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Magnifying the CalArts Connection

No more out of sight, out of mind for California Institute of the Arts.

That’s the word from Steven Lavine, the newly appointed CalArts president, whose “inaugural party” Oct. 22 will mark the beginning of a systematic, aggressive campaign to make CalArts part of the ongoing life of Los Angeles.

“Our faculty are already the artists of Los Angeles and our students become the artists of Los Angeles,” declared Lavine in a conversation last week. “Now we want arts institutions in Los Angeles to look at us and say, ‘They are the logical institution to work with.’ ”

Sporadic cooperative ventures already have taken place between performing arts groups here and students from the Valencia campus. “CalArts philosophically was always part of the city. That was reflected in the fact that we did joint series with the Philharmonic and there were plays in Santa Monica each year,” Lavine said. But what the new president wants is to greatly enlarge on those sporadic steps--with internships, arts development programs and works in progress that would be seen ongoing on the Valencia campus, then debut in final form in Los Angeles.

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Even the setting of his inaugural party, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, seems part of Lavine’s plan--what he terms a perfect location, since its designer, Frank Gehry, was the recipient of an honorary CalArts degree and two of Gehry’s children attended CalArts. And, following Lavine’s aggressive approach, the party will feature Cleo Laine singing songs by Stephen Sondheim, who collaborated with writer/director James Lapine--that’s right, a CalArts grad--on “Into the Woods.”

In Fitzpatrick’s Footsteps

Lavine follows the 10-year stint as CalArts president of Francophile Bob Fitzpatrick, who, after vaulting to prominence at the Olympics Arts Festival, was hired on to run EuroDisney. (The folks at Disney had a longtime association with Fitzpatrick, because it was the late Walt and Roy Disney who in 1961 merged the L.A. Conservatory of Music and the Chouinard Art Institute and came up with CalArts. The school wound up in Valencia because the land was a gift from Newhall Realty Co.)

After Fitzpatrick’s departure, CalArts spent a year tracking down a new president and found Lavine finishing up eight years as the associate director for arts and humanities at the Rockefeller Foundation.

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And Lavine’s claim that his school has, and continues to produce, artists? He pointed to well-known CalArts graduates, artists David Salle, Eric Fischl, Matt Mullican (now on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art) and Mike Kelley. Performing arts personas included “Bull Durham” producer Tom Mount and actor Ed Harris. CalArts should have no trouble getting around town, since its board includes Barry Diller, William Ahmanson and, as chair, Robert Egelston, who heads up Capitol Group.

All of this proving, of course, that this is not a Mickey Mouse endeavor.

MAKING AN ANNIVERSARY HAPPY--Dr. Miriam Williams had a longtime dream. Ten years ago, the psychiatrist, then in her 70s, founded the Los Angeles Child Development Center. The clinic without walls, dedicated to helping troubled youngsters, now involves dozens of professionals who work with families--without fees. On Sept. 17, Dr. Williams and the 10th anniversary of the center will be celebrated by a special evening at the Universal Amphitheatre starring Peter, Paul and Mary. Katherine Birnstein is the event chair.

MORE HAPPENINGS--When Crate & Barrel opens its 25th U.S. Store on Wednesday, actress Emma Samms will help do the honors at a party for the Starlight Foundation. From valet parking to performances by the Improv’s “Off the Wall,” it will be a wonderful way to inaugurate a business.

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But more special, the fun doesn’t stop there, as the company will donate 15% of every store purchase made by foundation supporters during the first month. Starlight, of course, was founded by Samms and grants the wishes of critically, chronically and terminally ill children. . . .

At another nearby store--this time Robinson’s Beverly Hills--Thursday is the reception and fall fashion spectacular benefiting the Women’s Guild of the Maple Center.


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