Tag Archives: Pasadena

Creative Community: The arts in LA is an inspiring world unto itself

1by Victoria Montecillo

On June 29, I, along with 131 other LA County Arts Commission interns, attended an arts summit held in Pasadena. Having never before attended a professional-type conference before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It seemed like a great opportunity to meet other people in the intern program at different organizations, and learn more about the arts world in LA. I was excited, mainly, to attend my first conference! It all felt very grown-up and professional, and I was excited to learn. 

After checking in at the Pasadena Playhouse and picking which workshops I wanted to attend, I spent the first part of my morning nibbling at a blueberry mini muffin and avoiding small talk. As a naturally introverted person, I’m not one to comfortably strike up casual conversation with strangers; it takes me a little bit to warm up the gears of my social side. Eventually, we all migrated inside the Playhouse for a lovely welcome from the Playhouse’s artistic director, as well as some from the LA County Arts Commission and the mayor of Pasadena. It was certainly very inspiring to be so warmly welcomed and encouraged by people who had found fulfilling work in the arts; they spent the morning encouraging us to follow our passions, and work to create real change. 


Pasadena Playhouse Artistic Director Sheldon Epps welcomes the interns.

Afterwards, we split into smaller groups and headed to separate locations. My group headed to the Pasadena Museum of California Art, where we got a private welcome and got to explore the work of California artists. We then got a backstage tour of the Pasadena Playhouse, where Playhouse volunteers told us all about the green room, the costume shop, the scene shop, and the library. As someone who absolutely loves seeing the backstage areas of any theatre, I was absolutely thrilled. After that, we walked over to First United Methodist Church, where we saw a beautiful site specific piece by the Jacob Jonas Dance Company. Essentially, we spent the morning being exposed to the different corners of the LA arts world, where we got to meet and talk with artists that were working towards their passions and were excited to share it.


Victoria Montecillo

For lunch, we got together with our peer groups, a group of other LA County interns from the same geographic area. I got to meet some wonderful people working at a lot of different organizations. Some were working at theaters like me, while others were working for music non-profits or arts-based community outreach organizations. Even though we were in a crowded, noisy room, it was interesting to go around and hear everyone’s stories and where they came from, and how they ended up in this intern program. Some of the people I met were not necessarily interested in working in the arts world, but they were incredibly passionate about working in social justice and reaching out to Los Angeles neighborhoods. Everyone had a different perspective to bring, and different stories about their experiences to share. It was nice to hear about everyone’s experiences as interns, and the kinds of work they were doing. A few people were interested in pursuing graphic design, some were interested in music and arts education, and others were interested in theatre. I liked that we were a good mix among our group of various interests, because it gave us a wide range of perspectives. Alma Villegas, our wonderful Peer Group Leader from artworxLA, led us along our discussion and made sure to check in with all of us on whether or not we were enjoying our internships so far. It was comforting to feel that (other than my Fountain family of course) I had another community to fall back on, that would offer me help and support if I needed it. 

3After lunch, we split up from our peer groups to attend a workshop of our choosing. I attended a workshop on Public Engagement in the Arts, led by some truly inspirational people from Cornerstone Theatre Company and the Ford Theatres. They started off by keeping us on our feet, moving to different corners of the room for different things (e.g. “Move to this corner if you’re the youngest in your family, this corner if you’re the oldest,”), gradually picking more thought-provoking topics before ending with creating a line with one end being “art for art’s sake”, and the other end being “art for social justice”. This made us all think about why we were there, and what drives us. 

We then got to hear from Cornerstone and the Ford Theatres, and more specifically, the kind of work that they do in community engagement. My experience with community engagement from theaters is still quite limited, so it was certainly very educational to hear about the new and original ways other theatres were working to stay engaged with the communities around them. It was amazing to hear about Cornerstone, actually casting and creating shows with members of their community, and going out to neighborhoods and to the people to collaborate on creating a piece of art. And to hear from the Ford Theatres, and their work in spreading cultural awareness through free interactive workshops on dance and song. It was beautiful to see and hear about people in the community excited about the arts, and sharing it with the younger and older generations. 

Afterwards, I went to a session on Equity & Inclusion in the Arts, where we were told about the LA County Cultural Equity and Inclusivity Initiative. It was essentially a “town hall” meeting, where we were invited to share our comments, stories, and suggestions in order to help make change in policies. While it was not exactly what I expected, I learned a lot simply from listening to my peers discuss the challenges and obstacles they had all faced as people of color pursuing the arts. One suggestion that I found incredibly valuable (and, seemingly, somewhat intuitive) was the suggestion to offer opportunities to regularly have open discussions like the one we were having, where people had the chance to express their feelings in a safe environment. Sometimes, the first step to making change is creating the opportunity to discuss these issues openly, where people can feel they are being heard. 

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I want to thank the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and their wonderful internship program, as well as the Fountain Theatre, for giving me such a unique opportunity to meet other inspiring people pursuing fulfilling and meaningful careers in the arts world. I am learning so much more this summer than I ever anticipated.

Victoria Montecillo is our 2016 arts intern this summer at the Fountain Theatre, made possible through the support of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission Internship Program.  

You Won’t Believe What This Art Student Was Hired to Paint for Our LA Premiere of ‘Reborning’

Gabriella Guzman

Gabriella Guzman

[WARNING: This post contains adult content and images]

One of the characters in Zayd Dohrn’s play Reborning has a unique profession. And we don’t mean Kelly (Joanna Strapp), the gal who makes lifelike dolls. We’re talking about her boyfriend, Daizy (Ryan Doucette). He makes … well … how does Kelly politely describe them? “Adult rubber and latex items.”  Dildos. Which Daizy waves about their NY loft in the play. So, when it came time to produce the LA Premiere of this funny and powerful comedy/drama, the Fountain was put in the unique and unusual position of needing to hire someone to paint the dildos so they looked as realistic as the dolls Kelly creates.

And where does one go to find a dildo painter? The Fountain turned to Gabriella Guzman, a student at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. 

Where are you from? Where did you get your art training? 

Well my Cuban self was born in Virginia (random, right?), but my parents raised me in Miami, which is basically second Cuba. No lie.  I pretty much get empanadas pelted at my face as soon as I step off the plane. I’ve been in public art schools my whole life, but I’m currently studying Illustration & Fine Art at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

How did you get this unique job on this production? 

Apparently [Artistic Director/Producer] Stephen Sachs sat down at the dinner table one night and asked his son, Daniel [who also attends Art Center], if he had any friends who would be good at a penis paint job. Immediately, my name came to his mind. And to this day, I have no idea how to feel about that.

What was your reaction when you were offered this job?

My immediate reaction was to ask Daniel why in the heck he thought of me as the ideal penis painter. But after a while, I realized that this job makes for the greatest story because it’s my first job! After all, how many people can say their first job title was “Dildo Painter”?

Gabriella Guzman hard at work.

Gabriella Guzman hard at work.

Have you ever painted anything like this before?

You know, as twisted as my mind is, I’ve actually never painted penises before. I should do it more often, though, cuz they definitely make great reference for trees or mushrooms or horrific worm demons. Seriously, just add teeth to one of those things and it’s a pelvic nightmare Dali wishes he would’ve painted.

How are the dildos used in the play?

One of the main characters, Daizy, makes photo-realistic penis sculptures for a living. At one point, he walks out on stage with one of the penises hanging out of his pants! I’m happy to say that the audience thinks it’s a real penis most of the time until they notice how big it is (HA! See what I did there?)

Kristin Carey, Joanna Strapp, Ryan Doucette

Kristin Carey, Joanna Strapp, Ryan Doucette

What’s it like painting a dildo? Did it make you uncomfortable at first? 

Working with the rubber material was challenging at first because any paint I’d put on the surface would immediately crack once the rubber was bent or stretched, but luckily I got a lesson in material methods by a real Special FX Makeup Artist and I was able to use his supplies to produce better results. All in all, painting dildos made me feel like an incredibly unique human being at first, but after a while, I started wishing I was a lesbian just so I’d never have to see another dick again!

Did you tell your friends what you were dong? How did they react? 

Joanna Strapp

Joanna Strapp

As soon as I got the job, my immediate thought was “Omg FACEBOOOOK STATUUUS”, which just shows you where our culture is today. My male friends reacted by offering themselves up as reference, but golly gosh, as much as I loved those offers, I respectfully declined. I remember getting tagged in a lot of posts about phallic sculptures and there were quite a few enlarged stills of pornos messaged to me. Isn’t it great to have supportive friends?

Have you told your parents? What was their reaction?

My mom, being an old fashioned Cuban woman who is too sweet and pure to have heard of such things, reacted pleasantly when I told her I was a dildo painter simply because she had absolutely no idea what a dildo was. I remember her saying “Oh sweetie, how nice. Is that a type of plant?” 

Do you enjoy painting them?


Gabby takes her work home.

I feel like there’s no way for me to answer these questions without sounding like I really like penises.

I do.

And painting them ain’t so bad either.

What is involved in painting a dildo? Can you briefly take us through the process? 

You need to paint rubber using a special paint called Skin Illustrator, and the paint has to go on in very thin layers otherwise it’ll rub off or get clunky. It’s kind of like painting with watercolor, only instead of water, you use alcohol. Once the dildos are dry, you spray them with “Green Marble”, a makeup sealer that keeps everything from rubbing off for a good week or so. You drop off your finished dildos, go home, and once you’ve finally forgotten about penises, you get called to come back for a retouch. Rinse and repeat!

Have you ever been involved in a theater or play before?

I’ve never been involved in a play before or been part of any theater work. It was so exciting to see everyone scramble, to discover what it’s like to put a play together. It requires a lot of teamwork, I’ll tell you that much.

How did you feel on Opening Night, seeing your dildos up there on stage?

When Daizy ran out on stage with my dick hanging out of his pants, I punched my friend in the arm out of excitement.

What’s it like being part of the production team at the Fountain? Has it been a good experience?

I absolutely LOVED being a part of the production team at the Fountain! It was so amazing to feel like a functioning adult for a few weeks, with a job and a title! Everyone at the Fountain has been so accepting, kind, and professional. I’m proud to be a member of this family. 


 You can see Gabriella’s handiwork in the LA Premiere of Reborning at the Fountain Theatre, now playing to March 15th. Get Tickets/More Info

Rev. Ed Bacon to Host Post-Show Discussion at ‘The Normal Heart’ This Friday Oct 11

Reverend Ed Bacon, All Saints Church, Pasadena

Reverend Ed Bacon, All Saints Church, Pasadena

Rev. Ed Bacon of the All Saints Church in Pasadena will host an audience talk-back immediately following the 8 p.m. performance of The Normal Heart on FridayOct. 11 at the Fountain Theatre.

The Normal Heart is Larry Kramer’s groundbreaking drama about public and private indifference to the onset of the AIDS crisis, and one man’s fight to awaken the world to its urgency. The title of the play is taken from a line in a poem by W.H. Auden: “We must love one another or die.”

“We have invited Rev. Bacon to talk about the important issues dramatized in the play, including gay rights, the continuing AIDS crisis, same-sex marriage equality and the importance of social activism,” says Fountain Co-Artistic Director and producer Stephen Sachs, who will moderate the discussion.

In 2000, The Normal Heart was named “one of the 100 greatest plays of the 20th century” by the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain. The Fountain Theatre’s exclusive L.A. revival, the first time the play has been seen in Los Angeles in over 16 years, has been receiving rave reviews (“Critic’ Pick” – BroadwayWorld, “Pick of the Week” – LA Weekly, “A Must See”  – EDGE) and playing to sold out houses since it opened in September.

Tim Cummins, Bill Brochtrup in 'The Normal Heart'.

Tim Cummings, Bill Brochtrup in ‘The Normal Heart’.

Ed Bacon is the rector of All Saints Church in Pasadena, Calif., a 4,000-member multi-ethnic urban Episcopal parish with a reputation for energetic worship, a radically inclusive spirit and a progressive peace and justice agenda. His energies focus on leadership in anxious times; peacemaking; interfaith relations; integrating family, faith and work systems; articulating the Christian faith in non-bigoted ways; and the belief that “political activism is in the DNA of the church.”  He is a passionate advocate for peace and justice in the community, the nation and the world. He has received several honors for his peace and interfaith work. He is a founder of Beyond Inclusion and Claiming the Blessing (working for justice for the LGBT community) and a co-founder of the Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative. He serves on Human Rights Watch California Committee South and on other national and community boards. Ed has been a guest on Oprah’s “Soul Series” on XM’s Oprah & Friends Radio and on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

The discussion with Rev. Ed Bacon will follow the performance on Friday, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. and is included in the ticket price. For reservations and information, call 323-663-1525 or go to www.FountainTheatre.com.