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CalArts and the Chouinard Alumni Council Present Awards to Leo Monahan, Chouinard ’58 and Larry Legras, Chouinard ’60

CalArts and the Chouinard Alumni Council Present Awards to Leo Monahan, Chouinard ’58 and Larry Legras, Chouinard ’60

FEB. 10th, 2018 - The California Institute of the Arts and the Chouinard Alumni Award Committee will present the Nelbert Chouinard Award to artist Leo Monahan (Chouinard ‘58) for elevating the art form of paper sculpture, as well as the Grand View Award to fashion designer Larry LeGras (‘60) honoring his career and his service as an Alumni Council Leader. Monahan and LeGras will receive their awards at the annual Chouinard Alumni Reunion hosted by CalArts at Maggiano’s Little Italy at the Grove in West Hollywood.

The award recipients are selected by a Chouinard alumni peer committee; this year, the peer committee members were artist and committee chair Timothy Clark (‘72), artist Doris Olga Gotsinas Kouyias (‘69), and Glen Kittelson (‘56).

Best known for his work in paper sculpture, Leo Monahan’s work has appeared in galleries in California and throughout the Southwest, as well as the Smithsonian Art and Space Museum. Monahan is a 35-year participant in the U.S. Air Force documentary art program, as well as a founder of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s documentary art program. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Society of Illustrators. In addition to his work as a paper sculptor, graphic designer, and illustrator, Monahan has also taught at Chouinard, CalArts, USC and Disney Imagineering.

Larry LeGras served as the Chouinard Representative on the CalArts Alumni Council. LeGras has worked as a fashion designer, jeweler, and teacher throughout Los Angeles, and has served as the President and Vice President of the California Fashion Designers, the Costume Society of America’s Board of Directors, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Costume Council. LeGras has taught fashion design at Otis College of Art & Design, Woodbury University, Santa Monica Community College, and the American College of Applied Arts.

Past recipients of the Nelbert Chouinard Award include costume designer Alice Davis (‘50), portrait artist Don Bachardy (‘60), and renowned Chouinard educator Harold M. Kramer. Davis, a Disney Legend, is best known for her work designing costumes for “It’s a Small World” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” at Walt Disney theme parks, as well as consulting on many classic Disney films. Bachardy’s work has been exhibited across the country, and resides in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Portrait Gallery in London. Kramer was one of California’s foremost abstract painters of the mid-20th century. He also taught “Experimental Illustration” at Chouinard, where he greatly impacted the lives and art training of the students.


The Chouinard Art Institute was a professional art school located in Los Angeles, established in 1921 by artist Nelbert Chouinard, with the goal of creating a world-renowned art school on the West Coast. Chouinard is best known for producing illustrious fine artists and becoming the training ground of Walt Disney’s animators in the late 1920s, where multiple students from the school would later work on Disney feature animations. In 1961 the Chouinard Art Institute merged with the L.A. Conservatory of Music to form California Institute of the Arts.The legacy of Chouinard Art Institute helped put CalArts at the forefront of arts higher education.


California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) has set the pace for educating professional artists since 1970. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools—Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions. As successive generations of faculty and alumni have helped shape the landscape of contemporary arts, the Institute first envisioned by Walt Disney encompasses a vibrant, eclectic community with global reach, inviting experimentation, independent inquiry, and active collaboration and exchange among artists, artistic disciplines and cultural traditions.