Dot Magazine - FALL 2014 ABOUT / ARCHIVE

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Smart products, books, exhibitions, projects and ventures by Art Center alumni and faculty

Peter W. Anderson (BFA 67) and Douglas Trumbull at the Academy Awards
Peter W. Anderson (BFA 67), left, accepting his Oscar at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards event on February 15, 2014, with Douglas Trumbull. (Credit: Michael Yada/©A.M.P.A.S.)

Master of Art and Science

Peter W. Anderson BFA 1967

Earlier this year, Photography alumnus and visual effects master Peter W. Anderson, ASC, accepted the 2013 Gordon E. Sawyer Award, an Academy Award for technological contributions that have brought credit to the film industry. “Without the sciences what would the art be?” Anderson asked as he hefted his Oscar. “Without the art, what would the sciences be?” The Eau Claire, Wisconsin, native came to moviemaking when technology was shifting from analog formats (he famously hand-built components of the spaceship models for Steven Spielberg’s 1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind) to hybrid technologies that led to innovations in visual effects. Since 1982, he has developed modern 3-D systems for cinema, theme parks and IMAX. He has supervised visual effects on no less than 45 film and TV projects that include The China Syndrome, Splash, the series Battlestar Galactica, and documentaries on subjects as diverse as African wildlife and the band U2. As the Science and Technology Council’s resident historian, Anderson led the development of an archival database of Scientific and Technical Award nominees dating back to 1940—ensuring a record of those who have improved the industry. — CGA

Watch Peter W. Anderson’s Oscar acceptance speech

The Endless Summer poster by John Van Hamersveld (BFA 64)
Iconic 1964 poster created by John Van Hamersveld (BFA 64) while a student at Art Center.

Hang 10? No, Hang 50!

John Van Hamersveld BFA 1964

We’re well into fall now, but for Advertising alumnus John Van Hamersveld, life has been one endless summer. The man behind such iconic pop imagery as the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St. album cover and the Jimi Hendrix Pinnacle concerts poster was recently featured in a Vanity Fair story celebrating the 50th anniversary of his poster—created right here at Art Center—for Bruce Brown’s surfing film The Endless Summer. For this year’s golden anniversary, the poster has been reprinted in a limited edition of 5,000. On his latest Art Center visit, Van Hamersveld told us he learned the technique used to create the poster from his instructor Bernyce Polifka. He recalled going to McManus & Morgan downtown to purchase the fluorescent DayGlo paper, which was “pretty flashy” against the tempera colors. “I looked at the project as cutting the paper into these modernist shapes and putting it together,” he says of the poster, which he likened to “punk advertising of the time” as it was made to reach a niche audience of Southern California surfers. “As a movie campaign, it was advertising, but then it became a symbol,” he said. “It wound up in headshops, college campuses and everywhere. It’s very bizarre.” Hamersveld achieved yet another career capstone this year: in July he was inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame.— MW

Watch John Van Hamersveld on Finding America series

Just Because You’re Paranoid...


In Captain America: The Winter Soldier (now out on Blu-ray and DVD), the titular WWII-era superhero—still trying to adjust to life in the 21st century—uncovers a conspiracy whose reach extends to the highest levels of government. The Winter Soldier borrows the icy tone of ’70s political thrillers like Three Days of the Condor (including a performance by Robert Redford), adds a flurry of fisticuffs to the mix, and throws in some chilling high-tech weaponry that plays to our current surveillance fears. And the man behind that film’s most terrifying technology? Art Center’s own chair of Entertainment Design, Tim Flattery, who collaborated with production designer Peter Wenham on concept designs for the movie’s spectacular Helicarrier, an airborne aircraft carrier with an agenda. “I love working on comic book movies,” says Flattery, whose comics-to-film credits include Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Batman Forever and the upcoming Ant-Man. “I read comics as a kid, so I’ve always been a fan.”— MW

Watch video clip “The Destruction of the Helicarriers”

Face Book for Dummies

Matthew Rolston BFA 1978

If you’ve seen photographs of Oprah Winfrey or covers of Rolling Stone, it’s safe to say you’ve seen Matthew Rolston’s work. His 2007 shoot with Michael Jackson is known as the singer’s “last sitting.” In fact, you almost can’t name a pop star Rolston hasn’t photographed or directed in a music video. Tapped by Andy Warhol early on to shoot for Interview magazine, Rolston this summer presented a series of monumental color portraits (5 by 5 feet) at Diane Rosenstein Fine Art in Los Angeles—not of celebrities but of ventriloquist’s dummies—adopting the square format Warhol was working in when the two first met. Rolston discovered these unconventional entertainers at the obscure Vent Haven Museum in Kentucky (“vent” being short for “ventriloquist”), where he painstakingly selected from hundreds of figures in a collection dating back to the 19th century. “The faces that spoke to me most had expressions that I found enigmatic, pleading, Sphinx-like, hilarious and disturbing.” Acknowledging the “creepy” nature of the subject matter, the Los Angeles Times credited the work with “holding a mirror up to the ways in which we categorize and stereotype.” Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits (Pointed Leaf Press) gathers 100 of the pictures, along with two essays. Creating another kind of impact here at his alma mater, Rolston established an endowed Art Center scholarship for students in photography and film. — CGA

Watch the book trailer

The Force Is Still Strong With Him

Ralph McQuarrie BFA 1956

As the concept artist for the original Star Wars trilogy, Illustration alumnus Ralph McQuarrie was instrumental in the creation of those films’ fantastical characters and settings. In fact, the late McQuarrie’s pre-production paintings he created in 1975—including depictions of the villainous Darth Vader, the Millennium Falcon starship and the Death Star space station—helped convince 20th Century Fox to fund the first film. Forty years on, McQuarrie’s work continues to influence the Star Wars universe. Dark Horse recently published a graphic novel based on Lucas’ rough draft script for The Star Wars (as it was then called), featuring artwork heavily inspired by McQuarrie’s original paintings. The new Disney XD Star Wars Rebels animated series draws from his early work as well, as seen dramatically in the character of Zeb Orrelios, an alien that strongly resembles McQuarrie’s original concept for Chewbacca. Leaks from the J.J. Abrams-helmed Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens sets also show elements directly inspired by some of McQuarrie’s unused work. And earlier this month, Disney Lucasfilm Press published Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight, a children’s book illustrated with McQuarrie’s paintings. — MW

Watch Ralph McQuarrie, Star Wars Concept Artist: Tribute to a Master

Wizard of Awe

Dan Goods BFA 2002

What are you doing with your special moment in time today? This pointed challenge culminates an inspiring TEDxTalk by Graphic Design alumnus Dan Goods, who works as a visual strategist (aka resident artist) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena. Here’s how Goods answers his own question: “I’m creating experiences for people that give them a moment of awe and wonder about the universe we live in.” Goods has spent the past 11 years translating complex scientific concepts into large-scale art installations. Beneath the Surface (2011) illustrates Juno’s mission to Jupiter in a cloud-filled darkened room. Pulse of Exploration, currently on view in a public lobby at JPL, uses cascading LED lights to demonstrate the flow of data from spacecraft orbiting galaxies far, far away. Goods laid the groundwork for his otherworldly career in an independent study class at Art Center. “I was trying to make a logo for a grocery store that sells 500 kinds of soda, all in glass bottles. I figured out how to make a pipe organ out of the bottles and even how to attach them to a taco truck stand so that, as it drove along, the bottles would make music. Believe it or not, that project helped me get my job at JPL.” — CS

Watch Pulse of Exploration

Outsider Art

Esther Pearl Watson BFA 1995

“This is going to be the best summer ever...I know my hot guy is sitting on a couch or mat and wondering if some fine lady is dreaming about him,” muses Tammy Pierce, the unlucky underdog of Unlovable, a graphic novel series by Illustration alumna Esther Pearl Watson. Loosely based on a teenager’s 1989 diary Watson discovered in a truck stop bathroom, Unlovable details the sometimes ordinary, often humiliating, occasionally poignant, and generally hilarious exploits of its young protagonist. Serialized in Bust magazine, Unlovable received the ultimate merit badge from Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, who called it “the great teen comic tragedy of our time.” All three volumes can be purchased online at Watson teaches Illustration at Art Center and includes the series in her publishing class. “I show my students the book dummy and original drawings. I also talk about building characters and their world. How zines can lead to published books. How published books can lead to things like merchandising and licensing.” All of which can lead to: a museum commission. Next spring, Watson’s largest painting to date will go on view at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Texas. A glittery dreamscape mural, it was inspired by her childhood adventures with a father who built spaceships in the front yard. “Though they look very different,” notes Watson, “my comics and my narrative paintings both have the theme of the outsider trying to fit in.” — AM

The Paris Review interviews Esther Pearl Watson
Watch music video featuring Watson’s work by Art Center instructor Brian Rea

Prolific Prodigy

Winnie Cheung

Car design prodigy Winnie Cheung—so dubbed by Automotive News in its 40 Under 40 list of the industry’s current crop of early achievers—is interior design manager for Chrysler Group headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The magazine likened the young titans who made the cut to the legendary Lee Iacocca who, at 36 in 1960, was the youngest vice president in Ford Motor history. Cheung has come a long way since first entering Art Center as a Product Design major. Back then, she admits, the thought of drawing a car made her nauseous. But after her first assignment she fell in love with the mobility art form and transferred to Transportation Design. Chrysler is responsible for some of the world’s most recognizable vehicles, from the Town & Country and Jeep Grand Cherokee to the SRT Viper and Fiat 500. Cheung strives to design cars like a living space with interiors that are simple and aesthetically pleasing. Her interior for the thoroughly revamped 2013 Dodge Dart was praised as “an explosion of modern, edgy and stylish.” She joins a growing club of Art Center alumnae creating the spaces we drive in, including Transportation alums Felicitas Steinbrecher (BS 13) at BMW, Tisha Johnson (BS 99) at Volvo, and Christine Park (BS 06) at Cadillac; and Environmental Design alumna Kimberly Marte (BS 97) at Tesla. Cheung’s advice to up-and-comers: “Stay true to yourself and believe in your ability.” — TB

Watch video: Winnie Cheung, Dodge Dart Interior Designer


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