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Course Spotlight: Loot, Plunder and the Ethics of Art Collecting

Instructor Lyssa Stapleton

The history, or “provenance” of works of art has become an increasingly important consideration for museums when making acquisitions. Acquiring works of art looted by the Nazi regime or from war torn regions is now considered ethically unacceptable. At the same time, museums are filled with legally questionable objects obtained during the last three hundred years. This course will examine the ethical implications of collecting, owning, and curating art and antiquities. Students will learn about the historical context of this topic through classroom lectures, then visit local museums to view works in person.

We spoke with instructor Lyssa Stapleton about the course. For course details, and to enroll, click here.

What about your course topic interests you, and how did you get started investigating this area of study?

Several events during the 21st century have brought the status of art and antiquities into the spotlight: The Getty Museum’s return of stolen works of art to Italy and Greece, the looting of the Baghdad Museum, the destruction, looting, and trade of cultural material by the so-called Islamic State, and the return of a number of very important works of art to the descendents of holocaust victims. These cases, among others, represent a turning point in the way we perceive cultural heritage material and have resulted in some extraordinary shifts in the way museums acquire and interpret it.

I am both an archaeologist and a curator, two roles that are often in conflict. As a curator, I’ve been involved in the acquisition of works of art that lack provenance (ownership history). As an archaeologist, I am opposed to the trade in illicit cultural heritage because it fuels the looting of museums and archaeological sites. These combined interests coalesced in my doctoral dissertation Acquiring Antiquity: The Future of Cultural Heritage Collecting and Stewardship in the United States, which examined provenance research methods and resources, museum stewardship, and the development of legal statutes involving stolen, looted, or otherwise illicit works of art.

What can students expect from your class?

This course is an opportunity to consider and examine the concept of cultural heritage. In so doing, students will learn about the trade in cultural heritage material, including antiquities and Nazi looted art. They will research and consider the nature and definitions of cultural heritage, the history and future of art collecting, and the role of ethics, public opinion, and the law in current issues surrounding the acquisition of important works of art. Classroom meetings will include structured topical discussions based on readings and other research materials and students will be asked to compile a case study focusing on a topic their choice, to be presented on the final day of the course.

American GIs hand-carry paintings looted by the Nazis (Photo credit: NARA / Public Domain)

American GIs admire “In the Conservatory”, a masterpiece by Edouard Manet in a mine where it had been stashed by the Nazis. (Photo credit: National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD / Public Domain)

What museums do you plan to visit, and why is it important to see these works in person?

Looted art has often been in the headlines in the last decade and it is a topic that interests a wide range of people. What we think of as art is often cultural expression and can have meaning far beyond aesthetic appeal. Knowing the provenance of a work of art adds to one’s enjoyment of it. I believe that it is important that people realize where the art in museums comes from and what it may mean to the culture that created it or the people who have owned it.

The gold phiale at the center of the legal case known as “U.S. vs An Antique Platter of Gold”. Metropolitan Museum of Art [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

We are fortunate to have several world-class museums in Los Angeles, each possessing phenomenal collections of art and antiquities. Our museum visits will include focused discussions with curators who will provide insight into the acquisition history of specific items, aspects of the museum’s history or current initiatives relating to provenance scholarship. We will visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and discuss the recent acquisition of an 18th century Qing dynasty chaopao (formal court robe). We will visit the Getty Center and meet with members of their Provenance Research Project who will discuss their work and guide us through relevant exhibits.

The third museum is yet undecided and will depend on the interests of the class. These visits will allow students to see specific works of art in a new light. The in-depth discussion with museum staff is an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the role of local museums as stewards of these works of art and their efforts to acquire not only for the sake of building their collection, but to broaden visitor experience, preserve precious cultural heritage, and develop scholarly practices that include an awareness of the important of provenance.

Cuneiform tablet. Image from the Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York Press Release “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday, July 5, 2017 United States Files Civil Action To Forfeit Thousands Of Ancient Iraqi Artifacts Imported By Hobby Lobby”

 

Course Spotlight: Shooting Like the Masters, a History of Photography

Curious how photography courses work in an online environment? What kind of lectures, assignments and discussion are there?

Take a look below at some sample materials from upcoming course Shooting Like the Masters: A History of Photography.

Canvas

Online courses don’t meet in real time, so there is no specific time you have to be in front of the computer. The first week of class, log in at your convenience. You’ll see a welcome from instructor Clover Leary, who will walk you through how to navigate the class, where to look first, and how the weeks are scheduled. Then you’ll add your own introduction, including your interests and goals for the class. You can include a picture of yourself as well!

 

Assignments

Each week will include a creative assignment that you’ll submit to the group for student and instructor critique. Here’s the first assignment for History of Photography.

Portraiture
• For this assignment you will be turning in two different Portraits inspired by two different photographers.
• Include a brief description with each photograph: (50-100 words) describe the photographer and how you chose to emulate their portraiture techniques. Note: You may offer a completely contemporary interpretation in your work, but if so please
explain how you chose to references the stylistic qualities of the photographers you chose.
• Choose to emulate the stylistic qualities of two of the following photographers:

Hill & Adamson Nadar

Andre Disderi

William Henry Fox Talbot

Julia Margaret Cameron Mathew Brady

Carefully analyze the photographers’ methods: Study the lighting, composition, backgrounds, camera angle, props and costume elements etc.
You should carefully consider what light sources you want to employ:
If you are using natural light what time of day do you want to photograph?
Do you want to use overcast light or the harder light on a clear day?
Do you want to shoot in shade, filtered light or direct light?
If you are shooting indoors, are you using light from a window, lamps, or both?
Are you also using flash?

Lectures

Instructors create their own slide lectures for class, which may include images, audio or video. Here are some slides from the first lecture for History of Photography.

Discussion

Students can chime in on the discussion board to comment on each other’s work, ask questions, and contribute to class discussion. Discussion in an online course is just as important as an in-class environment!

If you’d like to try an online photography class, History of Photography will begin on April 2! Enroll online, or at (310) 825-9971. To learn more about the class, call our office at (310) 206-1422.

User Experience and Photography Advising Sessions Available

Interested in learning more about the User Experience or Photography Certificates? Or, are you a current student who would like to discuss your progress and next quarter’s classes?

Schedule an appointment with Cristina, your student advisor.

Wednesday, March 13, 1-4pm

1010 Westwood Center, Room 213

Individual appointment times are available by calling 310-206-1422.

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Chinese Brush Painting Video Demo

On Feb 2 & 3, celebrate the month of love and the new lunar year at UCLA Extension by exploring two well-loved subjects of Chinese Brush Painting: the majestic Peony—King of Flowers, and the magnificent Red-Crowned Crane—a symbol of devotion and fidelity. Bringing decades of practice, expertise, and artistic inspiration, artist/instructor Mayee Futterman will guide students of all levels to experience the materials, techniques, and concepts that make this art form transformative, inspiring, and fun.

Click here to enroll.

Course Spotlight: Chinese Brush Painting with Mayee Futterman

This winter, instructor Mayee Futterman will be teaching Chinese Brush Painting at our Westwood center. Mayee brings years of experience and artistic inspiration to the classroom. We chatted with her about the history of this art form, and how you can get started creating unique and beautiful works of your own.

Can you describe your history with Chinese Brush Painting and how you got started?

I have been an artist all my life. As a young girl, I loved to draw. I became an architect and discovered the power of design, materials, and structure. Then, the birth of our son rocked my world. It rearranged my life, career, and mindset. “Mayee, Interrupted.” Motherhood taught me three things: to go with the flow, to know the beauty of the female body, and to love unconditionally. But before I knew it, I was no longer the sun of my son’s universe. Again, time came for change. “Mom, you have vision. Now execute.”

The Chinese characters for měi 美 meaning “beauty” and yí 怡 meaning “ease” represent my name. To me, they convey the essence of the art I love: the joyful expression of sublime beauty, with the natural ease of a dancing brush. Graceful yet bold, deliberate yet free, Chinese Brush Painting bridges my duality—the bold austerity of the architect with the sensuous grace of motherhood.

My mother’s first household purchase as a newlywed was not a bed, pots and pans, or any practical necessities. With her small savings, she bought an exquisite Chinese blue and white porcelain jar with images of Phoenix, Dragon, and Peony. My childhood was deeply infused with Chinese and Philippine influences that inspired my aesthetic sensibilities. I too began my love affair with Chinese Brush Painting the year I was married.

Chinese Brush Painting is the foundation of all oriental brush arts and has strongly influenced Western painting. An extension of Chinese calligraphy or brush writing, no other art form emphasizes the mastery of brushwork. My art and teaching are strongly founded on classical Chinese Brush Painting skills, techniques, philosophy, and subject matter. I teach a range of approaches from traditional to contemporary. I draw influences from my multi-cultural experience and bring a rigor and aesthetic sensibility from my architecture and urban design background. My approach is suitable for beginning through advanced students.

Like UCLA Extension students, my first exploration into Chinese Brush Painting was through continuing education. For over two decades, I studied and apprenticed under professor and master artist, Dr. Ning Yeh. I serve as teaching assistant and co-authored five of his instructional art books including “108 Flowers: Brush Painting Lessons Volumes 1-4” and “Landscape Lessons.” I have a Master of Architecture II from UCLA and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture, Cum Laude from the University of the Philippines. My work is in various corporate and private collections throughout the U.S. and abroad. I have traveled to China numerous times to study and paint.

I am excited to teach at UCLA Extension because my own life changes and transformative experiences are aligned with their vision to “engage education to transform lives” and “to create extraordinary learning experiences for adults of all ages.” In brush painting (as in life), the first stroke is a “happening.” The rest are a series of adjustments building upon previous ones. Whether one is undergoing a career change, enhancing skills, or engaged in lifelong learning, Chinese Brush Painting is an enlightening practice in embracing change.

Tell us about an especially rewarding project you’ve worked on and why you enjoyed it so much.

My first art commission was to produce a large wall mural for the lobby of a new medical facility. Unfortunately, oversized handmade rice paper is no longer produced. My teacher offered, “This paper was my father’s. I’ve been saving it—for when I get better.” The sheets were a treasure. The master himself considered them too precious to use. “There are only 20 sheets. You take 10.” I was stunned. How could I possibly paint on these?

The paper had aged to a fine perfection, every stroke a sensual delight. When I tell this story, people inevitably ask, “How many sheets did it take to get it right?” I respond, “Was there any room for error?”

The giant mural and over 30 of my works are permanently displayed at the Los Angeles Center for Women’s Health (Women’s Center), a comprehensive, state-of-the-art facility in downtown Los Angeles dedicated to providing high quality, compassionate care for the health and well being of women through all life stages.

Shortly after the center opened, I got calls for additional paintings. “Some patients come in with severe emotional and physical distress. Many are facing terminal conditions. Seeing your art brings them ease and comfort.” I too have worn a patient’s gown and sat in the waiting room with other patients—and with my art. I have often contemplated the value and purpose of art in human lives.

The Women’s Center project was my awakening to the positive and life-affirming influence of my art. It gave me the confidence and conviction to share the beauty, joy, inspiration, and knowledge of Chinese Brush Painting with others. That single sheet of rice paper was a defining moment in my life. I have 9 sheets left—for when I get better.

Why is it important to you to teach this art form?

What makes Chinese Brush Painting unique?  “The Four Treasures”—brush, ink stick, ink stone, and rice paper—have defined this art form for thousands of years. The Chinese brush is graceful, supple, and bounces to a lively point. When in tune with the artist’s spirit, it dances to the rhythm of the universe. Rice paper is sensitive, honest, and responsive. It absorbs every move, thought, and emotion. Once a stroke is delivered, it cannot be changed or covered up. The ink stone is the playground where ink meets water. The play of ink and water is the yin and yang of brush painting—the harmonious integration of contrasting elements resulting in a sense of equilibrium and tranquility. Together, the lively interaction of brush, ink, water, and rice paper is a transformative and enlightening experience.

 

Xiěyì寫意, the spontaneous style of Chinese Brush Painting, means “to depict an idea.” Executed in a lively, simple, and speedy manner, one expresses the spirit and essence of a subject rather than its realistic detail. The artist is at one with the subject, and the painting is a medium for self-expression and self-discovery.

As a student of Chinese Brush Painting, I am on a never-ending journey of learning. Sharing the knowledge with others is the most inspiring and energizing way to learn. Why is it important to me to teach this art form?

  • It is a way of life. The theory of Chinese Brush Painting is also the philosophy of life. It gives meaning and connection to the world beyond one’s self. It is life-affirming and life-changing for both the artist and the viewer.
  • We live a multi-cultural life with valuable and meaningful influences. I have a deep appreciation, understanding, and passion for this medium. Teaching others preserves the tradition and advances the art.
  • It deepens the artist’s skill set and broadens their perspective. Chinese Brush Painting is an important genre in the history and development of art. Mastery of the brush empowers artists of any medium.

  • It is fun. The sensation of stroking the Chinese brush to rice paper is like no other. It awakens all the senses. The whole person—mind, heart, body, and spirit—engages in this process. It is one’s “happy place.”
  • The creative process is regenerative and rejuvenating. In Chinese Brush Painting, every sheet of rice paper is a fresh beginning. Every brush stroke is loaded with joyful anticipation. One is in a state of eternal spring.

What can students expect from your class?

In this class, students will unlock the treasures, experience the beauty, discover the essence, and share the joy of Chinese Brush Painting.

They will learn the basics of Chinese Brush Painting through hands-on instruction, complete compositions, handouts, and discussion including:

Gain an overview of the history, philosophy, and aesthetic concepts.

Understand the proper selection, care, preparation, and use of traditional materials.

Perform the basic skills and techniques for brush strokes including line work, texture, shading, and washes on floral, creatures, and landscape subjects.

Engage in a dialog about the principles of design and composition and methods of critique.

 

After taking this class, students can enjoy the following outcomes:

Demonstrate general knowledge, preparation, and proper use of brushes, paper, ink, and colors.

Demonstrate beginning skills to deliver brush strokes with fluidity and dexterity.

Demonstrate basic skills to apply Chinese Brush Painting techniques to produce finished paintings.

Apply key elements of design and composition to produce original images.

In the budding stage, the sunflower faces the sun and follows it’s movement across the sky. As it matures, it settles into a fixed position. My teacher says, “The desire to learn keeps one’s mind in the budding stage.” Indeed, Chinese Brush Painting has something to offer for everyone. No prior experience needed. Paint with me this summer and take the lifelong journey into Chinese Brush Painting.

Go Behind the Scenes of the LA Art World with Brenda Williams

This summer we’re looking forward to working once again with Brenda Williams to offer Contemporary Los Angeles Art. Brenda is a local art adviser and independent curator specializing in emerging contemporary artists. Her class will meet over six Saturdays, and explore areas in the Los Angeles art world not usually accessible to the public. Visits will focus on private home collections, artists’ studios, and curator-led gallery tours. Each six-hour meeting will include multiple location visits.

Class meets from 11am – 4pm on: June 29, July 13, July 27, August 10, August 24, September 7

To read more about the class, and register for summer, click here.

We spoke with Brenda about her background, and what artists she’s watching now.

How did you get interested in art collecting, and what were your first experiences in the art world?

I moved to Italy and worked for Marilena Bonomo. She and her daughter honed my taste for contemporary art. When I returned to the states however, I became more interested in African Art and textiles. I fell in love with the masks from the different tribes in Africa. The textiles by makers from around the world were so amazing (ikat, tie dye and embroidery), I couldn’t resist their beauty.

What artists or galleries are you excited about right now?

June Edmonds is an artist I’m following right now. She’s been making beautiful work in LA for many years and she’s finally getting due notice. Arthur Jafa winner of The Golden Lion at the 2019 Venice Biennale for best artist in the central exhibition is one of my new, old favorites. His films are outstanding. Finally, I visited the Bowers Museum and saw a magnificent exhibition by fashion designer Guo Pei. It’s not to be missed. What she can do with fabric is incredible.

What do you feel is something unique Los Angeles has to offer art lovers?

The unique thing LA has to offer art lovers right now is an overwhelming amount of resources to find new, emerging and established artists, at new galleries and museums. The very important thing is that in Los Angeles you can begin collecting art from the bottom to the top of the market. The city has exploded in art work over the past 5 years and you can see work from local and world renown artists in under a 25 mile radius. I suggest everyone begin thinking about collecting, whether posters, small works or emerging artists, begin supporting the culture in LA.

Which collections or works are you looking forward to sharing with your students?

The California African American Museum (CAAM) has a very special exhibition by an artist named Adia Millet called Breaking Patterns. It’s gorgeous. There is also a retrospective of work by artist Ernie Barnes one of the premier African American artists of the 20th century. His work is very recognizable though you may not have known his name. Finally in collaboration with LACMA, CAAM is showing Plumbline: Charles White and the Contemporary.

For those who are interested in learning more about the art world in Los Angeles, how would you recommend getting started?

Visit as many museums and galleries as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Read art based publications like CARLA and Artillery. And if that leaves you wanting more, take my class Contemporary Los Angeles Art this summer.

AIGA Event: An Evening with Louise Sandhaus

An Evening with Louise Sandhaus
A Happy Medium: California and Motion Graphics 1936 – 1986
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Herman Miller Studio
3641 Hodrege Avenue, #100
Los Angeles, CA 90016
6:45-9Pm

“Join us later this month as we celebrate California design history. Who better to join us than Louise Sandhaus, chronicler of the golden state’s rich design history. For this special evening, she’ll share a visual extravaganza of design’s hefty contribution to motion graphics—from early abstract films to film/tv titles, commercials, concert light shows, music videos, and even video games. You’ll see the familiar along with the little known and unknown, but all of it eye-popping! Regardless of your own profession or stage of your career, you’ll be leaving inspired and proud to be a part of this buoyant creative community.”

– Los Angeles AIGA

For tickets and more information:
https://losangeles.aiga.org/event/an-evening-with-louise-sandhaus

New Course: Moderism and Postmoderism in the Visual Arts

This summer we are pleased to offer a new course in our Downtown LA Center. Modernism and Postmoderism in the Visual Arts helps students to better understand the two main cultural paradigms of our times: modernism and postmodernism. The course will examine the ways in which they represent a continuity, as well as their extreme ideological and aesthetic divergences. Includes visits to the nearby MOCA and Broad Museums.

Class meets Tuesday, July 24 at 7pm in the Downtown LA center. For more info, and to enroll, click here.

The course is taught by Dahn Hiuni. We spoke with him about his goals for the course.

Your course investigates modernism and postmodernism; what about these movements interest you, and what can students expect to learn in your lectures?

 The 20th century was certainly a fascinating one. I am interested in how cultural shifts get reflected in the art of the time. The shift from modernism to postmodernism is quite a dramatic one, worthy of investigation. Because it is so recent and still part of our epoch, students may find it useful to understand the pervasive references to these terms. By the end of the course, students will have a solid understanding of the differences between the 2 movements.

What museums are you planning to visit, and why?

 The Broad is a wonderful new addition to the LA art scene. It has fine examples of both modern and postmodern art, and the building itself is a great example of postmodern architecture. MOCA invariably has wonderful exhibits of contemporary art, allowing us to view and discuss the latest in cultural production.

What do you feel is something unique Los Angeles has to offer art lovers?

LA is a world class art capital. The many museums and galleries support any study of art. Many artists continuously move to LA from other parts of the country, making it a most vibrant and dynamic art scene.

 

Which collections or works are you looking forward to sharing with your students?

I am particularly looking forward to the visit to the Broad Museum. Not only for its excellent collection, but for the building itself.

UX Internship at LegalZoom

UX Internship (Paid 8-10 weeks)

Utilize your design thinking skills and further your career as a User Experience Designer while working within a customer-focused, mobile-centric, cross functional team on our core business services. You’ll get hands-on experience working as an in-house UX Designer building extraordinary products for our customers.

You’ll join a team of talented and creative designers, engineers, marketers, and product managers on a mission to change how small businesses start and grow. You will report directly to the Manager of UX in the Glendale office and will have exposure to a wide range of complex projects.

 What you’ll do:

  • Assist in conducting and drawing insights from user research
  • Participate in UX design workshops, team design reviews, and brainstorming sessions
  • Sketch, prototype, and iterate quickly to create a shared vision to be implemented by your team
  • Sharpen your technical skills while mastering and learning new tools and methods to develop and grow your skills as a UX professional
  • Bring innovative ideas to the table in a collaborative and encouraging environment that supports new and emerging talent

Requirements for consideration:

  • Current undergraduate student or certificate candidate majoring in HCI, UX Design or other design related field
  • A professional-level portfolio of wireframe sketches to high-fidelity comps demonstrating a keen eye for detail and an awareness of modern web, mobile, and app trends
  • Familiarity and some experience with the design life cycle and agile methodologies
  • You are collaborative and a resourceful self-starter that cares deeply about and wants to understand the customer’s motivations
  • Must be able highly collaborative and have the ability to clearly rationalize and justify your design decisions

This is a full-time summer internship with a pay rate of $15/h. For more details, and to apply, contact Chris Remmers: cremmers@legalzoom.com.

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