Posts Tagged ‘Idyllwild Arts Summer Program’

Gadzooks! It’s Comics Class!

Friday, August 13th, 2010

The Comics class depicts a story about a battle between the goblins and the humans

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“Gadzooks, Batman, the Joker just fell into a vat of hot lava!”

Ever since DC Comics came out with “Superman” in 1932, America has had an ongoing love affair with comics. When Marvel Comics expanded the lot with Spider Man, the Hulk, Wolverine, and Iron Man, and jumped to the big screen, even wider audiences are loving comics.

“It used to be that comics were not considered ‘high art,'” said Jessica Shiffman, a local book illustrator, who has taught a comics class at Idyllwild Arts Summer Program for the past seven years.

Yet, on a back table in the outdoor studio in the Children’s Center on campus, there are piles of coffee table art books solely devoted to comics and graphic novels. Jessica keeps them back there to refer to when she’s talking to her class. She also encourages her students to read them to learn more about the craft.

Comics are high art and the subject of many illustrated books

The Comics class is small, only five students, but optimal for one-on-one teacher interactions. The students, mostly from southern California, are aged 11 to 13 years old. But don’t let their young age stop you.

“Each of them has created their own comics at some point,” Jessica said. “They’re all incredibly smart and gifted artists.”

When Jessica asked them to write a story that they all could illustrate, they couldn’t agree on the ending.

“So now we have two endings,” Jessica said.

Their story goes like this: Goblins and humans are fighting, and there’s only one person who can talk to both sides, Megan, a little girl. She convinces the goblins that they need to make peace with the humans. So they devise a plan to set the forest on fire, and then put it out, and save the day. That way, the humans will be grateful, and everyone will be happy.

11-to-13-year olds use clay, construction paper, cardboard and feathers to illustrate

“They had to solve a problem,” explained Jessica. “And forest fires are topical, and reflective on what’s going on in the real world.”

Yet, for three of the students, there is a different ending. Saskatchuwan, one of the evil goblins doesn’t want to make peace with the humans, and says, “Let the forest burn!” Other goblins don’t agree, but they’re too weak to stand up to him.

Sophie, whose mother is a movie producer defended her decision for that alternative ending.

“Happy endings are so predictable and dumb!” she said.

Her friend, Tritzah, age 11, agreed. But when asked how they could tell a story in which the humans die, the two girls, frowning said, “Who said that we were human?”

“You didn’t grow up watching ‘Dr. Who,’ did you?” Sophie asked. “When you see them, come back and talk to me!

Jessica Shiffman holds up a portrait of herself that one of her student's drew

On Wednesday, August 12, the class was finishing up their shadow boxes that would tell the goblin-human-fire story with two endings. Sophie was rolling out small pieces of clay to make bricks for a house in her shadow box.

She planned to use them again later to make a clay animation video, she said.

The brightly colored clay is called, “model magic,” and it’s made by Crayola. It soft, and pliable like clay, but less brittle and easier to work with. Next to the clay images of goblins and humans are dialog boxes of what’s being said or what’s going on in the scene.

Construction paper, glue, feathers, and clay. Simple materials to tell a story.

One student builds a house made out of construction paper and tape

The next day, Jessica and the students were going to share their progress with the rest of the school at “Share Pad.”

“We only have a few minutes to show what we’re doing,” Jessica said. “They won’t be able to see everything, but just get a jist of it.”

She said that the parents would be able to see the shadow boxes up close later.

No rest for the wicked, or the imaginable. On Friday, the Comics class was going to hollow out gourds that they’ll later use to make puppets. Jessica and her artist husband, Bill, went to Fallbrook last weekend and picked out 12 gourds.

“We have to soak them and scrape off the skin,” Jessica said.

Next week, the class will learn how to make gourd puppets.

“We didn’t start out making gourd puppets in Comic class,” Jessica explained. “I was actually thinking of turning it into another summer class. But the kids liked it so much that we kept it as part of the curriculum.”

The Comics class runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for two weeks. The students get a lunch break, and snack breaks, but they often work right through them, Jessica said.

Max, one of the students, wrote his name in comic-style letters

To warm up each day, the students do traditional drawing exercises. Yesterday, they did gesture drawings, or 60-second pose drawings of each other. Gesture drawings get students to look at bodily poses.

The previous day, the exercise was portraits. They each drew each other, and Matthew drew a portrait of Jessica.

“See? This is what I look like,” Jessica said, as she held up a portrait of herself.

Max, age 13, from Palm Springs, had completed his shadow box was doodling on paper in a far corner. He had written his name in block letters using black and silver markers. On the wall next to him is faded graffiti. Max doesn’t consider that art.

“All they’re doing is writing their names,” Max said. “It’s not art, but vandalism.”

Yet, his name in block letters resembles the tagger’s style. Where it all came from, you’ll have to look up in the history of comic books.

Connor illustrates one of his comics for class

Connor, who was rolling out some clay, had to rewrite the word, “dos,” meaning, “two” in Spanish for the second ending to their story. It looked too much like the word, “dog,” Jessica warned.

Jessica couldn’t stop talking about how imaginative all of her  students were, even the quiet ones like Matthew.

“In one of his stories, the earth ends, to stop global warming,” Jessica explained. “It eats up all the people, but spits out the wildlife.”

In another one, in honor of Friday, August 13th, Matthew created a comic about a flying burrito that caused a large hole in a woman’s stomach. When one surgeon refused to treat her, she climbed to the top of a flagpole and got stuck (because of the hole in her stomach).

All of this from 11 to 13-year-olds.

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

All student’s artwork and stories are copyrighted to the students who created them. All rights reserved.

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Worth Getting up for Sat. AM Drum Concert

Friday, August 6th, 2010

(at R) Guest soloist Naoko Takada Sharp plays the marimba with enthusiasm

By Marcia E. Gawecki

If tonight’s concert was any indication, it would be worth getting up  early this Saturday morning, August 7, to hear the the Symphonic Percussion Ensemble at Idyllwild Arts. Although they are teenage musicians, their eight short songs sound, at times, like Buddy Rich on caffeine, the Blue Man Group, and various African drum circles. The fast-paced concert will wow your socks off and leave you panting for more. It’s worth staying for the last song that features guest soloist Naoko Takada Sharp, a world-class marimba player.

Throughout the concert Thursday night, these young players showcased the various instruments that make up the percussion part of an orchestra, including the marimba, xylophone, timpani, snare drums, bass drums,  chimes, cymbals, and even a gong. Some songs were kinetic, moody, upbeat and frenzied, while others were soothing and classical. But one thing’s for certain, drummers are the hardest working members of an orchestra or wind ensemble, and it was nice to see them singled out to “strut their stuff.”

The hour-long concert included six group songs and two short solo pieces. The songs included: “A la Strata” by M. Peter; “Debussy Day at the Fair,” by C. Debussy; “Triplets” by G.H. Green; “4 1/4 for Four” by A. Cirone; “Matrix” by S. Grimo and “Concerto for Marimba and Percussion Ensemble” by Ney Rosauro.

The second song, “Debussy Day at the Fair,” was classical and enjoyable, showcasing the talents of the senior percussionists on marimbas and xylophones. The next song, a modern one, “Triplets,” showcased six music students, two sets of playing on a xylophone and marimba at the same time, while a soloist lead them in the lively, upbeat song.

The group plays "4 1/4 for Four"

The next song, “4 1/4 for Four” is as complex as its title suggests. It featured four students playing the snare drums, the timpani (kettle drums), a bass drum set and the bongos with sticks. This song sounded  like the Blue Man Group, playing loudly, boldly and in unison. It brought out one of the Idyllwild Arts drum directors, Robin Sharp, who lead the group to a splashy, and perfectly-timed ending.

My favorite was “Matrix,” for its frenzied, frenetic complexity, and ability of the players to showcase about 15 different percussion instruments, sometimes all at once, that I couldn’t even begin to name. Chimes, cymbals, a gourd rattle, a triangle, snare drums, a marimba, a xylophone, a large gong and other instruments made horse clomping sounds, popcorn popping sounds, church bells chimes, and melded them all together into a truly enjoyable song. It also brought out the other modest, but talented drum director from Idyllwild Arts, Bill Schlitt.

Dylan playing marimba showed that he learned from the Master class

Dylan and Lauren, two students who participated in a Master Class with Naoko Takada Sharp, from last Thursday night, got to show off what they learned in two short solos, including “Etude in C Major” by C. Musser, and “Mexican Dance No. 2” by G. Stout.

Yet, it was the last song that made the show definitely worth seeing because the Master Class teacher was also the featured soloist. “Concerto for Marimba and Percussion Ensemble” by Ney Rosauro, a brilliant Brazilian composer, may have a boring title, but it leaves you on the edge of your seat. Mostly because it’s played with the unbridled energy of Ms. Takada Sharp, who, with double mallets in each hand, moved across the marimba keyboard with the intensity of a hummingbird in flight. Both arms were a blur throughout the entire song. It was even difficult to even get a photo of her because she didn’t stop moving for a second!

Una (at R) was in awe of Ms. Takada's playing on the marimba (L)

Her passion for the marimba showed in her facial and body expressions. She was the hardest working marimba player during that song.  Afterwards, the young students playing alongside her, congratulated her, took pictures, and stood smiling and in awe.

“She plays simply amazing,” said Una, a percussionist from Taiwan, who also attended Idyllwild Arts Academy for two years.

“I sounded good because you were my backup,” Ms. Takada Sharp answered.

“I hit one wrong note,” Una confessed, but the Master teacher said that it didn’t matter.

The 15 student percussionists take the stage for a final bow

The next Symphonic Percussion Ensemble Concert, with Ms. Takada as soloist, will be held at 9 a.m. this Saturday, August 7, at Ataloa (next to the Parks Exhibition Center) on the Idyllwild Arts campus. The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, call (951) 659-2171.

Copyright Idyllwild Me 2010. All rights reserved.

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Farm Workers’ Kids Get IA Scholarships

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

IA Scholarship students from San Jose pose at one of the pullouts on Hwy. 243. They said they'll miss the scenery.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

As they left the Idyllwild Arts campus last week, each of the six scholarship students on the van were crying. They had a great time, and didn’t want to go home yet.

“I want to stay here two more weeks,” said Jose, a trumpet player.

He said that he’d miss his friends, the counselors, and his new girlfriend that he met at the school dance. But he was also sad because he was going to miss his final concert. The flight was prearranged, and IA tried to change it so he could make the concert, but Jose’s parents didn’t want him traveling alone.

“They told me that I could come back,” Jose said. “Even though I’m a senior and will probably graduate, they said they wanted me to come back next summer.”

For years, the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, along with the Monterey County Office of Education (MCOE), have been providing scholarships to migrant worker’s kids from California. Idyllwild Arts picks up the classes, room and board, while MCOE picks up the students’ flights and guardianship, said Diane Dennis, the registrar at Idyllwild Arts, who handles the coordination.

Diane said that she’s been working with Jorge Morales from MCOE’s Migrant Education Department for about five years now.

“We told Jorge we could offer them three full scholarships this summer, and he sent three more on his own,” Diane said. “It’s an experience they won’t ever forget.”

Steve Fraider, director of the Summer Program, remembers one MCOE scholarship student, a French horn player, who came to Idyllwild Arts a few years ago, and made tremendous improvement.

“He was a decent enough player, but soon met other music students who were determined to get into Julliard when they graduated,” Steve said. “He told them that he wanted to go to Juilliard too, and started practicing a lot more, and learning new music. He came back here three years in a row.”

“As it turned out, he didn’t get into Juilliard, because that school only accepts one or two new students each year,” Steve said. “But he got into another good music school, Eastman, I think.”

For years, Idyllwild Arts have been giving scholarships to migrant worker's kids

And to think that the Idyllwild Arts summer scholarship was the beginning of this success story.

“When the kids come here, they’re in a different environment, and generally, they thrive,” added Steve.

The six migrant scholarship students who arrived at Idyllwild Arts two weeks ago, were from San Jose, CA. All were art students, except for Jose, a gregarious trumpet player.

Jose, the trumpet player (center), wants to come back to IA next summer

During that time, Jose met a lot of music students, including some who played jazz, an art form that he had never tried before. Besides trumpet, Jose plays guitar and bass guitar.

Caleb, a jazz trumpet player who goes to Idyllwild Arts Academy during the school year, impressed Jose.

“We heard him play at a jazz concert, and he was awesome,” said Jose. “He practices all the time. We’d only see him at 6 a.m. in the morning, and then late at night, but that was it. All of the time in between, he was practicing his horn, and it showed.”

When he comes back next year, Jose will likely take art classes, instead of music.

“I drew a few things in art classes this time,” he said. “Mostly tags and stuff. A lot of people don’t think tags are art, but they are. I’ve seen some really beautiful ones.”

He said that he didn’t even think about “tagging” any trees on campus because everyone was so nice to him.

He also writes poetry, and may take some writing classes when he returns next summer.

“But my parents don’t want me to be an artist,” he said.

At Idyllwild Arts, there are many role models with success stories. Professional artists, musicians, teachers, and others, supporting themselves with their art.

Vanessa, from MCOE, arrived early at Ontario Airport to chaperone them on their return flight. The students talked to her excitedly about their stay in Idyllwild, showing them drawings, paintings and jewelry.

Minerva, one of the two girls on this trip, said she was sad to leave her roommate, who was from Korea.

“When we left, she was crying too,” Minerva said.

They plan to keep in touch via email and Facebook.

Johan, whose right hand was wrapped in an ace bandage, said that he sprained it while playing “Catch the Flag,”  a game similar to tag football.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said.

When Vanessa heard that Jose missed his concert, she didn’t even miss a beat.

“Next time,” she said, and he nodded in agreement.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Nash’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Photo Exhibit a Hit

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Eric Metzler gives instructions to students before entering MOPA

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Baby Boomers are going to love this photography exhibit.

Imagine seeing candid photos all of your favorite rock ‘n’ roll bands with their “hair down,” and vunerable waiting backstage, and then see their sweaty, electric performances close-up like you’d never see them before. Or, catch them after the concerts, exhausted and numb “zoning” on the bus or back in their hotel rooms.

“Taking Aim: Unforgettable Rock ‘n’ Roll Photographs Selected by Graham Nash,” is the current exhibit at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park in San Diego. The show continues until Sept. 26.

“There isn’t a bad picture in the bunch,” said Eric Metzler, head of the Photography Department at Idyllwild Arts. He falls into the Baby Boomer category, but he took a group of 10 teenage photography students to see the show on Tuesday, July 20.

For many reasons, taking photographs of the exhibit was not allowed.

There were more than 100 mostly black-and-white photographs, as seen through the eyes of 40 legendary photographers including Lynn Goldsmith, Annie Leibovitz, Henry Diltz, Jim Marshall, Neal Preston, Mick Rock, and Graham Nash, among others.

“What was neat about this exhibit was there were photographers that I had never heard of before,” said Metzler, who has been teaching photography for more than two decades.

Many of the standout photos of this “Take Aim” exhibit were taken by lesser-known photographers, like Alfred Wertheimer, Joel Bernstein, Bob Gruen, Lew Allen, Anton Corbijn, and Jurgen Vollmer.

In fact, the exhibit’s “showcase” photo of Elvis eating breakfast at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, VA, was taken by Werthheimer. The photo shows a close-up of a young Elvis, hair slicked back, blazer on, eating bacon and eggs. Elvis’ eyes are downcast, more interested in the meal, than posing for a photo. He looked like an angel eating breakfast.

According to the web site, the photos in this exhibit depict Graham Nash’s view of rock ‘n’ roll music, and showcase images of live concerts and behind-the-scene shots by The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Elvis Costello, Elton John, Jimi Hendrix, and Bill Haley & the Comets, among many others.

We knew that Graham Nash, from Crosby, Stills and Nash, could sing, but who knew that he could also take pictures?

“You can get many great shots when people don’t know that you’re really taking their image,” said Graham Nash, a quote that was printed on the wall of the exhibit.

Summer students said they enjoyed the exhibit

Metzler admitted that the “Take Aim” content would appeal mostly to Baby Boomers.  Most of the rock ‘n’ roll groups were from the fifties, sixties, and seventies. But he said that he saw photos from bands from 2003 that would appeal to a younger audience.

Part of the summer students’ assignment was to examine one photograph for clarity, depth of field, composition, and other aspects of good photography, and write their opinions on it. After 30 minutes of looking them over, each student selected a different photograph.

Most of the ones that I liked had mostly to do with rock ‘n’ roll history. For example, a memorable photo of John Lenon and Yoko Ono, taken by Annie Liebowitz, depicts their relationship. It features Yoko, fully clothed, lying on the floor of their NYC apartment, hair spread out like the Venus di Milo. By contrast, John is totally nude, kissing and clinging to her like a baby possum.Yet, what most people don’t know (until this exhibit), is that this photo was taken only a few hours before John Lenon was shot to death.

MOPA wouldn't allow any photos to be taken of their current "Take Aim" exhibit

Nash and his curator did a nice job of grouping photos. For example, they placed a photo of Bob Dylan’s hands just below a photo of Johnny Lee Hooker’s hands. Johnny Lee’s hands were open, palms up, depicting many lines, or a hard road. In one of Bob Dylan’s hands was a lit cigarette, nearly down to the butt. His nails were long, especially the ring finger on his right hand. The left hand was turned over, nonexpressive.

Nash also coupled two photos of Janis Joplin, one by the well-known Jim Marshall, while the other by the lesser-known Elliott Landy. Marshall’s photo depicts a young Janis backstage, all dressed up, yet still defiant. On her lap rests a full bottle of Southern Comfort.

Landy’s photo shows a close-up of Janis Joplin onstage, singing into a microphone. Her hair is frizzed, her eyes are closed, and her right breast has fallen out of her beaded top. Although Marshall’s photo shows a vunerably, Landy’s depiction of Joplin onstage is personal and a bit vunerable too. She is so caught up in the song, that she’s unaware of her “wardrobe malfunction.”

Although there was a couple of photos of Cass Elliot from the 60s vocal group, The Mamas & the Papas, photos of John Phillips was noticeably absent. Perhaps Nash didn’t want to stir up negative feelings after John’s actor daughter, Mackenzie Phillips, recently came out with her incest book. For my part, I was glad not to see him grinning.

Of all the stage antics in these “Take Aim” photos, the ones I liked the best were of Elton John doing a handstand on the piano keyboard, while his platform shoes were flying in the air, and the one of Bill Haley (of Bill Haley & the Comets) playing guitar, while his bass player was standing on top of his bass while playing.

MOPA is located in Balboa Park, the site of many museums and attractions

“Taking Aim: Unforgettable Rock ‘n’ Roll Photographs Selected by Graham Nash,” will continue at the Museum of Photographic Arts until Sept. 26.

The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but it’s closed on Mondays. For more information, call (619) 238-7559 or visit

Metler’s class will also showcase their photos that they’ve taken over the past two weeks today from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Studio D on the Idyllwild Arts campus. For more information, call (951) 659-2171.

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Spending the Summer at Idyllwild Arts

Monday, July 19th, 2010

(from L) Kim Christensen and Annie Gutierrez have taken three art classes so far

By Marcia E. Gawecki

At Idyllwild Arts, some people are taking one, two, and three art classes, and practically spending their entire summer here. But they wouldn’t have it any other way. Annie Gutierrez, a retiree from El Centro, and Kim Christensen, a teacher from Highland, have already taken three classes so far, and may sign up for more.

“It’s been a great summer,” said Kim, who has already taken two jewelry-focused classes, “Tool Making & Alterations,” and “Navajo Inlay Jewelry,” and is currently enrolled in another, “Soldering Boot Camp.”

Back in Highland, Kim belongs to a group that makes rocks into jewelry.Yet, they were limited in their tools. When Kim brought back a few tools that she created at Idyllwild Arts, her friends were impressed.

“The best tool that we learned to make helps with stamps,” Kim said. She wasn’t talking about the kind of stamps that you put on an envelope or help you make Christmas wrapping paper. “These stamps help you put an image into metal.”

Kim's Navajo bracelet shows stones on one side, and animal stamps on another

She showed off her bracelet that she made in her “Navajo Inlay” class. It was silver, and about 1/2 inch thick, with square turquoise and blue stones on one side, and two ancient animal shapes on the other.

Richard Tsosie, a Navajo jeweler and sculptor from Flagstaff, who taught the class, would show them how to do something, but they’d have to finish the piece on their own, Kim said.

She’s also enjoying “Soldering Boot Camp,” in which they use tools with a flame to connect pieces of jewelry together. According to the brochure, the purpose of the course is not to complete one piece, but to become proficient in soldering.

Annie Guiterrez has been coming to Idyllwild Arts Summer Program for many years. She is a quiet woman in her 70s, who was wearing a T-shirt that read: “My Next Husband is Going to be Normal.”

So far, she as taken “Folding Clay Slabs,” and “Mosiacs 101 & Portraits,” and is currently enrolled in “Creative Nonfiction.” But after a class she took last year, she experienced censorship.

She took the class from Cynthia Constantino called, “Figurative Sculpture,” in which they worked from a live model to create ceramic sculptures. Afterwards, Annie entered her sculpture in the Imperial County Fair and won first prize.

But then they told her, “No, you can’t leave it here.”

“It was a 2 1/2 foot clay sculpture of a nude woman,” explained Annie. “But so is the Venus de Milo. What was the big deal?”

After much discussion between the judges, they told her that she could keep the blue ribbon and the $30 prize money, but she’d have to take her sculpture home right away.

“It was pure censorship,” Annie said. “But El Centro is pretty conservative.”

Many adults in Southern California are spending their summer at Idyllwild Arts

“Folding Clay Slabs,” was one of the first classes that Annie took this summer, and the most enjoyable so far. It was a six-day class taught by Mary Kay Botkins, from East Dundee, IL, who exhibits her folded clay pieces nationally.

“Do you sew?” Annie asked. “Well, I do, and somehow Mary Kay had incorporated sewing techniques, such as pleats and darts, into clay.”

She taught Annie and the rest of the class to roll their clay super thin, about 1/8 of an inch thick, by compressing it.

“That was probably the hardest thing to learn how to do, but when the clay is compressed, it’s pretty strong,” Annie said.

Then, she’d watch Mary Kay create a container, by making a couple of pleats, or adding a waistband, or even a belt loop.

“When she was working, you’d swear that she was working with leather instead of clay,” Annie said.

The students in the class were also expected to be prolific, Annie said, because Mary Kay wanted them to take home a “set” that they could use as a reference. Within six days, Annie created a cup, a vase, a tray and a container.

“It’s something I’ve never seen before,” she said.

For a copy of the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program catalog, stop by the Boman Center on campus, call (951) 659-2171, ext. 2365, or visit the main website, www.idyllwildarts. org, and click on “Summer.”

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IA Students Also Take Summer Classes

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Kitty with William, a fellow music student, was a TA for a piano class

Some familiar faces are seen on the Idyllwild Arts campus this week. They’re not former teachers or alumni, but regular Idyllwild Arts Academy students who are taking summer classes. They’re bored watching TV at home, or just want to hone in on some dance, acting, or music skills, before classes resume in the fall.

Jacob, who will be a senior, is a teacher’s assistant for the Costume Shop, and his first assignment is to outfit the play, William Shakespeare’s “MacBeth.”

“I’m really excited to be here,” Jacob said. “I was at home (in Utah) for a few weeks, but I really missed this place!”

Naturally, all of Jacob’s classmates won’t be back on campus until early September, but for many who attend Idyllwild Arts, this full-time boarding school is considered “home.”

As a theater student last year, Jacob became enamored with costumes. So much that he now wants to switch majors and focus on the Costume Shop, instead of acting onstage.

For the “Student Choreography” dance sessions held at the end of the year, Jacob helped out Ariann, a dance student, with her costumes. (See “Student Dance Choreography,” post from May 11, 2010).

“I saw her struggling with shedding the costumes, and I offered to help,” he said. “She was grateful because she needed to get back to the choreography.”

Jacob simply cut the short dresses in strips and pulled and worked with the material.

“It’s all about the material. The cuts needed to move freely when the girls were dancing,” he said.

The most notable part of the costumes was the “straight jacket effect,” in which the dancers arms were confined.

“That was a little tricky,” Jacob said. “Afterwards, everyone said they loved the costumes.”

However, it’s a giant leap from dancer’s costumes to MacBeth, but Jacob is ready for the challenge.

He also was happy to see his other classmates around campus, including Andie, Christine, Haley, Dakota, Kitty, Karina and Dom, among others. Some were visiting, while others were working summer jobs at the cafeteria or in the offices. Yet, most of them were taking summer classes.

“If an Idyllwild Arts student takes a summer class, then their summer tuition is taken off of their academy tuition,” said Diane Dennis, the Summer Program registrar. “It’s called, ‘Pay Once, Learn Twice.'”

According to the “Pay Once, Learn Twice” brochure available in the Bowman main office, Idyllwild Arts students who attend this Summer Program, will receive 100 percent reduction of their summer tuition from their academic tuition. However, it’s only available to IA students who apply to the summer program and are accepted.

Christine, a theater major who graduated in June, is a perfect example. She attended the Idylwild Arts Summer Program for three years, before she spent her senior year at Idylwild Arts Academy. Last year, she said, she received a tuition reduction.

“I wish I would have come to Idyllwild Arts Academy sooner,” Christine said. She was on campus visiting her former theater teachers. “It’s great to be here, and I hope to come back next summer as a teacher’s assistant.”

Andie, who is taking “Song and Dance,” a two-week musical theater workshop, hopes to improve her vocal and dance skills this summer. She will be a junior Theater major in the fall. She said she’ll ask Howard Shangraw, head of the Theater Department at Idyllwild Arts, to attend her final performance.

Diane said that Lina, another Theater student, is enrolled in “Theater Adventures,” a two-week class that begins July 25. There, students will act, dance, improvise and perform a short play.

For these Idyllwild Arts students, Summer Program classes can improve their skills, and “break up the monotomy” of a long summer.

Kitty, who will be attending Rice University in the fall, came back to Idyllwild Arts to help out with a summer class called the “Piano Workshop.”

Since she’s already graduated, tuition reduction is not applicable. But Kitty is happy to be back on campus.

Her plans to travel and perform in Poland were sidelined because of the economic downturn.

“She was really looking forward to visiting Poland. She really loves to travel anywhere,” said Kitty’s mother. “But those who gave her the scholarship said that they couldn’t afford to send her right now.”

Kitty won the MacNeal Award, one of many. Photo courtesy Idyllwild Arts

Kitty, who has won many musical awards and contests, will likely perform for music students during the summer.

Jacob is going to be a teacher’s assistant for three weeks. Look for his handiwork in the upcoming play, “MacBeth,” that will be held at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, July 30-31 at the JPT. For more information, visit the Idyllwild Arts web site at, and click on “Summer.” And for more information on the “Pay Once, Learn Twice Program,” contact Tara Sechrest at (951) 659-2171, ext. 2345.

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A Tribute to Indian Artist Michael Kabotie

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

Chloe Della Costa shows off a suede jacket with a Michael Kabotie design

All any artist can ever hope for is that their images will live on, inspiring others, long after they’re gone.

The suede and wool jacket was in a blue garment bag hanging over a chair at the Dorothy Ramon Learning Center in Banning, California.

“This must be it,” said the volunteer. “But I cannot believe that someone would leave it here while we’re painting the building.”

Inside, was a jacket made of soft brown suede with gnarly white sheep’s wool lining. Hanging next to it was a shoulder bag made of the same material. But the design on the outside was the most amazing. It showed bold lines and strong characters, things that are held dear and sacred to the Hopi Indians.

“It’s a design created by Michael Kabotie,” said the volunteer. “And someone else put the image on the jacket and bag.”

Kabotie's designs are featured on the suede jacket and shoulder bag

The suede jacket and shoulder bag were going to be on display next Sunday, during a tribute to the Hopi Indian painter, poet, silversmith and philosopher who taught at Idyllwild Arts for 26 years.

According to news reports, Michael Kabotie, 67, died Friday, Oct. 23, 2009, at Flagstaff Medical Center after battling the H1N1 flu and associated complications.

He was from the village of Shungopavi, located on Second Mesa on the Hopi reservation, but had also lived many years in Flagstaff and New Mexico.

He created many beautiful works of art, among them murals at Sunset Crater and the Museum of Northern Arizona, and a gate he designed to look like a piece of overlay jewelry at the Heard Museum in Phoenix.

According to his web site, Michael Kabotie was born in 1942 on the Hopi Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona. He grew up in Shungopavi and graduated from Haskell Indian School in Kansas. In his junior year there, he was invited to spend the summer at the Southwest Indian Art Project at the University of Arizona, where he met  Joe Hererra, who became a lifelong friend and mentor.

Michael studied engineering at the University of Arizona, but left to hold a one-man show at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. His work was featured on the cover of Arizona Highways magazine.

An Idyllwild Arts invitation to the Native American Arts Festival features one of Kabotie's paintings

In 1967, Michael underwent his Hopi manhood initiation into the Wuwutsim Society and was given the Hopi name, “Lomawywesa,” which means, “walking in harmony.”

Both Michael and his father, Fred Kabotie, have been innovators in the Native American

Fine Arts Movement, creating paintings that reflect traditional Hopi life in contemporary media. Fred was one of the Hopi artists responsible for developing the trademark overlay methods used by many Hopi silver and goldsmiths today. He is also the painter of the “Desert View Watchtower” murals in the Grand Canyon.

In his silver work, Michael used the overlay technique developed by his father and friends, but in his own jewelry, he developed a unique style of his own that is also reflected in his paintings. In 1973, Michael was a founding member of “Artist Hopid,” a group of painters who experimented in fresh interpretations of traditional Hopi art forms.

Michael’s works appear in several museums around the world, from the Heard Museum in Phoenix to the British Museum of Mankind in London, England, and the Gallery Calumet-Neuzzinger in Germany.

His book of poetry, “Migration Tears,” was published in 1987 by UCLA. Michael has lectured across America, in Germany, Switzerland and New Zealand, and has taught Hopi overlay techniques at Idyllwild Arts for many years.

To honor him, Idyllwild Arts will host a “Tribute to Michael Kabotie,” on Sunday, July 11, with a pottery trunk show, with discussions by his son, Paul, and other family members.

The tribute kicks off the weeklong “Native American Arts Festival” at Idyllwild Arts that includes Native American performances, lectures, films and pottery demonstrations. According to the invitation, the festival will explore topics that were of particular interest to this extraordinary artist and teacher: the trickster concept, the artist’s journey, healing and recovery, music and chanting traditions, and cross-cultural dialogue.

Moreover, you will see Michael Kabotie’s images all summer long at Idyllwild Arts. The T-shirts worn by the Summer Program staff, counselors and students features a bright pink Hopi image similar to the one featured on the suede jacket.

The tribute to Michael Kabotie and the Native American Arts Festival events are free and open to the public. For more information, call Idyllwild Arts at (951) 659-2171, extension 2365, or visit, and hit “Summer.” 

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‘Metals Week’ at IA Starts June 27

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Jewelry designer & teacher Kristin Coffin

Jewelry designer and teacher Kristin Coffin and her boyfriend, Lewis, loaded up the last of their valuables from their studio apartment near the Jewelry District in LA. The rest of their stuff they were storing at a friend’s house. This is what they’d been waiting for: Summer Camp at Idyllwild Arts.

Kristin was going to teach jewelry making to children, and Lewis, a graphic designer, would be a counselor for nearly three months in Idyllwild.

Kristin came to Idyllwild Arts Summer Program two years ago in response to an advertisement online. Like most teachers they attract, Kristin is an accomplished professional. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Vermont with a BA in metalsmithing and jewelry design. She was the goldsmith at the couture gallery, Grannis Gallery, one of the premier art jewelry galleries on the east coast. Currently, she is the metalsmith for Belle Brooke Designs in Los Angeles.

There, she admitted to unusual sales tactics.

“We’d go to lunch and always wear the jewelry from the store,” Kristin said. “But we’d leave the tag out on purpose. Women would always tell us about the tag, and we’d start a conversation about the necklace.”

Los Angeles is great, but she likes the slower pace of Idyllwild.

Teachers like Kristen Coffin like coming to small town Idyllwild

“I love it here,” she said, as they headed toward the San Jacinto Mountains. “I’m a small town girl, and Idyllwild reminds me of home.”

This winter, however, she spent a lot of time in the hi-rise buildings of LA’s  Jewelry District.

“It’s bigger than the one in New York City,” Kristin said. “Each of the shops in these hi-rises has a specialty, such as diamonds only four carats and up.”

She said that only those in the jewelry business could shop there, however, and because shop keepers are showing precious jewels, gold and silver, everyone had to be “buzzed” inside.

There, she bought pliers and other tools for her classes, and jewels and materials for her own jewelry that she describes as “organic.”

“It’s kind of feminine use gems only as accent pieces,” Kristin explained. “I use mostly silver and gold, and sometimes blacken the silver, so it creates a nice contrast to the gold.”

For a jewelry maker and teacher, she wears no jewelry at all.

“I used to wear a lot of jewelry, but I’m working in the shop all the time, so it doesn’t make sense to wear it when I’m forging,” she said.


Many social activities are planned on campus during "Metals Week"

Speaking of forging, it happens to be the focus of one of the classes during “Metals Week” at Idyllwild Arts that starts today, Sunday, June 27, and runs until Thursday, July 1st.

According to the catalog, “Metals Week” is a week of intensive metals studies in which adult students can work with one of six outstanding jewelers and metalsmiths.

“Everyone comes here to learn a skill, such as etching, trapping, sculpting or tool making,” explained Kristin, who is helping out another teacher this week. “It doesn’t make sense for everyone in the class to do one project. You can do that anywhere.”

“Forging Collars, Pendants and Sildes,” is a class taught by Fred Zweig,who has been a metalsmith and teacher for more than 30 years. For the first part of the weeklong class, adult students will take a heavy sterling silver gauge rod and create a stylish neck collar. Then the rest of the time will be spent designing and creating slides and pendants that will hang from the collar.

Other classes that make up “Metals Week” include: “Resin Inlay,” by Karen Christians from Waltham, MA; “Etching,” by Deborah E. Love Jemmott from San Diego, CA; “Sculpted Bezels & Non-Traditional Stone Settings,” by Pauline Warg from Scarborough, ME; and “Trapping Found Objects,” by Joanna Gollberg from Ashville, NC;  and “Tool Making & Alterations,” by Val Link from Houston, TX.

Tuition for all of these classes are $655 plus a lab fee that ranges from $35 to $85, that includes using the school’s tools and equipment. All are limited to 12 adult students.

“Although ‘Metals Week’ classes begin today, we’ll still take walk-ins late,” said Emma Showalter, Assistant Director of the Summer Arts Program. “We will accommodate anyone who wants to come to the classes.”

Idyllwild Arts has a plethora of activities for students during “Metals Week,” including a faculty lecture and slide show tonight at 7 p.m. at the Krone Library; an arts exhibition, hot clay lecture and opening reception at 7 p.m. on Monday at the Parks Exhibition Center; a potluck dinner and auction on Wednesday, June 30 at Studio D and a student exhibition on Thursday, July 1, on the Krone Library’s patio.

For more information on classes and activities for “Metals Week” at Idyllwild Arts, call the registrar at (951) 659-2171, extension 2365; fax (951) 659-4552 or visit the web site at, and click on “summer session.”

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