Posts Tagged ‘Idyllwild Herald’

NY City Principal Jock Soto’s Piece Performed Friday

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Jock Soto came to Idyllwild to choreograph a Native Arts dance

By Marcia E. Gawecki

To close off Native American Arts Week at Idyllwild Arts, two faculty dancers will perform a piece choreographed by Jock Soto, retired principal dancer for the New York City Ballet, during his visit to Idyllwild Arts a couple of months ago. The Pas de Deax will be performed at 7 p.m. at the IAF Theatre on campus.

When Jock Soto retired after 25 years as principal for the New York City Ballet in 2005, he wrote a book about his life and career for Random House. He said that he was fortunate that he was able to learn dances quickly so that people liked to work with him. He credits his mother, the first female hoop dancer, with giving him strength.

He still teaches ballet at the School of American Ballet (SAB) in New York where he learned how to dance professionally.

Tonight, Soto’s piece will be performed by his friend, Jonathan Sharp, and Ellen Rosa, from the Idyllwild Arts dance department. It features original music by Laura Ortman, a White Mountain Apache, who is a musician and composer from Brooklyn. The Cahuilla Birdsingers also will perform.

Over the years, Jock worked with many choreographers, including George Balanchine, who personally asked him to join the New York City Ballet.

Jock said that he enjoys choreographing dances, like the Pas de Deux that he will be performing with Laura tonight at 7 p.m. at the IAF Theatre on campus. Like all events at Idyllwild Arts, it is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 265-6755.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Welcome Back to Idyllwild, Shepard Fairey

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Shepard Fairey is a 1988 Idyllwild Arts grad. Photo courtesy Sidney Morgan.

For the first time in 24 years, (Frank) Shepard Fairey, a now famous graphic designer / street artist, returned to his old high school, Idyllwild Arts Academy.

During an hour-long lecture on Feb. 10, Shepard showed slides and told how he raised hell, worked hard, believed in causes, got arrested, got lucky and gained some fame from his 2008 Barak Obama poster and 2010 documentary, “Exit Through the Gift Shop.”

Students, faculty and Idyllwild town folks packed the IAF Theatre and mobbed him for photos at the art show afterwards. It was his “Welcome Back, Kotter” moment.

“This is the best thing that’s happened to visual artists,” said Kevin, a senior visual artist from Korea, as he stood in front of Shepard Fairey’s posters at the show. His friend took his picture with Shepard Fairey, which likely was later posted on Facebook.

“I’ve got one of his stickers,” beamed Bella, a senior fashion design major from China. “And it’s signed!”

Back in 1987, when Shepard Fairey attended his senior year at Idyllwild Arts Academy, he was “stagnating” (according to his parents) with interests only in punk rock and skateboarding. When he got kicked out of North Carolina School of the Arts during the summer, he came to Idyllwild Arts.

“When I met one of my art teachers, David Amico, he was wearing biker boots and a Ramones (punk rock) T-shirt,” Shepard said during his slide presentation/lecture. “For the first time, there was no adversarial relationship with my teachers. They treated me like one of their peers.”

Ellenie, his former 2D design teacher, said that Shepard was an average art student.

“But being average at Idyllwild Arts means that you’re among the top three percent of young artists in the country,” she clarified. “He also had to be reminded about the rules a couple of times.”

That year, he studied black-and-white photography, but then used color photography to make fake California Driver’s Licenses with his friends. Later, he used that same fake ID to get into LA clubs to post his “Obey” posters.

"He's the best thing that's happened for visual artists," exclaimed Kevin, with Cynthia, before Shepard Fairey's posters.

Shepard also told how he jammed the color printer at Kinko’s with a paperclip and printed off hundreds 11 x 17-inch posters in black and red, but only paid for six copies.

He’s not saying that it was right, but it’s what he had to do to as a struggling arts student to get his message (of questioning authority) out to the masses.

A the Rhode Island School of Design, he remained active in the skateboard /punk rock culture. One day, he was showing a friend how to make stencils, using a newspaper photo of Andre the Giant. His friend refused thinking it ridiculous, but Shepard’s interest in the wrestler took off. And so did the popularity of his art.

He stylized the image, and put it on buildings and walls around Providence. It made the local news.

“I realized that the only things occupying the public space were government signs and advertising,” he said.

It all started with a crude sticker of Andre the Giant, Shepard Fairey said.

He filled that public space with his “Obey” campaign.

“But then I realized that scale was important,” Shepard told the crowd. (After all, Andre was over 7 feet tall and weighed 525 pounds).

He saw an opportunity to paste over a large billboard featuring a local politician in full scale pointing his finger. The headline read: “He Never Stopped Caring About Providence.”

The next day, Andre the Giant’s face covered the politician’s, who also had mob connections. The billboard ‘makeover’ made the news again, but Shepard had to apologize.

“It took him about four minutes to figure out who did it,” Shepard said, shaking his head.

That incident didn’t stop Shepard from promoting his “Obey” campaign all over U.S. cities and towns, and getting arrested 16 times along the way.

This wasn’t your average street artist “tagging” for his own fame, but a serious conscious objector using his art to bring issues to light.

Shepard Fairey with iconic Obama poster and student.

Some of them he showed during his slide presentation, including anti-war images featuring then-president George Bush with a Hitler moustache, and a young girl carrying a grenade in her hand. Other issues included the oppression of the Tibetan monks, air pollution, and water pollution. Yet, his anti-war slogans were most prominent.

“We spend a lot of money on the military in the U.S., rather than education,” Shepard claimed.

He showed a poster of new parents proudly cradling a bomb. Another one featured a gas mask with bold text: “I don’t want my taxes to pay for the new world order.”

After showing the last slide of a giant tyrant boot ready to crush masses of people, he softened a bit.

“All I’m saying is that you can use your art to speak up,” Shepard told the Idyllwild Arts students. “Few people have the courage to do the heavy lifting. Be brave, OK?”

He spoke not just to the visual artists, but to young musicians and writers as well.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect,” he said. “You could build music on your laptop or write a blog.”

He’s doing what we’ve always told our students to do, said Ellenie. Take something that you believe in and show it through your art.

Although Shepard became most famous for his 2008 Barak Obama poster, Shepard didn’t spend much time on it. He said he was impressed with then-candidate Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention and decided to create a poster. He was lucky that it was sanctioned by the Obama campaign by a former skateboard friend.

“That poster rose to the national spotlight like none other,” he said.

Early in Obama’s campaign, Shepard was identified as the artist who created the iconic poster. When asked if he was mad that others were taking his image and profiting from it, Shepard said, “no.”

On campus, Shepard Fairey was approachable and congenial. He allowed Sidney M. to take these pictures.

Since then, Shepard has become disappointed with some of President Obama’s politics, but said that he’s the best candidate around.

Shepard’s work has appeared in galleries and museums around the country. He illustrated Time magazine numerous times.

Even with all of his success, Shepard was “at home” among the artists at Idyllwild Arts.

“I saw him sitting in the cafeteria eating lunch,” exclaimed Peter. “This was my big moment! So I sat down next to him and told him what a big fan I was.”

He allowed Sidney, a photography major, five minutes before his lecture to take several portraits of him.

(from L) Eric, a film student, with Shepard Fairey. Eric offered to be an extra camera man sometime.

“He was so nice and casual,” Sidney said. “You can see how natural he is in the pictures.”

View the pictures that Sidney took on her blog, www.sidneymorganblog.com.

Eric, from Mexico, spoke to him about filming him in the future.

“I’ve been saving up for my own video camera, and told him that if he needed an extra guy to shoot, I could do it,” Eric said.

Shepard gave Eric his contact information, and since he was hanging around, he was interviewed by Gail Wesson for her Feb. 11 Press-Enterprise article.

When asked if he had seen Shepard Fairey’s lecture before coming to the alumni show, Hubert Halkin of Cafe Aroma replied, “Of course I did! I saw it in the comfort of my own home–on UStream!”

Shepard Fairey’s posters, including the 2008 Obama poster, remains on display at the Parks Exhibition Center on the Idyllwild Arts campus. Call (951) 659-2171, ext. 2251. To hear his one-hour lecture in its entirety, visit www.idyllwildarts.org, and click on UStream, or visit the latest issue of the Idyllwild Herald at www.idyllwildherald.com.  For Shepard Fairey’s art, visit www.obeygiantart.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Feb 16, 2012 @ 12:39

 

 

From Music Comp Class to March 1st Recital

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

(from L) Comp music student, Arik, and his teacher, Kevin Michael Sullivan, discuss the merits of the class

By Marcia E. Gawecki

A new honors music composition class is quickly gaining popularity at Idyllwild Arts. Mostly because of its recent collaboration between music students and poetry students on campus. The two groups are teaming up for a performance for “Idyllwild Arts Day” in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 12.

They are taking original poems and setting them to music. However, some of their collaborations will be previewed this Tuesday night, March 1, at 7:30 p.m. as part of an Idyllwild Arts Music Faculty Concert at Stephens Recital Hall.

Each of the four hand-picked music students in the comp class get individual attention, said Kevin Michael Sullivan, the instructor. The four students are Caleb, a trumpet player; Arik and Benny, pianists; and Chris, a viola player.

“They keep me on my game,” Kevin said of the group who has helped him with his own music compositions. “They’re good kids and very sharp.”

Vocal music student, Samuel (shown here at another performance) helps out the composition students with their ongoing work

Oftentimes in class, Samuel, a classical vocal music student, sings their compositions out loud, so they can make adjustments.

“The first few class sessions were hard,” Sam said. “Mostly because the writer and the composer didn’t always see eye-to-eye.”

Benny said that his first composition climaxed too early, and it wasn’t exactly what he wanted.

“Do you think I could transpose it?” he asked Kevin, while eating lunch in the cafeteria.

“I think that would work,” Kevin said.

Sam, who sang Benny’s first song, agreed that it needed a change.

“The high ranges almost killed my voice,” he said, jokingly.

Sam said that he takes notes on the poems during the composition class to see what the best interpretation might be. He said that he considers himself a “vehicle” for the writer, in keeping the words “sacred.”

The creative writers who are providing the poems and collaborating with the musicians, include: Rebecca, Whitney and two Austins.

Benny, a pianist, enjoys the challenge of the honors music comp class. Courtesy photo.

Caleb, who is working with Austin on his poem, “New World Order,” about mankind, said that he heard it at last year’s Parallex (a student publication) reading, and liked it.

Caleb is setting Austin’s poem to modern music, using a bunch of different instruments from a sound mixer to achieve the desired effect.

“Caleb’s piece is really cool, but very complex,” Sam said.

With most of the poetry collaboration songs, Sam will sing them onstage at the “Idyllwild Arts Day in LA. However, with Caleb’s piece, Austin’s voice will be prerecorded. Austin will be reciting the words, while Sam will be singing the melody.

“Caleb decided that only my voice was right for the voice over,” Austin said.

At the same time, Sam is a little nervous about the Caleb-Austin collaboration, because he’ll be out of town with his own senior vocal auditions while it’s being completed.

“It’ll all work out,” Sam said. “It always does.”

Whitney, a creative writing student who is working with Arik, a piano player, is also a little nervous about her collaboration.

Austin is collaborating with Caleb on one of his poems, "New World Order"

“I don’t want to say, ‘nervous,’ because it sounds like I don’t trust him,” Whitney said.

She said this was the first time that one of her poems has been set to music. She is looking forward to seeing it performed onstage.

“It’s terrifying to hear your work performed onstage,” Kevin said. “You’re like a parent in the audience, and have no control over what’s being done up there.”

At the last faculty recital, one of Kevin’s pieces was performed by Idyllwild Arts faculty and students. During Tuesday night’s faculty recital, not only will Kevin’s pieces be performed, but he will also be playing the saxophone.

Even though they are not completed, some of these music composition-poetry collaborations will be performed at the recital this Tuesday night, March 1, at 7:30 p.m. at the Stephens Recital Hall on campus.  Faculty and guest artists will perform oboe, sax and piano, along with some classical music and jazz students.

All recitals and concerts at Idyllwild Arts are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

: Feb 27, 2011 @ 10:13