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CalArts Alumnus Lari Pittman's work displayed at Regen Projects

November 14, 2013

by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp

Lari Pittman: From a Late Western Impaerium at Regen Projects

Considered one of the most talented painters to emerge in L.A., Lari Pittman's complicated pictures reflect his rigorous training at Cal Arts in the l970's when the priority was post-studio, post conceptual art. Pittman himself talked at the Hammer Museum last week and made the distinction that his medium isn't paint, it is painting. That is, he is concerned with the long history of painting as a platform for conveying an individual point of view, returning painting to its polemical status. That is abundantly clear in what he calls "flying carpet" paintings at Regen Projects. They are history paintings with all the polymorphous diversity of contemporary life.

There are three paintings hanging together in the biggest gallery, each is 30-feet-long and ten-feet-high. Each has a single dominant color: red,green or blue. The predominantly blue canvas titled "Flying Carpet with a Waning Moon over a Violent Nation" is dominated by five powerful lenses trained on a distant target, the moon as it fades from full to crescent in successive stages. The view is a little blurry so you have to concentrate your focus, as though really looking though the site of a rifle which, in fact, each lens happens to be. These graphically dark circles are interspersed with hanging nooses, one of which holds a letter in strange illegible text. The anachronistic background of this ominous content is a feathery pattern of blue with red swirls. Or are they wounds?

All of this work -- dozens of smaller paintings and works on paper -- was completed since last Easter. Significant because shortly before that time, Pittman underwent an emergency operation to repair an intestinal rupture that was the result of being shot by a burglar at his home back in 1985. The pain brought back memories of the original incident and no small amount of irritation at the inability of this country to pass reasonable gun control laws. Pittman's work is not autobiographical but it is personal. Throughout his career, he has composed declarative paintings that reflect his beliefs and obsessions. Despite the complexity of his work, he does not make preparatory drawings but does write a list of the conditions affecting a painting like temperature, geography and smell. Such notions are structured together as patterns, graphics, floral motifs, decorative flourishes and shockingly erotic displays. Read more.

CalArts Alumnus, Eric Johnson, brings people together in object-making and -viewing

November 12, 2013
Huffington Post

by Eric Johnson

Featured Fifty Fine Arts: Eric Johnson, The Maize

At an early age, Eric Johnson was shaped by his father's mastery in automotive body work to his bravado in pool, archery, marksmanship, and even poker. From his father, Eric learned how to use and make tools and achieve a craftsmanship in a wide variety of materials. As a young man, Eric was a promising pitcher and fencer. However, Eric's life took a dramatic turn when in his early twenties, while on vacation in Hawaii, he fell from a cliff and severely injured his neck. After rehabilitation, Eric eventually returned to making and studying art. Attending CalArts and UCIrvine, Eric mentored under significant west coast artists such as Craig Kauffman, Tony DeLap, and John Paul Jones. Eric lives with daily physical pain that he finds, is best eased, by making art not alone, but surrounded by friends and artists. Mentoring others in his studio eventually led to the community project "The Maize." These days Eric is working on a large-scale project and finalizing a six-year body of work dealing with the systems of binary stars and human relationships.

The photos below are of a piece called "The Maize." The piece stands 14 feet and is 8 feet in diameter. It consists of 378 individual, kernel-like pieces that were made over a three-year period that I called The Maize Project. I began the work in 2005 and it was first shown in 2008 at the Torrance Art Museum, Southern California.

The reason the work was a "project" was due to the way it was made. Over the three-year period of its construction, my family and I hosted what we called Pour Parties at my studio in San Pedro. At these parties, folks from all walks of life (from children, local friends and neighbors, to well-known artists like De Wain Valentine and Craig Kauffman) were invited to make a kernel. Read more.

Morton Subotnick turns REDCAT into "Sensory Portal"

November 13, 2013
Los Angeles Times

by Randall Roberts

Review: Morton Subotnick updates cosmic 'Silver Apples' at REDCAT

Equal part handcrafted, computer-aided sensory hallucination and concert, composer Morton Subotnick and visual artist Lillevan's performance at REDCAT, "From 'Silver Apples of the Moon' to 'A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur IV: Lucy,'" offered a mesmerizing reminder of the distances that both electronic music and video art have traveled over the last half-century.  

The pair offered Subotnick's remix/reinterpretation of his influential recordings starting with "Silver Apples on the Moon," the landmark 1966-67 composition created for home stereo, and ending with "A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur" in 1978, all built with the aid of important early electronic devices, the most prominent of which was inventor Donald Buchla's "Buchla Box."

The set on Tuesday was, to be base, a total trip, featuring tones and visuals crafted for getting lost inside the head and experiencing a whole other reality. Read more.

Google Glass gadget provides a "radically different perspective" in the fields of Film and Journalism

November 11, 2013
International Digital Times

by Melanie Ehrenkranz

Google Glass Release Date: How Are College Students Experimenting With The Wearable Technology?

"Ok, Glass, go to class." Google announced in July that five film schools would receive Google Glass eyewear for the fall semester. The selected colleges include American Film Institute, California Institute of the Arts, Rhode Island School of Design, University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California. The participating colleges were granted three pairs of the wearable computing devices and have since taken advantage of the futuristic gadget. Months have passed, and the Google Glass release date looms on the horizon (or perhaps on the San Francisco Bay). How have college students been experimenting with Glass?

Google Glass trials are underway, with students exploring the inventive and endless possibilities the wearable tech has to offer. One college in particular, RISD, has been testing out the eyewear for the past few months. RISD Associate Professor of Film, Animation and Video Daniel Peltz wrote in an email to The Herald that students are using Google Glasses in "collective experiments" and video classes.

"It's important that there be spaces where open-ended, non-commercial research overlaps with commercial product research and development," Peltz added in reference to the use of Google Glass in an academic environment. Read more.

CalArts Faculty, Anne Militello, and students featured in Lighting and Sound America

November 11, 2013
Lighting and Sound America

PL Series LED luminaires Inspire Students at CalArts to Create Unique Lighting Designs

With a curriculum that strives to use the latest systems and technology in numerous productions, students in the Cal Arts lighting design program refine their design skills led by theatre and architectural lighting designer Anne Militello, who recently worked with Forman & Associates to bring in a new a stockpile of PL Series LED lighting tools from Philips Entertainment, which included PLProfile1, PLCyc1, PL3 Wash, and PLProfile4 LED luminaires.

"It all began when we brought Forman & Associates in to speak about LED luminaires for the theatre," Militello says. "They then called me back a few weeks later with a proposition from Philips Entertainment that would allow us to get the PL Series LED luminaires into the hands of our students, and we were very eager to accept. We don't own any LED fixtures and so we could sometimes rent a few, but at those times, the student designers would essentially use them for color fills as opposed to their main theatrical fixtures."

"This was my first time to use LED fixtures, and before this, I didn't really like LED because I thought the color was sort of fake and the color temperatures were never quite right," says Cal Arts senior Seth Chang. "I was a little worried about how they would actually perform for us, so when we first got the lights, I spent two afternoons in the theatre playing around with them. I have to say, the colors they can create are truly amazing. They can literally provide any color you want, plus because they are RGBW, I was able to not only adjust the color, but I could also adjust the color temperature if needed, which to me is absolutely fantastic." Read more.

MOCA hosts announcement for Allan Sekula Social Documentary Fund and film screening

November 11, 2013

by Katie Shapiro

Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA celebrates the influence of Allan Sekula

Allan Sekula taught at California Institute of the Arts for nearly three decades. To honor his commitment to his students and to his critical documentary practice, CalArts has initiated the Allan Sekula Social Documentary Fund. Photographer Fred Lonidier, one of Allan’s oldest friends, offers these six photographs he took of Allan in the 1970s to help inaugurate the fund. See original page here.

"Meteoric rise" of CalArts Alumna, Cecily Strong, to the SNL Coanchor Throne

November 8, 2013
ABC 40

by Bruce Fretts

Meet Saturday Night Live's New "Weekend Update" Anchor Cecily Strong

When Cecily Strong sat in Saturday Night Live‘s “Weekend Update” anchor chair for the first time this fall, she had only one goal in mind: Don’t cry. “I’m a crybaby, so I express every emotion with tears,” says the Springfield, Illinois, native. “But they would’ve been happy tears — I would’ve been bawling because I was so excited.”

You can’t blame her for being psyched. In only her second season on SNL, she’s been promoted from lowly featured player to heir to the throne coanchor Seth Meyers will vacate when he leaves to host NBC’s Late Night early next year. “Cecily’s had a meteoric rise, as opposed to my molasses-like one,” quips Meyers.

It’s almost literally a dream come true for Strong, who has worshipped SNL for as long as she can remember. “I’ve always been a night owl, so I think I started watching it when I was 5,” she recalls. “I’d trick babysitters, like, ‘My parents let me watch this!’” Read more.

CalArts Alumna, May-Har Li, stars in contemporary Burlesque show

November 8, 2013
Hampton Roads

By Teresa Talerico

SuicideGirls bring back Burlesque for a new generation

American burlesque has always been a little edgy, mixing performance art with the allure of sensuality. It’s also been a reflection of the times. In its heyday, when the genre’s striptease artists were classically glamorous and perfectly coiffed, performers conformed to stereotypical beauty standards of the 1930s and ’40s. Think Gypsy Rose Lee, Lili St. Cyr or even today’s reigning queen of neo-burlesque, Dita Von Teese, who wears nostalgic corsets or lingerie that look like re-creations of the past.

But while the resurgence of burlesque over the past couple of decades has borrowed heavily from the art form’s history, there’s also a segment of today’s burlesque artists who simply reflect the aesthetics of now.

They show off tattoos, piercings, radical hairstyles and outrageous acts that push the envelope of modern burlesque. Read more.

CalArts Alumnus Jim Shaw's exibition at Los Angeles Contemporary Art Gallery

November 6, 2013
Art Daily

Blum & Poe's first solo exhibition with Los Angeles based artist Jim Shaw opens

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Blum & Poe present their first solo exhibition with Los Angeles based artist Jim Shaw. Spanning three decades and covering the entire gallery, Shaw’s fantastical, humorous, and psychologically laden explorations into esoteric, as well as popular, cultural phenomena coalesce to render a tale of Biblical proportion. Combing historic texts, artworks, comic books, and his dreams, Shaw’s flood of imagery is an essential tool in conveying his imagined histories and fables. Rivers, houses, and hair are but a few motifs repeated throughout the exhibition. Seemingly disparate, they mnemonically serve each other in depicting over-arching themes of fallen heroes, collapsed economies, concepts of sin, and general doomsday destruction.

No human transition is more extreme than life to death, which Shaw makes prominent in his repetition of ominous, and yet cleansing, water motifs. Enveloping the exhibition space at eighteen by forty feet is the work Mississippi River Mural, an old theater backdrop layered with a frieze of figures painted in illustrative comic style in battle-ready stances. This commanding work is unnervingly static, as if the figures have waited an eternity for their stage queue to the afterlife. Shaw’s obsession with the cycle of life and death serves as a basis for the other works in the show.

Playing central roles throughout the exhibition are two operas: Wagner’s The Ring of the Niebelung and Brecht / Weill’s,The Seven Deadly Sins. Each depicts the lust for earthly objects as the ultimate downfall of man. Shaw’s painting The House in Mississippi illustrates this damning quest quite literally with a coffin, in the guise of a home, being carried down the river by seven pall-bearers. Once acquired, the home becomes a burden, trapping the one who sought it. Directly across from this work is a house composed of hair. In this example, hair becomes a binding, tentacle-like force, entangling man in his own selfish pursuit. Read more.

Faculty Fran Krause quoted in article on Miyazaki’s film The Wind Rises

November 5, 2013
The New York Times

by Brooks Barnes

Swan Song Too Hawkish for Some

LOS ANGELES — “The Wind Rises” is the type of art film that typically speeds into the Oscar race. Critics at film festivals have swooned over its nuance. It delivers messages about turbulent modern times by examining traumatic events of the past. The film’s 72-year-old director and writer, Hayao Miyazaki, a cinematic giant, has said the ambitious animated picture will be his last, a final bow.

Instead, “The Wind Rises” is entering the Oscar competition on tiptoe.

The film, a box-office smash in Japan with ticket sales of $120 million, will play in New York and Los Angeles starting on Friday for one week, the minimum release time a movie can receive and still be eligible for the Academy Awards. A Hollywood producer who has taken the film under his wing, Frank Marshall, declined an interview request. The movie’s distributor, Walt Disney Studios, is also stepping carefully.

One explanation for the sensitivity? Although “The Wind Rises” has a strong pacifist message, it is essentially a biopic of Jiro Horikoshi, an aeronautical engineer whose contribution to the world was a killing machine. His designs led to the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter, which was used to devastating effect during World War II. Read more.

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