California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

June 01, 2008Mary Beth Barber

Background on the California Imagination Project

California Imagination represents a unique partnership between the California Arts Council, the various artists and arts organizations in California, and visual artist Kogan. The images and objects in the California Imagination installation are as varied as the arts and artists in the state. Samples include:

-- a quill from the L.A. Shakespeare Festival;
-- a cloisonne and wood box with a trout motif from Mono County Council for the Arts and its upcoming public-art exhibit "Trail of the Trout;"
-- 35mm camera used by inner-city youth to learn photography through Venice Arts;
-- a found-object sculpture of three paint brushes from Spirit in the Arts in Sacramento in their after-school program;
-- artwork created by Dawn Whitaker -- a mother of five who teaches visual arts for no pay -- for her husband who's serving multiple tours of duty in Iraq;
-- a copy of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce's "Hollywood Star;"
-- an authentic California Indian basket representing a priceless collection from the California Department of Parks and Recreation;
-- ruby slippers from the California Musical Theater's Music Circus production of The Wizard of Oz (the 1939 movie was also filmed in Culver City, California);
-- images of the world-renowned J. Paul Getty Museum and Getty Villa;
-- a copy of California by former California State Librarian Kevin Starr;
-- a mariachi uniform from Plaza de la Raza in Los Angeles; and
-- ballet shoes from the San Diego Ballet.

This list represents only about 4 percent of the objects and items loaned or donated. A comprehensive website explaining the history and significance behind each item will be available soon from the California Arts Council.

About artist Jillian Kogan

Born in the "Old Line State" of Maryland, artist Jillian Kogan attended classes at the Baltimore Museum of Art and began making intricate collages at a tender age. Her heroes Peter Blake and Jasper Johns sought objects that "are seen and not looked at," and she is dedicated to the same ideal. After graduating from Boston University and a brief graduate stint at Harvard, she moved to California.

When a California neighbor unfurled a Bear Flag, she knew instantly that she wanted to demystify its iconography. For five years she has incorporated her own brand of phrases along with the early Golden State mottos: "Why Not Reinvent Yourself" and "Find Yourself Here" (a motto that is currently utilized by the California Travel and Tourism Commission). For her first solo show, "The New Republic," she integrated U.S. currency, Bolivian coffee, pills, sea shells, and CDs.

When she isn't making sociopolitical statements on pennants, Kogan is focused on giving back and supporting children's arts. To this end, she launched "100% California Imagined," an after-school art program working with students to create their own California flag art. Los Angeles gallery owner Robert Berman once said of Kogan's assemblage art, "What Jasper Johns is to the American flag, Jillian is to the California State flag." Jillian's work may be found on the web at

About the other artists involved in California Imagination

The California Arts Council is indebted to all parties who donated their time and expertise to this project: Ms. Kogan, California visual artist; Billy Gottlieb and Playback Music Supervision; the Ventures and Capitol Records for the use of "Pipeline;" the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena and Executive Director Scott Ward; video editor and designer Nicholas Maximytchev and the production and executive staff at Eye Candy Media; lighting designer Anthony DeMeglio of Palm Springs; Samy's Camera, Inc., in Pasadena; State of California photographer Duncan McIntosh in Los Angeles; sound designer Jimmy Bell, and 3rd Bedroom Studios in Sacramento; California Poet Laureate Al Young; various local arts agencies and arts networking organization that donated their time through outreach and collecting items and images; and the over 250 California artists and arts organizations who participated in the California Imagination project. The 15-second spot was initially created for the outdoor screen at the San Francisco International Film Festival in April and May 2008, but is intended to highlight the arts from all areas of California and can be shown in media outlets and other venues statewide.

About the Arts of California
California boasts more creative businesses and creative-arts employees than any other state -- 98,949 creative businesses that employ 500,891 Californians as of January 2008, according to the Creative Industries study from Americans for the Arts based on employment information from Dun & Bradstreet. According to the 2004 study The Arts: a Competitive Advantage for California II, the nonprofit arts alone account for $5.4 billion of the state's economy and attract 71.2 million people who actively participate in California nonprofit arts as artists, art lovers, educators and cultural tourists. And recent studies have shown that creativity, imagination and innovation are necessary talents for workers so the future U.S. job market remains globally competitive, sparking support of a robust arts education for California children.

See the California Imagination video PSA
Cable stations will be able to obtain the California Channel through their website at -- email to make a program request. Stations and other media outlets that are not able to download the PSA may obtain a copy by contacting Mary Beth Barber at (916) 322-6588 or Links to the YouTube video of California Imagination can be found on the California Arts Council website at .

The statewide release of this PSA and others corresponds to the California Arts Council's 2005- 2006 strategic planning process which reaffirmed the agency's commitment to arts in education, and the importance of sequential arts instruction in California schools. The resulting plan outlines a program direction that includes public awareness of the importance of the arts and arts education in California.

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