Ten local artists whose work ranges from experimental theatre to klezmer music to installation art received 2015 fellowships from The San Diego Foundation’s under its Creative Catalyst Fund.
Each artist received a 12-month, $20,000 grant to advance their careers while encouraging civic engagement in San Diego. They will each complete significant new work over the course of the year.
“Creative Catalyst Fellowships are investments in the creative entrepreneurship of our arts community,” said San Diego Foundation CEO Kathlyn Mead. The foundation said the investment gives artists a “stamp of legitimacy” that opens doors to more work, as well as the opportunity to mentor other artists.
Launched in 2011, two rounds of Creative Catalyst Fellowships have been completed and 25 artists have received funds that ranged from $11,000 to $25,000. Already the program has seen artists flourish with the opportunity to take more creative risks and expand their professional growth. For example, Creative Catalyst alum Wu Man was recently nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best World Music Album.
Jill Hall, chair of the Creative Catalyst Fund Fellowship, said that the 10 artists were chosen from a pool of 57 highly qualified applicants.
“San Diego is home to nearly 10,000 artists who represent a substantial and untapped workforce capable of contributing significant value to our communities,” Hall said. “With each cohort of artists that receive the fellowship, we see multiple opportunities for leveraging their talent and creativity for the benefit of San Diego, our economy, and our culture.”
The 2015 artists are:
- Alicia Baskel, a choreographer whose process fuses her two greatest interests: dance making and creative writing. Her project, “Process Works,” is a touring dance series that brings the experience of dance performance to local science institutions and their employees, encouraging professionals in various fields of science to value their own creative processes.
- Todd Blakesley, an actor, producer, director and playwright who is well known for crafting unique theatre experiences. His project “Dark Matter” is a script development, workshop production play about the world and what could happen if we all had to escape because of the ravages of extreme weather, water wars, over-consumption and unsustainable population and ideological strife which become too much to bear.
- Brian Goeltzenleuchter, an artist whose work infuses interdisciplinary research into the creation of participatory environments, scripted and improvised performances, olfactory art, painting and object making. His project, “Olfactory Memoirs,” will work with members of a San Diego community to identify a topic that engages their collective memory and challenges them to approach it using the sense of smell. The artist will design evocative scent-scapes that will be adapted for collaborative performances with writers, media makers, or dancers and document these performances in a scent-infused book.
- Matthew Hebert, an artist whose work that deals with technology and its effects on the environment and our sense of place. His project, “Information Retrieval,” will transform used filing cabinets into solar-powered, kinetic dioramas that represent remembered landscapes. It will explore the effects of information technology on our experience of the landscape.
- Bhavna Mehta, an engineer-turned-artist who has become a well-known storyteller through her cut paper artistry. Her style is influenced by folk art traditions from India. In her project “Paper Pattern Story,” Mehta will collect stories of San Diego’s rich diversity, find common patterns and rhythms, and build a cut paper installation in which a larger overarching narrative will emerge.
Ron Najor, a producer/director whose film credits include “I am Not a Hipster,” which aired at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. His project is “American Babylon,” an in-depth film documentary that profiles three Iraqi refugees trying to assimilate to American culture after being displaced from Iraq due to the war.
- Noe Olivas, a sculptor and multimedia artist interested in social practice, the art of collaborating with others — both skilled artists and the general public — to co-create works of art and art seducation programs. Her project is “Untitled Space,” a rolling social sculpture using a 1967 Chevy Step Van.
- Roberto Salas, an artist who specializes in public art projects that are inter-generational, cross economic divisions and speaks to a local audience of similar yet unique life experiences. His project is “The Silent Buzz,” a public art installation to build awareness of the importance of bee pollination on future populations using plasticine (puddy-like modeling clay) cast into rubber molds to create a series of large scale bee shapes.
- Mike Sears, an actor, playwright and teacher who has appeared at such theaters as the Old Globe and La Jolla Playhouse. His project is “When it Comes,” a metaphorical theatrical tale that uses actors, text, movement, live music and shadow puppetry to share the story of a couple that tries to have a child and the experiences they encounter along the way.
- Yale Strom, a violinist and composer who is one of the world’s leading scholar-ethnographer-artists of Jewish klezmer music . His project will bring chamber music to the Somali and Chaldean refugee groups in San Diego. Stromt will compose one string quartet and one jazz quintet, each based upon Somali and Chaldean folk melodies.
The San Diego Foundation was founded in 1975 to promote and increase effective and responsible charitable giving. The Foundation manages more than $666 million in assets and has granted more than $897 million to the San Diego region’s nonprofit community.
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