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CalArts Alumni help define ArtSpeak

October 30, 2013

by Robin Cembalest

How to Speak Artspeak (Properly)

Robert Atkins introduced the latest edition of his book ArtSpeak at the New York Public Library last night by admitting that artspeak has gotten a bad rap. “Somehow the language used for describing and discussing art has a reputation for unusual opacity, even sadism,” he said.

That’s the artspeak also known as International Art English, the scourge of artist’s statements, press releases, and catalogues, a language so riddled with semiotic buzzwords that any potential meaning is obscured.

ArtSpeak, the book, is not like that. It’s where you go to find out, quickly and clearly, what Semiotics means. Read more.

2 Broke Girls Actress and Alumna, Beth Behrs: familiar with being broke but not the billionaire lifestyle

October 31, 2013
American Profile

by Paulette Cohn

Is Beth Behrs Anything Like Her Character on ‘2 Broke Girls’?

If you mean did Beth Behrs, 27, grow up with a silver spoon in her mouth, the answer is no. She elaborates, saying, “The biggest difference for me is Caroline came from a billionaire background and went to nothing. I can relate to the nothing part, to being broke, but it was hard for me to imagine what her [before] life would have been like.”

Another difference is that Behrs is not a New Yorker. Rather, she was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and grew up in Marin County, California. And while Caroline attended Wharton Business School, Behrs, who has had a passion for performing since she was very young, attended the American Conservatory Theater (ACT) in San Francisco, CalArts in Valencia, California, followed by UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.

Yet a third difference is that while Caroline is still working to make her dream come true, for Behrs, “2 Broke Girls” is her dream coming true. Read more.

Just in time for Halloween, alumnus Henry Selick talks about directing The Nightmare Before Christmas

October 29, 2013
The Daily Beast

by Marlow Stern

Henry Selick on Directing ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’

What’s this? Twenty years ago, an $18 million stop-motion-animated musical featuring a singing and dancing skeleton was quietly released in theaters. But the film took on a life of its own after it left cinemas and, millions of Sally dolls and Hot Topic t-shirts later, The Nightmare Before Christmas is now considered a Halloween classic.

Directed by Henry Selick and produced/co-written by Tim Burton, The Nightmare Before Christmas centers on Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon), the de facto ruler of ghoulish Halloween Town. But he’s become tired of celebrating Halloween each and every year. One day, he opens a portal to Christmas Town, and decides to switch things up a bit—kidnapping Santa Claus, and recreating the yuletide cheer in Halloween Town. Meanwhile, Jack has fallen for a rag doll named Sally (voiced by Catherine O’Hara), and wishes to free her from the clutches of her creator, the resident mad scientist Doctor Finkelstein.

Featuring eye-catching gothic design and beautiful musical numbers by Danny Elfman, the film grossed a meager $50 million when it was first released in theaters, but has made countless millions in merchandise sales since. Read more.

Revisiting the career of late Lou Reed

October 28, 2013
Los Angeles Magazine

by Anthony Miller

Lou Reed's L.A. Culture Collide

Lou Reed, who died yesterday at age 71, was a supreme songwriter, storyteller, and scourge of music journalists (just read Lester Bangs or listen to Reed’s between-song harangues on his 1978 album Take No Prisoners). He imbued rock music with gravity, menace, and insolence. Reed sang about discovery, whether he was finding a reason or rushing on a run and feeling just like Jesus' son or turning on the radio and being saved by rock and roll. These appeals took his listeners—musicians, artists, a certain dissident Czech playwright, and countless estranged urban denizens—to places where they sought their own voices. 

Some have argued that Reed’s work brought the street and the literary avant-garde together, but it was more the fact that he innately understood what the two realms had in common. For Reed, it was about recognizing the humanity that resided within the strangeness, acknowledging that even in dreams there were responsibilities. Growing up, Reed listened to doo-wop even as he immersed himself in the stories of outsiders in books by Nelson Algren, Hubert Selby Jr., and John Rechy. He studied and drank at Syracuse with poet and short story writer Delmore Schwartz, to whom he would dedicate the song “European Son” and sing to in “My House” on The Blue Mask. Reed’s next mentor would be Andy Warhol, who would produce the Velvet Underground and to whom Reed later paid tribute on the stirring 1990 album that reunited him with his Velvet Underground compatriot John Cale, Songs for Drella.

If Reed had done nothing but the first four albums with the Velvet Underground, that would have been more than enough for inclusion into the rock ‘n’ roll pantheon. Read more.

CalArts students participate in panel on Pokemon at Hammer Museum

October 28, 2013
Daily Bruin

By Regina Napolitano

Hammer Museum hosts Pokemon panel

It may look like the group of 30 people sitting in UCLA Hammer Museum’s Lindbrook Terrace staring intently at the Nintendo 3DSes in their laps are twiddling their thumbs, but each of them is battling foreign species, trading animals or exploring the new world of “Pokemon X and Y.”

These 30 gamers participated at the “Pokemon at the Hammer” panel discussion and event last Saturday afternoon to celebrate the release of “Pokemon X and Y,” battle each other and share their love of Pokemon. “Pokemon X and Y” is the most recent iteration of the Pokemon game series and was released worldwide two weeks ago.

The Pokemon panel was broadcasted live on the radio as part of the KCHUNG radio residency at the Hammer Museum. The two hosts of the KCHUNG radio show “Outbreak: Comics and More,” Brent Freaney and John Martin aka “Johnnie JungleGuts”, led the panel. Read More

CalArts Alumnus, Gary Simmons, Wins Studio Museum in Harlem’s 2013 Wein Prize

October 26, 2013
Art Forum

Gary Simmons Wins Studio Museum in Harlem’s 2013 Wein Prize

Artist Gary Simmons has been named the winner of this year’s Joyce Alexander Wein prize by the Studio Museum in Harlem. Each year, the prize, which comes with $50,000, recognizes an African-American artist who demonstrates great innovation, promise, and creativity. Simmons received his MFA at the California Institute of the Arts, and has been featured in solo shows at venues that range from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden to Kunsthaus Zurich. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, among other institutions. Previous winners of the Wein prize include Jennie C. Jones and Leonardo Drew. Read More (Please scroll down for news item).

CalArts Alumnus, Gary Simmons, wins $50,000 Studio Museum prize in Harlem

October 25, 2013
Gallerist NY

By Dan Duray

Gary Simmons Wins Studio Museum’s Joyce Alexander Wein Prize

The artist Gary Simmons has won the Studio Museum in Harlem’s Joyce Alexander Wein Prize, the museum announced today.
The prize comes with $50,000. Mazel! Full release below:

NEW YORK, NY, OCTOBER 25, 2013—The Studio Museum in Harlem has awarded the eighth annual Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize to Gary Simmons. The Wein Prize, one of the most significant awardsgiven to individual artists in the United States today, was established in 2006 by jazz impresario, musician and philanthropist George Wein to honor his late wife, a long-time Trustee of the Studio Museum and awoman whose life embodied a commitment to the power and possibilities of art and culture.

The $50,000 award recognizes and honors the artistic achievements of an African-American artist who demonstratesgreat innovation, promise and creativity.Inspired by his wife’s life-long support of living artists, George Wein envisioned the Wein Prize as an extension of the Studio Museum’s mission to support experimentation and excellence in contemporary art.Director and Chief Curator Thelma Golden and more than 700 guests will celebrate the eighth Wein Prize at the Museum’s Gala 2013 on Monday, October 28, 2013. Read More

CalArts Alumna, Carrie Mae Weems, to receive "genius grant"

October 23, 2013
Mercury News

By Sheryl Nonnenberg

The enduring genius of Carrie Mae Weems

Photographer Carrie Mae Weems was recently chosen to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, colloquially known as MacArthur "genius grants." The highly coveted prize, given annually to around 30 individuals, is not a reward for past accomplishments, but rather a recognition of "exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work."

Bay Area residents have the opportunity to see a comprehensive overview of the work of this renowned artist, thanks to a traveling exhibition presented by the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. "Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video," opened Oct. 16 and is to be on view until Jan. 5.

Viewing the 100 works presented in this 30-year retrospective, it is easy to see why Weems was selected for the MacArthur Fellowship. From the inception of her career, she has managed to weave a strong sense of narrative through a variety of photographic styles, from portraiture to landscape to staged tableaux. In each series, a compelling message about race, gender and class is presented, for the most part, in a straight-forward manner utilizing black and white gelatin prints. Weems has also experimented with performance art and several of her videos are on view. Read More

Former Director of Percussion Program, John Bergamo, remembered

October 20, 2013

By Dave Gerhart

John Bergamo: In Memoriam

Yesterday, we lost a great man, musician and mentor to many percussionists. John Bergamo, former director of the percussion department at the California Institute of the Arts for 35 years (beginning in 1970), inspired generations of musicians who continue to make an impact on music today. I was fortunate to have attended a workshop that John taught at in 1990s and I hosted Hands On’semble at a PAS Day of Percussion at CSULB. Read More

Review: alumnus' "ridiculously beautiful" images are "about photography itself."

October 18, 2013
LA Times

By Sharon Mizota

Review: James Welling searches for beauty

The dramatic, glossy black shapes in James Welling’s “Gelatin Photographs” from the mid 1980s look like coal or tar or chunks of primordial ooze. Both obdurate and strangely fleshy, they are arrayed haphazardly across stark white grounds like some oily, alien sputum — or an abstract painting.

Actually, they are made of much more quotidian stuff: Jell-O, dyed black with ink. These mysterious images appear in Welling’s current retrospective at the Hammer Museum. On view through Jan. 12, it surveys 35 years of photographic work in which nothing is ever just Jell-O.

That slippery sweet is made from gelatin, which is also the substance applied to film or paper to hold a traditional photographic image. The title “Gelatin Photographs” is therefore both descriptive and redundant. All traditional photographs are gelatin photographs. Read More

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