Though CalArtians are committed to shaping and creating the future with their art, the campus itself has long been associated with lore and legend. Take a look through the gallery below to unearth pieces of the Institute’s (alt)history spanning the past half-century, featuring items from the archives, half-truths, researched rumors, and factoids that may or may not be true!
All images are courtesy of the CalArts Archive unless otherwise noted.
Though the classroom A113 has reached legendary status as an Easter Egg in every Pixar film, Character Animation classes are no longer held there. Instead, Graphic Design students have long called the classroom home.
Did you ever catch
The Simpsons episode “3 Scenes Plus a Tag from a Marriage”? Legendary Conceptual artist and CalArts founding faculty John Baldessari made an appearance in a flashback scene with Marge, who attempts to snag an interview with him at a gallery for the Springfield Shopper. The episode also features Bart repeating lines at a chalkboard, a possible reference to Baldessari’s seminal work I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art (1971). | Credit: 'THE SIMPSONS' © and TM 2017 20th Television. All rights reserved.
“I got that disco ball from a friend of mine in 2009 to use during the CSSSA (California State Summer School for the Arts) dances. Because it’s so big, I had nowhere to put it so I keep it hanging in the Main Gallery. It’s been used at every event since then. Like a lot of things at CalArts, if you put something up, everyone assumes it’s supposed to be there. If I had my way, every room would have a disco ball in it. It just seems right.” –Michael Darling, faculty and technical director, School of Theater.
“There was this guy in the audience who was naked except for a boa constrictor wrapped around him. I was handing out the degrees then. And I’m terrified—terrified—of snakes. So the provost went down and asks the guy if he could leave the boa constrictor behind because the president is going to faint. And the guy said, ‘I can’t do that. I’d be naked.’” –President Steven Levine (speaking about a favorite CalArts moment in the
Los Angeles Times, May 24, 2017.)
A mysterious and strangely-placed door, located on the fourth floor between the E400 theaters, has been the subject of a Reddit thread speculating on its purpose.
During Robert Benedetti's immersive theater production of Kafka's
The Trial, several audience groups bonded so strongly with Joseph K. that they obstructed the warders from killing their protagonist in the final scene.
A student once spent two days in an elevator at CalArts for an art piece.
Before Uber and Lyft, there was CalArts’ hitchhiking project. These bumper stickers, designed by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, were given out to identify drivers headed to and from CalArts who were open to picking up hitchhikers.
The first academic year of CalArts took place in 1970, on the campus of a former Catholic girls high school in Burbank called Villa Cabrini.
At a graduation in 1980, one of the graduates pretended to cut off his own hand, which resulted in fake blood spurting onto the CalArts President Bob Fitzpatrick’s suit. The student then got picked up by a helicopter and flown away. Later, during the same ceremony, Fitzpatrick took to the air himself, piloting his own hot air balloon. However, the president neglected to make arrangements for his return to campus after he landed his balloon and was unable to hitchhike back because he was drenched in fake blood from the earlier incident, and nobody was willing to pick him up.
Alison Knowles’ piece
99 Red was first staged on the CalArts tennis court. Consisting of 99 apples placed in three lines, the piece invited participants to take an apple if they had something to put in its place. One person left their car keys because they’d always wanted to walk to work.
Sitar faculty Amiya Dasgupta, student of legendary player and 1985 CalArts honorary degree recipient Ravi Shankar, came up around the time of The Beatles. A close friend of George Harrison's, he also played tabla on the
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band track “Within You Without You.” Dasgupta taught at CalArts for two decades, during which he’s said to have founded and conducted the North Indian Music Ensemble.
For most of the 1970s, the CalArts Spring Fair welcomed thousands of people to campus for a weekend-long event featuring booths, vendors, performances, food, and more.
Composition faculty Arthur Jarvinen did some far-out experimental work influenced by various factions of new music (John Cage, Stockhausen, Lou Harrison, and others). Whenever a student was too quirky and the faculty didn’t know what to do with them, they were sent to Jarvinen because he knew how to communicate with them.
The CalArts pool opened in the summer of 1974.
Is this Tim Burton’s door in Chouinard or an homage to the director?
Parent complaint (1971)
From the minutes of a CalArts council meeting on the importance of literacy among the student body.
F200 has served as a pop-up concert venue over the years, including playing host to the Henry Rollins-fronted hardcore punk band Black Flag on Nov. 11, 1982, and the noise punk group No Age on March 4, 2013. | Photo by Mallory Strong