Creative Work Fund Awards $661,000 to Northern California Artists

ACTA - Posted on 25 October 2011

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Creative Work Fund logo18 Exceptional Projects Awarded Grants for Literary and Traditional Arts

The Creative Work Fund (CWF) is pleased to announce that it is awarding 18 grants totalling $661,000 to Northern California artists for the creation of new works in the fields of literary and traditional arts. Each artist has collaborated with a local nonprofit community organization on dynamic and creative projects that will create books, multimedia pieces, exhibitions, podcasts, Pomo regalia, silkscreen prints, and performances of spoken word, dance, and choral and instrumental music.

“An exciting dimension of this year’s grant awards is the wide variety of organizations that have recognized how working closely with artists will advance their goals,” said CWF director Frances Phillips, who has been heading the fund since its establishment in 1994. “It’s common for cultural and educational organizations to understand this; but this year we’ve also seen nonprofits working in the areas of AIDS awareness, legal rights, refugee resettlement, and community development recognizing how artists and art making can help strengthen vulnerable communities.”

For the 2011 grant cycle, CWF reviewed projects in the literary and traditional arts, with successful applicants working in highly diverse media. The selected literary artists will be creating work for online and theatrical presentation, as books, exhibits, and performances.  The selected traditional artists represent traditions from Cambodia, Ghana, Iran, Mexico, and the Philippines—as well as regional traditions of Native Californians and Asian Americans.

Since 1994, CWF has contributed $8.6 million to advance art-making by Northern California artists in a variety of disciplines. Awards range from $10,000 to $40,000. Grants are highly competitive and recommended to CWF by a committee of accomplished panelists.

The 2011 CWF grant recipients come from the Bay Area’s urban centers, extending out to Modesto and Salinas. Recipient artists are renowned in their disciplines, and have undergone a rigorous and intensely competitive review process.

Below are descriptions of the 2011 traditional arts projects.  For information about the 2011 literary arts projects, visit the Creative Work Fund's website.

2011 Traditional Arts Grantees and collaborators

Charya Burt (Windsor) collaborating with World Arts West (San Francisco)
Cambodian dancer Charya Burt is collaborating with World Arts West to create a new work exploring the 1906 encounter between Auguste Rodin and the Royal Cambodian Ballet. Burt will respond to the more than 150 drawings and sketches made by the French artist, when he followed the company’s tour across France. The traditions Rodin depicted are the same ones that Charya Burt currently sustains. Burt’s choreography will be set to original music by composer Alexis Alrich and performed by cellist Ruth Lane and a Pin Peat orchestra from Cambodia. The performance will be presented against a backdrop onto which a visual artist will paint in Rodin’s style on large canvases during the performance. Charya Burt is a graduate and former dance faculty member of the Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She began her training in 1982 under the direction of the foremost dance masters of Cambodia. She moved to the United States in 1993, where she has taught and performed widely. World Arts West, producer of the annual San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, has recently re-designed its presenting model. Among other new initiatives, it will work with artists to create and present longer format works: Charya Burt’s Blossoming Antiquities will be among the first of these productions.

Chhip Chhoun (Modesto) collaborating with The Bridge (Modesto) and with Fiscal Sponsor Sierra Vista Child & Family Services
Chhip Chhoun and other Khmer musicians will collaborate with The Bridge to present biweekly, free performances at The Bridge Community Center. Instruments used will include the khhem (resembling a zither); the skor (drum); the takei (a large, long, stringed instrument); and the tror (Cambodian violin). Seating immediately around the musicians will be reserved for youth who are interested in learning to play the traditional music and songs. This approach mimics the traditional method of transmission in which musicians play and those who hope to learn watch, listen, and eventually play along. Original pieces developed will be performed at the annual Bridge Cultural Fair and other celebrations. Chhip Chhoun has been playing traditional Khmer instruments, melodies, and music for 46 years—having learned as a young man in Cambodia. He also knows how to craft instruments. A team from the Bridge Youth Council will film the performances and instrument-making for a documentary series to be shown on the Cambodian TV channel and archived at The Bridge and at the California State University, Stanislaus Institute for Cultural Resources. The Bridge Community Center was formed in 1989 by faculty and students from California State University, Stanislaus, Modesto Junior College, and community volunteers to help meet the needs of Southeast Asian refugees relocating to the Central Valley.

Jay Loyola (San Francisco) collaborating with Kularts, Inc. (San Francisco)
Filipino folklorico choreographer Jay Loyola, collaborating with Parangal Dance Company and KulArts, Inc., will develop Ibon Ng Adama (The Adama Bird), based on an epic Filipino tale that highlights indigenous healing traditions. Featuring traditional Pilipino dance methods and mythology, the piece will be performed by Parangal Dance Company and Kawayan Folk Arts in October 2012. Born and raised in the Philippines, adopted son of the Tagbanua tribe in Napsan, Palawan, and a resident of San Francisco since 2006, Loyola has extensively researched and documented the rituals and dances of the tribal people of Palawan and the Philippines. The project goal is to create a theatrical presentation adapting Tagbanua rituals and dances for the stage, so that audiences experience the original dances, and understand the story and the context in which they traditionally took place. Loyola also will lead an eight-week advanced workshop in the cultural dances of the Tagbanua people. Collaborating organization, Kularts, works to expand understanding of American Pilipino culture through performances that address contemporary issues in the community, to preserve the spirit and integrity of ancient Pilipino art forms, and to nurture the artistic development of Pilipino artists. Since its inception, it has presented more than 2,000 Pilipino artists.

Ernesto Hernandez Olmos (Alameda) collaborating with Youth in Arts (Marin) 
Musician Ernesto Hernandez Olmos, along with Mayra Hernandez Martinez and Miguel Martinez, will collaborate with Youth in Arts to create and present a new performance for children and families that presents traditional indigenous Meso-American music and dance practices of Mexico, with a focus on the ancient Mayan calendar or Cholqij.  Featured artists represent Mayan, Aztec, and Zapotec traditions. Youth in Arts’ performing artists Nydia Gonzalez and Miko Lee will work with them to create a Spanish-English bilingual narrative structure framing their traditional practices. Cholqij will premiere in fall 2012. Lead artist Ernesto Hernandez Olmos is of Mayan ancestry, born in Oaxaca. The traditions he uses in his work were passed to him by his mother, his family, and community elders. He studied music, dance, visual art, and sculpture in Mexico, continuing this study with elders in the Southwest United States and Mexico after moving to the Bay Area in 1997. He is working closely with Mayra Hernandez Martinez, an Aztec dancer and practitioner of natural medicine, and Miguel Martinez, co-founder of the indigenous music ensemble Balamcoatl. Youth in Arts has provided arts programs for youth for 40 years. In addition to an extensive school residency program in visual and performing arts, its Youth in Arts Presents programming reaches thousands of Bay Area students.

Bongo Sidibe (San Francisco) collaborating with African Advocacy Network (San Francisco) and fiscal sponsor Dolores Community Services
Bongo Sidibe—a traditional drummer from Guinea, West Africa—and African Advocacy Network seek to bring together a diverse population of Africans living in the Bay Area through a project culminating in two weekends of performances. The first weekend will present highly regarded local traditional artists from African countries, including Senegal, Mali, Congo, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia. The focus of the Creative Work Fund project, to be presented over the second weekend, is creation of a full-length Guinean ballet directed by Bongo Sidibe, and involving other Guinean artists. Clients of the African Advocacy Network will contribute skills in graphic design, costuming, and helping to script the piece. The collaborators seek to foster greater unity within the African diaspora and encourage these diverse populations to work together to improve their economic and social standing in the United States. Lead artist Bongo Sidibe studied drumming from a very young age with Mamady Keita, a world-renowned West African drummer. Until moving to the United States, Sidibe was Keita’s assistant at his school in Conakry. The African Advocacy Network provides African and Afro-Caribbean immigrants and refugees of the Bay Area with tools they need to lead independent, productive, and dignified lives. It processes legal cases ranging from naturalization and work authorization to family unification.

Kathleen Smith (Walnut Creek) collaborating with Heyday (Berkeley) 
Native California artist Kathleen Smith is collaborating with Heyday to explore, document, and celebrate aspects of traditional California Indian food gathering and preparation. Inaugurating the position of artist-in-residence at Heyday, Smith will create traditional cooking instruments and demonstrate native food preparation for audiences. The project will culminate in an illustrated 48-page book. Kathleen Smith is Bodega Miwok and Pomo and a member of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. She learned the arts of food gathering and preparation from her mother and grandmother. She also is a painter and traditional craftsperson. Among the foods she is likely to gather and prepare will be acorns, seaweed, berries, salmon, and shellfish. The project will capture the technological and artistic aspects of her activities and their social and spiritual dimensions, including songs that are sung, prayers that are spoken, gendered divisions of labor, and deep cultural knowledge and practice that give meaning to daily life. Heyday is a nonprofit publisher and cultural institution whose mission is to deepen people’s understanding of California culture, history, arts, and nature. In addition to its role in publishing many books about California Indian culture, for 25 years it has published the journal News from Native California.

Rudi C. Soriano (San Francisco) collaborating with Gay Asian Pacific Alliance (San Francisco), and with fiscal sponsor LIKHA Pilipino Folk Ensemble
Choreographer Rudi C. Soriano will collaborate with Gay Asian Pacific Alliance to create “Pilgrim,” a dance theater work influenced by Filipino ethnic dance traditions that explores Asian American history in a manner that reflects and resonates with the experiences of contemporary gay Asians. The piece will incorporate the history of Filipino immigrants in early 20th century California as well as commentary from current community members, who will be invited to tell their stories, offer advice, share their coping strategies, and convey the message that lives can improve. Dancer, choreographer, teacher, and researcher, Rudi Soriano has performed and toured with Bayanihan, the Philippine national dance company. He founded LIKHA Pilipino Folk Ensemble in 1992 and serves as its artistic director. Soriano conducts annual field research in the Philippines to further LIKHA’s mission. Gay Asian Pacific Alliance was established in 1988 as a community-based, all-volunteer membership organization whose goals are to create awareness, develop a positive collective identity, and create a supportive community for queer Asian and Pacific Islander men. It will work with Soriano to ensure that a broad range of voices is represented in “Pilgrim.”

Edward Willie (San Anselmo) collaborating with Museum of the American Indian (Novato) 
Native California artist Edward Willie is collaborating with the Museum of the American Indian to create two sets of men’s regalia—distinct, meticulously crafted, nature-based adornments for traditional dancers. Willie, who is of Pomo, Walaiki, and Wintu descent, specializes in the regalia of the Pomo tribes—the original inhabitants of Sonoma County. Willie has learned the finer points of regalia making from expert California makers and uses traditional materials and methods. While creating the pieces, he will present hands-on workshops for dancers who want to learn the traditional techniques. His process also will be documented for museum archives and exhibitions. Once the regalia are made, the museum will both allow traditional dancers to check them out for use in gatherings and ceremonies and, when the pieces are not in use, will exhibit them. Dominican University of California also will exhibit the regalia and present lectures by Mr. Willie for its students and the larger community. The Museum of the American Indian has been located on a Coast Miwok village site in Novato, California for 45 years. It seeks to provide the people of Northern California with programs and exhibits that deepen understanding and appreciation of Native American cultures.

Leland Wong (San Francisco) collaborating with Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach (San Francisco)
Lead artist Leland Wong will collaborate with Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach’s Youth Council to create a series of screen prints that explore the impact of violence on the Asian American community. A life-long San Franciscan, Leland Wong’s work, examining Asian American culture and politics, has been exhibited nationally and is held in numerous museum collections. His iconic posters have contributed to the Asian American movement since the 1970s. Screen printing, was first developed in China between 200 and 1000 AD. It produces strong colors and is a relatively flexible and low-cost medium. For these reasons, it was embraced by the Civil Rights movement and used for many posters. For this campaign, Wong and the Youth Council will share their opinions and insights about violence in the Asian American community, deciding together on images to be used. Through two cycles of workshops, the artist and youth will produce prints to be exhibited in community venues. The collaborating organization, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, founded in 1975 as Nihonmachi Legal Outreach, provides culturally and linguistically appropriate legal representation and advice; legal training and technical support; and community education and outreach in such areas as immigration, human trafficking, domestic violence/family law, and elder abuse.

Omid Zoufonoun (Oakland) collaborating with Pacific Mozart Ensemble (Alameda)
Composer Omid Zoufonoun and Pacific Mozart Ensemble are creating a traditional Persian composition that explores a dialogue with a contemporary Western chorus. The finished piece will be performed by the Ensemble and members of the Persian Shams Ensemble in spring 2012. The work will use Persian music’s unique and intricate melodic and rhythmic idioms expressed through the kamanche (spike fiddle); santur (hammer dulcimer); and tonbak/daf (goblet and frame drums). It will draw lyrics from poetry by the 12th century mystic Rumi, sung in the original Farsi. One of four sons trained under their father and renowned master Persian musician Ostad Mahmoud Zoufonoun, lead artist Omid Zoufonoun has been immersed in traditional Persian music since birth. From 2003-09 he was cellist and musical arranger for the Zoufonoun Ensemble; he also has notated and edited the complete violin and vocal works of Ostad Zoufonoun for publication. Founded in 1980 by Richard Grant, the Pacific Mozart Ensemble delivers passionate, expert and engaging choral performances of music of all genres: It is particularly well-known for its collaborations with contemporary composers and artists. Current music director, Dr. Lynne Morrow, has continued to build its reputation for versatility and open-mindedness in presenting distinctive and often-demanding vocal repertoire.

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