Welcome our new Project Lead, Darryl King!

on November 17, 2016

Please join us in welcoming Darryl King, our new Project Lead, Turnaround Arts: California. We asked him a few “get-to-know-you” questions — see what he had to say!


Briefly introduce yourself and explain your new position at P.S. ARTS.
My name is Darryl King, and I am the new Project Lead, Turnaround Arts: California. As Project Lead, I am responsible for the coordination, implementation, and ongoing maintenance of the P.S. ARTS contract with Turnaround Arts: California. I have a background in developing and implementing training and professional development for educators and after-school leaders with multiple organizations that include LA’s BEST, Common Sense Media, and The Center for the Collaborative Classroom. I hold a bachelor’s degree in art history and a master’s degree in education, along with a multi-subject teaching credential. I am also a visual artist.

What book is currently on your night stand?
The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry.

What is currently the most played song on your iPod?
“One Step Ahead” by Aretha Franklin.

Where is your favorite place to view or take part in art in Los Angeles?
St. Elmo Village.

What famous person, either dead or alive, would you choose to take out for coffee?
Malcom X.

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P.S. ARTSWelcome our new Project Lead, Darryl King!

P.S. ARTS thanks Dr. Cheryl Saban for her charitable giving

on October 3, 2016

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Dr. Cheryl Saban took her passion for creativity with the formation of her namesake brand in 2011: Cheryl Saban Designs.

Though Saban studied art for two years in college, her work as an artist is either self-taught, or acquired after hundreds of hours of classes with master glass-blowers to hone her skills and acquire new ones. The result is hand-made creations that are inspired by her connection to nature, appreciation of form, and her attraction to the soul, mind, and spirit.

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Blowing glass is a kind of meditation for Saban, where she immerses herself in the “flow” experience—the concept of being fully present and conscious in the moment. She now goes into the hot-glass studio bi-weekly to create pieces for her shop and gallery.

The design process for her glassware is organized and well-thought-out. She always has a design in mind before she heads to the hot-shop. She decides in advance which colors she’ll use, and generally makes a sketch of the object or vessel she intends to create. She says she’s fascinated by the concept of “freezing a design in heat.”

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Her jewelry design process is another story entirely. She rarely approaches her jewelry creative process with a pre-sketched drawing, but rather follows an artistic muse –and a kind of alchemy happens when she gathers her bounty of gemstones and silver and gold items around her. She places her beads, cords and precious stones on a board, gets inspired by them, and begins to conjure up something beautiful, and one-of-a-kind.

Each and every one of Saban’s designs is carefully crafted with her own hands, making the result of her artisanal talents the perfect unique gift for anyone.

csd-pg-2_loDr. Saban, a renaissance woman, is as well known for her generous charitable work as her art. Through each purchase, Cheryl Saban Designs gives back a percentage of sale to the community, including nonprofit organizations like P.S. ARTS!

We are grateful for the support and generosity of Dr. Cheryl Saban and are inspired by her artistic process. For more information, visit cherylsabandesigns.com. Thank you Cheryl!

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P.S. ARTSP.S. ARTS thanks Dr. Cheryl Saban for her charitable giving

Black Theatre Network Conference 2016

on September 28, 2016

by Donzell Lewis

BTN Conference: Program

This summer I was fortunate to attend and participate in the Black Theatre Network’s Annual Conference that took place in Chicago, Illinois.   As an artist and an educator attending this conference was both a personal and professional goal for myself. I’m so excited to say that the conference was truly the highlight of my summer. It not only rejuvenated my spirit but also gave me a kick-start of preparation for this upcoming 2016-2017 school year!

The Black Theatre Network is a collective of artists, educators, students, and other professionals in pursuit of advancing the dramatic works of the African-Diaspora. I first joined the BTN when I was a graduate student and since joining I’ve made it a goal to stay connected to the network because as an artist-educator of color, although I teach diverse works, it is important that I respect the ancestry of the black artists that have come before me. I believe it is important that even in the pursuit of inclusivity we continue to give space to highlight and emphasize the voices that have been marginalized for many years.

This year’s conference was a whirlwind of a trip! I attended many seminars, I became a last minute replacement to participate in a staged reading, I devoured deep-dish pizza, and I was even a selected speaker on a panel about the importance of teaching artists within the classroom and community. Let’s dive into to but a snippet of the awesomeness of this trip.

BTN Conference: Staged Reading

Sunday at 3pm I checked into my hotel, and by 5pm I was sitting second row staring in awe at legendary black feminist playwright Ntozake Shange. Anyone who follows the history of poetic theatre, hip-hop theatre, black theatre, or feminist theatre should be well aware of the gravitas of Shange’s seminal work For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf. For Colored Girl was the first time that Broadway was enraptured by an all colored female cast some 40 years before Danai Gurira’s “Eclipsed” came along and carried that torch forward.

BTN Conference: Donzell and Ntozake Shange

Shange’s revelatory process of mixing performance with poetry, drama, music, and dance is what she came to call a choreo-poem. Personally, I believe that Shange’s aesthetic helped to set the precedent for both hip-hop and black feminist theatre. At start of the conference Ntozake Shange presented some of her new work, and naturally, it was both inspiring and informative. Listening to Shange recite new choreo-poetry drove thousands of questions into my head regarding the use of non-linear theatre and it’s existence in the classroom today. Reflective of the original choreo-poem, For Colored Girls, Shange’s new work was an exploration of tons of dramatic poetry strung together to not give the audience resolution to a story arc but instead to give the audience revelation into a woman’s life. Shange has a special talent to weave personal experience, cultural history, and feminism into her poetry that embraces both artistic expression along with academic strength.

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Listening to Ntozake Shange reminded me that we as artists have to continue to write our lived daily experiences, and trials and tribulations in many different mediums. I say this because before Shange, the idea of a “choreo-poem” had not existed. I question, would For Colored Girls ever had become a reality if Shange forced herself to write in the traditional structure of the well-made play? Shange, similar to many other great artists who have come before her, chose to ignore the rules and instead created and defined a new model of poetic theatre. Isn’t that how we as artists help to advance our craft? Isn’t it a duty of ours as artists and teachers to both teach the rules but also inspire our students to (sometimes) throw the rules away and simply have the courage to create something new?

Another highlight of the conference, something that I think is pertinent to today’s artistic landscape and classroom environment, which is the hot topic of “color-blind” or “color-conscious” casting. First, let’s be clear, this is a hot topic, but it most certainly is not a new topic. This topic has been floating around since the first colored person stepped foot into a mostly white audition. For so many years people of color have questioned, “where am I in this play beyond that of a service worker”? The topic is back to the forefront of our discussions because of last years “#OscarsSoWhite” controversy that was then shattered by the success of a very colorful 2016 Tony Awards led by the success of Hamilton: The Musical. Diversity and color conscious casting is the heat of every day discussions.   However, this topic should not just be limited to the professional sector because as a teacher, this too is important for the public school system.

As a teacher in Los Angeles, most of us teach in very multi-colored, multi-able and (sometimes) multi-gendered classrooms.   Therefore, considering the work of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, I question how we as teachers find the space to tell stories of cultural specificity as well as stories of American legacy? Oftentimes, the early stories of American construction are told as if only white men and women were the heroes and architects of our land. Artists of color began to tell their own stories of the other heroes of our nation: the men, women, and LGTBTQ people that are often overlooked. With Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda has found a way to tell an all white origin story through the use of a very multi-colored cast.

Miranda managed to strike the perfect, yet challenging, balance. How could he (1) include the untold stories of people of color into this mostly white origin story? (2) How does he find space to employ actors of color to accurately portray these white heroes? (3) How does he then prevent from alienating audiences? Clearly, I cannot answer how Miranda solved the problems he solved but we all see the evidence with the indisputable brilliance of Hamilton: The Musical.

It is important that arts teachers look at their classrooms and say, “how can I make this a color-conscious lesson instead of a color-blind lesson”. The difference between the two is simply recognition! Color-blind is refusing to accept and recognize the diversity that lies in front of you. Color-blind casting is a false precept that alludes to the idea that a person’s color has nothing to do with the affectation they can bring to a role. As opposed to color-conscious casting which specifically embraces a person’s color or difference because we acknowledge that it brings a new layer to the role, play, or production.

I find the power of color conscious casting to be more inclusive and more effective than color-blind casting. Now, clearly, color conscious casting cannot be done for all plays, stories and races. You cannot have a white production of August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson”. The reasons being are grounds for another blog post or coffee conversation. However, the point I want to state is that as a teacher there are ways to embrace the multiplicities of our classroom diversity as opposed to ignore it. Let us be color-conscious and use the diversity as a positive instead of as a challenge. There are ways to both give space to recognize the cultural diaspora of our students and equally include them into lessons that are not located in their cultural ancestry.   It’s definitely challenging but it’s not impossible. If it were impossible, then there would be no Hamilton!
BTN Conference: Donzell Cloud Gate

This conference inspired me, and I am looking forward to this upcoming school year and finding ways to teach the rules and also give space for students to (sometimes) throw the rules away. I look forward to honoring the cultural ancestry of my students while also adding them into the stories they are often erased from. This year will be especially challenging because I’m going to push myself to grow as a teacher while also challenging my students to do the same. But that’s why we have our P.S. ARTS theme, ‘The Courage to Create,’ to encourage us in times of difficulty to have the strength to keep going and create despite whatever changes we must face. So, let’s go create everyone!

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P.S. ARTSBlack Theatre Network Conference 2016

Back to School 2016

on September 22, 2016

by Program Manager, Jaime Reichner

This summer, P.S. ARTS Teaching Artists participated in a two-day professional development training. While looking forward to the start of the new school year, they took a few moments to recall highlights from the previous year. Here are a few “magic moments”:

“During the Art Show, a student was just staring at his artwork. I felt that joy – that pride. This student was having trouble at the beginning of the year. Little by little he started to grow.”

“At the end of informances, I give students the opportunity to share with the audience what they learned in music. [One] students spoke up and said, “I learned that it’s okay to be myself. We are ourselves and we don’t have to be like anyone else. I think music helps me express myself. I love P.S. ARTS. It gives me confidence.”
Back to School with P.S. ARTS: Music

“Students designed Nick Cave “Soundsuits” in small groups. It was inspiring to see collaboration and problem solving amongst peers. What began as small conflicts between contrasting ideas and personalities resulted in resolution and incorporation of diverse ideas. Students learned to work together, delegate, and to take turns. Most of all, they were proud of their results.”

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“A third grade student who was afraid to speak (since 1st grade) volunteered to audition for a lead part! I asked her if she was ready to speak onstage in front of an audience and she said that she finally felt ready to do so. When I first met this student, the teacher warned me that she wouldn’t talk. I told the teacher all I would do is create a safe space and she’ll speak when she’s ready!”

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“Middle school students at my school have the opportunity to choose elective classes. I was just told by the principal that Art was chosen by every single student in the school. It was the only elective in history of having a unanimous vote.”

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We are looking forward to another fantastic year! Stay tuned for more programming updates, more #artsed projects, and more magic moments. To volunteer for P.S. ARTS this school year, visit psarts.org/volunteer.

 

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P.S. ARTSBack to School 2016

Meet the Newest Faces of the P.S. ARTS team!

on August 31, 2016

There are many new faces at P.S. ARTS, please join us in welcoming our new Events Assistant Clarissa, Inside Out Community Arts Program Coordinator KT, Administrative Assistant Nikki, and Program Assistant Oscar!

Clarissa Rice

Clarissa Hampton, Events Assistant
Briefly introduce yourself and explain your new position at P.S. ARTS.
Hello, I’m Clarissa and I’m the new Events Assistant here at P.S. ARTS which means I help put together the events that raise money for our programs! I actually have a wide range of responsibilities in this role, including scaling the packed shelves in storage, “voluntelling” coworkers and friends to work events, and very politely asking people to help fund our programs.

What book is currently on your nightstand?
I’m currently working my way through 1Q84. It’s a beautiful read, and I look forward to finishing it sometime this decade.

What is currently the most played song on your iPod?
It has to be “Train in Vain” by The Clash. It’s my all-time favorite and my go-to when life/work/traffic is getting the best of me!

Where is your favorite place to view or take part in art in Los Angeles?
You could ask me this question one hundred times and I would have a different answer each time! For brevity’s sake, I’m going to say LACE. Not only is the programming unapologetically radical, but it’s also run by some very rad (and smart and forward-thinking and compassionate) women. Disclaimer: I interned at LACE so I might be a little biased.

What famous person, either dead or alive, would you choose to take out for coffee?
North West. No contest. Her style is fire and she’s basically American royalty.

KT Leuterio, Program Coordinator

KT Leuterio, Inside Out Community Arts Program Coordinator
Briefly introduce yourself and explain your new position at P.S. ARTS.
My name is KT Leuterio, and I am the Inside Out Community Arts Program Coordinator. In this position, I help make sure that the Inside Out program is running smoothly at each of the sites. I was born and raised in Los Angeles and studied Film/Media at UC Berkeley. Go Bears!

What book is currently on your nightstand?
I’m about to re-start Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I didn’t finish reading it last time I opened it up, so I’m excited to dig in once again. It was highly recommended by a friend of mine.

What is currently the most played song on your iPod?
I don’t actually own an iPod… I’m usually listening to the radio in the car or a random Spotify playlist at my desk.

Where is your favorite place to view or take part in art in Los Angeles?
I just recently visited LACMA for the first time, and it was an incredible afternoon. I visited the Guillermo Del Toro exhibit, as well as “Reigning Men”, which displayed the history of men’s fashion. I didn’t get a chance to see every exhibition in the space, so I plan on visiting again soon.

What famous person, either dead or alive, would you choose to take out for coffee?
Tina Fey. She’s an incredibly talented actor and writer, and a major inspiration for me. I relate to a lot of her work, so it’d be an amazing treat to have coffee with her!

Nikki Manibhai, Administrative Assistant

Nikki Manibhai, Administrative Assistant
Briefly introduce yourself and explain your new position at P.S. ARTS.
Hello! My name is Nikki Manibhai and I come to P.S. ARTS from the museum world. I am excited to start this transition and my new journey as P.S. ARTS’ new Administrative Assistant. As the Admin Assistant, I will be maintaining office operations and providing administrative support to senior staff. Other than the office day-to-day, other common responsibilities include human resources-related tasks as well as record-keeping and mailings involving the donor database.  

What book is currently on your nightstand?
As a former Harry Potter fanatic, I just had to know how the story truly ends. So, I am currently nearing the end of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

What is currently the most played song on your iPod?
There isn’t necessarily a single song, but rather an album. I’ve been recently listening to Frank Ocean’s Blond(e) on repeat.

Where is your favorite place to view or take part in art in Los Angeles?
Hmm, that is a great question. I would have to say the theater. Although we aren’t New York, Los Angeles has some great playhouses. I enjoy both musicals and plays – the songs, the drama, the visuals and fanciness of it all make for a great fun-filled, and art-filled, night out. I can’t wait for Hamilton to arrive in August 2017!

What famous person, either dead or alive, would you choose to take out for coffee?
I would love to meet Ellen DeGeneres! She has a great heart, funny, intelligent, and incredibly genuine. I would love to play Ellen in your ear with her at a Starbucks 🙂

Oscar Navarrete, Program Assistant

Oscar Navarrete, Program Assistant
Briefly introduce yourself and explain your new position at P.S. ARTS.
My name is Oscar Navarrete, and I’m the new Program Assistant at P.S. ARTS. My responsibilities include supporting our wonderful Teaching Artists, as well as our Program Team. I’ll also be organizing for our Family Art Night events, which I’m most excited about!

What book is currently on your nightstand?
I’ve taken a break from more traditional books since I graduated from university, but I’ve recently started rebuilding my graphic novel collection. The Black Panther is one of my favorite series at the moment because of its socio-political commentary. The Vision series is a really good read also.

What is currently the most played song on your iPod?
I haven’t exactly checked, but I’m almost positive it’s something by Kendrick Lamar. He’s one of my favorite artists at the moment. “Untitled #2” might be the song I’ve played the most.

Where is your favorite place to view or take part in art in Los Angeles?
My favorite art is that which is most accessible. I find most of it out in the streets. I’ve grown up and currently live in Koreatown, right by the Downtown area, which is saturated with all kinds of street art. Some of it is violent, some of it is righteous, and some of it is right in between, but it’s fascinating to dwell on the stories behind each piece.

What famous person, either dead or alive, would you choose to take out for coffee?
Man, I don’t drink coffee, but if I could talk to Subcomandante Marcos of the EZLN in Mexico I’d definitely buy us a cup or two. This is a tough question; Keith Haring would be a close second.

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P.S. ARTSMeet the Newest Faces of the P.S. ARTS team!

Paints & Pints 2016!

on August 23, 2016

By Events Assistant, Clarissa Hampton

Paints & PintsPaints & Pints

On Thursday, August 11th, P.S. ARTS took over The Park at The Grove for an evening of bites, brews, and art making!  Graciously hosted by The Grove, P.S. ARTS Paints & Pints provided guests a taste of the important work we do throughout the Los Angeles community.  Building on the spirit of the first Paints & Pints event, this follow-up created a community in which guests could imagine, create, and collaborate with one another.  Smaller in scale than some of our other events, Paints & Pints did not lack in inspiration and creativity.  The art, the eats, and the tunes (generously provided and perfectly mixed by P.S. ARTS favorite, DJ Ben Goldsmith with Backhaüs Productions) made Paints & Pints an evening to remember!

This was my first undertaking as the new Events Assistant at P.S. ARTS, and I loved being part of the team that made Paints & Pints such a magical evening.  Thanks to the dedication of our wonderful hosts, the generosity of The Grove and Caruso Affiliated, and the hard work of our volunteers, the evening was a huge success, raising over $3,500 for our award-winning programs!

The Art

Helen Frankenthaler project

Guests showed off their creative side by making a pair of tile coasters inspired by renowned Abstract Expressionist and Color Field painter Helen Frankenthaler.  Using permanent markers and some rubbing alcohol, guests imitated Frankenthaler’s dreamy colorscapes.  (You can copy our simple process at home with the guidance of our To-Go Sheet here!)  Guests transformed into artists as they improvised with colors and patterns, resulting in a variety of designs and forms on their finished coasters.  The final projects were magnificent!

The Eats

Blue Ribbon SushiUmami Burger sliders

Even the menu at Paints & Pints was inspired!  A huge thank you is owed to Blue Ribbon and Umami Burger for providing the tastiest of bites to our guests.  Blue Ribbon crafted custom hand rolls that were as beautiful as they were delicious.  The delectable rolls were paired with a classic wine selection and a Yuzu Sangria which was a guest favorite.  Umami Burger served up a heartier fare, featuring three of their signature burgers as sliders and both thin and sweet potato fries (I confess, I indulged on more than my fair share of sweet potato fries over the course of the evening.  Have you tried their house ketchup?  It’s my favorite!).  Umami also provided the “Pints” for the night with a fine selection of craft beer.  If you like what you tasted, please visit their restaurants or order from their websites!

The Raffle

Raffle Prizes

One of the most exciting points of the night was the raffle, which gave guests an opportunity to win some sweet P.S. ARTS swag and other goodies!  The Grove generously donated a date night package and beauty basket, and MeUndies donated a $250 gift certificate.  In addition to providing guests an exciting chance to win some amazing prizes, all proceeds from the raffle ticket sales will go to providing arts education to the 25,000 students P.S. ARTS serves each week.

DJ Ben Goldsmith

This event would not have been possible without the support of The Grove and Caruso Affiliated, Umami Burger, Blue Ribbon, DJ Ben Goldsmith with Backhaüs Productions, and the support of our amazing hosts and volunteers. We would also like to thank Nicole Valencia (@zikohl soblur.com) for capturing the magic of the evening with her camera.  To view photos from the event, visit our album on Facebook.  We are so grateful for your continued support and can’t wait to see you all at our next event!

 

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P.S. ARTSPaints & Pints 2016!

2016-17 Family Art Night Project: Alma Woodsey Thomas

on August 19, 2016

By Education & Media Intern, Vanessa Chung

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As a part of our Community Engagement program, P.S. ARTS has been hosting Family Art Nights at our partner schools for the past six years. This year, I was given the responsibility of creating a new Family Art Night project to be used with our diverse school communities. These projects are free, hands-on activities that are accessible to our multigenerational school families and fit into our P.S. ARTS Program Theme.

Every year, our Programs staff and Teaching Artists gather to create a classroom theme for the school year. Our past themes include Exploring Our Dreams, Expanding Our Universe (2013-2014), Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers (2014-2015), and All the Colors I am Inside (2015-2016). These themes are accompanied with masterworks from every arts discipline we offer: music, dance, visual arts, and theater. This year, our theme is The Courage to Create, and our visual arts masterwork, “The Eclipse,” by Alma Woodsey Thomas fits the theme perfectly.

Alma Woodsey Thomas at her studio and her painting, "The Eclipse" (1970)

Alma Woodsey Thomas at her studio and her painting, “The Eclipse” (1970)

When brainstorming for the Family Art Night lesson, I was inspired by Alma Woodsey Thomas’ biography. She was born in Georgia in 1891 and moved with her family to Washington D.C. in 1907 to leave the racial discrimination they faced in the South. Though she had dreams of being an architect, she was restricted by the racial and gender boundaries of the time. However, she chose to pursue the arts, becoming Howard University’s first Fine Arts graduate in 1921. After graduating, she became an arts teacher; after 35 years of devoting herself to her students, she was able to pursue painting full time. At 75 years old, she debuted her signature abstract paintings at an exhibition at Howard University and lived out a successful career as an artist.

After learning about her story, I decided to create an Alma Woodsey Thomas-inspired project to test with the staff at our biweekly Art Lab. During my time at P.S. ARTS, I led art lessons with the staff twice a month to test out potential Family Art Night projects. After a few weeks of trial and error, I decided to introduce two projects for our August Art Lab. I introduced my Alma Woodsey Thomas lesson along with a lesson based on Yayoi Kusama’s dotted paintings. I felt that Kusama’s persistence in creating large volumes of art along with her openness about her mental health fit with our classroom theme perfectly.

Some of the Kusama-inspired artwork created by our staff

Some of the Kusama-inspired artwork created by our staff

At the Art Lab, our staff created beautiful art inspired by both of these artists. While working on their Alma Woodsey Thomas projects, Jaime and Gaby had the brilliant idea of adding Kusama dots on their collages. After lots of revision and changes, I created a lesson combining the two projects. We tested this Kusama-Thomas lesson, called “Yayoi’s Eclipse,” at our last Art Lab and deemed it a success! The project satisfied the many requirements for our Family Art Nights: it is derived from our program theme, requires simple materials that can be transported to almost fifty schools in California, and is accessible for artists of all ages!

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I am excited to see what families will create at this year’s Family Art Nights—we want students to understand and learn about the stories of the courageous Alma Woodsey Thomas and Yayoi Kusama and create a project inspired by their artwork.

If you are unable to attend one of our Family Art Nights, you can download our lesson as a P.S. ARTS To Go! Project here. For more at-home projects, please visit psarts.org/to-go

 

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P.S. ARTS2016-17 Family Art Night Project: Alma Woodsey Thomas