Archive for February, 2012

Students Create Word Cloud

At All-School on Friday, February 17 every student wrote down the first word that came to mind when they thought “Idyllwild Arts”. Diane Miller, executive assistant to Brian D. Cohen, then entered the words at and generated this word cloud.

Word Cloud created by Idyllwild Arts Academy students

February 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm Leave a comment

How I Came Back to Gustave Mahler

by Brian D. Cohen, President, Idyllwild Arts
reposted from The Huffington Post 

When I was a teenager I got made fun of for, among many other reasons, my taste in music. My choices didn’t seem to make sense taken together (Gustav Mahler and the Doors).

Music was for me a private as opposed to a social pleasure, so I didn’t care too much what people thought of my record collection. But I did seem to put on the record player the kind of music that you’d hate right away if you walk in the room while it’s playing. You just don’t get this stuff right away — it gets into you, and stays inside you.

Despite the genre-bending, I think I liked music that was fearless, outrageous, overwrought, petulant, grandiose, defiant, changeable, ecstatic, desperate, excessive, unapologetic, and impetuous.

These are in some ways quintessentially familiar adolescent qualities, along with the tendency to think a lot about love, sex, and death.

I don’t think about those things so much anymore, probably because I’ve become a responsible adult, and because it’s hard to keep up all that intensity for very many years. It’s also a little unseemly to be so exposed — maybe a little self-indulgent that I let myself be moved again and again in the same ways, or a little shameful that anyone knew about it. I’m sure it’s been 25 years since I’d listened to a Mahler symphony in recording or in person.

I returned to Mahler, just last month. Gustavo Dudamel, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic have been performing all the Mahler symphonies as part of the Mahler Project. I heard the Symphony No. 5 at Disney Hall. The Simón Bolívar Symphony itself is made up of instrumentalists between the ages of 18 and 28. Dudamel himself was the eldest on stage at 30.

All are products of El Sistema, the Venezuelan state foundation for musical education. 75% of the children who enter El Sistema live below the poverty line. “For the children that we work with, music is practically the only way to a dignified social destiny. Poverty means loneliness, sadness, anonymity. An orchestra means joy, motivation, teamwork, the aspiration to success.” (José Antonio Abreu, founder of El Sistema). Playing an instrument well takes time and discipline, and often a supportive teacher, and playing in an orchestra requires close listening, responsiveness, and collaboration. That alone might be enough to keep kids off the streets.

But the intensity, anguish, and tenderness of music is what touches so many young people, and what draws them to the world of (even classical) music. These qualities are what moved me so much in the Dudamel/Simón Bolívar performance. There are things adolescents know that we forget in middle age; sometimes it takes young people to remind us of them.

February 22, 2012 at 2:38 pm Leave a comment

Summer Program Alumnus Receives 2012 Honickman Book Prize

Tomás Q. Morín, a past fellow at the 2006 Summer Poetry in Idyllwild Festival, was recently awarded the 2012 Honickman Book Prize for his manuscript A Larger Country.

Tomas Q. Morin, Winner of the 2012 Honickman Book Prize

During the Summer Poetry in Idyllwild Festival Tomás worked with Pulitzer Prize winner and poet Natasha Trethewey and poet Cyrus Cassells, winner of the Lannan Literary Award and a Pushcart Prize. Mr. Morín states, “I had a wonderful time at Idyllwild’s poetry program. It was great spending time with so many talented students in the idyllic mountains of southern California. The faculty was stellar and encouraging of all the students. That kind of early encouragement and validation is priceless.”

He received his MFA from Texas State University, and MA from Johns Hopkins University. He is the recipient of scholarships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and the New York State Summer Writers Institute, and was a fellow at the Idyllwild Summer Arts Program. He is a Senior Lecturer at Texas State University.

His poems have appeared in New England Review, Narrative, Boulevard, Slate,Threepenny Review, Best New Poets, and elsewhere.

February 14, 2012 at 6:22 pm Leave a comment

Senior Theatre Majors Attend Chicago Unified Auditions

Our Theatre department seniors and faculty just returned from our annual trek to Chicago, Illinois to complete the Unified Auditions for theatre training programs. This year 14 seniors completed 81 auditions from February 5th through the 9th and these students were able to access one of the biggest collections of theatre programs to date. Idyllwild Arts has developed the tradition of attending the Chicago auditions since it brings the most programs together in one small geographical area. This year the students were able to audition for 48 different programs, all within walking distance of the Palmer House hotel downtown. The schools represented range from 2 year certificate training programs to comprehensive university programs offering BA or BFA training, mostly within the US and England. Our students tend to want many different things in their next phase of education so this trip has something for everyone.

Senior Theatre Majors in Chicago for Unified Auditons

While in Chicago we also try to experience a little of the city life and expose students to new and different dining options. For the alums reading this, we still carry out the tradition of “family dinners” in Greek Town and Russian Tea Time. This year we also hosted an alumni brunch on Sunday morning. It was nice to see the alumni mingling and sharing their experiences with the current students. This year, Natalie Bayard Boone ’04, Brooke Hebert ’11, Angie Caravaglia ’11, Juwan Lockett ’11 and Shane Prentice Walz and Jamie Cahill ’10 were able to attend. Larkin Bogin ’05 had just gotten to town while touring with American Idiot however due to rehearsal calls he wasn’t able to meet up with the group. Hopefully we’ll be able to see him when the tour comes to LA this spring.

As hectic and stressful as this week can be, it is wonderful to see the students using their training to pursue their future goals. Each one has such different visions for their future after leaving Idyllwild Arts yet for these few days, they are working together as a team to help each other achieve.

Idyllwild Arts Senior Makes Feature Film Debut

Dylan Arnold in production for Fat Kid Rules the World

Dylan Arnold, a senior Idyllwild Arts Theatre major, will walk the red carpet this March when his upcoming film Fat Kid Rules the World premiers at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas. This is Dylan’s first feature film and professional onscreen appearance. Directed by Matthew Lillard, Dylan plays the supporting role of “Dayle” in the film alongside actors Billy Campbell, Jacob Wysocki, Matt O’Leary and Lilli Simmons.

Dylan is represented by an agent in Seattle, near his hometown of Bainbridge Island, and goes on auditions whenever he’s home on break. This past summer, he auditioned for the role – never thinking that he would get the part. Dylan said, “A week went by and I hadn’t heard from them. Finally, my Mom called and said that I would have to find someone to take over my summer vacation job as the producer called and wanted me for the role. I dropped the phone in surprise.”

The production began in July, with Dylan on set for three of the five weeks of filming. According, to Dylan, working with first time director Matthew Lillard was a real privilege and tremendous learning experience for him. Matthew has had a distinguished career as an actor, appearing in films such as Scooby-doo, She’s All That and – most recently – The Descendants. Dylan described Matthew as an “actor’s director… he tells you what is going on in the scene, and then asks for input from the actors.”

Dylan also states, “I give my training at Idyllwild Arts full credit for having made it possible to win this first film role. At Idyllwild Arts, I learned how to analyze and develop a character more fully, be more natural on stage and stay in the moment.”

While at Idyllwild Arts, Dylan acted in several student films. In 2011, he appeared in Laura Holliday’s “Rockstars: The Pete Weaver Experience” with Conor O’Farrell. In his first semester, in Spring 2010, he was cast in two films: the award winning “Shortcomings” by Andrew Reisfeld and “On the Bright Side” by Laura Holliday. Dylan says that the “experience of working in front of a camera is completely different than being onstage. I learned the need for subtlety and how to contain myself when the camera is up close. Being in student films at Idyllwild made all the difference in knowing how to behave in front of a camera.”

Next, Dylan is off to the Chicago Unified Auditions and would like to attend either Chapman University, where he could study both Theatre and Film, or Roosevelt University in Chicago to study Theatre. Fat Kid Rules the World is also scheduled to appear at the Seattle International Film Festival.

February 8, 2012 at 5:29 pm Leave a comment

The Creative Value of Stupidity

by Brian D. Cohen
Reblogged from The Huffington Post 


The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits. – Albert Einstein

If there’s an original thought out there, I sure could use it now… — Bob Dylan

Evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel concluded that wehumans just might be infinitely stupid. That might explain what’s special, even most hopeful about us.

According to theory, a driving force behind evolutionary change is genetic mutation, random changes in genetic codes that alter biological structures and processes, some, but very few, to the selective benefit of the species. Most genetic aberrations are dead-ends, killing their host, but wait long enough and sometimes one will pay off in a big way.

Evolutionary processes take place very slowly; culture evolves much more rapidly. Culture –innovative ideas that are adopted and stick around — plays something of the same role played by evolutionary biology; creating defenses, contrivances, and systems to keep traditional threats (saber-toothed tigers, etc.) at bay and passing on these mechanisms for survival.

But according to Dr. Pagel, we’ve reached the point where culture selects for less innovation. It’s more efficient to borrow someone else’s thinking, and near impossible to think of great things on your own. Thinking is hard work, and not many of us are good at it.

Where can the ordinary unoriginal person find the creative capacity to bring new ideas to our culture? Stupidity. It’s our version of mutation, in our denatured, devolved state; generating and sifting among alternative bad options and landing on one that just might work out. Mutation is to Biology as Stupidity is to Culture. Random and inefficient, generally unintentional, sometimes fatal, but something might come of it, if only because it’s not the same old same old.

Stupidity is infinite. There are limitless possibilities for getting something wrong, and very few for getting it right. From the sheer multiplicity of mistakes, bad ideas and wrong turns, something of unexpected value might result, something heretofore unknown and unthought of. Stupidity is extraordinarily inefficient and wasteful, but it isn’t about getting things done. It’s about exploring the unknown, plumbing a limitless array of possibilities, diving in the pool of untested opportunity. Stupidity belongs to something much larger than itself.

Culture is predominantly and of necessity imitative and repetitive. Look at the cut & paste mashup borrowing, sampling, replicating, recycling, and reoffering of much contemporary art — no real risk, despite appearances. It’s there for the taking and rehashing. True stupidity is something original, something special. Something you haven’t seen before. Something that can’t be taught or learned. Something truly new; we know it when we see it.

“The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it immensely. All art is useless,” Oscar Wilde reminds us. Art is useless, and practical-minded people claim that expending great resources and effort in the service of something useless is stupidity. Take the Eiffel Tower. The great arbiters of French Culture of the time called for protesting “with all our might, with all our outrage, in the name of slighted French taste, in the name of threatened French art and history, against the erection, in the heart of our capital, of the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower.

What folly this thing is, they must have thought. This ridiculous, sublime achievement, this jewel in Paris’ crown.

Pure genius.

February 6, 2012 at 3:27 pm Leave a comment

Past to Present – Alumni Visual Art Show & Opening Reception

Alumni Visual Art Show
In addition to Shepard Fairey, featured artists include Monica Lundy, who is making waves in Northern California with her inmate portraits on linen. Nate Lowman, currently shredding the gallery scene in NYC, will lend one of his bullet holes. Artists Paul Waddell, Arianna Sikorski, Jiwon Yoon, Youree Jin, Laurel Sparks, Kaelen Green and Richelle Gribble will exhibit, while artist books by Alison Yates, Sung Yun Yang and Erin Latimer invite your hand.

In the field of photography, Jovielle Gers will show a few images from her time working at Naropa, including one of the Dalai Lama. Greg Jensen is an Art Director who documented the fall and aftermath at Ground Zero.

Hawkeye Glenn is using his sculptor skills in metal and design to make functional fixtures. Jonathan Taube and Tada Kono are playing with politics and prickly pears, Krista Peters is creating portraits in brass, and Daniel Gray will make a site-specific installation. CJ Dunn has lettered the gallery with his design.

Past to Present: the Idyllwild Arts Alumni Show opens February 10, 2012, running through March 3, in Parks Exhibition Center on the Idyllwild Arts Campus. For more information see the Facebook Page, or call the gallery (951) 659-2171 x2251.

February 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

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