Artist Mentor Program 2019

Artist Mentor Program 2019

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Announcing the 2019 Artist Mentor Program!

Now in its 6th year, this popular, growing, and enriching program returns! 5 artists are selected to mentor 5 students over the summer in a program that, time and time again, proves enormously rewarding, and even life-changing for both artist and student. Upon completion of the program, The students work will be on display in City Hall for at least a month. Artists’ work will also be displayed for the same amount of time in the Wilson Gallery at the Ojai Valley Museum.

Details may be found on our website, here. Or click the Ojai Grants and Awards Programs tab above, and select “Mentor Program” from the drop-down list.

Please send any questions you have about the program to samizahringer@gmail.com

To check out what last year’s program was like, here is an article about the ceremony which was the culmination of the highly successful and much-applied-for 2018 program.

By Sami Zahringer and Linda Harmon. 2018

It is always gratifying to see young adults who are genuinely enthused about their growth and accomplishments waxing eloquent about their work, and infectiously excited to progress in their chosen field. 

This was the vibrant and inspiring scene on Friday evening at City Hall where four young artists were honored at a reception to mark the opening of an exhibition of their art in the City Gallery.

These students, from public and private valley schools, each spent 50 hours during the summer working with one of four professional local artists participating in Ojai’s annual Student-Artist Mentor Program. Each gave a fascinating account of their learning experience, and their challenges and triumphs. Just as striking as the students’ enthusiasm, was the zest with which the mentors described their overwhelmingly positive involvement with their mentees.

The program, run by The City of Ojai Arts Commission in partnership with the Ojai Educational Fund, is now in its 5th year and growing in popularity. Chair of the Arts Commission, Michael Addison, reported that this year 18 students applied to work with 4 artists and that, given the clear appetite for the program and the resoundingly positive student responses to it, the Arts Commission is working to increase the number of participating professional artists in 2019 and beyond.

The Friday reception marked the end of 50 hours instruction and collaboration. Each student presented their work, received a $500 scholarship for future studies, and their work will be on display to the public at City Gallery until October 20th. The mentors receive $750 for their time and expertise, and an exhibition of their work runs in the Wilson Gallery at the Ojai Museum, also through October 20th.

These are merely the tangible benefits, though, of a remarkable program that is expanding both the possibilities and realities of motivated young Ojai artists. Apart from the hands-on experience, each student emphasized the value they had gleaned from simply just talking to their mentors. To see real people actually making a living through their art was one of the things each student described as being enormously encouraging and inspiring. 

For the mentors, just talking to their students was also one of the best aspects of the program.

Printmaker, Gail Hercher, one of the artists chosen to be a 2018 mentor, explained how she tried to introduce her student, Occidental University-bound Villanova student, Liz Spiller, to ideas for different careers in printmaking, such as fabric or wallpaper design. She also spoke about the value to her own art of working with “a fresh and un-jaded” student. Hercher, an M.F.A. who has taught art extensively in public colleges and museums, privately and in local Ojai schools, introduced Spiller to techniques such as ink-stenciling, gelatin-printing and silk-screening, culminating, with impressive results, in actual book and card-design.

Internationally-renowned sculptor and glass artist, Stephen Dee Edwards, worked with Madison Parnell to create some stunning pieces involving many different techniques. Parnell was justifiably proud to show the beautiful fusions and laminations she had made using glass, goldstone, and other stones, and described the extensive moulding processes with clay and wax involved in the making of a series of anatomically-correct glass hearts. Edwards, a career educator, and second-time mentor in the program, described eagerly how rewarding it was to work with “Maddie,” and detailed with enthusiasm the ways in which collaborating together was just as important as the resulting art.

Jocelyn Gonzalez, a sophomore from Ojai Valley School, gave a lively and engaging presentation on how her “fun” summer with pastel artist Jannene Behl had progressed and how the new techniques she had learnt using both alcohol and watercolor underpainting had brought fresh ideas and vibrancy to her own already accomplished pastel work. Behl studied with legendary pastel-artist Bert Collins, also an Ojai resident famous for her fine, realistic landscapes on sandpaper. Through Behl’s mentorship, therefore, Gonzalez was lucky enough to work in Collins’ studio too in the company of adult students and was able to experience a community of artists.

To provide a really detailed account of the inner-workings of the student-mentor experience, artist Patricia Anders kept a comprehensive blog (www.artpropensity.com) of her time with budding artist Joshua Jacober, a young man of great promise eager to learn everything he could from his summer. Anders, whose specialty is drawing, especially in symbolic imagery, also works in mixed media, both traditional and alternative. Jacober, at the start of the summer, primarily worked in charcoal but was looking to elevate his own design and learn the “really tough fundamentals” of drawing. Under Anders’ influence, Jacober moved into pen and ink drawing – a more stringent medium with no ability to erase mistakes! – and discovered a whole new level of detail was now available to him. The introduction of color enlivened his art and delighted Anders, who declared early on in her blog,“I like his thinking!”

The glowing testimony of the participants in the Ojai Student-Artist Mentor program is proving, year after year, what a meaningful and rewarding experience it is for all involved. “It’s thrilling to hear the mentors talk about how exciting it’s been to see the students’ creativity expand in the course of the summer,” said Addison. “It’s clear that the Mentors and Students have poured their hearts into their work together.”

Application forms for 2019 will be available soon and artists and students interested in applying should contact The City of Ojai Arts Commission. For the latest news on when and how to apply, check out their website at www.ojaiarts.org, which will show that information as soon as it is available; to keep up-to-date with the arts in Ojai. To participate, students must attend one of the Ojai Valley high schools, either public or private, and their parents must reside in the Valley.

To see the 2018 student art, visit he City Gallery (located in Ojai City Hall at 401 S. Ventura St.) which welcomes visitors Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., except holidays. To experience the art of the mentors in the program, visit the Ojai Valley Museum,130 W. Ojai Avenue, which is open Sundays 12 noon -4 pm., and Tues-Sat 10am – 4pm. Both highly creative shows run through October 20th and are well worth the visits.

 

Arts Commission Awards $25,000 in Grants to Arts Organizations

$25,000 in grants was awarded among 9 Ojai-based arts organizations, it was announced today by Arts Commission Chairman Michael Addison. “We had 6 recipients last year and this year we’ve awarded 50% more grants for a total of 9. That’s very satisfying,” he said. “The word is getting out to local arts organizations that the City is committed to its artists.”

The nine recipients are: the Ojai Youth Opera, at $6,000, whose goal is to build on the success of their “Brundibar” production in Libbey Bowl last year; the Ojai Art Center at $5,250, which wants to increase production values of its theatrical season’s offerings, including the casting of some professional artists; Focus on the Masters, granted $3,000 to promote a critical thinking initiative they’ve created called Learning to See.

Also, the Ojai Music Festival, at $2,500, to develop its Family Arts Daycare Camp to stimulate children to make art; Performances to Grow On, the recipient of $2,000 which will allow them to created 3 performances especially for children; Ojai Performing Arts Theater at $2,000, which allows the theater-making organization to expand its season to 3 productions while encouraging a conversation between professional actors and those new to theater arts.

Madrigali, Ojai’s legendary early music chamber group, was awarded $1,650 to pay for artistic personnel performing at 6 at senior centers and public schools; and, at $1,500, the visual artist Brian Berman who would continue with his annual Peace Concert.

Roger Conrad Receives 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts

Roger Conrad Receives 2016 Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award

(Ojai, Ca) At its May 23 meeting, the Ojai City Council awarded artist, designer, engineer, teacher Roger Conrad the 2016 Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award. Mayor Johnny Johnston honored Conrad by listing his many accomplishments in Ojai and in America’s creative and engineering communities.

Conrad’s service to Ojai is largely behind the scenes in support of the arts: he was an exhibition preparator at the Ojai Valley Museum and Ojai Art Center where he brought his excellent eye to bear on the “professional execution of innumerable exhibits and with a good natured dependability that takes my breath away,” said artist and Vice Chair of the Ojai Arts Commission Linda Harmon. This involved hanging and lighting art shows in a professional manner unseen before in our little town. Conrad moved here in 1995.

He was a longtime member of the Arts Commission where Chairman Michael Addison said he “is sorely missed for his discerning aesthetic…and for the legacy in the artist grants program which was given shape and clarity under his leadership.”

Conrad has said that he is equally exhilarated creating a multi-million dollar project such as designing all of the 3D decorative elements of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics or “working on a small photomontage alone in my studio”. He is a skilled photographer, serving as the Chairman of the Ojai Art Center’s Photography Branch.  He was the Chairman of the Photography Department at CalArts.  As a designer/engineer, Conrad was project manager for an airport solar project in Saudi Arabia, designed a 144-foot diameter dome for Citicorp Plaza in L.A. and was Vice President of Research and Development for the famed Biosphere outside of Tucson.  Local artist Richard Amend calls him “an engineer with poetic tendencies”.

Harmon says she will miss Conrad on the Commission but knows “he will continue to be one of the Valley’s most valued servants.”  Artist Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend said, considering Conrad’s body of work, “whatever he did, he did well and completely without fanfare.  Not ego driven whatsoever! And always with that sweet smile on his face.”