Archive for the ‘Ceramics/Pottery’ Category

Geisha Focus at Senior Art Show II

April 4, 2012

Bella working on her geisha sculptures

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Always fashionable, Bella, a senior Visual Artist at Idyllwild Arts, was looking a little tired. Which is rare for students on their 2-week Spring Break. There was no time for Bella to go shopping or sight-see. In fact, she never left Idyllwild.

“My senior show is coming up, and I must be ready,” she said.

Along with five other senior Visual Artists, Bella will be showcasing her work at the Parks Exhibition Center on Friday, April 20 (as part of the second senior class art show. The first one opens this Friday night.)

Bella, who has already been accepted to a fashion college in England, is focusing her small ceramic sculptures on the societal role of the Japanese geisha. Some are kneeling in kimonos, and are headless. Only one is standing tall.

“They are obeying the roles of the geisha,” Bella explained about the headless geishas. “There are many limitations.”

The prettiest geisha isn't always the top geisha, Bella said.

Bella has studied geishas a bit. She said most people know about geishas from the popular American movie, “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005).

“The lead actress wasn’t even Japanese,” said Bella. “She’s Chinese.”

Geishas are traditional female Japanese entertainers, whose various skills include singing, dancing and performing classical music. As portrayed in the movie, geishas could also be quite theatrical and egomaniacs.

According to various web sites, there was a significant decline in geishas during WWII because many women had to work in factories, and most of the teahouses and bars shut down.

Geishas start out as apprentices or maiko, and learn their craft from established geishas.

“The most beautiful geisha isn’t necessarily the most high-ranking geisha,” explained Bella.

She pointed to her standing geisha sculpture, that hadn’t even been painted yet.

Some of her geisha sculptures will remain headless

“She is the most noticable,” Bella said. “But another one could be more beautiful.”

Beautiful, educated, and cultured, geishas inhabit another reality.

Bella said that she identified with geishas a bit, but didn’t elaborate. She also didn’t want her picture taken because she wasn’t wearing any makeup. Yet, this is the same girl who sported a neon pink wig to her junior show. Will she be wearing a full kimono on April 20?

Regardless, Bella’s six ceramic geishas will be on display during Senior Show II, at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 20 at the Parks Exhibition Center on campus. Like all Idyllwild Arts events, it is free and open to the public. However, don’t miss the Senior Show I this Friday, April 6 at 6 p.m.!

For more information, call the Parks Exhibition Center at (951) 659-2171, ext. 2251.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All right reserved.

Celebrating an Idyllwild Artist & Pioneer

August 7, 2010

Lora Woodhead Steere was ISOMATA's first ceramic's teacher

It all started when her family called the curator of the Krone Museum at Idyllwild Arts.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

They were having a reunion in August and wanted to arrange an exhibit of some of her sculptures, illustrations and early photos. Since then, it has grown from a private family reunion to a public event. The Idyllwild Area Historical Society has gotten involved, and others have contributed more photos and sculptures. Speakers, live music, and videos will help celebrate the life and art of Idyllwild Arts’ (ISOMATA’s) first teacher, Lora Woodhead Steere.

Idyllwild Arts donated 13 of Lora's pieces to the exhibit

The daylong celebration will be held today, Saturday, August 7, starting at 11 a.m. with the video, “When Art Met Idyllwild: A Tribute to Lora W. Steere,” by an Idyllwild Arts student, held at the Rustic Theater. It will be followed by an art exhibit and reception at 1 p.m. at the Krone Museum on the Idyllwild Arts campus. Both events are free and open to the public.

In the small space of the Krone Museum, Sydney Cosselman, acting director, and Carol Mills, owner of the Courtyard Gallery, have created a welcoming tribute to Lora Woodhead Steere (1888-1984).

Lora’s parents (a Los Angeles socialite and a grocer/rancher/developer) first brought her to Idyllwild as a toddler on horseback. Loving the outdoors, she studied and received advanced degrees in zoology and paleontology, although she is best known as a sculptor including a commission by Helms Bakery for the 1932 Olympics. She was later recruited by Max Krone, founder of the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts (ISOMATA), to become the school’s first teacher when it opened in 1950.

“We wanted to create an exhibit that looks like Lora has just left her studio,” said Sydney Cosselman.”That’s why we left her hat hanging on her easel, clay moulds and her tools coated with clay.”

Among the many bronze busts of people, two stand out: the full-sized disc thrower for the 1932 Olympics and a portrait bust of Maria Martinez, a Native American ceramics artist.

Standing about four feet tall, the bronze disc thrower is impressive with its attention to detail and atomic proportions.

“Be sure and get a good look at it today because we have to return it to LA on Monday,” Sydney said. “They need it for another exhibit.”

Lora's bronze dic thrower was a commission for the 1932 Olympics

The other piece, a terra cotta bust of Maria Martinez, sits on a desk on the back wall. It’s without ornamentation and fancy glazes, but you get a good feeling from it.

“She got a good likeness of Maria, who is a prominent North American sculptor,” said David Delgado, a ceramics instructor at Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, who, along with Greg Kennedy, brought in a youth ceramics class for a sneak preview on Friday.

He said it was important for the young students to see Lora’s work because she is an important figurehead at the school and the summer program.

“We work every day in her studio, and we wanted to come and see her work and pay tribute to what she’s done for us,” Delgado said.

The 15 summer students were impressed that Lora had climbed Tahquitz Peak nearly every day of her life. And, when she was 95, her friends carried her up to the top in a chair so she could see it again. The Idyllwild Town Crier and the Idyllwild Area Historical Society furnished photos of these trips.

Idyllwild Arts ceramics students got a sneak preview of the exhibit

“She climbed to the top 83 times,” said Charles Russell, her grandson, who spoke privately about Lora Steere at a cookout on Friday at the home  of Don Parker and Marti  Manser. “She taught us how to appreciate nature.”

He said he had been coming to Idyllwild every summer since he was three years old, and has kept her cabin here.

“She taught me how to see,” said Charles, who is now an architect.

He remembers the time she helped him create a sculpture of a Viking.

“I was in the Cub Scouts, and needed it for a merit badge,” he said. “She was patient with me, and it turned out pretty good.”

He no longer has the Viking sculpture, but contributed several of Lora’s works to the exhibit.

“She was multi-dimensional,” Charles added. “Not just art, she liked science and nature. She saw beauty in the smallest things.”

Maria Polmar, a French teacher at the Idyllwild Arts Academy, helped with the exhibit at the Krone Museum. She sewed the white curtains behind the bronze busts of the “Women of the World” series in the display cases.

“The cases had a dark background and we added white curtains to lighten them up,” she said.

Since then, Maria said the exhibit has had a positive effect on her.

Curator Sydney Cosselman expects 200 people to see the exhibit today

“I carried a lot of Lora’s sculptures around, and could see the detail and feel their weight,” she said. “Now, I want to create my own sculpture of my son.”

Sydney said that she expects 200 people to visit the Lora W. Steere exhibit today. It runs from August 7th to September 3rd at the Krone Museum, located within the Krone Library on the Idyllwild Arts campus.

At today’s opening event, there will be a film, speakers, drama and musicians, including:

Dr. Evan Mills: As a child, Mills was mentored by Lora, and grew up to be one of a group of scientists whose research and writing helped earn the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, along with Vice President Al Gore.

Calvin Levels: a Tony-Award nominee, performing a dramatic reading of passages from Lora’s letters from Idyllwild.

Paris Deesing: an award-winning film student at Idyllwild Arts Academy, whose mini-biopic of Lora Steere features rare archival stills (1890’s -1980’s) along with Woodhead and Steere family footage (1920’s-1960’s) taken in Idyllwild.

Lora's daughter, Florence (center), age 95, will be attending today's celebration with other family members

Dr. Diana Steere-Wiley: Lora’s granddaughter will speak for the family patriarch, and legendary award-winning horseman and veterinarian Dr Jim Steere, Lora’s youngest son, who died suddenly on Wednesday as he was preparing his speech on his mother. Lora’s 95-year-old daughter, Florence, will also be attending.

Carol Merrill: a recording artist, former musical partner, and protégé of international balladeers and ISOMATA regulars Marais and Miranda.

The Golden Grotto Group, with recording artist Jeremy Toback, Bruce Ryan, Kent Weishaus, Amy Fogerson and other surprise guests.

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Farm Workers’ Kids Get IA Scholarships

July 27, 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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Spending the Summer at Idyllwild Arts

July 19, 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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A Tribute to Indian Artist Michael Kabotie

July 4, 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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