Center for the Arts Stories: Karen Kawaguchi ’75

Center for the Arts Story: When I arrived on campus in 1971, the Center for the Arts was still an architect’s concept, and arts/music/theater/film/dance people made do with classrooms, studios, and performance spaces, scattered all over campus. So what a miracle when the CFA doors opened, giving us access to magnificent galleries, theaters, the auditorium, studio and practice spaces. As a music major (piano), it was a thrill to practice on grand pianos in the soundproofed practice rooms. Though I never became a professional musician, Wesleyan and the CFA planted the seeds for a lifelong passion for the arts. In February, I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and saw the work of Piero de la Francesca, Fra Angelico, and other Renaissance masters, remembering how John Paoletti’s brilliant teaching awakened my love of art of that period. Attending Wes concerts, from early music to gamelan, gave me a taste for musical adventures, and I continue to explore and relish an eclectic range of performances in New York City. A couple of years ago, I was lucky to catch Ralph Samuelson MA ’71 (Ethnomusicology), performing with Japanese shakuhachi master Kinya Sogawa at Roulette in Brooklyn.

Favorite Course: Italian Renaissance art

Favorite Professor: John Paoletti

Center for the Arts Stories: Daniel Gold ’75

Daniel Gold '75
Daniel Gold ’75

Center for the Arts Story: When the new cinema opened at the Center for the Arts I had the privilege of being chosen as one of the student projectionists. I took the job very seriously as I believed there was a real art to presenting a film professionally. I remember going to the cinema late one night to set up the film reels for the next day’s screening. It was dark and quiet. I was the only one in the theater. The movie was Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. In those days a feature length film came on many separate reels and we had two projectors. It took considerable skill for the projectionist to watch the corner of the screen for the small cue marks near the end of one reel, then start rolling and switch over to the next reel on the other projector without the audience ever noticing the change-over. I was checking out the cue marks and practicing the change-over between two reels when I looked out the port in the projection booth just as Martin Balsam, playing the investigator Arbogast, was nearing the top of the stairs inside Norman Bates’ house. From an overhead shot, the bedroom door swings open and Anthony Perkins, dressed as Norman Bates’ mother, charges Martin Balsam and plunges a kitchen knife into his chest several times. The Bernard Herman score screams with strident violin chords and Arbogast floats eerily through space in a nightmare fall down the staircase. Though I had seen the film many times I was frozen with fear. I completely missed the cue marks and never made the change over. When the horror eased a little and I snapped out of it, I quickly shut down the projectors, ran from the booth and out of the cinema never looking back. I would return in the light of day to complete my preparations and project the film in the safety and comfort of a theater full of people.

Favorite Course: The Western

Favorite Professor: John Fraser

Center for the Arts Stories: Ann Dallas ’75

Ann Dallas '75
Ann Dallas ’75

Favorite Course:


Favorite Professor:

David Schorr

Center for the Arts Story:

The CFA was my first “real” job! Working for the galleries with Dick Wood and Art Shail, then events and publicity with Jean Shaw and Jon Higgins. The best of times!

Center for the Arts Stories: Harold Sogard ’74

Harold Sogard '74
Harold Sogard ’74

Center for the Arts Story: I was a senior theater major when the Center for the Arts opened in 1973. I’ve never put much stock in things supernatural, but there was always something freaky to me about the fact that the stage of the new theater was located on the exact spot where my grandparents had once had their house and where my mother had been born. I spent hundreds of fantastic, life-changing hours in the CFA. Before it even opened, I earned some much needed cash during the summer of ’73 working as a carpenter there, building things like the speakers in the new cinema and the cabinets in the design studio of the new theater. As a theater major, I took classes there, ran the (then revolutionary) new computer light board for the first play in the new theater, and I played the Referee in Fritz DeBoer’s production of Sam Shepard’s The Tooth of Crime. As President of WESU-FM, I produced a series of broadcasts of inaugural concerts from various venues, including an all-night-long gamelan concert and shadow puppet performance from the World Music Hall. And as a typical student attending CFA concerts, performances, exhibitions, and lectures, I had my eyes and ears and mind opened for a lifetime to a broad range of artistic expressions.

Favorite Course: Directing for the Stage

Favorite Professor: Ralph Pendleton

Thesis Title: “An Exploration of Simultaneity as a Form for the Theatre”

Center for the Arts Stories: John Spike ’73

John Spike '73
John Spike ’73

Favorite Course: Art History 101

Favorite Professors: Samuel Green & Heinrich Schwarz

Center for the Arts Story: Work began on the Center for the Arts while I was an undergrad. We never saw any part of it finished, but, in keeping with Wesleyan’s penchant for the exotic and barely practical, we felt proud that it was projected to have an entire building dedicated to just the gamelan orchestra. My professor and advisor in Art History was the beloved Sam Green, who painted in a traditional realism style but favored all things modern. Sam was instrumental in securing approval for Kevin Roche’s modernist-brutalist plan for the CFA. We all had some concern about what we had wrought as the massive monolithic temple blocks were lined up in the woods, and the joke on campus was, “It looks like something designed for the Mayans but rejected by them.”

Center for the Arts Stories: Monica Tinyo ’13

Monica Tinyo '13. Photo by Natalie Hession.
Monica Tinyo ’13. Photo by Natalie Hession.

Favorite Course: Museum Chronotopes with Center for the Humanities Fellow Lucien Gomoll

Favorite Professor: Joseph Siry, Javier Castro, Mari Dummett (can’t choose between them—sorry!)

Center for the Arts Story: What stands out for me about the CFA is not an individual story, its an individual, or rather a force that has manifested itself in the form of an individual—Pamela Tatge.

There are very few people that are equally brilliant educators, dreamers and administrators. I learned very quickly that Pam is one of them. During my year as her Arts Administration Intern and as the first intern for a program she helped realize, the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP), I felt profoundly connected to and proud of Wesleyan in a way that I had not in my previous years there.

What is exceptional about Pam is her limitlessness in energy, in innovation and in creating. She is an artist presenting artists.

She deals with restrictions like budget and locality in a way that attacks and utilizes supposed weaknesses that seemed impossible to deal with. Her dedication to all of the arts and cross disciplinary projects is truly unique and her ability to see what is needed in a smaller school as well as a more general demographic is only as incredible as her ability to create platforms for them. If you begin to take note of the annual festivals and events affiliated with the CFA, you will quickly see that most, if not all, are originated within her fifteen or so years working at the CFA.

She is a role model for anyone who wants to work in the arts in a way that betters peoples’ lives. For me, she was a role model and mentor. She personally taught me the ways in which to go think about the arts and how to continually improve myself professionally. What makes her educating so effective is her skill in conjunction with her unwavering warmth, patience and excitement.

I say all of this because to celebrate the CFA is in part to celebrate Pam and what she has given to and expected of the CFA.

I will be forever be grateful that Pam chose me to be a part of ICPP and her team at the CFA. Pam, you are an inspiration. Thank you for all the opportunities and lessons you have given me and thank you for making the CFA such a rewarding place for Wesleyan affiliates and everyone else who is lucky enough to discover it. Congratulations to everyone at the CFA on forty years!

Center for the Arts Stories: David Shimomura ’13

David Shimomura '13. Photo by Joe Coombes.
David Shimomura ’13. Photo by Joe Coombes.

Center for the Arts Story: I rarely was an actual student in the Center for the Arts. I didn’t take any art, dance, or music classes during my time at Wesleyan. However, that didn’t mean that those things weren’t important to me. I wanted to be involved in the arts at Wesleyan and so I made my way to the CFA job fair. It was something of a joke last year but in the four years I was at Wesleyan I spent nine days not under the employ of the CFA, and five of those days were freshman orientation. My time at the CFA was stressful, hectic, and demanding but the entire time it was a labor of love and it’s opened my eyes to completely different things. I remember my first Navaratri Festival vividly as well as my first Gamelan concert.

Specifically, I think my most striking CFA memory was having my mom and grandfather here before he passed late last year. My going to college was very special to him and I wanted him to see me at Wesleyan. During that visit we saw Jay Hoggard‘s jazz orchestra, a Gamelan, performance, as well as a Korean drumming performance. I remember it rained quite a bit that weekend but we didn’t let any of that keep us down. When I thought to myself that this might be the only opportunity for my grandfather to see what a place like Wesleyan can offer in terms of diversity and still reflect my own interests my first thought was to the CFA.

A specific show that really sticks out in my mind was Urip Sri Maeny’s last show. It was also the last performance I was managing with the CFA. I spoke to her before the show and aside from doing my normal house manager duties I told her that I was honored to be working her last performance as Artist in Residence. I told her that it was also my last show and we both hugged and teared up a bit. Seeing the rush of people that came in that night really gave me the feeling that I was at something important, not just to the Wesleyan community, but important very deeply in the hearts of the attendees.

Center for the Arts Stories: Christopher Riggs MA ’12

Christopher Riggs MA '12. Photo by Eric Gallippo.
Christopher Riggs MA ’12. Photo by Eric Gallippo.

Center for the Arts Story: I’ve met few educators who exhibit unconditional positive regard for the creative urges of students in the way Ronald Kuivila can. By this I don’t mean to imply that working with Ron involves simple coddling. New ideas are cared for in a nurturing way but are also submitted to rigorous scrutiny. Ron seems to get inside your head and observe the past, present, and future of your bizarre, idiosyncratic impulses. Rather than submit to the artistic affinities of my mentor, I felt like I had become more of who I already was after each week’s thesis meeting. The fact that my particular type of artistic process was of no personal interest to Ron did not appear to present him with any kind of pedagogical obstacle. It was almost as if this distance made him even better at his job. I hesitate to make such a statement because it would imply that someone tuned in to Ron’s particular interests (e.g. American Experimentalism, Computer Music, etc.), would not almost certainly benefit from his expertise. I’m confident they would.

Ron’s style of teaching as cultivation of individual growth is rare in an educator and experiencing it from the perspective of a student is an incredible and occasionally therapeutic experience. Wesleyan University is extremely lucky to have Ron Kuivila as a teacher and anyone with an artistic practice, regardless of genre or discipline, would benefit greatly from his teaching.

Favorite Course: Graduate Thesis Tutorial with Ronald Kuivila

Favorite Professor: Ronald Kuivila

Thesis Title: “Sweet Spot of Potential: The Prepared Guitar of Christopher Riggs”

Center for the Arts Stories: Allison Hurd ’11

Allison Hurd '11. Photo by Yannick Bindert.
Allison Hurd ’11. Photo by Yannick Bindert.

Center for the Arts Story: Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts was, undoubtedly, one of the most integral aspects of my college experience. I always thought of it as a kind of vibratory sanctuary where an incredible amount of creativity and exploration was happening. The activity that took place in so many of its spaces helped me realize a charged, yet meditative relationship to artistic experience. Gamelan concerts in the World Music Hall, Studio Art theses in the Zilkha Gallery, Theater productions like Big Love, Film thesis screenings in the Goldsmith Family Cinema, Pedro Alejandro’s site-specific dance No Eggshells/Outside — these are just a few of the resonating experiences afforded to me by the CFA. Furthermore, because of the CFA’s Creative Campus Fellowship, I was offered a remarkable internship with the Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group of Brooklyn, New York. Without the efforts of the CFA to foster relationships between students and artists working in the professional field, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity, which greatly influenced my development as an artistic thinker and doer.

Favorite Course: “Pathological Citizens: The Politics and Poetics of Disease in Latin American Literature,” taught by Lina Meruane of the Spanish department; and “Dance and Technology,” taught by Rachel Boggia of the Dance department, were two of the most illuminating courses I took at Wesleyan. Both introduced me to a world of knowledge and progressive thinking that continue to inform my scholarly pursuits. Through discussion as well as written and creative projects, Professors Meruane and Boggia allowed each student to access his or her individual strengths in relation to the course material, which, ultimately, led to profound internal discovery and realization.

Favorite Professor: While I was deeply impacted by the teaching of many professors, Henry Abelove has always stood out in my memory. My experience in his course on British literature revealed his unique ability to inspire the attentiveness and accountability of his students. Accordingly, the close reading skills that Professor Abelove helped cultivate in his classroom have enhanced my approach to learning beyond measure. The grace, good humor, and egalitarian spirit with which he engaged his students have, jointly, served as a daily model for how I hope to shape my own interactions with others.

Thesis Title: “Enlightened Visions of the Imaginative Form: A Comparative Analysis of Modern Dance and the Independent Cinema of Maya Deren”

Center for the Arts Stories: Yelena Sayko ’10

Yelena Sayko '10
Yelena Sayko ’10

Center for the Arts Story: As is typical for many who wish to pursue a career in the arts – in my case, theater – the most obvious path was a career in design, acting, or directing. However, once I began working in the administration office of the Center for the Arts as the Marketing Assistant, a whole new world opened up to me. I was creatively challenged and fulfilled in a way that I never thought possible. Furthermore, experience in a professional office environment prepared me for internships and jobs in “the real world.” It’s not facetious to say that the Center for the Arts is responsible for my decision to pursue a career in arts marketing, which I have been doing in New York City since graduating in 2010.

Favorite Course: I took an improvisation class with David Jaffe my sophomore year that was actually life-altering. It really helped me come out of my shell and be more assertive. For better or worse!

Favorite Professor: I was never a History major, but if I had taken a class with Magda Teter before my Senior year, I might very well have ended up as one.