The Alpert Foundation and CalArts present 2008 Alpert Award in the Arts Dinner and Presentations Tuesday, May 27, Vibrato, Bel Air cocktails at 6:30 PM, dinner and program at 7:30 PM

Since 1994, The Alpert Award in the Arts, among the largest one-time prizes awarded across genres, has recognized and rewarded working artists that change our culture through their work

Los Angeles - May 27, 2008 ­ Tonight, The Herb Alpert Foundation and CalArts announced the five recipients of the 2008 Alpert Award in the Arts at a festive dinner and awards presentation, held this year at Vibrato in Bel Air, CA on Tuesday evening, May 27, 2008, cocktails at 6:30 PM, and dinner, hosted by Actor Ed Harris, beginning at 7:30 PM. One winner each from five disciplines ­ Dance, Film/Video, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts­ chosen for the challenging nature of their recent and past work by panels of three noted artists and arts professionals in their category, received a prize of $75,000 and a future weeklong residency at CalArts.

The 2008 recipients are: Lisa D’Amour, (New Orleans, LA and Brooklyn, NY), Collaborative Theatre Artist; Pat Graney, (Seattle, WA), Choreographer; Derek Bermel, (Brooklyn, NY), Composer and Performer; Byron Kim, (Brooklyn, NY), Artist, and Bruce McClure (Brooklyn, NY).

Since 1994, The Alpert Award in the Arts, among the largest prizes awarded across genres along with the MacArthur Grants, has identified and rewarded working artists who are propelling their work in new and unpredictable directions.

Along with panelists and the 2008 awards recipients, attendees included philanthropists Herb and Lani Alpert, CalArts President Steven Lavine, Alpert Foundation President Rona Sebastian, Alpert Award Director Irene Borger, past Alpert Award winners, and respected names in the arts and cultural scene in Los Angeles.

Mr. Alpert has described previous recipients as artists and independent experimenters “who blow caution to the wind.” “They go boldly wherever their passions and ideas lead them and are continually challenging other artists and society with what they find,” he said.

The Alpert Award in the Arts provides unrestricted, annual prizes of $75,000 to five engaged, independent artists working in the fields of dance, film/video, music, theatre and the visual arts. Initiated and funded by The Herb Alpert Foundation and administered by The California Institute of the Arts, the Alpert rewards experimenters who are challenging and transforming art, their respective disciplines and society. Since the Awards’ inception, the 65 past recipients have gone on to further recognition, producing significant and acclaimed works and receiving major cultural prizes and awards ­ proving repeatedly that the Alpert Awards identify important mid-career artists who effect a change both in their fields as well as in the cultural landscape.

Lisa D’Amour, Collaborative Theatre Artist A writer/performer/director, Lisa D’Amour creates passionate, poetic theatre in a multiplicity of forms. Whether she’s writing a full-length play or making site-specific performance, there’s an obsession with the ephemeral, an inquiry toward scale and site, and in language fresh and strange. (She described one of her events as “a cross between a prophesy by an oracle, a corporate convention, and a Rockettes-style spectacle performed by men in business suits.”)

Performances are often structured by visual images; performers speak directly to audiences and use objects to tell the tale. Imagine D’Amour leading visitors through a large neutral office space into a tiny room cum rainforest with leafy ceiling, paperbark walls, and mossy floor. Committed to the “potential of truly collaborative creation, from the ground up,” she frequently works with artists of many disciplines, including long-time associates Katie Pearl, Kathy Randels, and Krista Kelley Walsh.

D’Amour sees laughter as a tool for participation and peppers her works with jokes and serious silliness. Yet, unafraid of darkness, she often writes about exile and loss. Her riff on the character of Stanley Kowalski ­ a solo creation for her brother to perform ­ is as much about Brando, her family, and a broken New Orleans, as it is about the archetypal character. Otherworldliness and surprise pervades all. Coming up? A play about dream-life and gentrification in New York; a new performance with Katie Pearl in which 600 marshmallows form the secret entrance to a shared, boundary-less universe.

Pat Graney, Choreographer A longtime Seattle based choreographer Pat Graney draws from a unique suitcase of sources ­ writers Julio Cortázar and Gertrude Stein, artist Henry Darger, American Sign Language, and the cross cultural art of tattooing ­ to make emphatically visual and kinetic dances. Grounded in collaboration with composers, writers, designers and visual artists, the work ranges from evenings of formally structured contemporary dance performed in theatres to a site-specific piece in a vast meadow for more than one hundred martial artists.

Her latest project, House of Mind, will consist of installations and events (video projection, motion-triggered audio and live choreographed performance) in a 10,000 square foot warehouse transformed into a series of “memory rooms.”

For more than 15 years Graney has taught incarcerated women and girls in a workshop she developed that integrates performance, visual arts and writing. She produces performances in the prison, edits an annual anthology of writing, and trains other artists, both here and abroad, to create like projects. Now, along with a team of artists and community advisors, she is developing an arts-based transition program for female ex-offenders and their children. Whether she is working with inmates or technically trained dancers, process and investigation, making and the experience of that making is every bit as important as what gets shaped.

Derek Bermel, Composer and Performer A protean artist, Derek Bermel is a composer of chamber, symphonic, dance, and theatre works, as well as a conductor and performer. A virtuoso clarinetist, he has performed internationally as a guest orchestral soloist, as well as with the Dutch- American interdisciplinary ensemble he co-founded, TONK, and with Music from Copland House. He also performs in clubs as singer-songwriter and keyboard player in his rock band, Peace by Piece.

Immersing himself in the nuances of musical idiom through his studies of Lobi xylophone in Northwest Ghana, Thracian folk styles in Bulgaria, ethnomusicology in Jerusalem, and uillean pipes in Dublin, Derek Bermel has deepened his awareness of musical gestures and inflections as specific modes of human communication rising out of a particular cultural and historical context. His compositions reveal these organic connections, highlighting the commonalities between disparate traditions.

While serving a three-year residency with the American Composers Orchestra, he wrote Migration Series, a large scale work for Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and ACO, based on sixty paintings by Jacob Lawrence that depict the migration of African-Americans from the south to northern cities in the early 20th century. His musical Golden Motors, written with librettist/lyricist Wendy S. Walters, portrays the life of a family in the declining Detroit of the 1980s.

As an arts educator, under the auspices of the New York Youth Symphony, he founded “Making Score,” a monthly seminar for 25 young composers, offering an introduction to myriad cultural styles, analysis, performance, and multi-disciplinary work.

Byron Kim, Artist “What does it mean for an artist of color to be making abstract paintings in the 21st century?” Byron Kim asks. In his probing of classical modernism, discordant enough to reinvigorate the genre, he risks narrative, sentiment, personal associations, and the making of luscious objects. A pale green monochromatic canvas stealthily alludes to an 11th century Korean ceramic glaze.

Tenderly marrying meaning and form, a horizontally striped painting represents the colors seen as he panned from his son’s head to his sneakers. What may appear, at first glance, to be neutral territory might be a minefield. A red, yellow, and blue triptych is also a coded salute to his father, who suffered under the Japanese occupation of Korea.

Kim’s intense and close focus has yielded a wide-ranging body of work and his serial pictures invite a particular intimacy for both viewer and artist. One of his best know works, Synecdoche, is a vast grid composed of several hundred small abstract monochrome paintings ranging from deep brown to pale pink; it is as much a group portrait, depicting the skin tone of friends, acquaintances and willing-to-be-painted strangers’ arms, as it is pure abstraction. Whether he is experimenting with fractioning the world through photography, or making a small painting of the sky, with handwritten diary entry, as he had nearly every Sunday for the past seven years. Kim distills and meditates upon how the part, the partial and the small can become a radiant, even heartbreaking whole.

Bruce McClure, Performative Projections Artisan of light and sound ephemera Bruce McClure performs in a conditioned cinematic setting, which includes one to four film projectors and concomitant emulsions both technical and animal. Variously coated, erased, bleached, or abraded, film is the technological substrate used in the service of the projector to seek reciprocal motions in the brain. Cinematic presuppositions such as the intensity of the projector lamplight, the plane of focus, and the hegemony of film’s emulsion are challenged on the spot and to the syncopated rhythms of asynchronous optical sound.

Searching the projective boundaries of theater space while harnessing the structural and lavish offerings of film and its mechanical counterpart result in unique performance events. As with early kinetic experiments in perception, and protocinema, these performances excite the mutual action of the eye and the mind anticipating a longer future for the 16mm projector in the spectacle of discarded but cherished technologies. Perhaps more important, however, is the testimony of these performances to the essential need to withdraw under the cover of the big roof and darkened recesses of a theater, emerging later physically spangled and a little shocked by perceptual brisance.

The Awards Process:

Nominations: The nationwide search for the five Fellows begins with the naming of 50 nominators, 10 in each of the five artistic disciplines represented. Nominators, chosen for their aesthetic, ethnic, geographic and gender diversity as well as their integrity and knowledge of contemporary art practices, are selected by the Director in consultation with the President of CalArts. They each recommend two outstanding artists whom they feel meet the spirit of the Award guidelines.

Award Categories: Choreographers, choreographer/performers and performance artists may be candidates for the Award in Dance, while the Award in Film/Video honors independent media artists working in film, video, multimedia, and installation. In Music, the Award recognizes composers and musicians, and the Award in Theatre is given to playwrights, directors, and performance artists. The Award in Visual Arts honors people working in painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, book art, crafts, mixed media, installation, performance and conceptual art. Nominators in each discipline may consider all aesthetics and genres and are asked to use as their measure the quality, engagement, independence, and impact of the work.

Solicitation of Applications and Panel Selection: Nominees are advised of their candidacy and invited to send work samples and written materials. Applications are reviewed by a panel—Dance, Film/Video, Music, Theatre, or Visual Arts—each made up of three distinguished artists and arts professionals. The fifteen Awards panelists are selected yearly by the Director in consultation with the President of CalArts.

Terms of the Award: The Award is a prize based upon the recognition of both past performance and future promise. Recipients may use the Award stipend in any manner they deem useful; to realize un-produced or nascent visions, to buy time for investigation, experimentation, focusing and dreaming, to have more ease. Award recipients are required to submit an end-of-year report, to attend the Awards ceremony, and to grant permission to The Herb Alpert Foundation and CalArts to use their name, likeness, voice, biography and examples of their work for the purpose of publicizing the Award. Awards recipients are also expected to take part in a weeklong residency at CalArts. The residency might include a workshop, production or concert, seminar, series of lectures and/or critique of student work.

The Herb Alpert Foundation, a non-profit, private foundation established in the early 1980’s, makes significant annual contributions to a range of programs in the fields of Arts, Arts Education, and Compassion and Well Being. Its funding is directed toward projects in which Herb and Lani Alpert and Foundation President Rona Sebastian play an active role.

The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) was incorporated in 1961 as the first degree-granting institution of higher learning in the United States created specially for students of both the visual and the performing arts. The Institute was established through the merger of two well-established professional schools, the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music, founded in 1883, and The Chouinard Art Institute, founded in 1921. CalArts celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2005.

The Institute is comprised of six related schools: Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theatre. CalArts encourages students to recognize the complexity of political, social and aesthetic questions and to respond to them with informed, independent judgment. Supported by its distinguished faculty of practicing artists, CalArts offers BFA and MFA degree programs in Art, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theatre and an MFA program in Critical Studies. More information is available at

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