Archive for May, 2012

Palm Springs Film Noir Fest Opens Tonight

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

(from L) Jeffrey Taylor, actress June Lockhart and Charles Schlacks at the 2010 Film Noir Festival

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The 12th Annual Arthur Lyons’ Film Noir Festival opens tonight (May 10) at the Camelot Theater in Palm Springs.

A small band of loyal film noir movie buffs from Idyllwild will attend the 3-day film festival dedicated to B-movies. Among them are Jeffrey Taylor, Green Cafe, who hosts a weekly movie night in Idyllwild, and his friend, Charles Schlacks, Jr., who has attended each year since its inception in 2000.

Their idea of heaven is sitting in a movie theater watching four films each day.

“Most of the movies shown at the festival have never been seen by the public before,” said Jeffrey, an alum of UCLA, whose film department helps restore old films, including many Film Noirs.

Of the 12-movie line-up that includes “Cry Danger,” “I Love Trouble,” “Shield for Murder” and “The Big Heat,” Charles has only seen “The Big Heat” before. He’s 81 years old.

Both men were good friends with the festival’s originator, Arthur Lyons, a former city councilman who wrote mystery novels and loved Film Noir. Wearing a cap and white shoes, Arthur often looked like he stepped out of one of the movies from the 1940s. However, he was only 62 when he died in 2008.

Since then, Alan Rhode has taken over his mantle, and continued the festival.

Arthur came to Jeff’s movie night to show a rare film noir and promote his book about film noir, “Death on the Cheap.”

Some of the attractions of the Arthur Lyons’ Film Noir Festival is that movie goers can mingle with movie stars. After many of the movies, Alan interviews one of the stars to get the “inside scoop” of what it was like back then. Most of the stars are in their 80s, but are still smart and lively.

For more information, visit Green Cafe’s web site at www.greencafe.com or the Arthur Lyons’ site, www.arthurlyonsfilmnoir.com.

Tickets are still available at the Camelot Theater before each showing.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Music Comp Collaborates with Visual Artists

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

(from L) Kevin, Julian, Will, Nick and Corwin gather around the piano

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Last year, Kevin Sullivan’s Honor Music Composition class collaborated with student poets and a vocalist. Those lucky enough to attend “Idyllwild Arts Day in LA” heard their interpretations live (see “From Music Comp Class to March 1st Recital” Idyllwild Me blog post dated Feb. 27, 2011).

This year, however, the three songwriting students–Will, Nick and Corwin–are collaborating with three visual artists, including Josh, Zoe and Inga.

“I thought we’d mix it up a little bit,” Kevin said. “Next year, we’re thinking of working with vocal music students again.”

Although the songwriting students have been hard at work for months and have seen the pieces by the visual artists, it was still a surprise to two of the artists.

“They’re writing songs about my painting?” asked Josh, a sophomore visual artist from Taiwan.

The one they selected of Josh’s is called “Greedy,” and features a pig eating another pig while other pigs sitting around a table are watching him. The painting is hanging on Josh’s wall in his dorm room.

He said it’s a statement about the human condition, and not necessarily about anyone in particular.

“The pig doesn’t even know that he’s eating himself,” Josh laughed.

(from L) Kevin gestures to Julian emphasizing his point

It wasn’t the first time Josh has used a pig in his artwork. He once painted a single pig with money coming out of it years ago in China.

“They’re still writing songs about our art?” Zoe asked, as she was preparing for the SAT. “That was months ago.”

Earlier this semester, Nick went through her portfolio and picked out the photograph, which features a blended image of Isaac, a writer, and Delilah, a former visual artist.

“I took the photograph right after a fashion show,” Zoe explained. “Delilah wore heavy makeup, and it was a nice contrast to Isaac, who was shot in profile and was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt.”

Sometime this year, Zoe started cutting the photographs apart, and then weaving them together.

“It looks more like a bar code to me,” she said.”Photographs can be like math, so technical.”

“Yes, we’ve been working on these compositions for a long time now,” Kevin explained. “But they’ve gone through anywhere from 10 to 15 drafts. We also went on the USC Songwriter’s Tour, and there was Spring Break and such.”

Back at the piano in Kevin’s comp class, Will was listening to Julian, a fellow piano player, sight read his music. During most Thursday night classes, they critique each other, but tonight, Julian was adding his own comments.

The painting by Josh (shown with girlfriend Vita) features pigs devouring each other

“I asked Julian to play for us today to find out of there’s any ‘finger busters,’ in which a piano player has to twist his fingers in a weird way,” Kevin explained.

“It’s doable,” Julian said about Corwin’s version of  Josh’s painting, “Greedy.” However, he asked about the “voicing.”

Kevin explained that in jazz, “voicing” is the order of chords, and a pianist can play the same notes in many different ways, emphasizing different notes. He asked Julian to play it three different ways, which gave Corwin several options to choose from.

“You don’t want to leave it to the piano player to interpret your work, because then it will sound different each time it’s played,” Kevin explained.

After Julian played one of Will’s pieces, “Beneath the Window” for Inga’s painting, Kevin suggested that he and Julian play it again, splitting up the right and left hands.

“I wonder if there’s a way we can make it sound a little richer,” Kevin said.

“You need to write a good challenging piece. It makes it more interesting for the piano player,” Kevin added.

Nick reaches into the exposed piano keys to strum them

By the time they finished, Kevin, Will and Julian were pleased with with the results to “draft no. 11.”

“Now, it’s got a little more color and brightness, and not so grumbling,” Kevin told Will, who was nodding in agreement.

Nick wanted to show the others what he recently added to Zoe’s piece. With Will’s help, he took off the top of the piano, exposing the chords underneath.

Julian laughed. “Have you heard of ‘Macro Cosmos?'” he asked. “George Krumb had a woman shout, ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!’ into the exposed piano.”

Just for fun, Kevin repeated those words into their exposed piano keys, while Nick pushed the pedals. The result was an eerie echo.

Instead of sheet music, Nick was playing from his laptop screen. At the given moment, he reached into the piano and strummed the exposed keys. It sounded like a harp.

“It’s supposed to sound like a snake,” Nick said, pleased with the effect.

Kevin said that Janette, who will be performing their work, is interested in modern classical music, in which you do unconventional things like strum the exposed keys.

“We’re just glad that she’s willing to do this for us,” Kevin said.

Nick then demonstrated how his songwriting software plays back the song for him.

“You know instantly how it’s going to sound,” Nick said. “I can’t believe that Kevin actually sits in his room and writes all the notes out by hand. This is the 21st century!”

Just then,Kevin took over the piano and played a prelude (from sheet music that was written out by hand). It was beautiful, quiet and slow. Afterwards, there was a hushed silence among the student songwriters.

Then Nick said, “That’s why he’s our comp teacher.”

(from L) Will, Nick and Corwin embrace technology

In the next few weeks, the music comp class will finish each of their collaborations, and then present it to the visual artists and others who want to attend. In short, there will be four different views of each painting, including preludes.

The performance date hasn’t been set yet, and Kevin is scrambling to find an open spot with all of the junior and senior music recitals going on nearly every night.

Zoe, admitted that she was a little nervous.

“It’s going to be really cool,” she said. “But what can I say about my work? Sometimes, it’s just not all that deep and complicated. It’s just is.”

Josh was excited about hearing their work.

“Do you know the date yet?” he asked with a big smile. “I want to bring all of my friends!”

Will said they will likely give the musical pieces to the artists as gifts.

In the meantime, we’ll have to wait for the Music Comp performance until a date opens up.

Tonight, however, (Wednesday, May 9) Nick and Will, will be presenting a variety of songs they’ve written for their junior recital. It starts at 7:30 p.m. at Stephens Recital Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

NYC Ballet Principal Jock Soto Visits Idyllwild

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Jock Soto in Idyllwild

By Marcia E. Gawecki

More than 100 featured ballet roles were written for him.

For 25 years, Jock Soto was the principal ballet dancer for the New York City Ballet, and left when he turned 40 years old in 2005. Since then, he wrote a book about his dancing career (because Random House asked him to), including his mother’s strong influence.

She was the first female Navajo hoop dancer.

“She used hoops to mimic the movements of eagles and horses,” Jock said. ”

Random House asked Jock to write his memoir soon after his mother’s death.

“At first, I didn’t want to do it,” Jock recalled. “But then I realized it would be a nice tribute to her. But I also wanted ballet dancers to know that there’s life after dancing.”

Since he wrote the book, Jock has graduated from culinary school with a business degree. Jock still teaches ballet at the School of American Ballet (SAB) in New York where he learned how to dance professionally, but he is at Idyllwild Arts this week teaching Master Classes.

He reconnected with Jonathan Sharp, a dance instructor at Idyllwild Arts, through Facebook, and is now on tour teaching other students about ballet. As a promise to his mother, he went to Canada to teach indiginous students about ballet.

“They know modern, but surprisingly not ballet at all,” he said.

At Idyllwild Arts, however, the 35 or so dancers who live at the boarding school know about ballet. Many of them have been dancing since age 5, like he did. But he went to New York at age 13 to dance at the American School of Ballet (but there were no dorms back then), and ended up living in an apartment with eight other students.

“My parents didn’t want to live in New York, so I stayed and went to school there,” Jock explained. “Our apartment was in a nice area about three blocks from the school (SAB). I had just left Arizona and was pretty naive.”

Did bad things happen to him in New York? Many of them are outlined in his book, “Every Step You Take,” now available for $18.99 new (or $5 used) on Amazon.

Well, he gave up his high school academic studies, but not his dancing classes, and joined the New York City Ballet at age 16. By age 21, he was their principal dancer, the youngest in their history.

On the cover of his book, “Every Step of the Way,” it shows Jock leaping through the air. He was only 16 when the photo was taken. He looks like an angel in flight.

Jock said he became successful as a ballet dancer because he was quick.

“You had to learn about 100 different dances in a year,” Jock explained. “So if you could learn them quickly, people wanted to work with you.”

Over the years, Jock worked with many choreographers, including George Balanchine, who personally asked him to join the New York City Ballet. He said that he toured the world, and never wanted to leave for any other company.

Besides his memoir, Jock wrote a cookbook with Heather Watts, and PBS produced a documentary in 2008 called, “Water Flowing Together,” that takes you from his roots on the Arizona reservation to principal dancer at the New York City Ballet. Peter Martens said Jock had a “natural grace,” a remarkable career who left a terrific impact on the world of dance.

“I think they’re going to show the documentary at Idyllwild Arts this week,” Jock said.

You can view an excerpt of Jock’s video online at www.pbs.org.

As he drove up from Palm Springs to Idyllwild, Jock said that the area reminded him of Taos, New Mexico, where he has a summer home that he rarely gets to visit.

“This is just beautiful,” Jock said as looked down at the creek and up at the 100-foot pines. “I think I’m going to like staying here.”

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Student Artist Shares Spotlight

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Josh and Vita before the Spotlight Awards Ceremony. Photo by Josh.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Persistence pays off.  At least when it comes to high school art competitions.

For two years now, Vita, a Visual Artist from Idyllwild Arts, submitted photographs to the coveted Music Center of Los Angeles Spotlight Awards, but didn’t make the cut.

This year, however, Vita submitted a mixed media drawing and won an Honorable Mention. She was up against thousands of other art students from 100 other Los Angeles-area high schools.

“Photos are so subjective,” Vita said. “They can be interpreted in so many ways, so I submitted a drawing this year.”

Several of Vita’s paintings and drawings can be seen in the 2012 Spring issue of Parallax student magazine. You can pick up a copy for free at Bowman on campus.

Vita’s mixed media drawing that won the Spotlight Award is long and narrow, and architectural in nature. (Architecture is something Vita admits that she’s interested in). She couldn’t remember the name of the piece, because she only named it for the show.

As part of her winnings, Vita gets $250, and two tickets to the Spotlight Awards Ceremony on Saturday, April 28, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. She brought her boyfriend, Josh, who is also a Visual Artist at the school.

“It looks like a building falling down,” exclaimed Josh.

Vita’s drawing looks like a skewed aerial view of the Los Angeles or New York skyline. How would you ever get that view? You’d have to take a helicopter that dives in between tall skyscrapers.

Vita's award-winning drawing was shown in a student show at Parks earlier this year

Vita said that she used several photographs as inspiration and put them together. The same piece was featured in an earlier art show at Parks Exhibition Center this year.

Before heading to the Spotlight Awards Ceremony, Vita and Josh ate outdoors at a Taiwanese restaurant. Both were dressed up, and Vita insisted that she wasn’t nervous.

“I hope they don’t make me go onstage,” she said.

At the ceremony, the two sat in the balcony, with hundreds of other supporters and well-wishers. In 2009, a caravan of Idyllwild Arts students and teachers took up two rows when Timmy Yu (piano) and Samuel Chan (voice) stole the competition.

Josh said he thought there might have been 5,000 people in the audience. After the music performances and videos, they showed Vita’s drawing on the big screen.

“That was a big moment,” she said, smiling.

Josh couldn’t take pictures because he said it was really dark in there and a flash wouldn’t go far.

“Vita deserves the recognition,” Josh said. “She works really hard.”

Vita mentioned that the other winners in the Visual Art category had shown their mastery of technique.

Spotlight Awards Ceremony was held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion

“In Asia, our teachers really emphasize technique,” Vita said. “But here I’ve learned to use my imagination and creativity more.”

She said the other winners’ images were deserving.

“But Dean would have blown them all out of the water,” Vita exclaimed of her classmate. “Dean doesn’t care about awards. He’s that type of artist who is so good all he wants to do is his art. Awards don’t matter to him.”

What they have in common is their love of perspective. Dean’s image on the April-June Idyllwild Arts Performance Calendar depicts a worm’s eye view (looking up) of an elderly African American woman smiling. Free copies of the calendar are available at Bowman.

"Dean's work would blow them all out of the water!" exclaimed Vita of Dean's painting (shown). "But he doesn't care about awards."

After her Cinderella moment, Vita was back to the studio getting ready for her senior class art show which opens at 6 p.m. tonight, (Friday, May 4)at the Parks Exhibition Center on campus. The event is free and open to the public.

The four other Visual Art students featured in Friday’s show include: Caine, Jimmy, Yoo Jean and Ji.

For more information about events at the Parks Exhibition Center, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call Mallory Cremin at (951) 659-2171, ext. 2251.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.