20 November 2008

Thompson's Tales

Growing up in San Diego, Derek Thompson was determined to become a comic book artist. So focused was that dream that when he came Otis' old location- first to participate in the pre-college program and then as an undergrad studying illustration- that he essentially ignored the "crunchy" environment of MacArthur park, graduating with a BFA in Illustration in 1994. During that time he managed to get his first "real" comic book published and he's been working and thriving in the art and design world since.

Last night Derek returned to Otis to give a talk about his own college experience, his life in the professional world and his advice to our current students. He spoke to a packed house in the Lighting Studio and I was lucky enough to catch his talk. He was engaging and entertaining, moving easily between serious subjects (how to deal with the IRS because you didn't have taxes withheld as a freelancer) and the humorous (how do you solve the problem of Jar Jar Binks?). I really appreciated both his honesty about what the art world is and is not and his unflagging spirit and belief that what is is doing "for a living" is what he was always been meant to do. It was a potent mix of encouragement and awareness that an art student should hear. I only wish I had a recorder with me so I could have taped it and then play it for families when they ask why their kid should be able to go to art school.

You may not realize how often you've seen his work and here are just a few of the movies he has worked on during his stints as a freelancer, as a staffer at ILM and currently at Pixar:

Star Wars Episode III
Thirteen Ghosts
Mummy Returns
Men In Black

You can find a lot more information at his personal site DerekMonster, his blog and on IMDB. In addition to the lecture last night he is doing portfolio reviews and group projects with our students the rest of the week.

18 November 2008

Mentors Mentioned

One of the cornerstones of Otis' Fashion program is the work it does with mentors. Each year the juniors and senior students work on projects under the direction of well known designers, giving them a real sense of what it is like "out there" in the working industry.

Yesterday the fashion blog StyleChica posted a nice piece about this year's mentors on its front page. You can read it here. Oh, and the next time you are on campus, stop by the third floor of Ahmanson Hall where there is a new display chronicling all 28 years worth of mentors- its an impressive list.

14 November 2008

From the Mouth of Youth

I've been in college admissions over 20 years now so you can imagine the amount of times I've ran through the list of criteria for getting into college. Surprisingly (or maybe not) the key factors have not really changed that much over time. Sure at Otis we have a whole additional layer in the from of the portfolio requirement but the rest of it is a familiar refrain- good grades, decent test scores, take solid "college prep" classes, etc. The whole thing can feel pretty top down at points- talking to or at students and their families so it's always nice to see a different take on the issue.

In reading the November/December issue of LA Youth whose motto is "the newspaper by and bout teens" there is a nice piece by Jennifer Carcamo, a 2008 graduate of High Tech High LA and now a freshman at UCLA. Written as an interview with her high school counselor Karyn Koven, Jennifer presents an easy to follow set of suggestions about what students can do from the beginning through the end of their high school careers.

An added bonus for Otis is that we are listed among the schools that Ms. Koven recommends to students who are considering art school! You can read the whole story here. There is a companion article about Jennifer's own college search that is also a good read.

12 November 2008

Symposium Sets the Stage

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the 2008 AICAD symposium "Artists and Designers for Change." The event was jointly hosted by Otis and Art Center and drew faculty from AICAD member schools throughout the US and Canada.

One of the things I have always appreciated about working on a college campus is access to events such as these. They represent an opportunity to engage in really thoughtful discussions about important topics- in this case artists and designers as change agents- and to hear from some truly brilliant speakers.

For me the highlight was Mel Chin's talk. His presentation of the project " Operation Paydirt" completely captured the spirit of the event- get kids to make art as an educational experience- use the awareness created by their efforts to draw a attention to a serious health issue and raise significant funds (hopefully) to make a difference in people's quality of life. If that all sounds a bit cryptic you can read about the whole thing here. I'd urge you to check it out and get involved.

All of the presentations are scheduled to be posted on the symposium wiki site in the near future.

I learned a lot from the experience and it was a very good event for Otis.

24 October 2008

Kavin Buck- It's a Guy Thing

*Full disclosure- Kavin is a friend and colleague. Any perceived positive bias is intended*

According to ArtScene reviewer Roberta Carasso, Otis alum Kavin Buck sees himself as outsider artist in the sense that he "...grew up in a blue collar milieu in Orange County, is a white, straight, forty-something male, husband and father" who "...was never and still is not part of any social revolution."

It is in this context that Carasso weaves a theme of masculinity throughout the review of Kavin's current solo show at LA Contemporary Gallery. In some cases by using descriptors that one might associate as masculine traits- for instance in reference to some of the paintings she said they "...give the appearance of precision, deliberately measured and mathematical" or in regard to some of the sculpture she wrote "...his sculptures are built with precision tools, replete with right-angled configurations...in an architectural manner." Then there is the overt reference- "...his art involves male identity, particularly referencing a blue collar construction type of masculinity."

Whether these traits are more indicative of a male artist rather than a female one is obviously debatable. I did however appreciate the way in which it framed the discussion of Kavin's work. Especially when Carasso went on to deconstruct the image she set up- "The sculptures look incredibly heavy and yet are structurally fragile...the paintings appear controlled but are not. Looking more closely, nothing is precise. They have an off-beat rhythm, the results of a human hand pushing a paint roller." She finishes with her review with this- "...the exhibition implies that ultimately art's quality depends on the individual artist's perceptions and skill in bringing to fruition a profound and original idea. Certainly Buck's art proves this."

The exhibition continues through November 29.

Image of "Pallet Glass" 2005-08 taken from Kavin Buck's Artsltant profile

09 October 2008

Volumes on Veca

Mark Dean Veca's ('85) solo exhibition Phantasmagoria opens this weekend (10/11/08) in the Ben Maltz Gallery as part of Otis' 90th anniversary Homecoming weekend. I expected that we would receive coverage after the opening but for the last three days the blogosphere has been full of posts about it.

The most notable mention so far has been the extensive Sneek Peek provided by Super Touch, a leading contemporary art and culture blog. You can find that piece here. Since then many more have picked it up and its starting to feel like when the publicity for the Do It Now:Live Green took on a life of it's own.

If you're in town this weekend, come to the opening from 5 to 7 PM. Admission and parking are free. Phantasmagoria will remain up through December 6, 2008.

*Image from Super Touch

26 September 2008

You Might Want to Sit Down for This

Three of Otis' Interactive Product Design (IPD) students have their work featured in the September/October issue of Spaces.

The shelter magazine publishes editions in various parts of the US and the Los Angeles version has a great piece (pg16) by Howard Stier that praises the work of Antonia Martinez, Kevin Melchiorri and Mae Ling Lam. In citing their work Stier said "We may see high-end folding furniture and laser-etched table surfaces in the home design market a few years down the road but some forward-thinking students are already crafting them now." He went on to point out the impact IPD has made in the short time since it started- "...housewares manufacturers such as Target and Moen are taking note, looking to the Los Angeles school for fresh and exciting products to develop."

You can find Spaces at select locations or you can read the current issue online here using the very cool issue.com site.

Image from 2008 IPD Junior seating exhibition

18 September 2008

A Stitch Online

A little more than a year ago Otis launched its own YouTube channel presenting a mix that included presentations by guest artists, helpful tips on how to navigate the educational experience at Otis and a whole "how to" series that features our faculty.

Among the more popular of the how to videos are the ones from the Fashion Design department. Anytime there are over 1000 views, you know someone is watching beyond the Otis community but its not that often that you find out who they are. Thanks to Google alerts however, sometimes you find at least one of them.

Ann's Fashion Studio is a blog by Ann in Brunswick Canada. It appears to have a loyal following and covers a wide range of things related to fashion and garment construction. In her recent post "Great reference for Sewing Techniques" she gave a great plug for several of the Fashion Design videos! So, thanks Ann!

I've embedded the first one she mentioned "Stitching Techniques for a Tailored Jacket." You can find the rest of the Fashion series here.

10 September 2008

Hooping! Who Knew?!

A few weeks ago I posted about Fashion Design alum Emily Brandel ('02). She was one of the participants in this year's season of Project Runway. Well, unfortunately her time on the show is already over but as you might expect, the experience generated a LOT Of buzz. Case in point- Google her name and you'll get over 6,000 entries (including my post if you go about 17 pages deep)! Even allowing for garbage blogs and duplicates- that's pretty amazing.

And this example might just be my favorite-

I had a Google alert this morning that led me to Hooping.org and what do you know, Emily is a bit of a hula hooping maven. She's featured on their site in this video.


PS- this is the 100th post for The "O" Observed. I'm looking forward to writing many more. -M

28 August 2008

In Memoriam- Dominic Ambriz

Otis is beginning it's 90th year it has not surprised me to find more than a few stories recently of our earliest alums and faculty members passing away. While the news is sad, I expect such things and can understand them.

When I heard the news about an alum that was only 28 however, I was caught off guard, and it does not make sense.

Dominic Ambriz ('02) passed away on August 16th from brain cancer. He was a graduate of the Toy Design program and had most recently worked as a Senior Designer at Mattel. I did not know Dominic, he graduated shortly after I arrived at Otis, but after reading a tribute to him in the Bakersfield Californian, I wish I had the opportunity.

Described as a rising young star in the toy industry, Dominic was also an active "weekend" athlete- completing in many events including finishing a marathon after he got sick...He coined the phrase "Bring It" as a rallying cry for battling his illness, a battle he fought for nearly twice as long as most people with his form of cancer. He illustrated a book, and the list of accomplishments goes on. You get the idea. Dominic did more while fighting a life threatening illness than many of us ever will.*

You can find a tribute piece to him on YouTube here and a blog here.

Otis is certainly fortunate to count Dominic as one of our family.

*Information about Dominic's accomplishments gleaned from Herb Benham's article

21 August 2008

Home is Where the Art is

It's that time of year when students go back to school and the media is full of stories about moving away from home, adjusting to life at college and many more tales of transition.

One of those stories was a piece in the Long Beach Press-Telegram about decorating your dorm room and it included interviews with two Otis students- Rebecca Gottesman '09 and Danielle Camilo '10 who are RA's in the Otis housing program.

The article's bent was one of style and function, making your space your own while keeping in mind cost, content and size limitations.

Rebecca talked about her love of photography- "I like finding random ones and putting them up, even if I don't know the people. Photos are such keepsakes and they're things that people keep forever, so I really like finding them and having them in my room. I love filling up wall space, so I'm constantly finding inspiring things to decorate my room with."

Danielle discussed her use of mobiles-
"One of my teachers from when I was younger actually traded me a $50 mobile for one of my creations," she says. "It's one of the most important things in my room because of what it means to me - inspiration."

The entire article can be viewed here.

14 August 2008

Pardo Provides Passionate Perspective

This past spring artist Jorge Pardo was on campus for a conversation with Fine Arts Department Chair Alex Coles.

Their wide ranging dialog touched on everything from the state of Fine Arts education, the intersection of design and art and perhaps of most interest to the audience- what can be called "art" and why.

The conversation was filmed for Otis' YouTube channel and now it has been featured on Artforum.com.

Take a look!

15 July 2008

Running with Scissors

Project Runway, the reality television juggernaut that made Tim Gunn a star and took him from academia to the house of Claiborne just began its fifth season and as has been the case in most years, Otis has an alum in the mix.

Emily Brandle ('02) is one of 16 contestants vying for success in the weekly fashion challenges that eventually will land one designer $100,000 worth of seed money for their own line, a spot in ELLE magazine and all manner of fashion 'cred and web fame.

I think one mis-conception that some folks have about the series is that the contestants are new to the fashion industry. Sure you have the "self taught" entrants but most are grads of respected fashion programs and many have already achieved some level of notoriety in the field.

Brandle is no exception. Along with fellow alum Michelle Chaplin she designs under her own label Smoke and Mirrors and the blog Racked LA lists several of the other people and labels she has worked for including Jeremy Scott, Rozae Nichols and DKNY.

The show airs on Bravo Wednesdays at 9PM EST. Brandle has made it past the first challenge so tune in for the rest of the season to see how she does!

*image of Emily Brandle from BravoTV website episode 1 photo gallery, click on the image to see the rest of the gallery.

26 June 2008

Nectar is Sweet on Otis Grad

Nectar, the Long Beach based product design company had a nice piece in their blog that highlights Otis alum Shaun Redsar (07), who recently joined their company as a designer. The post is very complimentary of both Redsar and the IPD program, citing the rigor of our program and skills of our grads-

In describing the program- "...the IPD program takes an artistic approach to design, training creators who “work in the gallery of the real world….” In Shaun’s case, this approach can be seen in some of the young designer’s creations, including the Sephira lamp and the Zygo teapot, both of which were crafted both as art objects for display in galleries, as well as products suitable for mass production."

And the benefits of making it through- "However, the rewards for taking this arduous journey are more than just a sense of accomplishment; IPD graduates have been hired by such outstanding companies as Apple, Disney, and, of course, Nectar."

I also enjoyed what Shaun had to say when talking about his experience at Otis- "I took as many classes at Otis that focused on the theory and issues of design as I did on the logistics of how to make it work in the real world. It all comes down to creating beautiful objects that improve the quality of life."

See more of Shaun's work here and learn more about IPD at Otis here.

image of Sephira lamp from Shaun Resdar website

16 June 2008

Remembering Ralph Bacerra

Renowned ceramist Ralph Bacerra passed away on June 10th at his home in Eagle Rock. He was a long time member of the Otis Community, chairing the Ceramics program from 1983 to 1997.

His Los Angeles Times obituary included the following quote in reference to his piece Teapot (part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection)- "The piece was not created to brew tea but to be enjoyed as a purely visual and tactile experience..." Reading that reminded me of our teapot project in the Interactive Product Design program where form, rather than function was the primary intent.

Long represented by Frank Lloyd Gallery, Bacerra made work to be enjoyed rather than analyzed. In an interview for the Smithsonian oral history project he said, "I am not making any statements- social, political, conceptual, or even intellectual. There is no meaning or metaphor. I am committed more to the idea of pure beauty. When it is finished, the piece, should be like an ornament, exquisitely beautiful."

Apart from his own words, the idea was probably best described in a 1999 New York Times review by Ken Johnson- "To look at Ralph Bacerra's gorgeous ceramic vessels is to wallow in visual hedonism. Mr. Bacerra, an immensely skilled craftsman based in Los Angeles, does not try to express any important meaning, social, psychological, philosophical or otherwise. His works are witty and sophisticated in their manipulation of influences ranging from Japanese to early modernist to Pop, but mainly he wants to delight the eyes of his viewers."

Image of Teapot from Smithsonian American Museum website

04 June 2008

Poetic Ponder

In his blog Airform Archives, Otis alum Steve Roden muses about the world of sound, the spoken word, artists and their work just to name a few. In this post from 4 June, he featured the thoughts of another alum- Robert Irwin in the context of Irwin's consideration of the southwestern desert.

Culled from a 1981 LACMA catalog, Irwin's quote is simple in its words but very rich in the mental image it encourages:

"it's a place where you go along for awhile, and there seems to be nothing happening... it's all just flat desert, you know, no particular events, no mountains or trees or what have you. and then all of a sudden it just takes on this sort of - i mean it's hard to explain, but it takes on almost a magical quality. it just suddenly stands up and almost hums, it becomes so beautiful...incredibly, the presence is so strong. then in twenty minutes it will simply stop. and i began to try and wonder why - what those events were really about - because they were so close to my interest, the quality of the phenomena"

Living in Los Angeles it's good to be reminded that this place that is so built up once was just as Irwin described.


21 May 2008

Fab Fashion

Otis' 2008 Scholarship Benefit Show, a runway event that showcases the best of the Fashion Department's junior and senior work had a great write up on FashionWeekDaily! Described by writer Jennifer Chan as "...one of LA's biggest and brightest nights in fashion..." and held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, the evening raised over a million dollars for scholarship support.

Fashion at Otis has long been known for connecting established designers with students in a mentor relationship. This quote from Chan's story is a good example of why those relationships mater:

"John Varvatos, who flew in from another successful store opening in San Francisco, was all smiles. "They really put on a show here; it's a big night for everyone. It's great to see the passion and energy backstage, and what Rosemary Brantley does for the program is phenomenal," said Varvatos, who sat next to one of his own designers and Otis alumnus, Marcus LeBanc. 'I hired him right out of the program two years ago after he won the men's wear category. I've got my eye on a few standout students this year.'"

07 May 2008

Let's Go Dutch

Otis and the Sandberg Institute in Holland are holding an joint exhibition this month in support and celebration of the two schools' new exchange program.

Curated by Otis alum Sojung Kwon, the exhibition features her work and that of six other Otis artists:

It runs in conjunction with the fair De Kunstvlaii and is open 10 to 18 May.

25 April 2008

Twenty Questions with Trine

Well it's 18 questions actually...

Art blogger Claudio Parentela recently interviewed Otis alum Trine Wejp-Olsen ('94) about her studio practice, her path to art school and what advice she would share with the next generation of artists.

Some of my favorite responses include:

(as to why she wanted to become an artist)-
"My Dad is a cartoonist (Werner Wejp-Olsen), and as he had his studio at home, growing up I watched him do his cartoons, and I guess the idea of becoming an artist for a living never seemed difficult or daunting…Being naive sometimes is a good thing."

(describing her first year at Otis)-
"The school has a bit of a boot camp first year, where they load a lot of work on you, and in as many disciplines as possible. I discovered within this first year that what I meant to do was to express my voice through imagery. I found it to be too limiting to be hired by someone else as an illustrator to express his or her point of view or need. And therefore I ended up in the fine art department concentrating on painting instead."

(the materials she uses when making work)-
"I work with oil on canvas + watercolor, color pencil and sometimes milk paint on paper. For sculpture work I use all kinds of materials, fabrics, plaster, and my last sculpture was a bronze."

(what she would tell a young artist)-
"There is no right or wrong in art, so don’t be afraid of mistakes, they often turns out as successes."

The complete interview is available at Parentela's blog- Elvis in Hawaii

image- Blue Monkey, 2007 oil on canvas 16" x 20" from the Trine Wejp-Olsen website

22 April 2008

Gains Through Greening

Happy Earth Day! Otis has been working toward being a leader in sustainable living. Some of the efforts to date include the incorporation of environmental projects into many of the Integrated Learning courses, the hosting of the Do it Now: Live Green exhibition in the Ben Maltz Gallery last summer and student clubs in both Fashion and IPD that are focused on sustainability.

Beyond college-wide efforts, many Otis folks making sustainable living a part of their daily lives. A good example is Fine Arts Associate Professor Holly Tempo. She was one of several Brewery art colony residents featured in a LA Times article on gardening. The story chronicled the efforts of the artists to create urban gardens, often with found plants. Describing Tempo's own garden writer Paula Panich said "She presides over a small but aesthetically balanced and ordered garden of specimen plants in well-chosen metallic containers. Her flowering palette begins with yellows and oranges and reds and moves to purple as the seasons change."

In citing one of the environmental benefits of her garden Tempo commented "It's a great way to unwind. Plus, plants absorb toxic air- and they are (a) really visible joy."

So recycle a bottle, turn off a light or carpool today, every little bit helps.

09 April 2008

An Eddy for Mounger

Otis Foundation Associate Professor Christian Mounger was honored along with other local teachers last night at the 2008 "Eddy" awards, which where held at the Los Angeles Airport Hilton. Sponsored by the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce, the annual awards recognize outstanding educators from each of the schools in the Chamber's area.

Mounger, who has been teaching at Otis since 1994, was recognized for his contributions to the Foundation program's curriculum and his dedication to his students.

06 April 2008

Saar Says Come Hither

Noted Otis alum Allison Saar's latest solo show "Hither" at L.A. Louver, which closed yesterday received a lot of attention including a strong review from Leah Olman in last Friday's Los Angeles Times.

In a nod to Saar's influence on the local art scene Olman said "...Saar is one of the most significant sculptors working today, and her shows tend to be serious occasions." The review concludes with "Saar's forms register immediately in the body as well as the soul. For all their wonderous physicality, they are elegantly poetic; for all their knowing eloquence, they endow silence with presence."

You can find another substantial write up about the show in the March issue of ArtScene.

Image of Hither detail from L.A. Louver website

27 March 2008

Toy Story Told in Toy Book

Otis has one of only three Toy Design programs in the United States and it is featured (along with FIT) in the March 2008 edition of The Toy Book, an industry magazine for the toy industry.

The article lauded the impact the two programs have had on the industry- "Both feature professors still active in the industry, various internship opportunities, and a job placement rate for graduates that can't be beat." And- "The toy industry is one in which a new trend is declared the next best thing before you've even had a chance to turn around. The importance of that child giggling at home with Elmo, however, is one aspect that will be around 10, 20 or even 100 years from now. The Toy Industry 101 textbook may not have a specific chapter on this, but learning it early and having it reinforced often are things that make those who spend the two years at Otis or FIT very valuable for the future of play.

This piece is just the latest in a series that have highlighted the success of our Toy program and it is especially gratifying for the students' work to be acknowledged by the industry whose future they will shape.

Photo Otis Toy seniors courtesy of Candice Lavin and Otis Toy Design Flickr pages

16 March 2008

A Brief Pause for Poultry

In 1978 Otis alum Jeffrey Vallance buried a store-bought chicken in a pet cemetery. "Blinky" as the bird was known, was given a "proper" burial complete with a service and a headstone.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Blinky's burial and subsequent exhumation (conducted in 1988 to mark the 10th anniversary), Vallance created a chapel inside Track 16 Gallery.

Paul Young from the Los Angeles Times talked with Vallance about the project in the 03-06 edition of The Guide's "60 Seconds With..." section. The exchange included this question from Young and response from Vallance-

What's the Strangest Reaction to Blinky That You've Ever Seen or Heard of?
"Several people have told me that they stopped eating chicken. which makes sense because I was a vegetarian when I performed the piece 30 yeas ago. I didn't eat meat for health reason and because I was against the inhumane treatment of animals. Similar to the Unknown Soldier, Blinky represents all chickens that have been slaughtered for the dinner table."

The chapel and accompanying exhibition remain on display through April 5th.

06 March 2008

A Complimentary Compare and Contrast

The thrust of Holly Meyer's February 29 review in the Los Angeles Times of the parallel solo shows at Carl Berg Gallery is that the two artists- Megan Williams and 2005 Otis grad Jessica Minckley are products of their respective generations and their work is reflective of those separate times. Williams coming of age in the turbulent 70's versus Minckley arriving in an art scene that is "booming; LA has become a widely respected art capital; galleries are sweeping up artists right out of school..."

Despite the significant differences that result from those two generations, Meyers found much to like about both shows. Of Minckely she said, "...has a much lighter approach: Her exhibition is quiet, delicate and contemplative. Each piece feels considered and specific in nature, a sequence of discrete conceptual statements..." And "The most enchanting works are the simplest: a series of pattern-oriented drawings made on the epigraph pages of books; a ceiling high stack of pink cake boxes; a MormonAd (a poster distributed by the Mormon Church) coated with a thick crust of salt. Concise yet enigmatic, each has the air of a meditative excercise."

Both shows close this Saturday- March 8.

Jessica Minckley
Cake boxes
125 x 9 3/4 x 9 3/4 inches

From Carl Berg Gallery

04 March 2008

Remembering Milford Zornes

Otis alum and noted watercolor painter Milford Zornes '27 passed away on February 24th at his home in Claremont. As noted in his obituary from the Claremont-Courier he was "the last living artist in the small but elite group of California Scene Painters." As noted in the The Oaklahoman, this group of painters were "credited with elevating watercolor to a legitimate art form..."

After completing his studies at Otis, which including taking classes from Millard Sheets, he completed a Bachelor's degree at Pomona College. Upon leaving college he taught art at several schools, including at Otis.

According to the Los Angeles Times he maintained an active artistic practice until the very end of his life- "
He continued painting and teaching into his 90s, completing a mural for East Los Angeles College in 2004. He gave his last public demonstration in January at the opening of an exhibit celebrating his 100th birthday at the Pasadena Museum of California Art..."

As part of the College's Legacy Project, Mr. Zornes was interviewed last November and I have included it here.

02 March 2008

Illustrating Influence

This week's Los Angeles Times Magazine is the spring fashion issue. It's full of Otis mentions including a nice piece about Ruben and Isabel Toledo written by Rose Apodaca. It's a nice plug for the upcoming "Inside the Designer's Studio" series that Fashion Chair Rose Brantley hosts- the next installment featuring her discussion with the Toledos on March 11th- but my favorite part of the piece is Isabel's response to Apodaca's question about why they have worked with our students so often-

"To us, the spirit of California is unique." (I) tell the students "Search your soul for your identity. Allow necessity to be the mother of invention and remember that, for a creator, time in obscurity is a blessing. It allows you to incubate your ideas."

27 February 2008

Futbol Fashion Feature

Several Otis juniors in the Fashion Department are creating the new uniform designs for the Brazilian national soccer team. The project is being done in conjunction with Nike. Yesterday there was a fitting for the uniforms and local news channel KNBC4 was there to capture it!

Take a look:

Otis Fashion on KNBC4

25 February 2008

Serving Up Support for the Santa Monica Musuem

Last week's Home section of the Los Angeles Times included this item- Otis alum Gajin Fujita was one of 12 artists commissioned by the Santa Monica Museum to create a limited edition plate in honor of the museum's 20th anniversary. At a cost of $2000 each set and with only 125 being made, it's doubtful that folks will be serving dinner on them though!

image from Los Angeles Times website by photographer Carlos Chavez

24 February 2008

Juno May Get the Oscar but Otis May Get the Most Eyeballs

Shadowplay, the Los Angeles based studio created the opening title sequence for the multi-Oscar nominated film Juno. The sequence has received some buzz of its own including this interview with Shadowplay's co-founder Gareth Smith:

The Submarine Channel interview

Otis has worked with the folks at shawdowplay several times, most notably in the creation of our video "Discover Otis." They report that is one of the most viewed pieces on their site and it's been very successful for us!

22 February 2008

One Year of Observing Otis

One year ago today I started The "O" Observed. It has been a wonderful experience to find and blog about Otis in the media, in museums and galleries and other places out in the world.

With a year's worth of posts I've only scratched the surface. For every post I make there are three more I could if I had more time.

I'm looking forward to another year of observing Otis and I hope you are too.



18 February 2008

Otis in the OC and Endangered Species

This weekend I was at the Laguna Art Museum's Auction 100 event, which raised money for their exhibition and education programs. It was quite a fun evening and Otis was well represented with works sold from alums Billy Al Bengston, Sandow Birk, Kavin Buck, Adam Mars and Pattsi Valdez. In addition the evening's piece that fetched the highest price, nearly $30,000 was by another Otis alum, John Altoon.

I also caught the opening of the new group show Endangered Species at Santa Monica College's Pete and Susan Barrett Art Gallery (part of their new Performing Arts Center). It includes work by Otis grads Sarah Perry and Peter Zokosky along with Otis faculty member Robin Palanker. The show remains on view through March 8th.

John Altoon "Untitled" 1959

09 February 2008

Motion Theory Magic

It seems like Motion Theory must be a pretty cool place to work. I should check in with Otis alum Cui Haozheng '06, who is an animator at the firm. With offices here in Venice as well as New York and Europe, they are able to work with a diverse set of clients including Beck, Hewlett Packard, Gatorade and Budweiser.

Probably the best description of what Motion Theory has done for the world of advertising comes from writer Diane Mehta in her story Loco Motion, which appears in the February issue of Fast Company magazine:

"Now it's leading a wave of New York- and L.A.- based companies that are reinventing the TV comericial, even the look of video itself, and changing the way advertisers and other clients connect with the public...no one blends those worlds better than Motion Theory, with its radically strange hybrid of live action, visual effects and 3-D animation."

When describing Otis' Digital Media program, I often use the phrase we are teaching our students to tell stories through motion. The work that Motion Theory does is an excellent example of what I've been trying to say. They have selected pieces on their website. If you only watch one, make it the video for Beck's song "Girl."


28 January 2008

Many Mentions of the Monk

Shaolin: Temple of Zen, a photography exhibition by Justin Gurarglia will debut at Otis' Ben Maltz Gallery this Saturday, February 2nd with a reception from 5 to 7 PM but the show is already showing up throughout the blogosphere. In addition to being the Monday feature on Artdaily, it has attracted attention from several blogs and was picked up in Calendar Live.

In addition to the photographs, opening night visitors will see a live demonstration by one of the monks featured in the work, Shi De Chao, who has traveled from his temple in Henan, China.

The show, an outgrowth of the book published by Aperture will continue in the Gallery through 29th.

Additional Mentions (added Feb 1):

LA Cityzine
A Little Birdy Told me
Sean Slavin Photography
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17 January 2008

Some Paintings Some Party!

Last Saturday, I went to the opening of the opening of Some Paintings, the LA Weekly's third Biennial at Track 16 Gallery. I got there pretty late- after 10:30 and the place showed no sign of slowing down. I was thankful I had not arrived any earlier!

Curated by Doug Harvey, the show features Los Angeles painters, including alums Sandow Birk '88 and Steve Roden '86 (doing double duty by also standing in for Robert Williams) as well as Otis faculty member Carole Caroompas. Ben Maltz Gallery Director Meg Linton also had a mention related to artist Don Suggs.

With the crowd and over 70 artists, the experience was a bit overwhelming. My favorite part of the show (apart from seeing the work) was Harvey's statements about each artist. It was a rare treat to have the curator's thoughts about each artist available as a wall label.*

Gifted multimedia narrative populist Sandow Birk’s amazing “Depravities” show at Cal State Long Beach in December used up his store of new Iraq-war paintings, but he dug out an early-’90s collaboration with graffiti artist Devin “Relm” Flynn for “Some Paintings.”

Carol Caroompas’ punkadelic patchworks of archetypal gender conflicts played out by glamorous rock stars, clip-art domestics and B-movie exotics over eye-boggling textile patterns bring Pattern and Decoration through the looking glass of experimental narrative semiotics into the 21st century.

Renaissance dude STEVE RODEN’s multivalent work is imbued with a profound familiarity with Modernist design principles and an avant-gardist appetite for getting lost in translation. But it was his paintings that first caught my attention, and which never fail to dazzle and mystify.

Even though DON SUGGS seems to have spent most of his career making fame-evasive shifts in style and media, his own persistence is beginning to catch up with him. Last spring’s OTIS survey (curated by me and Meg Linton) exposed the still center of the spinning Suggsian universe, and there’s nowhere left to hide! Ha ha ha ha ha!

Some Paintings remains on view through February 16.

*All of Harvey's statements are also available in his LA Weekly article about the show.

11 January 2008

Roll Call Roundup

Artillery magazine's "Roll Call" spread is chalk full of Otis folks in the latest edition (volume2 number 3):

Christian Mounger at Haus Gallery (Martin Gantman show)
2007 "O Award" recipient Kori Newkirk at High Energy Constructs (Mark Dutcher show)
Roy Dowell, Carol Caroompas and an unidentified Adam Mars at Western Project (for Carole's opening)

The two year old magazine has frequently covered the work of Otis faculty and alums and recent MFA grad Tucker Neel is a regular writer.

You can pick up a copy of Artillery in the Ben Maltz Gallery and at many galleries around LA and NYC.

09 January 2008

Santa's Southland Workshop

The holidays are over and old St. Nick is back in the north pole working on all the toys for 2009. He's not alone in that effort. Otis has the leading program for Toy Design in the country and over the years it has received a lot of media attention- stories in the Los Angeles Times and news spots on KNBC and ABC World News Tonight being just a few.

Often the stories come during Christmas time and this year was no exception when Toy Design Chair Deborah Ryan and faculty member Mark Taylor were featured guests on the KCRW show Design and Architecture, hosted by Frances Anderton. You can still access their interview via podcast here:

The Serious Business of Designing Toys

Enjoy the interview. If you wind up on the correct side of Santa's list next year one of your gifts might come via Otis!

03 January 2008

Look Out for the Lueys!

In the latest volume of Hi Fructose magazine, there is a nice photo spread featuring Otis alum and faculty member Bob Dob's creation- "The Luey's." These hard living little critters have been prominent in his work and if you haven't seen them, take a look!

Universal Bad Habit 8" x10" (from bobdob.com)

02 January 2008

Otis in 08

As we head in to 2008 I hope you will look forward to more notes about Otis in the media. I've been writing this blog for almost a year now and throughly enjoy it.

If you see some mention of Otis that you think would be a good mention, just give me a shout.

Happy New Year!