By Tiffany Rider - Senior Writer
October 09, 2012 - October is Arts Month in Long Beach. To highlight the diverse creative sector in the city, Business Journal Senior Writer Tiffany Rider interviewed a dozen local artists representing a cross section of media.
- Slater Barron - Mixed Media Artist
- Terry Braunstein - Multimedia photomontage artist
- Korey Dane - Singer-Songwriter
- Kay Erickson - Photographer
- McLean Fahnestock - Multimedia Artist
- Jocelyn Foye - Performance-based Artist
- Alvin Hayes, Jr. - Musician
- Shyamala Moorty - Dancer And Performing Artist
- Jeff Rau - Photographer
- Ramón Rodriguez - Painter And Sculpture Artist
- Patrick Williams - Mixed Media Artist
- Johnny Zhong - Choreographer And Ballet Dancer
It was sometime between 1973 and 1974 when Slater Barron hatched an idea that would later lead to her becoming “The Lint Lady.”
Barron considers herself a multimedia artist. She works with collage, books, paint and performance, but has become famous for using dryer lint. In the balance between being a painter and the responsibilities of family, Barron found that the lint produced from washing the clothes of four teenagers and two adults offered a variety of textures and colors. Lint became her primary medium in 1975.
“The neighborhood kids started bringing me lint,” Barron said. “The first few times I was folding the lint into abstract forms, different kinds of squares and triangles.” Some of her earlier works include large-scale installations that spanned 32 feet by 22 feet by 8 feet, such as her piece “Magic Laundry Room.”
The unique nature of her lint art attracted the attention of the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museums, which commissioned Barron to produce lint portraits of celebrities. One such portrait included John Wayne, she said, though she is not sure where these portraits are located today.
The Lint Lady has also made several television appearances, including spots on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” “Real People with David Ruprect” and, most recently, “Visiting with Huell Howser.”
Barron holds bachelor’s degrees in sociology and psychology and a master’s in fine arts from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). She has had a career as a social worker and was in the Navy before settling down in Long Beach. She has taught art courses at universities for 25 years, including coursework at CSULB and Brooks College, before retiring in 2000 at age 70.
A few years later, Barron’s parents were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She considers the time a turning point in her life, and decided to write a book about the experience. The book, “Remembering the Forgetting,” was published in 2007.
Barron continues to collect lint from her dryer and from other artists who support her work. Most recently, Barron has been producing a series of lint sculptures of food. Much of these lint sculptures are of candy or meals, such as sushi, spring rolls and vegetarian dishes.
Examples of Barron’s works are available online at www.slaterbarron.com.
Having spent the past 26 years of her life in Long Beach, Terry Braunstein continues to feel that Long Beach has the potential to be a first-class cultural hub for artists.
Braunstein was first attracted to art in high school, where she worked on a literary art magazine as an editor.
“I stumbled into the art room and I fell in love there,” she said. “I did not want to leave. I realized that I could spend my whole life in that art room.”
When she began as an artist, Braunstein thought she was going to paint. But with small children around, she switched from painting with oils to creating collages.
“I thought I would go back to painting, but I was excited by existing materials and how to reuse them,” she said.
Braunstein is known in Long Beach for her creation “Navysphere,” located at the Shoreline Aquatic Park at Rainbow Harbor.
The collages she made for the Navy memorial were made from all manner of materials that related to the Navy and art history, which helped connect people to the work, Braunstein said.
Braunstein considers herself a multi-media photomontage artist.
“I was exposed to a lot of different media,” she said. “You start out doing something and your work takes you wherever it leads you, so you pick up skills you need to do what it takes. I’ve been fascinated by new medium and how my work can use that, whether it’s the camera or computer.”
Braunstein has converted two rooms in her home into studio space – one for digital works and the other for cutting, pasting and image sorting.
Right now, Braunstein is working on a multi-year project with Cyrus Parker-Jeanette, a choreographer and former head of the dance program at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), and local video animator David Familian. The project entails constructing a 10-foot-tall book, six-feet wide, with three-dimensional figures moving through the pages.
The main character of the book is a woman from the 1910s, wearing fitness attire from the period. The character maintains a very serious look as she demonstrates exercises. Braunstein began the project in 2010 and expects to complete it by 2015. The book is going to be part of a dance set exhibited at the CSULB University Art Museum.
For more information on Braunstein’s work, visit http://terrybraunstein.com.
Though he’s not sure if he ever realized he wanted to be a career artist, singer-songwriter Korey Dane is thankful for “signs” that pointed him in that direction.
The local musician said being the son of a literary mother and a vagrant father – both born in the late 1950s, early ’60s – led him to pursue music.
“I went to school, studied art and dropped out,” he said, “and then I went and studied English and dropped out. I figured I’d take on music by myself.”
In October 2009, at age 19, Dane was already finishing his first album release, called “For The Kite Flyers,” when he decided to take his brother’s car and hit the road. He spent weeks meandering the United States, ending up in Maine before making a U-turn toward the Pacific Northwest.
In 2010, Dane and his band participated in a competition called Buskerfest, part of the Summer & Music Series sponsored by the Downtown Long Beach Associates. Dane, along with band members Doug Brown, John Garbutt and Jacob Minnis, won the competition and were awarded five days of recording at The Compound Studio in Long Beach. The group recorded a 13-track album called “Loomer,” which was independently released in February 2011.
After the release, Dane and a companion took a hitchhiking journey east along the southernmost route of the country. The duo ended up living on the road, making it from California to the tip of Florida and back up to New York City. A lonely heart led Dane back to Southern California, where he has been working with his band writing, recording and performing as much as possible.
In terms of new projects, Dane said a new record is what he thinks of the most.
“I’m always writing,” he said. “I’m interested in releasing a collection of poems, as well. Maybe create a phone application, make a ton of money and get out of dodge.”
Dane said he thinks Fingerprints Music Store and its owner, Rand Foster, are “the best thing to happen to Long Beach” for the music scene and the larger community.
“I consider [Rand] a very dear friend and I owe him a lot of thanks for everything he has done,” he said. “I don’t think most people understand that they literally have the best record shop in their backyard.”
For more about Korey Dane, visit: koreydane.com.
For Kay Erickson, photography is a means of uniting people by sharing cultural and social norms.
Growing up in Minnesota, Erickson got her first camera at age 7. “It was a rite of passage,” she said, noting that both her parents were camera enthusiasts. She has some of her first photographs from that age, most notably one of President Eisenhower being driven through Minneapolis in a limousine.
Erickson, a second-generation photographer, was also inspired to pursue photography by watching her mother tint and color black and white photographs by hand. As she got older, of all the studies and classes Erickson took, she enjoyed art the most.
She earned a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in photography and sculpture from the University of Minnesota, and subsequently earned a master’s degree in structural media and technology. After graduation, Erickson worked at various schools in Minneapolis as a librarian while teaching photography to youth.
Inspired by film production, Erickson soon moved to Los Angeles to be a film editor, ultimately leading to a job with Paramount Pictures as a film librarian, “but I would always focus on photography when I had a moment,” she said.
The Long Beach resident prints, mattes and frames her work at her home studio in the historic Lafayette building. She moved there in 1999. “It’s so different down here as opposed to Santa Monica and Los Angeles,” she said, noting that she enjoys the sense of community and the small-town feel of Long Beach.
Over the past several years, Erickson has worked with non-governmental organizations in India through a photographic workshop in which she helped produce presentations for schools, centers and an orphanage to use for fundraising. She documented her journey and put together a photographic series of images taken through a train window during her ride from Calcutta to Varanasi. The series will be part of a show in New York in December, she said.
Erickson recently had a show at Utopia restaurant in Downtown Long Beach of photographs she took while visiting Cuba, and is planning on taking another trip abroad soon, possibly to India for a magnum photography workshop. “I pursue locations outside of the United States mainly because I love to travel,” she said. “One of my goals is to bring back photos from far away to show that we are pretty much all the same.”
View Erickson’s work online at http://kayerickson.com.
When many of us in Southern California tune in to the local evening news, crime and celebrity stories are fed to us through the tube.
For artist McLean Fahnestock, the celebrity stories she watched on local television in Washington, D.C., were about Supreme Court justices and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This experience helped foster Fahnestock’s interest for government and is a reason for incorporating political themes in her artistic work.
While she began her artistic path with painting, Fahnestock decided to study sculpture in college. She attended Middle Tennessee State University and earned her bachelor’s degree in sculpture in 2004. After living in New York for a short while, Fahnestock said she was drawn to Long Beach as a place for her to “make a go at being an artist.” After applying to various master’s degree programs, Fahnestock chose to attend Cal State Long Beach. She earned her master’s of fine arts in sculpture in 2008.
Though Fahnestock has since transitioned into video and photography, she continues to employ the skills she learned studying sculpture. “[Because] I don’t make my own video . . . I’m looking for things that already exist that I can cut up and break down and put them together in a different way,” she said. This is evident in many of her works, which are available for viewing online at www.mcleanfahnestock.com.
Her most recent works are part of a project on space shuttles called “Final Frontier.” Fahnestock put together a series of five archival ink jet prints called “Rocketless Launch,” as well as a piece called “Grand Finale” that has been selected to be a part of the space shuttle Endeavour exhibit at the California Science Center.
“I loved the shuttle program as a kid and getting to meet the media and work within my interest with government agencies and exploration,” she said. Fahnestock’s work will be on display starting October 30 and will remain for the next couple of years as the center works on a permanent exhibit for the Endeavour.
Exploration continues to be the driver for Fahnestock’s latest endeavor, a project inspired by her grandfather. “ I’ve been looking forward at space for so long, now I’m going back looking at my family history,” she said. “I want to work with institutions that we rely on to contain our history. . . . I’m switching to museums and the role they have in the way that we perceive ourselves as a country or perceive the world around us.”
Jocelyn Foye brings true athletic performance into an artistic realm.
Born in Connecticut, Foye said she was a serious athlete for about 15 years. She left her sport, soccer, after having two knee surgeries, and transitioned to rowing.
“Those folks are awesome athletes,” she said of crew.
Foye studied installation and graphic design at the Hartford School of Art from 1998 to 1999 and spent a semester abroad at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Trinity College in Connecticut in 1999.
Foye met her husband, Jeff, who hails from Fullerton, on the East Coast. After 14 months in New York City, the two decided to move to the West Coast to pursue their art in what Foye described as a more free, open and experimental environment compared to the East Coast’s slow, conservative feel.
Once Foye earned residency in California, she enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts program at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), graduating in 2006.
“It was a good fit for me because it presented frustrations,” she said, “frustrations because private schools didn’t acknowledge CSULB as a valid arts school.”
With the support of faculty, Foye and others formed a movement to establish a program called Greater Los Angeles Masters of Fine Art Exhibition, where all arts schools in Southern California come to CSULB to have their works parallel with others in the region.
“It’s in its eighth year, which is a huge success,” she said.
Athletics has had an influence on Foye’s art, particularly in terms of showing movement on a static medium. In general, Foye puts on spectacles that entail having a master athlete or dancer perform on a large piece of clay. For example, Foye has a piece called “Sumo” done in 2011 in which wrestlers competed on a large sculptural floor at the Torrance Cultural Arts Museum and thereafter it was displayed in the gallery.
“I’m merging different ways of looking at dance and sport,” Foye said. “People can take a scientific approach, or a choreographic one.”
Foye recently produced her first political piece called “Erasing Tibet” and conducted a show in Chinatown. The piece, she said, is about contemporary imperialism. Foye turned photos she took in Tibet into prayer mats and invited people from the audience to scratch the mats with grains of Chinese rice. More examples of Foye’s works are online at http://jocelynart.com.
It seems as though nothing can keep Alvin Hayes, Jr., from making music.
The trained mechanical engineer, born and raised in Long Beach, has been playing music since he was nine years old. He was encouraged into music by his parents, as well as other relatives, who were also involved in music.
“My first instrument was violin,” he said. “That didn’t last long.”
Hayes moved on to woodwind instruments and studied them from 5th grade up to college. He was an athlete, academic and musician at Long Beach Poly High School, hoping to attend West Point upon graduation. A few SAT points short, Hayes opted for the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he studied mechanical engineering and performed at music shows on the side.
After graduation, Hayes quickly returned to his hometown.
“As soon as I had my diploma, I had to get back here where there was no snow,” he said.
Again, he worked as a mechanical engineer by day and as a musician by night.
“I had tremendous teachers and played with some really fantastic people,” Hayes said.
Building a name for himself as a musician, Hayes released his first album in in 1987 called “Star Gaze” on TBA Records. The following year, Hayes released “Passion Flower” with Palo Alto Records. Both albums made it in on the U.S. Contemporary Jazz chart, reaching #21 and #13, respectively.
“‘Star Gaze’ made it to the preliminary Grammy nominations,” Hayes said.
In 1989, Hayes released his third album called “All The Way,” again with TBA Records. He toured to promote his music, but admits he spent a lot of time playing at Jazz Safari, a Long Beach jazz club owned by local entrepreneur Al Williams in the 1980s.
Hayes continued working as a mechanical engineer until 1992, when he transitioned into education. He taught mathematics at Jordan High School and Mary Butler Middle School, and took a hiatus from recording in 1996. Just a year later, Hayes suffered a major stroke.
“It took me from 1997 to 2000 to get everything back together . . . to be able to talk, walk, no less be able to play again,” Hayes said. “But now, I’m playing again.”
Hayes is also planning to release his fourth album by the end of the year. For the past five to six years, he has been practicing classical flute and playing with the Pacific Wind Ensemble. For more information on Hayes, visit http://alvinhayesjr.com.
Shyamala Moorty has used art, dance, theatre and writing to express her passion for social justice and human rights.
Moorty, who grew up in Monterey, has been dancing and performing since age eight. She studied ballet and theatre growing up, but it wasn’t until college that she started practicing in the forms she focuses on today – modern/contemporary dance and classical South Indian dance called Baharata Natyam.
Moorty studied at UCLA, earning two bachelor’s degrees in international development studies and world arts and cultures, and a master’s degree in dance. For her master’s, Moorty studied choreography, improvisation, contemporary dance and Baharata Natyam. In 1994, after graduation, Moorty co-founded the Post Natyam Collective, a community of dancers who work to develop contemporary approaches to Indian dance; became a member of Iyengar’s Rangoli Dance Company for 10 years; and signed on as a soloist and principal dancer with Aman International Music and Dance Ensemble for seven years.
As a means of raising awareness of social justice issues Moorty is passionate about, she began to develop a hybrid performance art in 2001, uniting dance and spoken word to consciously address dual identities and domestic violence. Her work led her to the theatre group TeAda Productions.
“Theatre allowed me to have a greater range of tools, speaking as well as moving,” Moorty said.
With TeAda, Moorty has had two solo productions – “RISE” and “Carrie’s Web.” Moorty continues to work with Post Natyam Collective, traveling across the country and to other countries. The collective’s recent show, “SUNOH! Tell Me, Sister,” was developed via the Internet and has been toured at universities around the nation.
The next project Moorty is working on with the collective is a production about contrasting superhero characters.
“It’s finding the superhero in the everyday and the everyday in the superhero,” she said, “going back between Indian comic books that teach us all about mythology and historical figures, and Western superheroes.”
More information on Post Natyam Collective is online at www.postnatyam.net.
Moorty has been commissioned as a choreographer for various institutions, including the Brigham Young University’s Folk Ensemble and Cal Poly Pomona. She teaches yoga, Pilates and dance, both privately in Long Beach and as adjunct faculty for West L.A. College and Rio Hondo College.
Brought to Southern California by a job at a small structural engineering firm, Jeff Rau soon realized that his career path as a structural engineer was not what he envisioned for the rest of his life.
“Engineering did not offer the more social and creative atmosphere that I craved,” Rau said. “Living in Long Beach, I discovered a vibrant creative community and found myself surrounded by many talented artists. I’d had a casual interest in photography, but as I became friends with so many visual artists, I began to see it as much more than just a hobby.”
Rau set up a darkroom at home and studied photography at Cypress College, eventually quitting engineering altogether to study art full time. He also volunteered with local arts groups, helping organize artists and engaging the public on contemporary issues through art. Rau attended California State University, Fullerton and completed both a master’s degree in photography studies and the university’s museum studies graduate program certification in 2010.
Since then, Rau has been teaching art, curating exhibitions and maintaining his own studio art practice. “As a former engineer, I often have a very technical and analytic way of approaching things,” Rau said. “I think that this temperament is well suited for working in photography, video, and sound installation, where much of my work is mediated by technology in some form.”
A couple of recent projects Rau has worked on over the past few years include “Haze,” and “Climbing Trees.” With “Haze,” Rau spent two years recording color observations, weather and air quality data daily, and taking photographs to document the mixture of marine layer, smog and other air pollutants. For “Climbing Trees,” Rau literally climbed a tree for 30 minutes a day at different locations in Long Beach, documenting the experiences through video and journaling. Visit Rau’s website www.JeffRau.com for more information and select works.
Rau said he enjoys participating in dialogue that surrounds art, which has led him into curatorial work. He is currently part of a local collective of curators called Sixpack Projects. For Long Beach Arts Month, Rau is curating an exhibition called “Trace Evidence” at the Bungalow Arts Building, 727 N. Pine Ave. The exhibition features the work of five artists who either live or work in Long Beach, or studied at Cal State Long Beach.
Rodriguez was born in 1966 in an isolated village in Cochambamba, Bolivia, called Chaco Pampa. From a young age he was helping his family farm, raising animals and crops, but soon realized he was distracted by art.
His first foray into art was with colored rock, drawing on other rocks. While his family didn’t completely understand art or the expression of it, they did allow him to pursue it. By age 14, Rodriguez went to study at a pre-seminary boarding school. He spent six years there before moving to study seminary and philosophy outside of La Paz.
Rodriguez moved to La Paz to study theology at another seminary, and afterward he went to Raul G. Prada Escuela de Bellas Artes, the school of fine arts in Cochabamba. He graduated in 1993 after studying painting and sculpture. Rodriguez went on to win national awards and competitions in Bolivia for his art, showing at private and municipal galleries and museums throughout the country.
Rodriguez met his wife, Debbie, in the mid-to-late 1990s while she was volunteering in Bolivia. She spent six years volunteering there and “really came to understand and know the culture in a deep, profound way,” she said. The two moved to Long Beach in April 2002 and have two children together, Rumi and Mayu.
“It was such a wonderful experience for me to move to the United States,” Rodriguez said. “I see more different culture here in Long Beach. I love that. I love to see different cultures. And the weather is a little bit different than in Bolivia. I get to be near the ocean.”
Today, Rodriguez continues to work in painting and sculpture. His most recent projects include two sculptures for the City of Arcadia. The sculptures are made out of trees that were knocked down by a severe windstorm in the L.A. Arboretum and Botanic Gardens last year. The sculptures will be put to a raffle in November, and the Arboretum will use the raffle proceeds to replant trees. Rodriguez has named his sculptures “Mysterious Wind,” and “Fury of the Wind,” both of which bear a facial expression in response to the windstorm.
Rodriguez also has a show opening on October 12 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Long Beach. For more information on upcoming shows and works by Rodriguez, visit https://sites.google.com/site/studiorumimayu.
Patrick Williams’ work always has a punch line.
Williams, who grew up in Orange County, said the art he produces is heavily influenced by childhood memories of watching storms attack the Seal Beach Pier, waiting in line at Disneyland and watching nightly news filled with violence, destruction and infotainment.
“Destruction is one of the underlying themes in my work, in terms of entertainment,” Williams said. “It comes from a place of rooting for nature rather than rooting for chaos, hoping that things revert to a natural state. It takes an ecological approach.”
Williams learned he wanted to pursue a career in art while attending Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA), where he studied academics in the morning and focused on specialized arts training in the afternoon – sculpture, ceramics, jewelry making, painting and more. He pursued illustration in college, spending years painting as a fine art student while doing freelance illustration jobs.
Williams gradually got tired, not so much of making paintings, but of looking at them as two dimensional in terms of communicative ability. He decided to paint on sculptures he made out of cardboard and paper materials, and has continued to pursue this method of telling his stories.
“A lot of what I make comes from my sense of humor and what I find amusing,” Williams said. “When you look at it from that angle, my work makes sense. There’s always a punch line. That’s what amuses me. Inspiration comes from asking ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if . . .’”
Williams recent works include “Arts Scene,” an exhibit of his “Box Heads” mixed media, which was part of an installation, residency and grant with Huntington Beach Art Center in March.
“For a few years I’ve been pursuing making what I refer to as non-monumental public sculpture,” Williams said. “They aren’t designed to last, they aren’t made out of any sustainable materials. They’re snapshots of, maybe, humanity – box head, box person.”
Williams has a show in Seattle starting January 3.
“For that I’m building an installation piece that is essentially going to be a mobile of 50 to 100 airplanes, 12 and 18 inches long,” he said. “A tornado of vacation doom.”
Williams teaches graphic design, animation and digital photography at his high school, OCSA. He is also an instructor of cartooning and perspective at Orange Coast College. Images of Williams’ work and his blog are online at http://pwilliamsart.com.
To Zhen “Johnny” Zhong, dance is not only his life, it is a part of his soul.
Zhong was born in China to a family of artists – his mother, in theatre, and his father, a dancer and prominent choreographer. A troublemaker as a youth, Zhong was placed in the government-run ballet program at age 11. In China, when you learn a profession, you are dedicated to it for life, Zhong said.
He spent six years in the ballet program, practicing 12 hours a day. Academics were not a significant part of his studies, spending a few hours on Fridays to study Chinese, English and mathematics. When Zhong graduated from the program in 1999, he joined the Classical Ballet of Guangzhou. Zhong was featured in productions of “Romeo and Juliet,” “Swan Lake,” “Don Quixote,” and others in which he performed in a leading role.
“When I was dancing with the ballet, I also thought about how one day I would be old, so I decided to go to college to be a choreographer,” Zhong said.
When he completed college in 2005, Zhong decided to move to the United States as a freelance ballet dancer and joined the faculty of the Long Beach Ballet.
In his first year in America, Zhong created a group piece that he entered into the Shanghai International Ballet Competition and finished 8th place out of 80 to 90 companies.
Zhong’s most recent work is “The Guardian,” a performance for the Aquarium of the Pacific. The production includes choreography to 14 tracks of music and theatrical staging inside the Aquarium.
“It’s a long story that talks about the human and ocean relationship,” he said. “Because I am Buddhist, I believe in yin yang, that everything is cyclical. You give to the ocean, the ocean will give back to you in the same way.”
Since immigrating to the U.S., Zhong said he has felt more freedom.
“I am free to do everything I want, I think, I feel, so I can put my feeling into dance,” he said.
Zhong enjoys choreographing at the beach at night, when he can connect with the ocean and the beach, and feel like he is just another grain of sand on the big blue marble in the universe.
“In China, government gives you a story or something you must use to choreograph to,” Zhong said. “Here I can make my own story.”