Author Archive

The house that Jorge Pardo built: The Fine Art alum’s latest functional fantasia

Thursday, August 14th, 2014
Tecoh roof garden at dusk. Photo: Jaime Navarro Soto

Tecoh roof garden at dusk. Photo: Jaime Navarro Soto

For the past 20 years, Jorge Pardo has been swinging his wrecking ball around the art establishment, tearing down traditional categories of creativity and staking his claim to an underused patch of terrain utterly his own, at the intersection of art, architecture, design, painting and sculpture.

“What I do is shape space and play with the history that forms people’s sense of expectation,” the Cuban-born Fine Art alumnus explained in a 2013 W Magazine profile. “I don’t think art is not functional. A painting is functional. People hang it on the wall. You can trade it. It’s like money. But historical tradition says paintings are not functional.”

A 2010 MacArthur “Genius,” Pardo has been bucking tradition since he rose to prominence in 1998, with 4166 Sea View Lane, a functional sculpture/house he designed and built for a MOCA exhibition. His current project may be his most ambitious yet. Pardo has handcrafted each element of Tecoh, a compound of buildings and gardens in the Yucatan jungle, to create an Edenic multisensory experience. At the heart of all of Pardo’s work lies a DIY commitment to artisanship, honed during his time at Art Center. “I like to know how things work,” Pardo told W. “I think everything interesting comes from figuring it out.”

This story originally appeared in Art Center’s Spring 2014 Dot magazine, where you can read more about alumni and faculty achievements.

Agustin Garza takes human-centered design to a whole new level—the CEO level

Thursday, July 31st, 2014
Agustin Garza

Agustin Garza

For many designers, the most gratifying moment in any project arrives with the unveiling of the visual and conceptual deliverables laid out before a satisfied client. But not Agustin Garza (GRPK, ‘81). The principal and founder of The Garza Group made a pivotal discovery about his own value proposition several years back when it became clear that the real, lasting benefits of his work lie in the meticulous research process he undertook to assess corporate leaders’ mission, vision, values and goals.

For Garza, and ultimately his clients, the journey became the destination. “The irony is that work really is not what you see but how you get there,” says Garza, principal and founder of Garza Group Communications, whose clients include City of Los Angeles, Mexico City, Coca Cola, Luxe Hotels and American Express.  “That’s true in most careers. It’s getting to that one solution that is the real job.”

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The age of the rocket-powered roller skates has arrived, like a futuristic ’70′s fever-dream made real

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Acton Global

Acton Global

Today, the BBC’s Autos section published the following story about Art Center Grad ID alum, Peter Treadway’s ingenious antidote to urban commuter blues: RocketSkates. Treadway (MS, ’08) began devising these motorized shoe attachments (which resemble a futuristic take on the Roman chariot, with two large red wheels attached to a metal carriage) as part of his thesis project at Art Center.  Seven years later, his high concept roller skates have come to fruition, lending new dimensions of fun and functionality to the booming wearable tech space. Read on to learn more.

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Hope is in the bag: Saeri Dobson designs handcrafted purses in support of displaced Bangladeshi girls

Monday, July 21st, 2014
Saeri Dobson designed these wallets to support Bangladeshi girls and women rescued from brothels.

Saeri Dobson designed these wallets to support Bangladeshi girls and women rescued from brothels.

The following letter pays tribute to Art Center alum Saeri Dobson’s tireless and selfless work on behalf of Bangladeshi girls who have been rescued from brothels. Dobson (MFA 00 NEWM), whose ethically-minded creative practice is embedded right in her company name: By SaeRi: Design + Humanity.

image-1“I founded By SaeRi, Inc. to tell the stories of amazing human lives through my design,” says Dobson, who produces several lines of handmade bags and wallets ranging from bright and funky to chic and understated. She donates 10% of her profits to Speak Up for the Poor, a non-profit supporting displaced Bangladeshi girls and women. “Each By SaeRi bag is one of a kind, designed and made entirely in the USA. I handpick all the materials and oversee the production process.”

This letter, by the founder of Speak Up for the Poor, offers a snapshot of social impact design in action, exemplifying the vast potential for designers to change the world by bringing their social conscience to bear on their creative practice. We salute Saeri’s commitment to her cause, not to mention the elegant leather craftsmanship she brought to the entirely covetable Project Hope line of tote bags.

 

I am writing to express my organization’s support for the work of By SaeRi, Inc., a business which has generously supported our work for several years. Speak Up for the Poor, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, serves girls in poverty in Bangladesh. We remove girls from brothels and fund a home for rescued girls; we run a large education program keeping girls-at-risk in school and out of child marriage and other forms of abuse and exploitation; and we do legal casework and advocacy for girls in poverty who have been abused.

Speak Up relies on the generous support of individuals and businesses. By SaeRi, Inc. has been a faithful financial supporter of our work for several years, giving generously since 2011 to help fund several of our projects in Bangladesh.

Starting in 2011, By SaeRi became a funder of our work at the Alingon Home, a place for girls removed from brothels. In Bangladesh many young girls who are born to mothers working in brothels are themselves destined for forced prostitution as minors, and By SaeRi’s generosity helped fund our important work to remove and rehabilitate girls at the Alingon Home.

Similarly, By SaeRi’s generous financial support towards our Girls Education Program in 2012 and 2013 helped Speak Up build four Learning Centers in impoverished villages in southwestern Bangladesh, school rooms where hundreds of girls in our program receive academic support and mentoring to rise out of poverty and avoid the pitfalls of poverty. Several of Saeri Cho’s students have also contributed generously to our general fund, further catalyzing our efforts to serve girls in poverty in Bangladesh.

Speak Up is thankful to By SaeRi, and in particular, to the founder Ms. Saeri Cho Dobson for her hard work and generosity in supporting our work. We enthusiastically support their continued business expansion. We encourage you to extend every courtesy possible to enable By SaeRi to grow in its important mission as a socially responsible business.

Please contact me with any questions.

Sincerely, Troy Anderson

Founder and International Director, Speak Up

Big in France…and beyond: Two-time Cannes Lions award winner Sebastian Leda conquers the Hispanic commercial market

Friday, July 18th, 2014
Still from "Robocop"

Still from “Robocop”

To be embraced by the notoriously finicky French is a badge of distinction for any artist. Just ask Jerry Lewis. Or Mickey Rourke. Or Charles Bukowski. Or for that matter, Sebastian Leda (00 Film), who won his second award at Cannes Lions this past May for a commercial entitled “Robocop.”

What separates Leda from the legions of directors and producers who have exited the festival with statuettes in hand is that Leda and his longtime creative collaborator, Francisco D’Amorim, are the only winners to have received prizes for spots targeted at the Hispanic market. Both “Robocop,” which took home this year’s Silver Lion award, and “Crying,” which garnered the Gold Lion at the 2010 festival, represent the kind of high production value commercials tailored to Latino audiences defining all the work produced by Dos Ex Maquina, the company Leda formed with D’Amorim shortly after graduating from Art Center.

Cannes Film Festival voters are far from alone in recognizing the value and vast reach built into Leda and D’Amorim’s business plan. The duo has been thriving both critically and commercially ever since they made the fortuitous (or prescient) decision to distinguish themselves from LA’s mob of young, hungry directors by catering to an under-served and rapidly growing viewership.

In the Q&A below, Leda gamely agreed share a few ingredients in the special sauce that’s given him a competitive advantage in the world’s most competitive (and lucrative) industry.

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Artworld luminaries and Art Center alums pay tribute to Mike Kelley’s legacy as an educator

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Of all the ways Mike Kelley has been celebrated for his pivotal contributions to contemporary art, since his death on January 31, 2012, his impact as an educator may be the most significant aspect of his legacy to go relatively unexamined, if not unsung. Kelley was a faculty member of Art Center’s Graduate Art Department from 1992 to 2007. And during his time teaching at Art Center, Kelley mentored such monumental talents as video artist Diana Thater (who now chairs the department from which she graduated), multimedia artist Pae White, installation artist Jennifer Steinkamp and Fine Art faculty member Jean Rasenberger.

In the above video, inspired by Kelley’s MOCA retrospective, these artists examine the ways in which Kelley influenced the kind of artists they’ve become, the work they create and, perhaps most importantly, how they go about crafting and sustaining a life as an exhibiting artist. Kelley has often been credited with helping raise the clout and visibility of LA’s art scene when his career took off and he declined to follow the well-worn path previous west coast supernova artists had followed to New York. As one of the first internationally acclaimed artists to root himself in Los Angeles, Kelley was, in essence, laying the groundwork for his students and their contemporaries to do the same.

If these artists’ upwardly-tilting career paths are any indication, Kelley’s impact on his students, his city and his creative discipline only gets deeper as time goes on.

June 2014 alumni news and notes

Friday, July 11th, 2014
Photograph by Damon Casarez for the New York Times

Photograph by Damon Casarez for the New York Times

From The New York Times to Esquire, from Cannes to the Venice Biennale — Art Center alums have been busy making, making headlines and making their talents known within some of the world’s most prestigious events, platforms and publications. In addition to this primer on their accomplishments, we’re also inviting the Art Center alumni community to nominate candidates for this year’s Art Center Alumni Awards. Read on to learn more.

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From Apple Stores to apples for the teacher: Eight Inc. donates design educational nonprofit DonorsChoose.org

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
DoonorsChoose.org offices after Eight Inc. redesign

DoonorsChoose.org offices after Eight Inc. redesign

Eight Inc. is a leading-edge branding and design firm owned and run by Art Center alums Tim Kobe (BS 82 Environmental), who is also a college Trustee, and Wilhelm Oehl (BS 94 Product). In the fifteen years since its inception, Eight Inc. has flourished by generating iconic designs across a broad spectrum of projects and disciplines from conjuring innovative retail experiences for the Apple Store to the architectural award-winning residential developments in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

Eight Inc. (which now employs more than a few Art Center alums) has recently tackled another design solution for the greater good. In April, the firm announced it would donate design services to DonorsChoose.org to renovate its new headquarters in New York City. DonorsChoose.org is a national nonprofit that has channeled over $237 million in books, art supplies, field trips and resources to more than a million students in low-income public schools.

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Outgoing Grad Art chair Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe on teaching, beauty and art’s unlikely logic

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe

Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe

After logging 11 years as Chair of Art Center’s Graduate Art department, Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe handed over the reigns to incoming co-chairs Diana Thater and Jason Smith. Gilbert-Rolfe has spent a total of 28 years on Art Center’s faculty, and will migrate into a full-time teaching position in 2015 after a sabbatical during which he’ll dedicate himself to one of the many writing projects vying for his attention (see Q & A below for details).

Throughout his tenure with the college, Gilbert-Rolfe has had a hand in educating an impressive array of art world luminaries, including Lynn Aldrich, Lisa Anne Auerbach, David Bailey, Olivia Booth, Mason Cooley, Aaron Curry, Kevin Hanley, Nate Hylden, Melissa Kretschmer, Sharon Lockhart, T. Kelly Mason, Rebecca Norton, Steve Roden, Sterling Ruby, Frances Stark, Jennifer Steinkamp, Alexis Marguerite Teplin, Diana Thater, Pae White, Jennifer West and T.J. Wilcox. At the same time, he has distinguished himself as a formidable writer and critical thinker, best known for probing philosophical and aesthetic ideas around beauty and other issues informing the way we interact with art.

Gilbert-Rolfe makes clear in his candid and enlightening responses to our questions below that he will continue to build upon this legacy as an educator and critic.

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The future of the digital novel is here thanks to Art Center faculty members Norman Klein and Margo Bistis

Friday, June 20th, 2014

I20C2.3map

Built with a team of artists and designers, Art Center Humanities & Sciences faculty Norman Klein and Margo Bistis released The Imaginary 20th Century, a ‘wunder-roman’ online narrative engine where fact and fiction split off and return to each other to tell the story in a unique form.

The Imaginary 20th Century is a tale of seduction, as well as espionage; of archiving and the transitive poetics of excavation. According to legend, in 1901 a woman named Carrie selects four men to seduce her, each with a version of the coming century. Inevitably, the future always spills off course. We navigate through the suitors’ worlds, follow Carrie on her travels and discover what she and her lovers forgot to notice. In 1917, Carrie’s uncle sets up a massive archive of her life.  For decades, Uncle Harry had worked for the oligarchs of Los Angeles erasing crimes that might prove embarrassing.  Thus, as he often explains, seduction itself is a form of espionage. In 2004, this archive was unearthed in Los Angeles.

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