On the set of Jason Reitman’s film, Up in the Air

Cheri, Xochi, Jason, Marka
Cheri, Xochi, Jason, Marka  

Recently, during my spring break, I visited St Louis where former student, Jason Reitman, was shooting his new film, Up in the Air. The film stars George Clooney as an executive whose job it is to fly all over the country and fire people. He spends all his time in hotels and is obsessed with reaching his personal goal of 10 million frequent flyer miles.


Jason Reitman graduated from Harvard-Westlake in 1995, the high school where I teach Video Art and am Chair of the Visual Arts Department. As a young filmmaker, Jason already showed talent. I remember watching him shoot a public service announcement and thinking to myself, “That kid is a director!” It was the first time I saw a student not only guiding the concept, camera work and editing, but also the actors’ performances. He won the top prize in a contest for that PSA which was about AIDS. He also cast an openly gay student in the spot, although the point of the piece is that AIDS was not a gay thing or a boy thing or a girl thing or a…..you get the idea. Jason went on to college, graduated and made a number of short films that screened at Sundance, then commercials and his first feature, Thank You for Smoking. Around the time of his second film, Juno, he reconnected with his former teachers at Harvard-Westlake (it was my colleague Kevin O’Malley who was actually Jason’s video teacher). Jason was the keynote speaker in our 2007 Harvard-Westlake Film Festival. We embarrassed him by opening the evening with his 10th grade PSA! He was a judge in our festival the following year. Last year, Jason, Kevin and I co-created a speaker series called Speaking of Movies in which Jason interviews cool people he knows in front of an audience. We videotape the talks and plan to post them on the internet soon. Our guests so far have been Diablo Cody (Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Juno) and Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (directors of Little Miss Sunshine and numerous award-winning commercials and music videos). Coincidentally, Valerie and I knew each other back in 1984 when I stage managed a performance art piece she did with Lin Hixson and Molly Cleator. 


My daughters, Marka and Xochi, spent the day with me on set in an airport hotel where they were shooting a series of short scenes with George Clooney. We learned a lot while we watched — the production designers change the room to become different cities, the director of photography experiment with still and moving shots, the prop master get the Blackberry to go off at just the right moment, the gaffers block out the windows with green screen material, the craft services guy who was also a sculptor and a founder of the amazing City Museum (if you haven’t been there it’s worth a trip to St. Louis!), and the excellent sound guy who gave me some tips. Between shots and while the crew was setting up for the next shot, Jason was a gracious host. He used his laptop to show us: clips from the film, scenes that were already edited (he’s going to premiere it in Toronto in September so his post-production is happening simultaneous to production), and some of his favorite stuff on youtube! Jason also introduced us to George Clooney and as you can imagine, the man is charming and funny (we loved listening on our headsets to the banter especially the bet between Reitman and Clooney as to whether the Blackberry would go off on cue). The day began at 9:30 a.m. and they broke for lunch at 3:30 p.m. We were exhausted and I went back to my folks’ house and took a nap! Meanwhile the film crew had another 6 hours of shooting.


It was an amazing experience for me as a teacher of film and video, as well as for my daughters who are young filmmakers themselves. This weekend Xochi and I are off to Seattle where her 7th grade film screens during the opening night of NFFTY-National Film Festival for Talented Youth. Then we return for the Sunday screening of her 9th grade film in the Newport Beach Film Festival. The next generation?


Making It Together: Women’s Collaborative Art + Community opens at Bronx Museum

I am excited to announce my participation in this exhibition in New York. The work I am showing includes documentation from two collaborative groups I co-founded, Feminist Art Workers (1976-81) and Sisters Of Survival (1981-85). With the WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution exhibition now in New York (at PS1), it is important to remember that collaboration was also a significant aspect of the feminist art movement. It was in southern California where this work was especially innovated. I am proud to be a part of that history and am delighted that it is beginning to be recognized in this exhibition. For the show, I edited two videos that document FAW and SOS. It was exciting to get together with my collaborators from times past and dig through our archives, select and scan photos, write narration about the work, and even re-stage some performance imagery. Working together was like old times but better. We’ve all mellowed and, with age and experience, know each other and ourselves so well that we could fall into a productive groove. It was lots of work but I’m really proud of the results. We may even post the two videos on youtube sometime soon. I’d like to especially acknowledge Laurel Klick (my partner in editing the FAW video) and Jerri Allyn, Anne Gauldin and Sue Maberry (my partners in producing the SOS video).

Making It Together:
Women’s Collaborative Art + Community

Making It Together explores an important chapter in recent history when women artists, inspired by the 1970s Feminist Movement, worked collectively in new ways to engage communities and address social issues.

Guest curator: Carey Lovelace

The Bronx Museum of the Arts, 1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10456
March 2 – August 4, 2008

Go to the museum website and see a picture of me in my red nun’s habit as anti-nuclear performance art group, Sisters Of Survival, perform our Public Action in Covent Garden, London, in 1983.

L.A. River Project screening

Tonight, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008, the L.A. River Project video (12 min) that Susan Boyle and I did with students at Wilson High will be screened at the Echo Park Film Center at 8 pm. It’s free. Come check it out if you can. Our video will be followed by other short films by local kids about the LA River.

The Echo Park Film Center is located at 1200 N. Alvarado Street (@ Sunset Blvd), Los Angeles, CA 90026. Park on the street or in the adjacent library lot. Here’s a link to their website. http://www.echoparkfilmcenter.org

Work from 1977 at the Getty

There has been a recent interest in work from the 1970s, a decade in which I came of age as an artist. I have work from this era in an exhibition entitled Evidence of Movement, currently at the Getty Research Institute through October 7, 2007. The exhibition surveys the variety of ways that artists in the 20th century have documented and represented performance-based art using nearly every medium imaginable—from photographs, films, video, and audio recordings, to notes, drawings, scores, books, and objects.

My work is included in Close Radio, which was a weekly series of experimental radio broadcasts on Los Angeles station KPFK from 1976 to 1979. I was living in Old Town Pasadena at the time when the area was occupied by artists and winos (that was before the term homeless even existed). It was long before The Gap and Tiffanys moved into the area. We had tons of beautiful skylit studio space and paid pennies for it (my rent was $35). The work we were doing was simple and conceptual. I was exploring the subject of women’s feet and shoes as a metaphor for women’s mobility (or lack thereof) in society, researching the theme through fashion, cultural histories, personal narratives and fairy tales. For Close Radio, I read aloud the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, The Red Shoes,while dancing in red high heeled shoes. By the end I nearly collapsed in exhaustion. It was a time when performance art was often durational and always a one-time, almost ritualistic activity.

You can actually listen to the audio performance online through the Getty’s website. Here’s a link. http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/evidence_movement/index.html

Women Artists of Southern California: Then and Now

Dear Friends,

I will be in this exhibition which is opening this coming Sat., June 2, 6-9 pm. I will be showing two video works – one from 1977 called “Eclipse in the Western Palace” and “Sea of Time” from 1993. Maybe I’ll see you at the opening!

“Women Artists of Southern California Then and Now”
June 2 through June 30,2007

Santa Monica–Track 16 Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition “Women Artists of Southern California Then & Now,” curated by Bruria Finkel. The exhibition runs from June 2 though June 30, 2007, with an opening reception on Saturday, June 2 from 6 to 9 P.M.

Track 16 is located at Bergamot Station
2525 Michigan Avenue, Bldg C-1
Santa Monica, CA 90404

In conjunction with the exhibition, readings and performances will take place on Saturday, June 16, at 7 P.M. including poet/writer Deena Metzger, musician Jami Sieber, and Eloise Klein Healy. A panel discussion will be held on the closing evening of the exhibition on Saturday, June 30, at 7 P.M. featuring artist June Wayne. The emphasis on women artists’ work is important and long overdue. This exhibition attempts to create a bridge in time. The thirty-year gap between Then (the seventies) and Now (the present) constitute many years of art creation and work by the artists in this exhibition.
The exhibition features the work of thirty-six female artists residing in Southern California who have made art since the 1970s and continue to do so. Among these artists are Lita Albuquerque, Jacki Apple, Nancy Buchanan, Mariona Barkus, Diane Buckler, Karen Carson, Barbara Carrasco, Carole Caroompas, Bernice Colman, Jacqueline Dreager, Marion Estes, Bruria Finkel, Cheri Gaulke, Gilah Yelin Hirsch, Channa Horwitz, Connie Jenkins, Ynez Johnston, Lies Kraal, Leslie Labowitz, Lili Lakich, Ann McCoy, Robin Mitchell, Luchita Mullican, Margaret Nielsen, Sheila Pinkel, Astrid Preston, Fran Raboff, Erika Rothenberg, Rachel Rosenthal, Deborah Sussman, Ruth Weisberg, Faith Wilding, June Wayne, Miriam Wosk, Harriet Zeitlin, and Connie Zehr.
The artists in this exhibition consider themselves feminists. They reflect on their experiences while expressing formal concerns and inventing languages that reveal historical and contemporary connections.
An exhibition catalogue made possible by the combined effort of both the women artists of this exhibition and friends of the arts will be available for purchase for the duration of the show. This exhibition recognizes and is part of The Feminist Art Project: a project originated at Rutgers University to focus national attention on women artists in the year 2007. For more information, please visit our website at www.track16.com.
Brief history in context: The Art and Technology exhibition at LACMA in a call to artists in 1968 did not include women artists at the final exhibition. This event precipitated many objections and stimulated women artists to create the Women Artists Council of Los Angeles. The Council did a survey of the Museum and counted the number of women artists’ work that was actually hanging on the walls at that time: they found one Dorothea Lange photograph. The Women Artists Council filed a discrimination petition with the California State Senate that was read on the Senate floor. The petition opened up a dialogue between the Women Artists Council of Los Angeles and the Board of Directors at LACMA and gave rise to the important groundbreaking exhibition, Women Artists: 1550–1950 whichwas exhibited five years later.