Artists make valley their own

first_imgThe theater grad’s doubts evaporated quickly. Stears applauds the school – for its dedication to training artists and resisting the temptation to become “just a performing arts facility” – and the city. “It’s amazing the city made the commitment to the arts very early on, which is unique,” he said. “That comes usually in a city’s development.” When Stears, 43, formed the Santa Clarita Repertory Theater, people asked what he was doing in the “cultural wasteland of Los Angeles,” but he shot back that it was a chance to start something fresh. He helped establish the city’s Arts Alliance and introduced a Shakespeare in the Parks series with his buddy Marks. Stears now teaches theater and beginning acting courses at College of the Canyons and directs that school’s New Works Festival. Former New Yorker Dave Bossert snagged his bachelor’s in character animation at Cal Arts in 1983 and began working in Disney feature animation the next year. He now serves as the creative director at Walt Disney Animation Special Projects. An 18-month stint in London and Dublin, Ireland, with his wife – while working on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in the late 1980s – did not dissuade the couple from returning to town. “There is a sense of distance from your office driving up here,” the Bossert said. “There is a sense of not being in the city on the weekends. It’s a better lifestyle for raising our children, we felt.” Once a year, Bossert makes a solo weeklong pilgrimage to Maine, where he takes a “sabbatical” from his everyday life. Bossert’s realistic basswood fish sculptures, embellished with driftwood and found objects, are sold in a Maine gallery. Independent curator Evelyn Serrano, 31, is working on a second show for the new Latino museum in Los Angeles scheduled to open in 2007. The Cuban native studied art at the University of Havana, but when school officials found out her family planned to leave for Uruguay in 1994, when she was 19, they asked her to stay. Relatives in Miami sponsored the family, and Serrano followed her undergraduate degree in Maryland with a master’s at Cal Arts. The single mom of a 3-year-old son, Serrano is a staff member at the institute and is firmly anchored to her Newhall home. “It’s a good city for a family-oriented lifestyle,” she said, praising the sense of community pride. “In Cuba I did feel that, but it was imposed by the government. It was very politically oriented, not built around the true needs of the community.” When Svetlana Rostova, 39, earned her undergraduate degree in nuclear physics in Russia in the late 1980s, few predicted her trajectory would land her at Cal Arts. But it did, and she earned her master’s in the school’s film directing program in 1999. Performances in plays as a kid and some TV work infected her with the acting bug, and she now calls this region home. “I visited Russia about three years ago and after a week I said, `I need to go home,”‘ she said. She hails from Rostov-on-Don, a city of about 2 million. “I like the look and feel of (Santa Clarita). It’s a large community with a hometown feel to it.” Rostova edits and creates special effects and graphics for Adiviz Corp. in Valencia, an advertising and video production company. In her spare time, she creates surrealistic paintings of horses, sharks, butterflies and female figures in oils and acrylics. Her work will be exhibited today at All Corked Up, a wine shop in Valencia. Nashville, Tenn., native Jason Crawford, 31, graduated from Cal Arts’ film acting program in 1999 and now coordinates all of the filming done in Santa Clarita. Officials who started the film office in 2000 wanted to hire someone from the film industry, not a dyed-in-the-wool bureaucrat. They plucked Crawford from a master’s film directing program and refused to let go. “We’re not only getting a lot of filming, we’re getting a lot of really good filming,” Crawford said. “I work regularly with `CSI,’ `24,’ and HBO films up here a lot – `Deadwood,’ `Big Love,’ `Carnivale.”‘ He also works with former schoolmates and with students shooting thesis films, helping them scout locations. Crawford is intent on attracting more studios and sound stages, and visual effects and post-production companies to the region. “A lot of people who live up here do that work and have to go to the Valley to do it,” he said. Not him, though. Crawford and his wife live in Canyon Country surrounded by the fruits of his second love, photography. [email protected] (661) 257-5255160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECalifornia’s bungled $1 billion accounting system Marks, 53, earned his master’s in fine art and design at the school in 1976. And he has spent the past 17 years with the city as its first cultural arts coordinator – after his application, shoved under the door at City Hall just ahead of the deadline, was accepted. Between his tenure as West Coast artist for the Children’s Television Workshop and the city job, Marks has helped kids create giant inflatable sculptures: a 325-foot-long snake, and King Puss, “the world’s largest inflatable octopus,” whose tentacles stretched out for 30 feet. Marks initiated the city’s Concerts in the Parks series, arts and crafts fairs, the Fourth of July festival, Arts in Public Places program, noontime concerts and has spent 11 years toiling on the Cowboy Festival. For David Stears, the grazing cows that greeted him when he arrived in 1986 were not part of that fabled festival and they stirred some doubts. But Stears reminded himself of the stellar faculty installed indoors. “When I first pulled up to Cal Arts I came to the intersection of McBean (Parkway) and Tournament (Road) and a tumbleweed rolled across the street,” he said. “I thought, `What have I done?’ I went from the center of the artistic universe and came to the desert.” SANTA CLARITA – In a ‘burb of master-planned neighborhoods and chain restaurants, individualistic Cal Arts students often stand out. And many who migrated to the renowned institute decades ago, from across the country and the globe, have long since decided Santa Clarita is cool enough to sink their roots in. Their romance with the region, however, has not always been love at first sight. “I was getting ready to drive to Cal Arts and called the school and said … `What’s the temperature out there?’ and the guy said `116 (degrees) today,”‘ said Michael Marks, an arts and events supervisor for the city. “I said, `I never thought the temperature on Earth went up to 116.”‘ last_img

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