Faculty Feature: Mike McGee

2016 OC Arts Awards Honorees – From Left – John Forsyte, Damien & Yvonne Jordan, Mike McGee, Andy Russell – accepting for PBS SoCal, Yevgenia Mikhailik, Allen Moon

On Tuesday, October 25, Arts Orange County held its 17th Annual OC Arts Awards at the Samueli Theater at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The ceremony gave special honors to exceptional organizations and individuals and celebrated their lives and accomplishments to the arts community. Cal State Fullerton College of the Arts’ own professor, Mike McGee was one of the 2016 honorees of the Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy Award!

Professor McGee has worked as an art writer, curator, and arts administrator since 1982 and heads our College of the Arts’s graduate program in museum studies/exhibition design. Students who have studied with him have moved on to work at major galleries and museums in Orange County. On top of teaching at CSUF, Professor McGee has served as a past president of the Board of Trustees for the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, co-founder of the Grand Central Art Center, founding board member of the Arts Orange County and the City of Santa Ana Arts Commission, a member of the Mayor’s Arts Task Force for the City of Santa Ana (an integral part in the creation of the Artists Village), and doubled the number of works in our university’s sculpture collection.

Congratulations to Mike McGee on your Cultural Legacy Award! Your many contributions and the success of your students speaks influence that you have had in the arts community!


Clayes 10th Anniversary Community Open House


Last year, the School of Music held its 50th Anniversary with their Dedication Celebration which featured performances by the Symphonic Chorus and University Symphony Orchestra with Titan alumna, Deborah Voigt. Since 2006, the Joseph A.W. Clayes III Performing Arts Center has been the beacon for training the next generation to mold the arts landscape. In it’s 10th year, Dean Dale A. Merrill and the College of the Arts invite students, alumni, supporters and community members to come “behind the scenes” and discover what makes the Clayes Performing Arts Center an amazing resource for arts students and audience members.  Step into a variety of performance and rehearsal spaces where students will be showcasing their talents, join a backstage tour that highlights students’ work in our Scenic and Costume Shops, an art exhibition, refreshments and more!

Save the date for Sunday, November 6, 2016 from 2 PM – 6PM. A special Jazz performance will be held in Meng Concert Hall at 4pm and will feature the School of Music’s Jazz Orchestra students alongside with guest artist, Doc Severinsen, and other invited guests.

Here are more events happening during our open house!:


Scene from Pride & Prejudice
James D. Young Theatre
2:15pm, 2:45pm, 3:15pm

Scene from Drowsy Chaperone
Jerry Samuelson Musical Theatre Room
2:30pm & 3:00pm

A Conversation with Emeriti Chair of Theatre & Dance Susan Hallman
A conversation about the history of the Clayes Performing Arts Center, from A to Z.William J. McGarvey Family Dance Studio
3:15pm – 3:45pm

Dance Presentation featuring dance students from the Department of Theatre & Dance
Selections from Fall Dance Theatre
William J. McGarvey Family Dance Studio
2:15pm, 2:45pm

Cello Performance featuring students from the School of Music
Kathryn T. McCarty Grand Foyer
2:00pm – 3:30pm

“A View From Above” Canopy Tour
Guests will see what 5 tons of tuning looks like (aka “The Acoustic Canopy” that hangs in Meng Hall) from the unique perspective of the choir loft behind the stage.
Vaughncille Joseph Meng Hall (Upper Level entrance)
2:15pm – 3:00pm

Sound Design: An Evolution from Studio to Stage
A look into the process of creating and designing theatre production cues which begin in a recording studio and are completed on stage.
Douglas R. Young, Terry Forrest Young, and Megan Forrest Young Audio Studio
2:00pm – 3:45pm

Throughout the afternoon…

  • Guided backstage tours will depart from McCarty Grand Foyer and will feature stops in the Lois M. Brockett Costume Shop and the Lee & Nicholas Begovich Scenic Laboratory
  • Exhibition of art by students in the Department of Visual Arts in the Millie and Dale Hallberg Theatre
  • Doors will open for the concert at 3:45 pm – general admission seating

Alumni Feature – Scott Tolleson

Scott Tolleson (BFA Illustration, 2000) works for Disney as an Art Director and is the CEO and Founder of StolleArt Studio where he creates custom toys and art inspired by pop culture, comic books, his family, and toys from his childhood.

As a child, Tolleson always had an interest in art. “I can’t recall a time when art wasn’t important to me. I was always the kid in the class that the others would ask me to draw things for them. I recall drawing a lot of Transformers, Masters of the Universe and M.U.S.C.L.E as a kid. I was really into collecting Mad and Cracked Magazine along with Wacky Packages as a kid. I think these sorts of things inspired me at a young age and led me to believe that one could have a career at making art” states Tolleson. He started at Saddleback Community College and completed an Associates Degree in Art before transferring Cal State Fullerton in 1996. During his time at CSUF, Tolleson was a member of the Pencil Milage Club and participated in an animation program with Warner Bros. He continued on to finish his Bachelors of Fine Arts in Illustration in 2000.


The Designer Toy Awards (DTAs) is the leading award honoring excellence and innovation in the Designer Toy art field. For his work in 2015, Tolleson was awarded their Artist of Year Award.

For his spotlight, Tolleson leaves us with advice for aspiring artists:

“Don’t do it unless you have a passion for it. Every artist I know that is successful puts in many many hours and not because they have to but because they want to. Let negativity from others fuel your passion instead of discourage you. Always try new things to keep your interests fresh but also stay focused o the things that are working for you in your art. Always play, learn, experiment and listen.”

For more information on Scott Tolleson, check out his website here.

Faculty Feature: Hiromi Takizawa

Hiromi Takizawa, art
Hiromi Takizawa, Visual Arts Assistant Professor

Cal State Fullerton’s College of the Arts is home to one of the few locations where students can pursue studies and a fine arts degree with a concentration in glass. This unique program is run by Titan alumni and new faculty member, Hiromi Takizawa. Professor Takizawa earned her BA and MA in Glass from CSUF, completed her MFA in Craft and Materials Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, and has been featured artist in galleries across the United States.

While she grew up in the world of ceramics and other arts, Professor Takizawa’s fascination with glass began when she stepped into the glass studio at Santa Ana College. Takizawa recalls that “During my one year study abroad, I knew I wanted to go into the arts. I happened to walk into a ceramics and glass studio in community college and that was it… Glass was something new, so I took a class and I knew right away that this was something I wanted to do.” After her studies in Orange County, she awarded her with emerging artist awards and top prizes for innovative work in glass. In 2007, her work was featured at Urban Glass in New York where she was selected as Best Graduate MFA Student. The following year, Urban Glass offered her a solo exhibition and her career took off as an artist with other invitations and residencies throughout the country.

Takizawa highlights the reflective, refractive, and transparent quality of glass which attracts her to the art and sets it apart from other art forms. In terms of process, she describes working with glass as “fluid” while working and molding it in its heated state. The history of glass goes back a long time with a variety of traditions for common uses. However, in the United States, the history of glass-making as an artistic medium is new with a fifty-year history. While her training comes from a basis of creating vases and other glassware, the same skills can be used to explore the possibilities for artistic sculptures.


During her time at Cal State Fullerton, Taikizawa looks to Professor Christina Smith as a mentor. She values her time at CSUF as it gave her a place to develop her craft and establish connections with colleagues and faculty members who helped her during her career. Now that she is a teacher at CSUF, it has come full circle. As she teaches the next generation of artists, Takizawa hopes her students will not give up. “There are two different kinds of talents. The first is that you are extremely talented at what you do. The second is that you never give up. I am definitely the second kind. Keep making work and follow your passion.”

For more information on Hiromi Takizawa, check out her website located here!

The Grand Central Art Center

gcacThe College of the Arts is fortunate to count as one of its units the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana. Grand Central, run by Director, John D. Spiak, and Associate Director, Tracey Gayer, is a contemporary visual arts space that serves the campus, local, and regional communities through art exhibitions and programs curated by the GCAC team, as well as projects initiated by their artists-in-residence. The organization stands out as a unique place that hosts projects through their on-site galleries, blackbox theatre, and provides housing for both master level arts students of CSUF and visiting artists-in-residence. “Absolutely worth it! This graduate housing it totally different,” explains MFA Theatre student, Tina Burkhalter, “I am surrounded by people who are artists, my neighbors – literally right next door… There are art galleries and a theatre below in Grand Central which has allowed me to meet many wonderful artist-in-residence who have put on deep, meaningful, and well thought out exhibitions.” The theatre students, through the director of the CSUF Department of Theatre and Dance, are active in the spaces provided by Grand Central to create a unique work and performance environment that allows for the production of their works.

Many other universities and organization have these spaces or programs, but rarely are they all located in one place, under one roof.

Through the GCAC artist-in-residence program, Grand Central supports and works directly with the artists to develop new projects. “We invite and believe in our artists and their process. They don’t have to have a project when they come, so they are open to explore and get to know this community and the resources that GCAC may be able to provide,” explains Spiak, “the works are all well received because they are relevant to this community and beyond, addressing the issues, concerns and wonderment of the now.”

Grand Central and the College of the Arts have worked to provide students opportunities to interact with their artists-in-residence through exhibitions, studios engagements on site, as well as workshops and integrated academic collaborations on campus.  Artist/Composer Lisa Bielawa has been an ongoing visiting artists-in-residence at GCAC for the past four years, as she has been researching, developing and realizing her ambitious serial broadcast opera project and winner of the 2015 ASCAP Multimedia Award, “Vireo.” During her time in residence, she has provided master workshops with CSUF music and composition students.  She has also made possible the opportunity for other performers involved with Vireo to provide workshops to CSUF students.  Through the residence Lisa, as well as Vireo performers Laurie Rubin and Matthias Bossi, performed as part of the CSUF New Music Festival founded by CSUF Music Professor Pamela Madsen. The full twelve episodes of Vireo will premiere in spring of 2017, in collaboration with Los Angeles based independent television station KCET.

Photo from the Unfinished Conversation: Reconstructing the Invisible Exhibition last year!

Spiak highlights last year’s exhibition by Bosnian born, New York based artist, Aida Šehović, in collaboration with Santa Ana forensic investigator, Leonard Correa, as a great example of relevancy. There work and resulting exhibition Unfinished Conversation: Reconstructing the Invisible explored the similarities in their process of dealing with personal traumas. Šehović lived through the war in the 1990s in her homeland while Correa also lives with the images of locations where horrific crimes were committed in Santa Ana. Šehović created a video interviewing her parents about their experience losing everything during the war – including her father drawing their beloved house from memory. Correa photographed common and familiar locations in Santa Ana, scenic images taken during perfect morning sunlight with no individuals present, yet locations where he was a first responder to horrific crime scenes of the recent past.  The images were presented with written text by Šehović from recollections told to her by Correa. A visitor may not have come knowing what the exhibition was all about, but after seeing the locations in Santa Ana and the stories that accompany them, they would realize that these locations were all places where homicides took place within their own communities. By connecting these stories of trauma and place, which is a relationship we are all familiar with through minor and major personal life experiences, the art becomes more relevant to the visitor.

Join us on the first Saturday of each month for the Downtown Santa Ana First Saturday Art Walk where Grand Central opens its doors for visitors to experience exhibitions and programs! Currently, Exploring The Nowannago: Kentifrican Modes of Resistance, a video and performance work featuring Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle and Tyler Matthew Oyer is on exhibition in the main gallery. The work provides a critique on labels of queerness, racial, and gender constructions. 

Alumni Feature – Joshua Pruett

Congratulations to Writer/Artist, Joshua Pruett (BFA 2002, MA 2004), on his Primetime Emmy Nomination for Disney TV’s “Phineas and Ferb,” “The Last Day of Summer.”
He is also the co-author of THE JUNGLE BOOK: The Strength of the Wolf is the Pack – the Official Novelization of the 2016 Box Office Smash Disney Feature Film!

Joshua Pruett, 38, grew up in North County San Diego where he graduated Rancho Buena Vista High School in 1996, then took courses at Mira Costa Community College before transferring to Cal State University Fullerton in 1999 to pursue Storyboarding, Illustration, and Writing for TV and Feature Animation. While at Fullerton, Joshua stepped into a leadership role in the Pencil Mileage Club, one of the biggest student communities on campus, was an active participant in the ACME Online Animation Mentorship program, earning his BFA in Entertainment Art/Animation and eventually graduating Cum Laude with his Masters in Illustration, all while interning with both Warner Bros. Animation and DreamWorks Feature Animation.

As a Writer/Artist, Joshua has over a decade of experience inflicting laughter on others, with credits on the recent history-making Kickstarter relaunch of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 (coming to Netflix in early 2017), PHINEAS AND FERB, and the HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON franchise. He has worked as a storyboard artist, writer and creative consultant for Disney TV, DreamWorks Feature Animation, Nickelodeon, DreamWorks TV, Awesomeness TV, Sprout/NBC Universal, Disney China/Beijing, Zombie Bake Shop, Netflix and Paramount Feature Animation.

His recent Primetime Emmy Nomination for Writing on PHINEAS AND FERB’S final episode, “The Last Day of Summer,” comes hot on the heels of developing THE HAUNTED MANSION for Disney TV with his friend and writing partner, Scott Peterson and their first novel, THE JUNGLE BOOK: THE STRENGTH OF THE WOLF IS THE PACK, adapting the 2016 live action feature film into a fun for all ages novel for young readers. He is currently living out a dream come true, writing dialogue for Weird Al Yankovic’s mouth on Disney XD’s MILO MURPHY’S LAW set to premiere in October of 2016.

Joshua is also internet-famous for getting a WIN on failblog (just type “EPIC WIN DAD” into Google Image search — he and his daughter’s award-winning Halloween costume is the first photo to come up). He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Amanda Hoyny Pruett, another CSUF Alum (Bachelors of Music and Vocal Performance, 2004) and their two children, in a constant war of attrition between his DVDs and her yarn.

For more information on Joshua, check out his social media and IMDB credits below:
Twitter: @zombietardis