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NPR interview with alumna Nancy Beiman, who was part of the first Animation class

Disney's First Crop Of Trained Animators, Profiled

February 16

By Rachel Martin

The first generation of animators to attend Walt Disney's California Institute of the Arts in the 1970s is profiled in Vanity Fair magazine. NPR's Rachel Martin speaks with Nancy Beiman, who was part of that first class.

You are sure to know the work of a small group of Disney animators who were on the top of their game in the 1930s. They were known as the Nine Old Men, and they produced iconic films like "Snow White" and "Pinocchio." But when the old men really became old and were nearing retirement, there was no new talent to take over. One of Walt Disney's last acts was to establish the California Institute of the Arts, a school intended to replenish the Disney staff. The first generation of animators to attend Cal Arts in the 1970s is profiled in the newest issue of Vanity Fair magazine in an article called "The Class that Roared." Among the students were John Lasseter, who directed "Toy Story."  

Read/listen to the full interview here.

Vanity Fair covers the CalArts Class who created a great Renaissance of Animation

The Class That Roared

March 2014
Vanity Fair

By Sam Kashner

The great renaissance of animation (Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ratatouille, etc.) has come almost entirely from one now famous group of students at the California Institute of the Arts in the 1970s. As students, they owed it all to Walt Disney, but as pros, many hit a wall at Disney’s studios. Sam Kashner hears from a band of misfits who learned from the best and couldn’t give anything less.

It was a staggering number. In November 2012, the Los Angeles Times reported that directors who had been students in the California Institute of the Arts’ animation programs had generated more than $26 billion at the box office since 1985, breathing new life into the art of animation. The list of their record-breaking and award-winning films—which include The Brave Little Toaster, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Toy Story, Pocahontas, Cars, A Bug’s Life, The Incredibles, Corpse Bride, Ratatouille, Coraline—is remarkable. Even more remarkable was that so many of the animators not only went to the same school but were students together, in the now storied CalArts classes of the 1970s. Their journey begins, and ends, with the Walt Disney Studios. As director and writer Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) observes, “People think it was the businessmen, the suits, who turned Disney Animation around. But it was the new generation of animators, mostly from CalArts. They were the ones who saved Disney.”

In late 1966, Walt Disney lay dying. One of his last acts before succumbing to lung cancer was looking over the storyboards for The Aristocats, an animated feature he would not live to see. The Walt Disney Studios, the wildly successful entertainment empire he had founded with his brother, Roy O. Disney, as the Disney Brothers Studio, in 1923, was beginning to lose its way. Its animated films had lost much of their luster, and Disney’s original supervising animators, nicknamed the “Nine Old Men,” were heading for that Palm Springs at the end of the mind, either retiring or dying. Read more.

Vanity Fair Photos: Tim Burton, John Musker and more of the Animators who attended CalArts in the 70s

The Class That Roared

March 2014
Vanity Fair

By Sam Kashner
Main Photo by Annie Leibovitz

The great renaissance of animation (Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ratatouille, etc.) has come almost entirely from one now famous group of students at the California Institute of the Arts in the 1970s. As students, they owed it all to Walt Disney, but as pros, many hit a wall at Disney’s studios. Sam Kashner hears from a band of misfits who learned from the best and couldn’t give anything less. See slideshow here.

CalArts Alumna, Miwa Matreyek creatively collages in Virtual Vertigo

Miwa Matreyek's Virtual Vertigo

February 3, 2014

by Holly Willis

Since the 1990s and the digital revolution, as a culture we've been struggling to figure out our new reality. What is "real?" What is "virtual?" And how do they connect?

Media artist Miwa Matreyek tackles these questions in her artwork, which is impossible to label easily. She blends elements of theater, performance, animation and cinema to create magical live events layering multiple projections, recorded music and the image or silhouette of her own body moving through the projected images. The result is a spellbinding experience for an audience as we simultaneously marvel at the enchanting animated worlds she creates while at the same time try to imagine how the entire performance is working. What's real? What's animated? What's projected?

"From early on, I was interested in breaking down the languages of theater, performance and cinema, and I liked playing with the structure of video," explains Matreyek, who graduated from the California Institute of the Arts with an MFA in 2007, and now lives in Los Angeles. At CalArts, she was able to merge her interests in animation and collage, as well as theater, performance, cinema, puppetry and site specific art, through the Center for Integrated Media, an interdisciplinary laboratory that invites students who are interested in using technology in creative ways to experiment. Read more.

Seven facts about Julia Holter, CalArts Music Shool Alumna

Julia Holter Is Not A Cellist — But That Won't Stop Her From Playing The Cello

January 30, 2014
LA Magazine

by Theis Duelund

“I’ve been trying to delete the multi-instrumentalist label,” says 29-year-old L.A. composer Julia Holter about her poorly researched Wikipedia entry. “I played cello on my early recordings, but that doesn’t mean I’m a cellist, you know?”

The classically-trained pianist and composer may be too modest about her abilities. Holter has been a figure on the experimental pop scene for several years, wowing audiences and critics alike with expansive soundscapes that vacillate between intimate vocal-driven songs and grand electronic ballroom waltzes. Her two previous albums, Tragedy and Ekstasis, were primarily written and recorded in her makeshift bedroom studio. Her latest album, 2013’s Loud City Song, departs from this do-it-yourself aesthetic for a state-of-the-art studio equipped with session musicians. Loud City Song has been lavished with praise and was named best album of 2013 by The Wire. Here are seven things to know before diving into Julia Holter’s musical pool. Read more.

Work of Carrie Mae Weems, Art School Alumna, at the Guggenheim

‘Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video’ at the Guggenheim

January 29, 2014

By Mika Pollack

Last week, in a feat of inept timing, a magazine published, on Martin Luther King Day, a photograph of the pert Russian art collector Dasha Zhukova posed on a Bjarne Melgaard chair crafted to resemble a voluptuous and supine black woman.

It so happens that later in the week the Guggenheim opened a retrospective of the work of Carrie Mae Weems. The exhibition, curated by Kathryn Delmez, surveys the MacArthur Grant-winning artist’s 30-year career, over which she has contributed considerable thought to the place of the black, female body in American life and art.

Starting with her Cal Arts M.F.A. thesis, Family Pictures and Stories (1978-84), which exhibited images of her own family, Ms. Weems created staged photographs paired with text responding to stereotypes about black life. Her career begins with verve and humor. Her tongue-in-cheek 1987-88 photograph series Ain’t Jokin contains an image of a young black woman looking in the mirror; a gauzy white witch appears before her. The caption reads, “Looking into the mirror, the black woman asked. ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the finest of them all?’ The mirror says, ‘Snow White, you black bitch, and don’t you forget it!!!’” Read more.

Bernard Cooper, Art School Alumnus, writes about his "Avant-Garde Education"

Bernard Cooper's portrait of the artist as a young man

January 28, 2014
LA Times

By David L. Ulin

In the current issue of Granta, Bernard Cooper publishes an excerpt from his memoir “My Avant-Garde Education,” which is due out next year.

Cooper, of course, is a memoirist and fiction writer (“Guess Again,” “The Bill From My Father”) of uncommon subtlety and nuance, who uncovers in the quietness of personal experience the tumult of being alive. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he’s a quintessential local voice, working from out of what D.J. Waldie calls our “sacred ordinariness,” portraying the city not as mythic landscape but as a place where people live.

If you don’t think that’s radical, you might want to think again. Along with Waldie, Wanda Coleman, Susan Straight, Eloise Klein Healy and a handful of others, Cooper is one of the writers responsible for developing a Southern California aesthetic, in which what’s most vivid about the place is everything we might take for granted somewhere else. Work, family, education, sexual and personal identity: This is the substance of his writing, along with a fine-grained eye for observation, a way of seeing situations as they are, not as he wishes they might be.  Read more.

Long overdue first solo museum exhibition for Timothy Washington

Love Thy Neighbor: Timothy Washington and the Black Assemblage Art Movement

January 24, 2014

By Mike Sonksen

"Love Thy Neighbor," opening on Saturday, January 25 at the Craft & Folk Art Museum, is the first solo museum exhibition of Leimert Park artist Timothy Washington. This long overdue solo show is a watershed event for Washington, a Chouinard Art School graduate, classically trained in painting, drawing and sculpture, who has been a part of numerous group shows over the last 40 years but has never had his own solo museum exhibition. This week L.A. Letters pays tribute to Washington, and briefly highlights the groundbreaking Black assemblage art movement that came to rise within Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s.

Timothy Washington was born in 1946 and grew up in South Los Angeles. He spent his childhood collecting discarded objects and drawing influence from Simon Rodia's Watts Towers. After graduating from Dorsey High School, he earned a scholarship to Chouinard Art Institute, where he received his B.F.A. in 1969. Chouinard later merged with Cal Arts in Valencia, but for several decades it was near MacArthur Park when the area was known for galleries, architects, and artist studios on streets like Seventh or Wilshire. Washington flourished in Chouinard's lively environment; there are myths that Langer's Delicatessen on Alvarado would stay open to the wee hours filled with art students. Otis Art College was also in the neighborhood before it moved to Westchester in the 1980s. The area near MacArthur Park has a long history with the arts.

Washington was one of the youngest participants in the canon of Los Angeles' influential Black assemblage artists like David Hammons, Betye Saar, John Outerbridge, and Noah Purifoy. As contemporaries of the the L.A. Rebellion school of filmmakers, Horace Tapscott's Pan African People's Arkestra, and the Watts Tower Arts Center, among many other arts organizations, these artists "began to redefine black consciousness in art," writes scholar Daniel Widener. Washington is especially known for his folk art assemblage work, associated with Black heritage and spirituality. Read more.

My Little Pony fans establish scholorship for CalArts

Rise of the Bronies

The male fanbase for "My Little Pony" caught even the show's creators off-guard. Is this the end of American manhood?

January 3, 2014
The American Conservative


At the outset they seem like typical fanboys: they congregate on fandom websites, dissect their favorite episodes with the exacting precision of a surgeon’s scalpel, and live for the convention crawls—after which they post photographs of themselves with BNFs (Big Name Fans), an arm slung over the other’s shoulder in subculture bliss.

But then come the avatars, and they are not only blindingly cute but pastel, with glitter and stars, and they have names like Rainbow Dash, Twilight Sparkle, and Pinkie Pie.

They are “Bronies,” and if you’re like many of us—late to the party—it’s time to get up to speed. This is probably the first American online fandom on record in which gender roles are so flipped as to completely befuddle even normally open-minded folk.

The object of their intense enthusiasm doesn’t wield a light saber, or an ax, or an M-4 combat rifle, though some of them send shock waves and love power though horns in their foreheads. No, this is not your standard sci-fi bromance, this is about man seeking pony, My Little Pony, a show designed for elementary school girls and featured on cable cartoon network The Hub.

Read more.

Video: Alumnus director of Urban Jazz Dance Company is "ambassador of Deaf culture."

Dancer Antoine Hunter infuses art with Deaf culture

Born completely deaf in his left ear and “hard of hearing” in his right, Antoine Hunter is the founder and director of Urban Jazz Dance Company and the President of the Bay Area Deaf Advocates. Here, he discusses how he engages with music and his role as ambassador of Deaf culture.

December 26, 2013
Oakland North

OAKLAND — Antoine Hunter is used to talking about what most would call his disability. Despite a prestigious resume in ballet and jazz dance, Hunter is labeled first and foremost a Deaf dancer. But instead of distancing himself from the label, Hunter has embraced it by becoming an ambassador for “Deaf culture” in the Bay Area. He is the founder and creative director of Urban Jazz Dance Company, an ensemble that incorporates sign language into its choreography, and the President of the Bay Area Black Deaf Advocates.

A native of West Oakland, Hunter was born completely deaf in his left ear and “hard of hearing” in his right. Nonetheless, he learned to dance at Oakland’s Skyline High before attending the California Institute of the Arts on scholarship.

Read more and view video.

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