During week 12 I got to chat with Tyler Muronaka. Tyler, like most people i’ve spoken with this semester, is a freshman (I feel so old in this class…and most others haha). Tyler attended North High School in Torrance, his home time. At CSULB Tyler is studying to be a Film major, though at this point he’s just focusing on taking care of his GE requirements. Like most others I have spoken with, Tyler has had limited experience with art, particularly more abstract pieces, though he did do some basic sketching/doodling in his younger days. We talked about how he noticed how much better he was as a kid vs trying it again as an adult, which could be partially to do with experience/comfort, but also likely to do with being more critical/expecting more as an adult. Like myself with baseball, Tyler played basketball growing up though stopped in high school to focus on other interests once the game had lost some of its initial care-free appeal. Though he has family in Hawaii, being a film major, Tyler sees himself staying in the Los Angeles area after finishing college (though he admitted that decision is a LONG way off). I had a good time chatting with Tyler and sharing similar stories of the transition from highschool to college, as well as our various interests and hobbies. Check out his page for more info!
For week 11 I had a lengthy and stimulating chat with Dominic Erich. Dominic is originally from Stockton California, he’s a freshman, a pre-business/accounting major and a music aficionado. In highschool Dominic took a typical intro to arts class, though his school also included ceramics, which I was jealous of as my highschool focused more on basic drawing/painting/art history. Dominic also took his art interest to another level by doing mural-style paintings when the opportunity presented itself (legal means only, of course!). Turns out that Dominic and I had a fair bit in common (aside from the fact that I’m a Dodgers fan and he’s a fan of the rival Giants, but I digress). We both played sports growing up, baseball for me and water polo for him. Dominic had interest in music early on, and came across a Fender Strat (guitar) in his grandpa’s possessions, a rare find indeed. Some of Dominic’s favorite artists include John Mayer and Gary Clarke Jr. We spent a good chunk of our convo going over our favorite songs, styles of music, concerts we’ve been to and one’s we’d like to go to, and the overall state of music these days (while we agreed that it seems dire compared to past generations, it may just be that you have to work harder to find the true artists). I had a genuinely good time chatting with Dominic, and could easily see myself hanging out with him outside of a school setting, as we seemed to connect effortlessly.
During week 10 I got the chance to chat with Kamani Falls for a bit before checking out some art pieces. Kamani is a third year student, born and raised in southern California and is majoring in Child Development with an interest in minoring in business. Kamani sees herself staying local and potentially opening up a day care center/business. Kamani currently does cheer lessons for kids aged 3 to 5 so she’s well prepared for dealing with kids of all ages. Kamani currently works at Jamba Juice, so she and I have had similar work experiences seeing as how I’ve been at California Pizza Kitchen for the better part of a decade. Like others, Kamani doesn’t have much experience with art, though she and I agreed we are much more comfortable with typical drawing or painting style art, verus the abstract pieces that can be tough to pull meaning from, especially for amateurs like us. I enjoyed my short chat with Kamani, and had a good time browsing the galleries with her. Another successful classmate convo.
During week nine I chatted with Austin Naud. Austin is a sophomore, he’s currently undecided on his major, but he is leaning towards a general, broad-ranging degree such as business or communications. Like others I have chatted with this semester, Austin explained that he had little to no prior experience with art, at least from an educational standpoint. Austin went to Wilson High School, so, like me when I went to Millikan High School, he took an introductory art class but beyond that he’s only focused on this class as an elective and a stepping stone of sorts. Austin and I share an athletic upbringing, except whereas I was a baseball player through and through, Austin spent his childhood and high school years playing soccer. One area where we differed was our intentions after school, as Austin said he definitely plans on staying local, whereas I am intent on heading out-of-town, most likely to the pacific northwest, or else on a two-year Peace Corps assignment. I think a lot of that could have to do with age and just repetition, as I am 27 going on 28 and I graduated high school in 2005, while Austin on the other hand graduated in 2013. That’s another interesting dynamic of this class, the mashup between students of all ages, which I haven’t had since taking GE courses some time ago. Another week, another interesting conversation.
During week 7 I had a chance to interview Branden Saito. Branden is a 3rd year student, he’s an Information Systems major, and he has aspirations of one day working for Google, YouTube or Facebook. Branden described his major as being heavy on the programming, but with an emphasis on being more well-rounded with respect to Information Systems, as opposed to being technically proficient in only one area. Branden and I both got a laugh reminiscing about our only previous “official” art education classes that took the form of “Drawing and Painting 1 & 2” or something similar at our respective high schools. Branden is a Los Alamitos high school graduate, while I attended Millikan high school, so we had some common experiences and dispositions growing up in similar environments. In addition to our educational similarities, Branden and I have both spent a good deal of our childhood and adult life making trips with our dad up to the Lone Pine area in Northern California. Branden did so mostly for fishing, while we tended to just camp and hike and soak in the landscape. Branden and I seemed to hit it off pretty well, so I’d say this was a successful “interview”.
During week 6 I interviewed Connor Bailey of Couch Potato fame. Connor is a freshman currently majoring in Film Production. As I already knew from prior classes, Connor has a production company with several friends living in the area, with their current project being the Couch-Potato-funded Martin Scorsese movie. In addition to the current project, Connor has prior experience with film production such as when he made a music video in high school that got over 25,000 hits on YouTube. Connor mentioned being interested in making club-baseball scouting videos, something that interested me greatly as a baseball fan in general, and a scouting/analytics fan in particular. Ideally, Connor sees himself moving to the LA-area full-time, as opposed to making the current commute from his hometown San Diego, and hopefully landing a gig as a director or producer. Artistically, Connor seems to be ahead of the curve when compared to others I have interviewed considering his already extensive film production and editing experience, in addition to his OBVIOUSLY good taste in movies (Scorsese).
During week 4 I had a nice chat with Zac Ramirez. Zac is a physical education major, a 2nd year student, a member of the Army ROTC, and has plans to join the army immediately after graduation. Long-term, Zac, a Los Alamitos native, has plans to return to the area after serving in the army with the goal of teaching P.E. and being a football coach.
When it comes to art, Zac is in the same boat as a lot of students in that he’s only been exposed during the required high school fine arts class. We both really enjoyed checking out the amazingly intricate glass pieces done by Maccabee Shelley. More on those pieces in my artist writeup. To be honest, Zac and I spent a fair bit of our time, in between looking at pieces, just talking about football and the lack of a football team both here at CSULB and, more egregiously, within the city of LA. We both expressed cautious optimism at the chances of getting one, though most likely two, pro teams relocated to downtown LA in the next few years. One thing that Zac said that gave me a little insight into him as a person was about the type of football coaching job he’d most enjoy; Zac said he’d way rather start as a coach at a school with either a non-existent program or one that had perennially struggled so that he could really invest and build a program from the ground up. While we didn’t get too deep into our own artistic insights, or lack thereof, we had a good time chatting about our other interests while observing some really incredible and unique pieces of art, which I think is what the spirit of this class is all about.
During week two I got the chance to meet Kathleen Nguyen. Kathleen is a freshman from the Bay area who is majoring in Health Care Administration and would love to get a job in a hospital back home in NorCal after finishing school. Kathleen and I agreed that we were eager to get this class started as it offered the opportunity to approach visual arts in a more “hands-on” way than say a traditional art lecture class might approach it.
Kathleen was forthcoming about her lack of experience and exposure to art, but expressed legitimate interest in getting more comfortable with viewing art and picking out the deeper meaning behind certain pieces. We both enjoyed the “Who Do You Worship” (Keep Calm and…) piece, much like Juventino and I during week one, because of the pop culture appeal, and our general disposition to a lot of things in the same vein as the subject of the piece. Then again, that piece seems rather easy to pull meaning from. We both had a tougher time searching for meaning from the two gigantic rectangle board pieces, though just going strictly by color you can sort of divine the mood intended perhaps. All in all, Kathleen and I had a nice chat and were able to connect over mutual understanding (and lack thereof) of certain artistic pieces, and we had a fun few minutes talking about the biggest changes you experience going from the relatively strict and institutionalized structure of high school to the freer, more independent lifestyle of college. After sharing ALL of my saved up super-senior wisdom, I’d have to say I think it was a productive convo for the both of us and I think Kathleen and I are exactly the type of people this class was meant for: people who just need a little more exposure to types of art and actual art pieces to observe and explore.
During week one I met Juventino while waiting for our first chance to check out the art galleries on campus. Juventino is a second year student studying mechanical engineering and admitted that this class was his first real exposure to the arts, at least from an educational perspective.
At first Juventino and I just walked around the galleries essentially waiting for something to strike us. We both got stopped by April Bey’s collection of pieces, “Who Do You Worship?” (Keep Calm and …) for its obvious pop culture references, and counterculture attitude and I think that reasonated with Juventino as much as it did with me. The main piece we talked about however, was “Taking Off” by Matthew Usinowicz. I go into more detail in my “artist interview/overview” blog post, but essentially Juventino and I both agreed that, to us, the piece reflected both America’s rise in prominence post-industrialization, but also the rising ego of Americans with respect to the rest of the world. However accurate the perception, the fact that it got Juventino and I to stop and discuss our interpretations and to kind of “talk it out” with each other made me appreciate the piece more.
To close, Juventino and I agreed that, with limited artistic background, it can be daunting and even a little intimidating to walk around and view art and not feel like you’re that person in the room who measures art by weather it’s “pretty” or not. We did note that without the artist there, it definitely is all up to the audience to make their own interpretation, so there really isn’t a wrong answer or wrong interpretation. Finally, we agreed that it would be really beneficial for our own personal limited artistic exposure to eventually get a chance to chat with an artist week 3 and beyond and actually get to compare our own initial reaction to a piece with the artist’s actual inspiration or message behind the piece. Looking forward to the next convo!