Posts Tagged ‘ventura artists’

Beyond Local: A Film Maker’s Request

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Mission San Buena Ventura

I reside in the quirky town of Ventura California, which is located approx 50 minutes drive up coast from Los Angeles, and approx 30 minutes drive down coast, from Santa Barbara. If you do not know much about the place, you may not pull off the freeway. Why would you? (There are a lot of reasons to do so, actually)

One of my friends and colleagues, a young Brooks Institute of Photography graduate (read that: saddled with a large student loan) has been spending her time shooting and filming the music scene around California, and more particularly in our funny little town.

The reason I call Ventura quirky, is because it never really seems to find it’s way.

Saddled with a City Council, which has given rise to all manner of community embarrassment the past ten years, via large numbers of City generated actions, it has a history of perpetually seeking to validate itself through embrace of the various Arts. There are a few regular, valiant, “rogue dissenters” in City Hall, to be sure, but they are generally silenced by the majority via the power of an odd City Charter, which enables a few to rule and determine the fate of many. (The mayor is not elected as such. The council members choose the ring leader)

Recently, a predictable re occurrence was seen in the City’s attempt to brand itself as a “Music City”,  after the fine Artists took the former monicker: “Art City” out of the gutter, where City Hall had tossed it, and made Art marketing their own once again, after the City canned it’s fiscal involvement, officially.

The rebirth has been a largely privatized, independent success,  led by Bell Arts, run by Josh Addison via new Board Chair, Jim Rice, Green Art People, and Stoneworks Gallery, led by sculptor Michele Chapin, and the vast number of incredibly talented Artists who all generously contribute in whatever manner they deem fit and possible.

But back to that former Brooks Student and her film project, “Beyond Local”. Her name is Angela Izzo. When one meets “Angie” she seems a bit ditzy and unfocused. Not much different though, than many brilliant creatives I have worked with in Entertainment Industry based projects over the years. She came to me awhile ago after she developed a concept and trailer for the film, and asked me to help her get it funded.

I did not. This is why.

I wanted to see if the new Music City would get what her Film project was about. It seems to have been treated with a vote of no confidence, as after a fund raiser for her at the Museum of Ventura County, she managed to raise 50 dollars when someone handed the donation to her.

Consider how that would feel, if you were in Angela’s position.

Spend a fortune on education here locally (Brooks Institute) for an Industry career. Discover an amazing depth of musical talent in your Community, which stretches itself to reach towards the International Stage. Realize that your training and schooling enables you to tell a story that could empower those Musicians, further brand your town, and validate the modus of Brooks Institute.   Ask for help to fund the film for a paltry sum of 8k which would make it happen. And someone hands you Fifty Bucks. A great gift, 50 bucks. But only one person, at a Museum event? Really?

There it is. The new Music City.

Money talks. The room really is sort of quiet, regarding Angela’s project. So this blog is my typically unedited view of my town and an effort to put a light on both the film and the path we as a Community may want to consider. If what I am saying makes you uncomfortable, I am sorry for that. Real Artists are funny. They typically like to see their fellows succeed, as it bodes well for the tribe.

Here is the Kickstarter page for Beyond Local.

Only a short time remains on the Crowd fund site, to meet the project goal. We should do this. For a large number of reasons. But really, I am supporting Angela because I see a lot of validity in her concept, and the story she wants to tell.  No Artist I know likes to ask for money. For whatever reason we tend to feel embarrassed by the act. (I too am no exception) I think the reason for this is because as artists we frequently do not comprehend the true worth and value of our life pursuit and passion. We need to.

As a Community, the Musicians could make this happen. So could the City. It is going to be interesting to see who really sees what this project means and gets behind it. Though I know Angela can complete this film for 8k, a 40k budget would be far more appropriate. Then Angela and her small crew would be paid to document what without a doubt, has got to be one of the deepest music talent pools that I have ever seen in a small(ish) town, and expose them on a more global stage through the Art of Cinema.

The bands and stories are the important thing. This film is the tale of people who deserve more support and recognition than we could ever give them by ourselves in the purchase of a song or album on itunes. It is the opportunity to provide a vote of confidence in our Artists. Whether this film funds or not, Ventura really owes the Arts a lot of loyalty, because in them, is health and security for the future of the town. And yes, Rock and Roll is a valid part of the Arts. It is the texture of a substantial portion of US popular culture.

Here are a few links to Angela Izzo’s work.

We Govern We.

Neal Casal.

Gypsy Death Star.


All the images in this blog were shot Friday night. Beautiful place Ventura, but really the only reason to live here is……..


It should always be about our people.

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Art Show: Ventura

Saturday, September 10th, 2011
The Stoneworks Show

The Stoneworks Show

Last night was intriguing. It followed on the heels of a busy day.

Robb Havassy rang me on my cel phone as I drove down Ventura Avenue, car loaded with stuff to be part of our joint installation at Michele Chapin’s, Stoneworks Gallery space.

“What are you doing?” he asked. “Oh just driving down the Avenue. You?” “Just getting to your gal’s place. The boys from Surf Aid (Randall and Dr Dave) are meeting me there to pick up our stuff for the Benefit tonight. Go there.” “Okay see ya in five.”

And on a beautiful Friday afternoon I meandered into Betty B’s little shop to find two guys whose vision had transformed so many lives, standing there casually chatting with Donna. Robb meandered in about a minute later. If you do not know about Surf Aid, you really ought to. Here is a little link to their story and website. Fantastic thing about Betty B. It is what looks to be a typical small business. There is nothing typical about it. Things happen there. Here is Donna’s website

The five of us spent some time reconnecting in the warmly lit little shop, whose tiny size belies little real telltale of the global scope of her business, then we scattered. It was to be one of those impossibly busy days for each of us, as we all had events to build. Surf Aid was hosting a gala fund raiser that night and we would all meet in Malibu to attend and lend support. (I will write more on that in another blog. It would prove to be something special.)

The Surf AId Malibu Fundraiser

The Surf Aid Malibu Fund Raiser

It was 4 am when I awoke this morning. Padding down the spiral staircase from Donna and I’s bedroom loft I began to sift through my Literary office. I have three spaces at home (Donna would say four) dedicated to my craft and trade. In the Lit office are book cases and shelves with binders of slides, and thousands of magazines, book, reference works, tapes, DVD’s etc. It is some of the physical evidence, the artifacts as it were, of my years as a Editorial, Commercial and Arts Photographer and Cinematographer.

I cannot count the number of pages, covers, spreads and works I have produced. The film segments, stills, etc. I think the sheer volume of work is going to be impossible to ever share in any real manner. So I picked a final lane for this show at Stoneworks. I grabbed some of the artifacts, and some gear, and put it in a pile on the office floor.

This would be no Museum or glitzy polished up high end gallery show. It would be about the artifacts that comprise the foundations of my work. A glimpse into how I do things. It really is quite bizarre and knowing photography as a craft, is quite possibly the LEAST notable of the number of things I need to know how to do, in order to film what I want.

Larry Ugale: Down Valley

Larry Ugale: Down Valley

I want to share that.

Later this morning Robb and I will wrap our installation. If you do not know about Robb Havassy you really should. His website is here. He and I have been steadily working on a new series of companies that will bring a bit of a game change to a lot of people’s lives. Seeing what Dr Dave Jenkins has done and people like him, is sort of our bar.

We both believe that in applying our lives to our Art, and love of, and care for people, that we can build something sustainable, a company creature composed of creatives and business people that could eventually bring a lot of light into a world that sometimes seems to be all about dimming things down.

Michele Chapin is a new collaborator. If you do not know about her, you really should. Her website is here. I only have one word for Michele. It sticks in my head each time I walk away from a conversation with her: amazing.

So starting at 5 PM today “The Event” begins. The address is 300 N. Ventura Ave. (corner of Ventura Ave. and E. Park Row) Ventura, CA (805-643-5431) (Park on Ventura Avenue and walk down Park Row to the Stoneworks. ) There are no huge budgets. No radio, TV or City sponsored advertisements. This is just a few Artists getting together. It is what we do as a community a lot. We sharpen and inspire each other. So if that interests you today as a way to spend your Saturday night: come. This is your invitation.

Mai will be roasting a pig. Hula and fire dancers will perform. There will be music.  The event has a fee to pay for all the food and stuff,(45.00) BUT at 9 PM it turns free, and we invite all of our friends to attend, join in the fun, and hope that it will help accommodate everyone’s fiscal positions. So come early for dinner, drinks and dancing and music, or come later. But come. It should be fun, it definitely will be different than most things one would expect to find in Ventura California. (made me smile writing that)

Michele's Garden

Michele's Garden


Thursday, February 24th, 2011
 Sculptural Elements

Sculptural Elements

This is number five in the series on Loves. It is actually entitled Four. (Really.) If you understand the play on words with the copy title “Fore”, well then, you “get” Art and Artists. That is a good thing. We like it when people get us. It is why artists do what they do. ART is our love.

Robb Havassy just left, after a 30 hour visit. When he had arrived, I was working through a series of images where I had been subtly taken by surprise at how the ocean had sculpted rather unique looking gems my Canon 5DM2 had managed to catch, while I happily and possibly very quickly, was ducking in to, or out of, a waterbash.  (reads: having fun)

Robb fronts a huge collective of people who have several things in common. The principle of which, is that they are artists, who comprise the cultural tableau that is Surf Culture. One of the interesting things to me about Robb is his surfboard collection. I have taken to calling them bastard children. 350 surfboard sculptures produced by a Corporation, to sit in mall clothing stores across the US.

The children are copies of a surfboard Robb had left at the home of a well know photographer and friend of his. As circumstances would have it, the board was left by Robb as a sort of gift to the photographer (along with a painting) and had been used in a shoot. Then later, copied “to a T”, and placed in stores to help brand and authenticate a company whose modus was “borrowing” from surfing to brand themselves, because in fact, contrary to surf theme inspired companies, this one was completely disconnected from surfing. They were a clothing company. They do not surf nor contribute to the culture. They take. That is their History. Robb’s experience was simply one of many examples the the Company’s branding modus.

Corporate Disclaimer

Corporate Disclaimer

Here is the funny part. On top of coming to Ventura to hang with designer Donna Von Hoesslin and I (creative sparks fly), work on Surf Story Volume 2 (which should publish late 2011), Robb was in town to pick up the first surfboard he had ever shaped, which was produced at the shop of Dennis Ryder.  (If you do not know about Dennis, you really should. Not only is he a historic figure in Ventura Surf Culture, but is a pioneer in surfboard design development.) But Robb was also getting another shaping lesson from me, and doing board# 2.

What got me excited, is that he brought two of the bastards up with him! I had never seen them. You see, Robb got those 350 surfboards back AND a small settlement in a suit against that apparel company. This was the catalyst for our meeting awhile back.

Robb and his bastard children.

Robb and his bastard children.

It had been the proverbial young David, taking on a sage old Goliath. Robb had used the proceeds to fund Surfstory Vol 1, his statement on the authenticity of Art and Culture. That is a done deal. But 350 bastard children remain in a storage unit in OC.

Robb, Donna and I, and now some of the leadership in Project Kaisei, have been brainstorming concepts whereby we may utilize the bastards,  which could really now be construed as cultural effluent, with faux fin boxes and foam gouges where the company logo was removed, and place some value back into the world with his collection of plastic trash.

This resonates with me because I have built close to 40,000 real surfboards. That translates to 40,000 people who developed a relationship with the ocean on something my hands and heart helped conceive. These mall store boards? Though replicas of Robb’s board, they were merely store fixtures, some even with leash plugs built into odd places, to be used for tie down points as the boards sat in malls, silent icons to materialism and faux lifestyle, whispering sweet lies to all who admired what they thought that the bastards stood for. The irony of this hit me instantly when first I heard about Robb. Surfboards are symbolic of people- surfers. They are meant to be magic carpet vehicles  to adventure in a watery wonderland.

We became fast friends of course. All of us.

But that is Art, and why Art, is one of my many loves.



Seth Godin has this to say about Art, Artists and Artistry. Simple brilliance. His Art inspires me.

Richard Lang is one of the many bright lights, who as an artist, is collaborating with us on Project Kaisei, plastics awareness, and changing the world through Art. Here is a fantastic video which illustrates how he and his wife Judith do that.

Art is for everybody and can be produced by anyone. Here is a great example of that.

The imagery below in the gallery is a small sample of a collection of refuse. I say trash, because I had overlooked these images in first edit of the collection I just built here in Ventura, California, in what may be a historic benchmark for the ocean this Jan-February, 2011.

I did not frame or intend to build these. They just happened as a result of an accord between perfect meteorological conditions, pristine ocean, and me swimming 57 times with my camera in 34 days. Spawn of my world.

Click on any of the images to toggle through as a slide show.  Foreward!

The Bodner

Thursday, April 30th, 2009


Ever have one of those friends who is just, well, there when  you are together? They are always so present in the moment, that they perpetually gloss over tidbits you would really appreciate knowing about them. Everyone enjoys bragging on their pals and assorted loved ones.  Some people truly are ignorant of their own genius and opt to not give us the chance.  Their vocation is just what they are, so what could the big deal possibly be?

A year ago I met Jessica Bodner and her boyfriend, Robert Catalusci. They had recently relocated from San Francisco to Ventura. Two artists with eclectic backgrounds, but a long track record from what my girlfriend Donna and I could surmise, in producing art. Robert though almost equally obtuse in describing exactly what he does, unwittingly let the cat out of the bag during a housewarming at the industrial space which serves as the joint production studio for the two. He showed us a video segment toned to match the color of the evening sky. Turns out it was an art concept projected on to a big screen built spanning some buildings adjacent to the 280 freeway in SF. The display had stopped rush hour traffic as an array of huge military jets engaged in an ominous dogfight that offered little clue the show was projected. Two days later, the Gulf War began. That is Robert.

But Jessica, wow, nothing but: “Oh I am a welder who makes lamps and has done some sculpture”.

That was the extent of it for the year, till an e mail dropped in containing a photo of a smiling Robert standing next to a large object that looked like a beehive. I am nothing, if not curious. I went by the shop where Jessica was busy welding away. The piece was a large, intricately engineered and fabricated metal sculpture with a value-scope that would be hard to measure in dollars. Yes, it was a lamp.

Over a period of two visits I documented the final construction and Jessica graciously exposed what an amazing talent she is. I needed to know more and the following text was sent to me by her Father, artist Stanley Bodner, who I had met while working on the Ventura Film Festival.

Stan Bodner: “I’ll give you some thoughts from my perspective:

Early on Jessica exhibited her unique view of the world. Sometime after serving her toddler-ship, she asked me what I thought of a miniature drawing that had she made. I don’t remember what I said exactly, it may have been something like “That’s a cute kitten.” I do, however, remember her response. She said, “That’s not a kitten daddy. You can’t see it, because your eyes are too big”.

That was the last time anybody ever mistook what she created.

Jessica’s mother, Alexandra and I both spent our pre-digital lives in front of an easel or behind a drawing table. Jessica spent most of her childhood under the drawing table.

Her summers were spent on the farm with her grandparents. Her grandfather was–before he retired–a welding foreman for Chicago Bridge and Iron. He kept a shop in the garage. As you know manipulating metal became her chosen media.

Yes, Jessica had an inordinate amount of exposure to Art and media, but it would all have been for nothing, without her extraordinary talent and desire to create.

She also had a poem published in grammar school, and was a finalist in a statewide public speaking competition.

Prior to moving west, Jessica graduated from The Chicago Academy for the Arts (a collage preparatory high school for the arts in Chicago). She continued her schooling in LA and San Francisco where she received her BFA.

There is one additional observation that I would like to share;
I made an unannounced visit to the principles office at CAA late in her sophomore year. The office was adorned exclusively with Jessica’s paintings and renderings. This had happened before in Jessica’s Grade school!

I hate to use the phrase “proud to be…” in describing my feelings. I like “lucky to be…” fits so much better.

She is “The Bodner”.  I am, “The Bodner’s father.”

Alexandra Navickas  studied at the Chicago Art Institute and Graduated with a teaching degree from U of Illinois.
Alex worked as a commercial artist designing and photographing fashion catalogs. When Jessica was born, Alex concentrated on her painting, later to be exhibited in Silvia Siegals Oak Street Gallery. After painting, she became a photographer specializing in hand-colored photos, for 15 years, then a few years designing African-American greeting cards, and then on Jessica’s suggestion, began making lighting fixtures 10 yrs ago for her business,


Stanley Bodner recipient of the “Alexander” and “St Guardens” medals for art New York High School system.

Graduated Cooper Union.  After an internship lasting a few years, I started my own Graphic Art Studio. My clients were Advertising Agencies, Mills, Manufactures and publications. I made the transformation from drawing board to computer early on. My introduction to the Mac happened in 1985.

I haven’t shown a portfolio for many years, however, I will e-mail you some current samples under separate cover of Alex’s and my work.

Oh, I just read your mighty blog. I am impressed. One favor I would ask; Please leave the Warhol bit out. It is somewhat demeaning sounding like sour grapes, and I do not wish to bask in reflected glory. Yes, he couldn’t draw, but he was a terrific designer, not unlike the many famous artists that have impressed us through the years. In my opinion, Edgar Dagas could draw, Renoir couldn’t. Both are geniuses.

I did appreciate the Pink Champagne he would send around Christmas. “A toast to Andy Warhol”.

Cheers, to Stanley and Alex (and yes,  Andy too). You’ve given us a true light in The Bodner.

Click on any image to  see the full frame view.

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.