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Videos and interview with songwriter and School of Music alumnus Mikal Cronin

June 24, 2013
Nashville Scene

By D. Patrick Rodgers

Mikal Cronin w/Shannon and the Clams, Weekend Babes and The Paperhead Tonight at The Stone Fox

San Fransisco polymath Mikal Cronin — who recently received his BFA in music from CalArts, and who recorded most of the instrumentation on his brand-new Merge Records debut, MCII, himself — will play tonight at The Stone Fox. I spoke with Cronin via phone in advance of his Nashville gig, and you can read a good chunk of our conversation here. As you'll see in our chat — and in the excellent clip above, which comes to us courtesy of Yours Truly and Adult Swim — Cronin is a gifted songwriter, and one of those introspective, thoughtfully creative types. He's known for his collaborations with Ty Segall and others as well as for his solo material, and with MCII, the 27-year-old explores themes of uncertainty and identity. Read More

Interview with alumnus Ravi Coltrane

June 23, 2013
What's Up Roc

By Jeff Spevak

Ravi Coltrane's taking life by the horn

Ravi Coltrane was running late for the recording session. As was the pianist. And studio time in Manhattan isn’t exactly cheap. Coltrane called his bass player and drummer and instructed them to just start recording some rhythm tracks. Something, anything. OK, they did as they were told. And when the two tardy musicians arrived, they recorded their own parts. Without even hearing what the other guys had done. A studio engineer cued up the tracks, setting one on top of the other.
Voila! A jazz tune!

“You’re looking for meaningful coincidence,” says Coltrane, admitting that some of that day’s experiments in blindfolded jazz were a little less than meaningful. “It’s supposed to not sound like garbage. It should be very natural, because you’re used to hearing these instruments playing together. You’re always looking for creative and organic ways to inspire another approach. If the material is not coming together, it clears the thought waves.” Read More.

Review of exhibition by Chouinard Art Institute alumnus Llyn Foulkes

June 22, 2013

By Thomas Micchelli

Crackup: Llyn Foulkes Gives Us the Art We Deserve

With its superb retrospective of the art of Llyn Foulkes, the New Museum pulls off the almost impossible trick of elucidating the work of a long-neglected, unclassifiable and thoroughly recalcitrant figure without sacrificing its mysteries or thorniness.

The evolution from then (more than sixty years ago) to now in Foulkes-World is a bewildering experience. The neo-Dada/neo-Kienholz/neo-Rauschenberg/black/brown/gray matter of his debut efforts is absolutely nothing like the mordant, hyper-illusionistic tableaux — hybrids of painting, assemblage, collage, found objects and molded bas-relief — that the artist started making in 1983.

But as it progresses, the exhibition, curated by Ali Subotnick, enables us to form a complex but cogent overview of the artist even as he zigs here and zags there.
The first room, right off the elevators, is a wildly mixed bag, an aggregate of juvenilia in vitrines and compactions of apocalyptic residue on the walls. There is also a surrealist oil on wood painted in 1953 when Foulkes was 19, a year before he was drafted into the army.

Foulkes’ stint in the service, which brought him to postwar Germany, was followed by studies at the University of Washington and the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. He quickly entered LA’s art scene with a group show at Ferus Gallery in 1959 and a solo there in 1961.  Another solo, this time at the Pasadena Museum of Art, came a year later. Read More

Former faculty member John Baldessari featured on Art 21 site

Jund 21, 2013
Art 21

By Nicole J. Caruth

100 Artists | John Baldessari

In a new previously unpublished interview with Art21, John Baldessari discusses language and communication, and how years of teaching, from preschool to college level, influenced his work in the studio. Here’s an excerpt:

Art21: How do you feel about people applying the term “conceptualism” to your work?

Baldessari: I think isms—impressionism and so on—are useful for writers when something seems to be brewing and they want to give it some sort of generic title. I think with conceptual or minimal art or the period when I began to emerge, I just got put in that basket—that I was a conceptual artist because I used words and photos. But as time goes on you begin to see the artist more distinctly and realize that the labels don’t really apply. And I think if you asked any artist that you might think of as conceptual now, if he or she would use that term, the answer would be, “No, I’m not a conceptual artist.” Once I said to Claes Oldenberg, “You’re a pop artist.” He said, “No, I’m not; I’m an artist.” And Roy Lichtenstein said the same. I have the same feeling. Conceptualism doesn’t really describe what I do. If somebody wants to use that term, it’s fine, but I’d prefer a word that’s broader and better. I’m really just an artist.

Read More

Alumnus discovered game design when LucasArts visited campus

June 21, 2013
Hero Complex (LA Times)

LucasArts vet turns to Kickstarter to revive a ‘Vampyre Story

Adventure game devotees don’t have it easy.

Though there have been signs the story-driven genre is making a comeback, as evidenced by the success of Telltale Games, Double Fine Productions and the narrative-first approach of Quantic Dream, it’s a style of game still largely confined to the outskirts of crowd-funding sites such as Kickstarter.

Just ask Bill Tiller, a veteran of LucasArts, where he was a principal on games such as the Steven Spielberg-endorsed  “The Dig” and later “The Curse of Monkey Island.” Days before Kickstarting his newest project, the prequel game “A Vampyre Story: Year One,” Tiller was stressing that his decade-plus-long quest to make his “Vampyre Story” vision a reality was taking too steep of a financial toll.

“I need to start bringing in some income,” he said, noting that he’d spent weeks crafting a fully animated Kickstarter-pitch video that wasn’t going as effortlessly as hoped. Some of the jokes, said the former CalArts animation student, were falling flat, and the music still needed to be added. Read More

CalArts alumni cited in article about "Monsters University"

June 20, 2013
LA Times

By Rebecca Keegan

'Monsters University' gives it that old college scare

On the University of California campus recently, a tour guide told a group of prospective students about the many opportunities open to those studying in the Bay Area — "like getting an internship at Pixar," she said.

The Emeryville animation studio is four miles away, but that day Pixar was even closer than the tour guide knew — director Dan Scanlon and three of his colleagues were walking right behind her, on their way to Sather Gate, a bit of Beaux-Arts architecture that had served as creative inspiration for Pixar's new film, "Monsters University," which opens Friday.

In 2001's "Monsters, Inc.," Mike, the one-eyed green orb voiced by Billy Crystal, and Sulley, his fluffy, blue brute of a buddy (John Goodman), were "scarers" in the city of Monstropolis, whose job is to frighten human children and collect their screams for use as fuel. In the new film, which is a prequel, Mike and Sulley meet for the first time as college freshmen enrolled in the rigorous scaring program at Monsters U. Read More

Interview with rocker and recent graduate Mikal Cronin

June 20, 2013
Nashville Scene

By D. Patrick Rodgers

Rock 'n' roller, pop songwriter and BFA recipient Mikal Cronin knows what he's doing 

Mikal Cronin is doing a better job of adjusting to adulthood than he seems to think. On this year's excellent power-poppy garage-rock LP MCII — his second solo full-length and first for Merge Records — the 27-year-old seems plagued by ambivalence, asking questions like "Is it my fault?" and "Am I wrong?" and "Do I even know what I'm waiting for?" But for someone with so many questions, Cronin has made a singular album brimming with shimmering guitars, excellent pop hooks and consistently full arrangements.

Cronin currently lives in San Francisco, and he's frequently associated with fellow Bay Area garage-psych folks like friend and frequent collaborator Ty Segall, with whom he's toured and released multiple efforts. But here, Cronin very much stands out from the pack, his voice — despite his seeming indecisiveness — sounding like that of a pop songwriter, plain and simple. Not only that, but he also recently earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in music from CalArts, and he plays many of the instruments on MCII himself. Sounds an awful lot like a dude who knows what he's doing, right? Read More

Alumnus Damon McCarthy discusses collaborating with his father artist Paul McCarthy

June 19, 2013
W Magazine

By Fan Zhong

Paul McCarthy's WS

Earlier this spring, 85 tractor-trailers rolled out of a downtown Los Angeles warehouse bound for New York. They were hauling the building blocks of a colossal artificial forest, which the artist Paul McCarthy has now installed in Manhattan’s Park Avenue Armory for WS, his major solo exhibition opening on Wednesday. As he’s done in the past with Caribbean pirates and Santa Claus, the artist recast a (mostly) innocent childhood fantasy—in this case Snow White—through film, performance, and sculpture, creating a vividly grotesque nightmare barely recognizable to anyone weaned on Disney. (Don’t bring the kids.)

On a May afternoon, the artist’s son Damon McCarthy, 39, was overseeing the installation of the 8,800-square foot set in the Armory. The stage was maybe two-thirds finished, but the fake earth, foliage, and towering foam trees already seemed to fill the vast space. “My father feels this is his biggest accomplishment as an artist,” Damon told me. It is certainly the largest in sheer size. In recent years, Paul McCarthy has emerged as a contemporary titan working on a scale as spectacular as that of Jeff Koons. (The New York Times called their latest dueling New York gallery shows “The Battle of the Big.”) Damon, who manages the studio in L.A. and collaborates closely with his father, has been instrumental in helping realize this outsize vision. Read More

Stephan Koplowitz collaborates with Milwaukee artists to present bold spectacles

June 18, 2013
Express Milwaukee

By John Schneider

Bold Audio Spectacles on the Lake

UWM's gift to dance students and the city

“It'll never look the same,” my friend said as we left the North Point Water Tower section of UW-Milwaukee’s “Summerdances—Stephan Koplowitz: Water Sight, Milwaukee,” a tad stiff from sitting on the curb on last week’s chilly Thursday night.

Indeed, the gothic tower and the postmodern Cudahy Gardens fronting the Calatrava addition of Milwaukee Art Museum surely were indelibly transfigured for audiences and passersby as choreographer Koplowitz and his Milwaukee collaborators staged bold audiovisual spectacles at these current and future landmarks, offering them to the senses in unexpected ways.

The UWM Department of Dance, with support from several programs including the Peck School of the Arts “Year of the Arts” celebration, commissioned the distinguished choreographer to create these works with the students. Milwaukee composers Richard Hynson and Tim Russell; the Bel Canto Chorus with soloists Erin Laabs and Rebecca Whitney; rehearsal director Christina Briggs Winslow; and designers Luc Vanier (digital projections), Lisa Christensen Quinn (costumes) and Mike Atkins (lights) contributed mightily. Koplowitz has worked prolifically in the United States and Europe. He now lives in Los Angeles, where he is dean of the California Institute of the Arts dance program. Read More

Photos and trailer from alumna Eliza Hittman's film

June 18, 2013
Empty Kingdom

By My Dark Apron

It Felt Like Love Eliza Hittman

Director / writer Eliza Hittman embarks on a bold journey through the mind of an ever-growing sexually-minded teenage girl. It Felt Like Love is a film that never shies away from the consequences of understanding love. Check out more after the jump.

More detailed tidbits can be read as follows (via Sundance FIlm Festival 2013):

“Fourteen-year-old Lila is experiencing an ennui-filled Brooklyn summer. She awkwardly wears a Kabuki-esque mask of sunscreen at the beach and plays third wheel to Chiara, her more experienced friend, and Chiara’s boyfriend, Patrick. Determined to have a love interest of her own, a bravado-filled Lila pursues Sammy, a tough but handsome older boy. Though Sammy doesn’t respond to her overtures, he doesn’t reject her either, and Lila—unable to resist spinning delusional fables of a relationship with him—manipulates herself deeper into his world. When her desperation and posturing carry her too far into unfamiliar territory, her inexperience is exposed, and she is forced to confront reality. Read More

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