repertoire as well as a leading interpreter of contemporary pipa music by today’s prominent composers - from Tan Dun and Philip Glass to Terry Riley. She was selected as a Bunting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard University. She is also a founding member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project and performs regularly throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia with Ma as part of the project’s ensemble.

Wu Man and the Carlsbad Music Festival

Wu Man will create When China Meets Latin America, a series of cross-cultural exchanges between the Chinese Pipa and Latin American plucking instruments, resulting in a musical and cultural dialogue between two diverse communities. Wu Man chose to work with the Carlsbad Music Festival because of its open-minded perspective and its audiences who are receptive to new ideas, sounds and performance genres. The combination of leadership, innovation and diversity present at the festival make for a welcoming environment for all musicians seeking to introduce new projects to live audiences. The festival organizers were equally interested in working with Man because of their shared interest in finding points of intersection between various musical traditions and the audiences that are attracted to these works.


Charles McPherson - Music Charles McPherson has had a life-long love affair with the saxophone. Growing up in Detroit, Michigan with its rich history of music and jazz, McPherson began his early music training, learning theory, harmony and the elements of improvisation under the tutelage of Barry Harris. He played everything and everywhere - from rhythm and blues to polkas, and from colleges to proms – eventually finding his “voice” in the music of jazz. McPherson ventured to New York in the 1960s to advance his craft and landed a job with the renowned bassist Charlie Mingus with whom he played for 12 years. Throughout his musical career, McPherson noticed how connected various art forms are to each other - architecture, theatre, painting - all share a common language. He finds the dancer’s movements particularly musical, which led to the idea of one day writing a jazz suite for ballet – evidence that the creative process for artists is a life-long journey. In addition to a celebrated career as a band leader and performer, McPherson notes performances at the Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis and as a saxophonist on the 1988 soundtrack for Clint Eastwood’s film, Bird, as among his most memorable. From 1978 to present, he has worked as a teacher of jazz improvisation, composition and saxophone technique and is currently guest lecturer at the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at the UCLA School of Music.

Charles McPherson and the San Diego Ballet


Charles McPherson will create Sweet Synergy Suite, a dance suite incorporating Afro-Cuban, Latin and Be-bop jazz rhythms celebrating and illustrating the ability of diverse communities to come together to create a greater whole.

McPherson and the San Diego Ballet chose each other for this funding opportunity because of the “synergy” that could be created by melding the two art forms of ballet and jazz as well as the two distinctly different audiences. McPherson has attended many of San Diego Ballet’s productions and was impressed with Javier Velasco – the company’s artistic director – and his choreography. McPherson’s dream is to tour the piece to New York once it is created, possibly providing him with yet another opportunity to perform at the renowned Lincoln Center.

Bridget Rountree - Theatre What kind of environment is built from the idea of making something useful and artistic rather than consumed, bought or sold? How can objects that are found, discarded or deemed no longer useful find value in contemporary culture? How does thought create form, and how can an object suggest how we think, what we believe and how we live? These are just a few of the questions that drive Bridget Rountree’s curiosity about the world and inform the creative possibilities that ground her work as an artist. Her inquiry started while pursuing a BA in Literature at the University of California, Berkley where she studied the fine arts – painting, drawing, sculpting, and mixed media. However, most of her formal art training was completed abroad, through residencies in South Africa and Italy that led to writing, developing and performing educational shows. (continued)


Bridget completed a BA in Literature and a Minor in Fine Arts at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Santa Barbara. Residencies and workshops include Montagnana, Italy (July 2013), the Banff Puppet Theater Intensive (2012) and the Topang Mask Carving Residency in Ubud, Indonesia (2010). Selected performances include The Noble Deer at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2006) and The Collector at the University of California, San Diego (2013).

Bridget Rountree and Young Audiences San Diego Bridget Rountree will create I HEART TRASH, a performative art historical look at trash that inspires critical thinking and creativity as strategies to question what is valuable in a disposable culture. Rountree has worked with Young Audiences San Diego as both an assembly and teaching artist for the past two years. She chose this organization as her mentor/sponsor because the organization is known to help connect artists to communities in ways that effectively allow for both entities to learn from each other and be inspired.

Eva Struble - Visual Art The cultural, political and physical landscapes where Eva Struble has lived are the focus of her paintings, printmaking and installations. Having explored the urban landscape of Baltimore, Brooklyn and Barcelona through a socioenvironmental lens, Struble is now working on a body of new work based on the regions of Mexico, Cambodia and Guatemala, among others, in relation to labor, immigration and agriculture. Her interest in this subject matter begins in history, environment and politics and includes archival and digital research as well as physical investigation and on-site documentation. Struble is a graduate of Yale University School of Art (2006), where she received an MFA in Painting, and Brown University (2003), where she earned a BA in Visual Arts. She also gained training in 2001 and 2002 through the School for International Training, Arts and Culture Program in Dakar and Saint-Louis, Senegal as well as the Parson School of Design in Paris, France.

Eva Struble and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego Eva Struble’s project, Produce, is proposed as an artistic collaboration that blends archival and new images to capture the lives of immigrants from different regions of Mexico through a visual storytelling project and exhibition of large-scale screen prints and paintings. Her theme draws from writer David Bacon’s idea of “trans-national working communities,” and her interest in trade policy at a time of national discussion regarding immigration reform. Struble and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) chose to work together because of their shared interest in engaging the region’s bi-national audience in dialogue. MCASD was particularly impressed with Struble’s effort to find meaningful archival and new imagery to share the stories of a changing population in our region.


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James Farley

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Kevin Harris

Ben Haddad, Vice Chair, Charitable Giving and External Relations

James Cahill

Jacob James

Constance Carroll, PhD

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Audie de Castro

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Ted Chan, MD

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Kay Chandler

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Nancy Spector

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Horacio Valeiras, CFA

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Bill Geppert, Vice Chair, Center for Civic Engagement

STAFF Bob Kelly, President and CEO The San Diego Foundation

BongHwan “BH” Kim, Vice President/Executive Director, San Diego Center for Civic Engagement

Felicia W. Shaw, Director, Arts and the Creative Economy San Diego Center for Civic Engagement

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Creative Catalyst 2013: Individual Artist Fellowships  

We celebrate the second year of Creative Catalyst: Individual Artist Fellowships, the initiative’s cornerstone program, which seeks to fill...