Asst. News Editor
Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
This quote came to mind while discussing post graduate plans with Senior Tom Letson, an Art and Environmental Science major. He says he feels that if you care enough about something, it will work its’ way out.
“I may never find my way to success, but the way I see it there are two ways to fail: not trying, and trying to please everyone,” Letson said. “I’ve never made a painting to please anyone, and I’ve never played a song to impress anyone; it’s just what I do, nothing more.”
A Massachusetts native, Letson’s creative efforts and passion for his studies have led him to stand out to faculty and students at Sierra Nevada College, such as Associate Professor Rick Parsons and Senior Peter Rispoli.
According to Parsons, Letson is a prolific painter with an innate need to create.
“His paintings are not only layered with paint, but are layered with rich layers of personal meaning and history,” Parsons said.
Parsons said Letson is known to reference paintings from the Italian Renaissance while critiquing modern American culture and its root in Manifest Destiny.
Rispoli, a good friend and colleague of Letson, describes him as humble and extremely talented.
“I’ve known Tom for two years now. On top of studying fine arts and environmental
science, he rips on the snow, shreds the guitar, banjo and mandolin, just to name a few,” Rispoli said. “He is a true wildcard.”
BY Jamie Wanzek
Professor Steve Ellsworth can be found teaching Math and Science courses at Sierra Nevada College. With camera in hand Ellsworth also demonstrates an eye for photography, outside the classroom. This fall, Ellsworth experienced viral fame when his photograph of the King Fire earned National recognition. With the long-time hobby of photography, Ellsworth enjoys combining his professional and personal interests.
“I’ve always had an interest in science and math, and photography is something that all comes together here at the lake. I’ve also always been interested in Fire-Ecology and taught Environmental Science here at SNC,” Ellsworth said.
While the King Fire was beginning to expand rapidly, Ellsworth was contacted by a friend who works as a firefighter explaining, “Steve you’ve got to get down to the lake for photos! There are these amazing pyrocumulius clouds(a dense cloud associated with fire beginning to form).”
With a background in Environmental Science and Fire Ecology, Ellsworth knew the pyrocumulius clouds would create a breathtaking sunset over Tahoe.
After class on a Wednesday, Steve went to Incline Beach with his camera.
“After watching the clouds, I knew the sunset would be absolutely spectacular. So I sat there and watched, planning photos. As soon as the sun went behind the pyrocumulius clouds, these brilliant colors came out.”
That evening, he posted the photos on his personal Facebook. Little did he know that internet stardom awaited him.
Later that evening, another firefighter friend reposted one of his photos to a Facebook site for firefighters. This site allows friends and family in the community to touch base with loved ones. After the image was shared to the site, it went viral.
“I am a scientist, and I think we need to allocate more funding for the fighting of these fires and the prevention,” said Ellsworth. “We as a society are not spending enough financial resources, social resource or any resource at all, and I think that resonated with people.”
Ellsworth saw an opportunity to bring attention toward the funding and fighting of these fires through his photography.
“The image got re-tweeted and re-shared thousands of times that one night. I think what resonated with people was that it was a beautiful image, but also the connection with Tahoe. People thought what we could lose with this fire,” Ellsworth said.
According to Ellsworth that evening and following morning, his Facebook site and email exploded. He went through media outlets in Boise, Seattle, Los Angeles and large media networks NBC, CBS Nightly News and the Associated Press.
“I had always heard about videos and images going viral but I didn’t realize what people go through,” said Ellsworth.
The entire week, Ellsworth spent all his time responding to emails and Facebook messages regarding his photography and media credits.
By the end of the week, Ellsworth was contacted by Channel 3 KRCA. This time he was asked to call them at 7 a.m. Half-asleep before a cup of coffee, Ellsworth contacted the news anchor. They said, “Oh Steve! Thanks for calling us, we’d like to interview you at 7:10 a.m. for a live interview.”
“While still in my pajamas, I collected my thoughts. I was told someone would call back in a few minutes at 7:08, and then at 7:10 you will hear the news anchor talking about your image,” Ellsworth said.
Channel 3 KRCA was able to find Ellsworth’s Flicker account where the entire series of photos taken of the fire were shared. They shared his images on television while they interviewed him about the photos and where one would reach him, if they wanted the images.
“Thats when I realized I could plug the college and put SNC’s name out there. I explained that people can contact me through SNC if they wanted the images. I sure enough got emails through my school email,” said Ellsworth.
Throughout the hectic week, Ellsworth explained what he learned about media and how it is shared rapidly.
“I learned the challenges of journalists today and the power of social media, I think amateurs have really closed that gap between professionals with digital photography. I think going into journalism and photography would be a huge challenge,” Ellsworth said.
While photography remains a hobby, Ellsworth concludes the experience was once in lifetime.
“I don’t know what I could ever do again that would be on the same scale,” Ellsworth said.
By Danny Kern
At 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 8, the Tahoe Art Haus and Cinema theater showed a handful of different movies that were all “connected in someway,” according to Sierra Nevada College Sophomore Lucas ‘Maddog’ Angier.
“It was a perfect co-lab, to be able to mix skiers and snowboarders that are both out there just for the same love, doing the same thing, was really inspiring,” Angier said.
The movies shown were “Keynote Skier”, showcasing Phil ‘B-Dog’, Casabon and friends, “Road to Zion”, featuring Henrik Harlaut, Tanner Hall and friends and last but not least the Green Bandit Productions(GBP) full length movie “Gratitude”, featuring all of the Gremlins crew.
The Tahoe Art Haus and Cinema will continue showing ski and snowboard films along with the World Series and other movies.
Each movie was unique in its own way. “Keynote Skier” focused on only one athlete, Casabon, and showcased street riding along with backcountry lines and butters. “Road to Zion” was a compilation of doubles and triples performed by Harlaut and Hall in the backcountry and off of massive park features. The GBP movie “Gratitude”, was one of a kind. It showcased the travels of the one and only bio-diesel run Gremlin’s bus in a creative documentary format.
“The movie is different every year because Zach edits it different every year which is cool,” Senior Jeremy Landi said.
Zach Leftner, also known as ‘The Kid’, is the producer of all GBP productions.
“We wouldn’t have “Gratitude” or any of the Gremlins videos with out ‘The Kid’, much respect goes out to that guy, he’s like my older brother,” Angier said.
This premier was unique for a few reasons. There was a balanced mixture of snowboarding and skiing shown as entertainment, and all of the movies were mainly accompanied with Rastafarian reggae tunes, giving them a very “laid-back, inspiring, feel-good vibe,” said SNC alumni Keenan Cawley.
“It was a success, a lot of people came out. I was pretty hyped to see the other two movies that I hadn’t seen before and for everyone to be able to see “Gratitude” on a big screen in a movie theater, which was just amazing,” Angier said.
This was the first premiere of “Gratitude”, but the 17th premiere stop of “Keynote Skier” and “Road to Zion.”
“The turnout to the first premier was really good. We didn’t get to hype it up as much as a ‘just Gremlins premier’, but it was cool ‘cause Tanner Hall is going to do a lot for the movie next year and Inspired Media is going to help us go to Canada,” Landi said.
BY RICK CONWAY
Sierra Nevada College was honored to host renowned musician, Terry Allen on campus Friday. Oct. 17th. Allen, an accomplished, musician, artist, sculptor, and writer, treated students to his own brand of alternative country, or “outlaw country” music, a genre, which he arguably played a role in creating. The event was a special treat for students and members of the community, who filled the room to the back doors.
“It’s ironic they call this Writers In The Woods,” said the Lubbock, Texas native, as he arranged himself in front of the piano. “Where I grew up there was only one tree…and it had a sign on it that said “tree”…People would come from all around to look at it.”
“I’m going to start with a song called Advice to Children,” Allen said. He tapped his foot and sang loudly. “It’s better to be mediocre…Don’t do the best you can, they’ll just screw you over.”
Allen played and read passages from his book, “Dugout.” Allens songwriting often draws from events in in his past. “His songs tell stories,” said, SNC Senior Bryan Wilkins, who summarized the lyrics as being very “relatable.” The performance was peppered with jokes and stories that inspired his songs.
“I’m from Texas,” Allen said. “where sex is hideous, disgusting and evil…so you save it for the one you love.” Allen, who now resides in New Mexico, set off for California at the tender age of 17 to study art and music, earning a bachelor’s in fine arts from the Chouinard Art Institute, in Los Angeles.
Throughout June and July of 2014, 24 Sierra Nevada College students participated in an annual service-learning trip to South Africa for four weeks. The excursion, organized by Mary Lewellen and Ted Morse, explored different areas of learning such as developmental politics and economics, community gardens, feeding programs, and assisting in tutoring of South African Students- all while helping install electricity to families.
Senior Sierra Granados gained much more from her South African trip than just education and community-based learning.
“I met a talented friend, Smanga, he is a hardworking artist who deserves the chance to further his art and English studies,” said Granados. “He speaks great English, is dedicated and a great artist.”
Smanga Stigmata Mdadane lives in the city of Durban, SA, a city that helped influence and cultivate his artistic talents throughout the years. The city of Durban even granted Mdadane a permit to graffiti in public locations.
“Being from a poor background, Smanga can’t afford to travel and is limited to further his education,” said Granados.
Although he is talented, Mdadane doesn’t have the opportunity to expand his talent.
“Another thing here in SA, there’s a stereotype that dark skinned people are nothing,” said Mdadane. “From an early age I was told that I’ll be nothing, no matter how much I’ll try all will fail to put my neighborhood on the radar as I tell and wish.”
The walls within the new Garage Door Gallery at the Holman Arts & Media Center have welcomed new featured artist, Lawrence LaBianca. LaBianca shares his Sea to Float exhibition with Sierra Nevada College for the next 6 weeks. LaBianca’s work accommodates his connection with nature while integrating research, sculpture and experimentation to create his artwork.
“I am trying to explore and look for what I believe is the divine source for all information- nature,” said artist Lawrence LaBianca.
Sea to Float is an interactive sculpture that uses the environment to record and harness energy from natural phenomenons such as wind, swells and tides. In order to capture these rhythms, LaBianca has created a buoy lined with a soft copper plate, accompanied by a steel ball. The copper plate is a polished, blank plate that registers minute scratches and dents. The intention of these two instruments is to successfully record the movements of the water while the buoy is anchored in the water. LaBianca then takes the copper plate and transfers the etches from the copper plate into a print, demonstrating the record he captured.
“The Sea to Float project is very process laden, I am creating a buoy that is a drawing machine. I believe layering and capturing of time sets a recording of time. This is something a wrist watch cannot do. These marks become a reference in time,” said LaBianca.
On Oct. 2, the gallery reception opening welcomed LaBianca’s work. The opening was filled with students and staff sharing their interest in the new exhibition.
“I truly enjoyed this gallery. I find it interesting how LaBianca is able to capture nature and transform it into art. I find his connection with nature fascinating,” said Sophomore Jada Garcia.
From the blue row boat that he uses, to the buoys and actual sketches of his work, the gallery is filled with all the different processes included within his work. Lawrence’s exhibition presents the different creative elements he uses and hopes to share through his work. His work presents a clear message in sync with SNC’s key elements.
“I think the show is really beautiful. It’s a great mixture of sculpture and print-making and art that activates the environment,” said Professor Russell Dudley.
The new and vibrant Holman Arts & Media Center building is a representation of an expanding art department filled with ambition. With only two semesters of academia the Holman Arts & Media Center encourages a new era of creative, intellectual thinking with grand long term intentions of inspiring interdisciplinary programs and large communal goals. While the former David Hall building could not support the expanding art department and demand, the Holman building was set in place to achieve this growing need.
“We were basically at capacity with what we could do with the other building, the oldest building on campus. It had a lot of limitations with it. Getting this building and really maximizing the way we flow from one discipline to the other has enabled us to take the next step, which is to develop an MFA (Master of Fine Arts),” Professor Russell Dudley said.
The building was made possible by a generous gift from Robin and Robert Holman, and opened its doors to students in the spring semester of 2014.
“We envision that this center will be the new artistic and intellectual hub not just for Sierra Nevada College but for Incline Village and the Lake Tahoe basin. We looked around and saw the exciting things that are happening at Sierra Nevada College and we knew we wanted to partner with SNC to make change happen,” SNC Board of Trustees member and donor Robin Holman said.
The central ideas inspiring the design of the building were to create an academic flow within the space that also invites the public and the community into the academic practices, according to Dudley.
When entering the the Holman Arts & Media Center building, one can observe students working cohesively in all ranges of art. Students have the space to work on computers, photography, create sculptures and drawings. Art history lectures echo around the building. The new art building allows artists of all genres to share an inviting, inventive space.
“It’s nice to have an art building that is surrounded by all art students and the same creative process,” Senior Claire Bagg said.
The faculty and administration worked tirelessly for two years toward their unified vision of the Holman Arts building, according to Rick Parsons, associate professor of art.
I’d like to address my concerns regarding the building of a presidential residence on campus. I, along with many other students whom I’ve spoken to on this subject, have grave concerns regarding the impact of this project. These include the environmental impact on the proposed building site, the image of our college that such an endeavor will alter, the economic concerns regarding the use of donor funds, and the hypocritical nature of such a project as it goes against the core values of this school.
The project’s “focus on marketing and branding” [sic] has the potential to be a detriment to the students. This focus detracts from providing a better environment for the students, faculty, and staff to live, work, learn, and play. Rather than presenting an image of affluence and prestige, the energies spent on “marketing and branding” should involve creating actual affluence and prestige. There are several ways in which this generous donation can be used that do not involve a fancier place for faculty and Lakeshore Blvd. residents to party – “a president’s house on campus would be a place to easily host potential and current students, faculty, donors and visitors.”
A couple examples for better use of donor funds may include:
– Increasing budgets across all departments would help to provide for a better education for the students that are already here. This could take the form of better equipment and infrastructure, and/or more campus events (i.e. film festivals, Writers in the Woods candidates, etc).
– Increasing faculty salaries and creating more full time/tenured faculty positions. This would increase the level of educational expertise this school can provide, which in turn would improve this school’s image in the academic community.
Share what your’e doing with the Eagle’s Eye newspaper. Hashtag #sncyourshot on any of your favorite photos and get a shot at having your photo published in the Eagle’s Eye. From the beach to the mountain, from the classroom to the club, we want to know what is happening in SNC student’s lives. If you have a photo that you want to share don’t forget to hashtag #sncyourshot and you could be seeing your shot in the school newspaper!