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  • Rendering female models and celebrities on large-scale canvases and with quick, expressive brushstrokes, painter Katherine Bernhardt examines representations of beauty in mainstream media and fashion photography. She paints her subjects with severe, exaggerated features and emaciated limbs that sometimes morph into abstraction, recalling the works of Pablo Picasso. “Some people ask if I hate the models I paint,” she says. “I say no, I don't hate them.

  • UpCycle Day 2014!

    Sep 03| Special Event
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    Join us for the 3rd Annual UpCycle Day!

    Learn about the Resource Exchange

    Bring your excess supplies and materials to share and trade. 

    Stock up for the school year with Free supplies and materials. 

    Help divert our collective waste from ending up in landfills.

     

  • Forrest Gander

    Sep 03| Lectures
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    Otis Books/Seismicity Editions is pleased to publish Panic Cure: Poetry from Spain for the 21st Century, an anthology of poems from eleven contemporary Spanish poets, active from the 1960s through the present. Selected and translated by Forrest Gander, Panic Cure is notable for its impressive range of poetic voices.

  • Jan Brandt

    Sep 04| Lectures
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  • Joel Kyack

    Sep 09| Lectures
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    JOEL KYACK Lives and works in Los Angeles.

    ghebaly.com/artists/joel-kyack

  • A dynamic portrait of the life of computer prodigy Aaron Swartz who championed free speech and data sharing, this must-see documentary premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and was the opening night film at the 2014 Hot Docs International Film Festival in Toronto, Canada. 

    We're excited the film’s director Brian Knappenberger will be our special guest speaker for the Q & A moderated by Movies that Matter series producers Judy Arthur and Perri Chasin after the screening. 

  • Koenraad Dedobbeleer lives and works in Brussels.

     

O-Tube

Lalo Alcaraz, Editorial Cartoonist

May 12, 2014
Spotlight Category: Faculty

Redrawing Borders

by George Wolfe

For editorial cartoonist and faculty member Lalo Alcaraz, having one foot inside and the other outside the circle has been an ongoing metaphor for his life. Born in the San Diego area, he notes that he was not quite Mexican enough for some relatives across the border and yet not American enough for those in the States. His academic degrees include the fields of environmental design and architecture, yet he's best known for creating the first nationally syndicated, populist, politically-themed Latino daily comic strip, La Cucaracha, which appears in the Los Angeles Times. He also hosts a radio show and runs a satirical website. Now, once again, he finds himself exploring new territory as a writer on an upcoming Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) project: an animated show for Fox featuring a largely Latino cast of characters, due to premiere in fall 2014.

Luckily for Alcaraz, what once raised eyebrows and caused judgment is now an increasingly accepted part of the times. On the federal level, it’s business as usual with an African American president; in a city like Los Angeles, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a hybrid car or a food truck touting a fresh confluence of ethnic cuisines; and at a college like Otis, interdisciplinary cross-training is fast becoming not only an advantage in the art and design professions but is practically a necessity for getting ahead of the status quo. And in this type of twister-like environment, artists like Alcaraz, who can keep their balance while straddling these various circles, are faring well.

Whether working on an editorial cartoon or creating content for his website (pocho.com), he attributes his original interest in biting social commentary to Mad magazine: “I used to tell parents to be careful: that publication can make a critical thinker out of a kid. For me, Spanish was my first language, then I learned English in school and, finally, I learned satire . . . so it was like a third language for me.”

Alcaraz has taught editorial illustration at Otis for nearly three years but will be taking a break to make ample space for his new full-time gig. It's a bittersweet time. "At Otis, I was reminded of how cool and fun college can be. Some of our best classes were when we threw everything out and just sat there and talked—I had young students from here and international students from all over the world, and it always gave me great hope that these kids remind me of how I was way back then. And we’re all the better for it [this merging of cultures]. I hope they’ll be able to carry on with what I’ve tried to teach them. But the truth is that I’ve really learned so much from them."

Despite using his craft to speak out on substantive issues like Proposition 187 (immigration) and federal elections (voting), and making both real and symbolic inroads professionally in ways that offer a model of achievement for Latinos and Chicanos, Alcaraz doesn’t see himself as any kind of spokesperson or cultural hero. “Most of all,” he notes, “what I can offer is my work, to support causes I care about. “

This humble stance isn’t false modesty. He’s genuinely fond of his simple-yet-proud roots and current middle-class lifestyle, and content to trade his onceangry 20-something years for the challenges and pleasures of life at home in Whittier with his wife and three kids. At the base of all he does, however, are the demands of his nagging muse, calling him to grind out his daily work, to fulfill his creative duty.

"I’m okay with simply being a role model for working artists. I’m not the most organized person, but I’ve managed to piece together a career and show that by just doing your art, steadily over time, it can be done. However dire the environment is out there, every career is fragmented, and we all have to figure out ways to make it work. My work urges people to think, maybe in the way I present it in my work, and maybe not. I’m not telling people how to think, just, you know . . . use your noggin. There’s a great saying in Spanish that uses the word maceta—which is slang for flowerpot—something like use what the good Lord gave you between your ears. So in short, use your flowerpot. There’s stuff in there!"

 

A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History of the U.S. will be released by Basic Books in June with illustrations by Alcaraz and text by Ilan Stevans

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