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Vanya Horwath
Undergraduate Vanya Horwath, recipient of the Franklyn Liegel Fine Art Award, in her studio in the 870 building.

Support for scholarships tops $3.6 million in FY14

sk Vanya Horwath about receiving the inaugural Franklyn Liegel Fine Art Award, and she’ll tell you that, to her, it’s about much more than the money.

“The award is motivation to paint and push myself further,” says the upper-term Fine Art student, a native of Phoenix, Ariz. “It led me to trust what I am doing in my work and gave me confidence to explore other ideas in painting.” Among those ideas: moving her often-dense compositions onto larger-scale canvases that can achieve a one-to-one relationship with the figure, as well as experimenting with abstraction.

The Liegel Award, created through a recent gift from Barbara and Kenneth Holland and awarded to Fine Art students demonstrating achievement in drawing, painting or collage, honors the late artist and beloved Art Center faculty member after whom it is named.

It’s part of a recent burst of new donor-established financial awards and scholarships created during the past fiscal year totaling more than $3.6 million.

Gifts from several donors, including $41,00 from Ray Engle (Advertising BFA 48), brought the Lou Danziger Scholarship up to the endowment level of $50,000. Created in honor of the legendary designer, 1948 alumnus and Art Center instructor, the fund can now provide annual support for Art Center’s Advertising students in perpetuity.

New foundation commitments also contributed to this year’s record-breaking scholarship total. The Richard and Jean Coyne Family Foundation doubled their annual scholarship support of Saturday High and Art Center at Night from $25,000 last year to $50,000 this year.

The Ann Peppers Foundation made its largest-ever unrestricted scholarship gift to the College: $20,000.

And Art Center 100, the College’s longest-serving community volunteer group, raised more than $70,000 from a single event, “Grains vs. Grapes.” The funds from this beer- and wine-savoring affair went to augment an Art Center 100 Entering Student Scholarship fund for new graduate and undergraduate students.

“The College is committed to making an Art Center education possible for exceptional art and design students who might not otherwise have the resources,” says Vanalyne Green, chair of the Fine Art department. “Increasing scholarship support is vital to reaching that goal.”

Ann Field with Bruce Heavin
Illustration Chair Ann Field with newly inducted Trustee Bruce Heavin (Illustration BFA 93). co-founder named College Trustee

Illustration alumnus Bruce Heavin (BFA 93) is perhaps best known as
cofounder and chief innovation officer of, which he started with his wife, Lynda Weinman. The popular training resource has grown into one of the most successful companies in online education today. He was not only instrumental in launching the venture, broadening its scope to include photography, illustration and graphic design, but he also taught many of its original courses. As a working illustrator, Heavin has created art for numerous album and book covers, national magazines and other traditional and electronic media companies, including E! Entertainment Television, MSNBC and Adobe.

In his newest role, as an Art Center Trustee, Heavin serves on the Board’s Academic Affairs and Facilities committees. He was elected at the Board meeting in June, and he joins four other alumni serving as Trustees.

“I’ve realized that everything the College has achieved in recent years is in direct support of its students,” Heavin said. “I’ve been a staunch advocate and longtime supporter of my alma mater, and now it’s especially rewarding to join the Board during this important era of growth and advancement in Art Center’s history.”

“We are extremely fortunate to have Bruce join the Board at this time,” said Board Chairman Robert C. Davidson, Jr. “His long history with the College and his experience as a pioneer in the field of online education are invaluable assets for Art Center as we continue to move forward with our Strategic Plan.”

As’s creative strategist, Heavin is dedicated to making the educational experience fulfilling for both members and employees. He also oversees the visual branding and style, from creating the company’s iconic logo to ensuring the aesthetic reflects its user-friendly teaching style.

“Bruce’s knowledge and expertise will be extremely valuable as the
College builds a robust curriculum in the virtual space online,” said Art Center Provost Fred Fehlau.

New chairs named to Grad Art and Humanities & Sciences

Art Center recently filled two academic leadership posts, appointing alumna Diana Thater (MFA 90) as faculty chair of the Graduate Art Department in April, and Jane McFadden chair of the Humanities and Sciences Department in May. Both served on Art Center’s faculty prior to taking on their new roles.

As Provost Fred Fehlau (BFA 79, MFA 88) noted, “Diana and Jane’s appointments reflect a deepening commitment to expanding Art Center’s strong focus on practice, research and discourse.”

Thater is an internationally renown-ed contemporary artist best known for her immersive video installation work, and for exploring the unpredictable relationships between culture and nature, human and animal, and science and magic. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is organizing a midcareer survey of her work for 2015. Prior solo exhibitions have been presented by major museums in Australia, Austria and Germany, and by Dia Center for the Arts, New York.

After earning her BA from New York University in 1984, she completed her MFA at Art Center in 1990. Her numerous awards include a California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists (2014), a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2005), an Étant-donnés Foundation Grant (1996), and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1993). In June, she was honored at the Orange County Museum of Art’s annual gala.

A dedicated activist, Thater has been the artist-in-residence since 2000 for the nonprofit organization, The Dolphin Project. With T. Kelly Mason and Ric O’Barry, she made the film Welcome to Taiji, which served as the basis of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove. She co-founded the artist-led group MOCA Mobilization, calling for changes at L.A.‘s Museum of Contemporary Art, when it was at the height of its financial crisis and about to close.

“Art Center’s Graduate Art program is one of the best in the country, if not the world,” said Thater. “I’m proud to follow in the footsteps of Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe as its chair and look forward to working closely with our distinguished faculty to produce a new generation of internationally practicing artists.”

Faculty member Jason E. Smith serves as the department’s associate chair. His writing and research is largely concerned with contemporary art and aesthetics, modern continental philosophy and post-1968 political thought. His work has appeared in Artforum, Critical Inquiry, Diacritics, Grey Room, SAQ and Theory & Event, among other publications.

McFadden, helming the Humanities and Sciences Department, is a past director of the Graduate Studies Criticism and Theory program at Art Center. As a full-time faculty member, she has taught a variety of cultural history courses across the College, from undergraduate Fine Art to graduate Industrial Design. She was a founding member of Faculty Commons and served as a co-moderator for the Faculty Commons Summit on Teaching and Learning at Art Center in 2012. For the past several years she has also administered the Toyota Lecture Series and the Art Center Design Histories Fellowship program.

“During my tenure at Art Center, I have truly grown to love it,” said McFadden. “The intensity of the students, the delight of the unexpected perspective, the opportunities to work with those I might never have encountered elsewhere, and most importantly, the camaraderie of our task. I look forward to working with fellow faculty and staff as we continue building a strong educational community to face the challenges of art and design education in the 21st century.”

McFadden received her BA from Duke University and her MA and PhD in art history from the University of Texas at Austin. Her writing has been published in Art Journal, Grey Room, Modern Painters and X-tra; and she is the author of recent essays for Pacific Standard Time: Los Angeles Art, 1945–1980 at the J. Paul Getty Museum and Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. She was awarded a Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Art Writers Grant for her forthcoming book, Walter de Maria: Meaningless Work.

1111 South Arroyo
Art Center’s acquisition of 1111 South Arroyo was supported by a $15 million gift from Peter and Merle Mullin.

Campus expansion continues at gateway to Pasadena

In cities around the world, adaptive reuse of existing buildings has been
a cornerstone of sustainable development. For Art Center, it’s also key to smart growth.

In July the College purchased a six-story building at 1111 Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena, contiguous with its South Campus at South Raymond Avenue and East Glenarm Street, now spanning seven acres. Along with a former aerospace wind tunnel building built in 1951 (950 S. Raymond) and a former U.S. postal sorting facility built in 1979 (870 S. Raymond), the acquisition of the 1983 office building completes an eclectic trio of buildings finding vibrant new life as classroom, studio, exhibition and administrative spaces serving the needs of a growing student body.

In a prime location known as the gateway to Pasadena—the intersection of East Glenarm Street and the terminus of the 110 Freeway—the corner building with its wraparound mirrored curtain wall is expected to dramatically raise Art Center’s public visibility. The $27.4 million purchase of the building was made possible by the reallocation of a $15 million gift to Art Center from philanthropists and classic car enthusiasts Peter and Merle Mullin, for whom the building will be named. The couple’s generous donation, the largest in the College’s history, had originally been intended for construction of a new industrial and transportation design facility to be built on South Campus.

Acquiring the Arroyo Parkway property became an opportunity to maximize the Mullins’ gift, affording substantially more space at half the price per square foot, notes Art Center President Lorne M. Buchman. “The reallocation of their gift exemplifies true leadership,” he said. “We’re indebted to their understanding, vision and support of Art Center’s mandate to provide the finest art and design education anywhere.”

The remaining cost of the building will be funded by way of a state bond issue, with plans to repay the debt through a capital campaign. Student tuition dollars are not being used toward the building’s purchase.

The facility will include classrooms, a “making” workshop and studio spaces, as well as administrative offices. Another feature of the new Mullin Building will be a street-level gallery open to the public, showcasing industrial and transportation design work by students and alumni, and loans from automotive companies and car collections including that of the Mullins.

The expansion of the College’s facilities will not only relieve overcrowding on the Hillside Campus but also, more importantly, allow Art Center to improve the overall experience for faculty, students and staff.

“It’s about great education,” said Peter Mullin, an Art Center Trustee. “We want to help provide first-rate facilities for what is clearly the leading institution of art and design higher education.”

Mario Ascencio
College Librarian and Managing Director of the James Lemont Fogg Memorial Library, Mario Ascencio.

New leader of Art Center library and archives

A nationally recognized leader among library professionals, Mario Ascencio joined Art Center in May as college librarian and managing director overseeing the James Lemont Fogg Memorial Library and College Archives. His selection follows an international search and, for Ascencio, marks a marks a return to his hometown of Los Angeles.

In his most recent role as library director at the Corcoran Gallery of Art/Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, D.C., Ascencio revolutionized library operations with the addition of new educational tech-nologies, social media and digital repository systems, dramatically improving the user experience for the Corcoran’s patrons.

In 2008, Library Journal named Ascencio a “Mover & Shaker” in recog-nition of his commitment to improving and promoting library services at the national and international level. In 2006, he was elected president of REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking.

“After almost 15 years living in D.C., I’m thrilled to join Art Center because of its mission, ‘Learn to Create, Influence Change,’” he said. “It’s at the core of my personal beliefs that the library and the staff have the power to help students explore and discover themselves as artists and designers, and to ultimately create a positive impact on their learning.”

Ascencio received his Master of Library and Information Science degree from UCLA, and his BA in art history with a minor in Italian from California State University, Northridge.

His appointment follows the retirement of Elizabeth Galloway who stepped down after 35 years of devoted service and commitment to the Art Center community.

Martin Lipson
Martin “Marty” Lipson during his tenure as chair of the Advertising Department.

In memoriam: Martin Lipson

Martin “Marty” Lipson (BFA 60), chair of Art Center’s Advertising Department from 1986 to 1990, passed away peace fully in Santa Monica at the age of 82, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He is survived by his wife Claire, a son and three daughters.

A graduate of Art Center’s Advertising program, Lipson began his long career as an ad man in New York. He later served as an award-winning art director at the Los Angeles agencies of Young & Rubicam, Foote, Cone & Belding and McCann-Erickson, and also had his own agency, Klein Lipson.

“During Marty’s tenure as department chair,” recalls his friend and
colleague, fellow Advertising alumnus Bob Matsumoto (BFA 63), “he was proud of advocating for new computer classes and devoted to helping students find entry into ad agencies.”

Born into a musical family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Lipson pursued another great passion in life: performing professionally as an alto-saxophone jazz player. Former faculty member Dennis Mickaelian (BFA 62) remembers attending Lipson’s performances in the 1960s at venerable jazz clubs like The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach. After he retired, Lipson continued playing with a band in the Palm Springs area.

In Lipson’s remembrance, a well-attended jam session in celebration of his life was held in Santa Monica in July. “It was filled with heartfelt tears and tributes,” says Matsumoto, “and because Marty had a great sense of humor, a few good laughs too.”



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