Sound Bites - Issue 13 - September 2014
Community Education's Premiere Online Magazine
In This Issue:
- New School Year, New Plans!
- What's New: Translating Dance into Calligraphy
- First Look: A Newbie Artist's Inspirational Journey
- Jim Wyllie: 50,000 Equestrian Students & Counting
New School Year, New Plans!
Career & Contract Ed.
The new school year began early this month and is off to a great start at Community Education – as we launch new classes and programs and observe the one-year anniversary of this monthly newsletter, Sound Bites.
But what's particularly exciting for me is our plan to launch soon a separate "Professional Development" catalog that is designed to help those who are seeking skills to increase their employment opportunities.
The professional development programs will be geared towards students of all ages and experience level – from first-time job seekers to those wanting new or better careers and/or to those seeking to re-enter the workforce. Additionally, there will be offerings intended to help professionals fulfill continuing education requirements.
The catalog will group together all classes that lead to several certificate programs (some of which are professional certificates) in such areas as online marketing, public works project construction, office/computers, and social media.
With "Update Your Skills" as our theme, we also offer many online skills training certificate programs.
As a final note, we will be expanding the employment training courses that are offered to adults and dislocated workers, some of whom may be eligible for state employment training funds that can cover the cost of the classes. Watch for our "Professional Development" catalog, which we expect to be available online this fall.
To register, call (310) 434-3400 or go to http://commed.smc.edu.
Our sincerest wishes for a professionally successful school year!
Director of Career & Contract Education
What's New: Translating Dance into Calligraphy
Community & Contract Education
The petite woman at the center of the chaos in the room is Kazuko, ageless and agile in her red skirt, her every move a song in itself, and she's clearly pleased to see me.
"Ah, Alice, I am so glad you made it, come and meet..."and I was swooped up to be introduced to families, friends, neighbors, students and droves of others who, like me, had the good fortune to be invited to view a younger Kazuko, dancing for us through a compilation of film footage.
The occasion was actually a retirement celebration. Unbeknownst to me, Kazuko had taught contemporary ballet at Japanese Cultural Institute (JCI) in Gardena for the past 38 years, and this night's film showing is the final exclamation mark on a perfect career of an artist who has been dedicated to passing on her craft and her passion for art to younger generations.
It is apparent from the outset that Kazuko is dedicated to art forms that originate from Japanese culture. She has been teaching Japanese Calligraphy at SMC Community Education for more than 20 years, and when I met Kazuko two years ago for the first time, she told me she was a dancer and that her calligraphy is an extension of her long and illustrious dancing career.
At the time I had very little idea of her life outside of teaching Japanese Calligraphy for Community Education, much less her life as a dancer. But here I am, finally able to connect the dots between what seems to be two utterly different genres of art.
38 years of teaching.
According to Kazuko, her unique calligraphy style reflects being a dancer and choreographer. She transforms her beautiful dance movements into original calligraphy works, which contain rhythm and exquisitely connect one stroke to another. This somewhat abstract concept is difficult to understand until one actually sees Kazuko as a dancer.
In her dances, and there were a few, her movements are crisp and concise, with the determination of a samurai. There was no wasted energy and no hesitation – one movement breathes life into the next until the whole dance is completed, just like each exquisite character flows into the next, until an entire haiku is finished.
In fact, the students I met there told me that Kazuko regularly has them stand up and move in order to get that body-mind connection. This holistic view and practice of art – marrying mind, body, and creativity – is exactly why Kazuko continues to hold an incredible appeal to our students. Her Japanese Calligraphy classes have been filled to the limit each semester she offers it (and she only takes 15), with many faithful followers who perfect their art under her tutelage semester after semester.
At the end of the night, the sense of joy and accomplishment permeates the room, for a career so well invested that countless others will continue to carry the torch of Kazuko's art and belief to new places and pass on to future generations. But for now, Kazuko promises me that she's not ready to retire from Community Education and, if 38 years is a mark she's aiming for, she will continue to teach Japanese Calligraphy with us for a long time to come.
Kazuko's Japanese Calligraphy in Multi-Art Forms is a five-session class that starts Oct. 18. It is currently waitlist only.
First Look: A Newbie Artist's Inspirational Journey
Our newest social media endeavor, SMC MindSpace blog, is taking off with all kinds of entries, including an eloquent piece by student Susan Bernard, who shows us that it's never too late to discover the artist inside all of us.
Susan's blog entry, "A Newbie Artist Gives Thanks," struck a particular chord with readers. One commented: "What an inspirational story! Makes me want to take an art class." Another said, "The violin (one of Susan's art pieces) is exquisite but so is Susan's fearless foray into the unknown. Hopefully her words will inspire others to take those first steps and find new paths to joy in their lives."
You can read Susan's entry (and others) on our MindSpace site, but we are also reprinting it here for your reading pleasure. (We look forward to reading your submissions to our blog, too!)
A Newbie Artist Gives Thanks
by Susan Bernard
For much of my professional life, I have been a writer. And, while I have taken many avocational classes in different disciplines, I had never thought of pursuing the visual arts because as an adult, my drawing skills--which I equated with artistic ability--were childlike, and I didn't enjoy taking classes in which I didn't excel.
However, just prior to my 60th birthday, I experienced an epiphany of sorts, and realized that my ego was strong enough to pursue interests in which I might be average. So, when I looked through the Continuing Education brochure, and Suzanne Temp's collage class jumped out at me, I signed up. Suzanne was a great teacher, and I finally learned that an inability to draw didn't preclude me from creating inventive collages.
Four years later, after pursuing a wide array of wonderful art and craft classes and workshops, at SMC and elsewhere, I signed up for Carmelo Fiannaca's mosaic class. I not only was stunned by the possibilities of this art form, but also found Carmelo to be a kindred spirit, a terrific teacher, and a very supportive advocate of my latent talent. So when he asked me to submit my mixed-media violin to the first ever Continuing Education Art Exhibit at the Bundy campus, I agreed.
I was pleased when the violin was accepted, but at the time I thought I was participating solely as a tribute to Carmelo because as a writer, and later an author, I had learned to pursue my craft for years at a time without a lot of external validation. Once my piece was in the exhibit, I truly was surprised how much pleasure it gave me.
As I said to my contact Alice Meyering, who is the program coordinator for Community and Contract Education and was instrumental in developing the exhibit and overseeing it, "As a newbie artist, I had no idea how motivational and inspirational my inclusion in the show would be. And, I am so grateful to you – and everyone else who was involved – for making this happen."
Last week, when I arrived at the community education office to pick up my violin, which had been displayed for five months – I was delighted to meet Michelle King, the director of the department, and Jocelyn Winn, a staff member. Their enthusiasm and Alice's about the response to my violin, and the success of the exhibit was so gratifying.
Before I left, I learned that the new exhibit officially would be unveiled on September 2, the first day of the fall semester. As I walked to my car, I hoped that the participating artists would have as wonderful an experience as I have had. And, I also hope that at least a few self-identified non-artists who view this exhibit will have a transformational experience, realize that every one of us can produce art, and sign up for a class, which just might change their lives.
Jim Wyllie: 50,000 Equestrian Students & Counting
Jim Wyllie does not want to be called a "Horse Whisperer" but there's no question that he is an extraordinary equestrian whose work has spanned six decades and has touched the lives of literally thousands of people.
To capture the colorful and exceptional life of this spry 95-year-old horsemanship instructor (for SMC Community Education and other programs) is difficult because of its depth and breadth. A quick summary would include:
• He has taught more than 50,000 students to ride, from pre-school age to senior citizens, from Girl Scouts to college students.
• He is so beloved that 150 people came from all over the world to attend his 95th birthday party earlier this year, most of them former students. Among them were three women – students of his when they were 5 years old – who are now CEOs of companies in France, Germany and Italy.
• Students have included many celebrities and their children, including a young Nancy Sinatra – who rode with passion despite an allergy to horses.
• He was requested by President Reagan – a close friend – to assist in training Secret Service agents who were assigned to accompany him when horseback riding on his Santa Barbara ranch in the 1980s.
• He is the subject of "The Legendary Horseman," a 2010 film by Jennie and Neel Muller (Meercat Productions).
Born and raised in Lincoln, R.I., Wyllie was not exposed to horses until he was in his 30s. Serving in the Army Air Force during World War II ("We were sinking German supply ships in the North Atlantic," he says), Wyllie attended Michigan State College and then worked in corporate jobs after the war.
In 1950, he and his wife Helen – tired of life in Washington, D.C. – moved to sunny Los Angeles. He earned an Associate of Arts degree in industrial design from the Hollywood Art Center and was hired by the now defunct Crestview Stables in Brentwood – where his wife was a regular rider – to redesign the stables.
"I figured if I was going to design stables, I had to learn about horses," he recalled.
That launched him on a remarkable career of teaching and practicing horsemanship in its many facets. Over the next 60 years, he would buy Paramount Ranch in Agoura and supply horses for television and film productions; teach horse management and horsemanship classes for 10 years at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks; start the equestrian program at Pepperdine University in Malibu and teach there for 30 years. And he and his wife raised two children, Cheryl and Bob, and his grandson Jim is named after him.
"Jim was not only a great equestrian and stable master, he was a life coach," said Pepperdine President Andy Benton at Wyllie's 95th birthday party held in March. "He was a teacher to so many students, and a surrogate father to many young boys and girls. When they rode in those hills with him, he made them better people."
Benton also praised Wyllie for being a philosopher. "To hear him speak about horses, their role in society and the beginnings of civilization. . . he knew his craft at a deep, deep level."
Wyllie's equestrian career featured other achievements.
He qualified four horses for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, two of which made the Olympic teams of Finland and Portugal.
At the age of 65, he participated in the Tavis Cup, a 100-mile ride from Lake Tahoe to Sacramento that took him 19 hours to complete. For that, he received a silver belt buckle inscribed with "100 Miles in One Day."
protégé Lynn Carr.
He's taught and befriended many celebrities, including the late actor Michael Landon, who gave Wyllie his horse Cochise that he rode when he was on the popular TV show "Bonanza," which aired from 1959 to 1973.
In person, Wyllie is fit, trim and speaks with an easy smile and a twinkle in his eyes. Currently a resident in an assisted living senior complex in Agoura Hills, he remains active, teaching some classes with the help of instructors he trained. He is modest about his accomplishments and sums up his horsemanship and teaching philosophy in very simple terms.
"I've been teaching the most important thing in life: the five senses and what they communicate," he said. "Basically, horsemanship hasn't changed in 4,000 years."
It's a philosophy that resonates with students and fellow instructors.
"He teaches you skills on a horse that you can apply to everyday life," said Lynn Carr, a fellow instructor and close friend who has ridden with Wyllie for 38 years. "For example, if you take life too seriously, and you hold on to the reins too tight, it all gets to be a mess. You need to sit deep in the saddle, breathe, and enjoy things because you only have the moment. That's what the horse believes, that's what Jim Wyllie believes, and it's really all that works.
"We teach skills to communicate, and do it without words, through the breathing, emotion, body. . .sense of touch is most important," she continued. "And all of these skills apply to business, to family relationships; they apply to anything you're going to do."
Jim Wyllie, Lynn Carr and other instructors teach for several programs, including SMC Community Ed, at the beautiful Saddlerock Ranch – site of a winery as well as stables – in the mountains above Malibu. His next class, which he limits to three students, begins November 8.