I Heart SCV
Of Art School and Schools of Art
March, 2009 - Issue #53
Santa Clarita may not be a college town, but we're certainly a town with college. We have the ever-popular College of the Canyons, spiritual sanctuary offered by The Master's College, career schools like Flair Beauty College... then there's CalArts.

It's a great school - ranked the seventh best fine arts graduate program in the nation by U.S. News & World Report - but it's something of an institutional island. You might even call it an other, sensu the "The Other Project" by Evelyn Serranno. She's the CalArts student who set up a refugee-style tent which one could visit or "inhabit" for a week of readings, performances and dialogues to engage ideas and entities thought of as otherly to ourselves. It's the kind of originality one expects of CalArts students, but not necessarily the thing to draw many Claritans in. Even when offered this chance to interact with the California Institute of the Arts, most took the "I'll keep my Thomas Kinkade, you keep your tent" route. For most, CalArts remains its own little city on a hill, our very own, original other.

Just as we're more town-with-college than college town, does our interaction with CalArts prove we're more town-with-art than art town? If so, there are many fighting to make us a true haven for art, and they're having a good run lately.

In January, the Santa Clarita Film Festival was held at the Repertory East Playhouse. It's a chance for independent films to be shown and the independent-minded to watch them. The big winner was "Struck," directed by Taron Lexton. It features a man named Joel (Bodhi Elfman) who is skewered by an arrow but remains completely unharmed. The catch is, he can't take the arrow out. After being "struck," there is much hilarity as he tries to ride in a crowded elevator with a three-foot arrow in his chest, a string of awkward dates, melancholy, and finally, love. The whole journey takes about seven minutes, and as of this writing, Santa Clarita's is one of 12 film festivals to honor Lexton's effort.
Local filmmakers, especially the younger set, were also recognized. Winning the "Script 2 Screen" student film prize was "All the Small Things," set to the namesake Blink 182 song. It portrayed a negligent SCV Mom dropping her daughter off at Newhall Elementary, oblivious to the kid because of cell phone calls. But then art diverges from life, and the whole thing ends happily. Much darker (haunting, in fact) was the college division winner, "Sebastian's Voodoo." It can be viewed online and is well worth the 10-minute investment. While Santa Clarita has always been involved in the Hollywood movie industry, recognizing local and independent filmmakers earns us definite bonus art points.

The Cowboy Festival might be the most beloved of all our big artsy events. When it comes around next month, Claritans will throng in the thousands to admire the craft of cowboy poets, singers, lassoers, blacksmiths, riders, performers and artisans. It's art for the every-Claritan, playing up our love for Western culture and, most especially, the culinary arts of brisket and cobbler.
This year, local painter Morgan Weistling has set the tone for the event with his work "The Dance." You'll be seeing it on t-shirts and posters very soon, a masterful depiction of Western musicians playing a tune for a dancing, barefoot girl wearing a pink dress and wide-brimmed hat. The painting portrays a small, simple joy, the kind that once existed in Santa Clarita.

Artists Heard
Drama spilled out of the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons and into the City Council meeting held January 27. It was much ado about MOU, a "Memorandum Of Understanding." The City gave $2.4 million to the center, and the center granted community groups exclusive use of the facility on one-third of weekends. Officials from the City and college had seemingly agreed on dissolving the MOU since they couldn't agree on how to fund maintenance costs. That's when Joan MacGregor, of the COC Board of Trustees, came forward and decried the plans to end the relationship between the City and Performing Arts Center. It's all rather complicated and confusing, but the important thing is that the City has agreed to enter more talks to make sure it is as supportive as it can be of local performing groups and the Performing Arts Center.

Just two weeks before, the City Council had voted in favor of changing the present Arts Committee to an Arts Commission. Apart from having to swap out a "mittee" for "mission" on the letterhead, the Commission will have more power and prominence to support artistic interests in Santa Clarita. This designation came only after dozens of earnest entreaties from all manner of local artists. It seems that Claritans heart art enough so that when the arts community speaks, SCV listens. Art town, here we come.

This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor. Suggestions, catty comments and veiled threats intended for the author can be e-mailed to
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