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Heart for Art: Nationally recognized artist and one-time Cabrillo College and UCSC art instructor Barrington MacLean wonders why the Open Studios committee didn't see a cohesive vision in his eclectic body of work.


Devil's Music

The city on the hill may not be Kent State, but UCSC officials aren't taking any chances. Citing the potential for a large crowd, campus police and administrators killed the June 3 Rockslut Festival one day before the concert.

"We marketed this event as safe sex and dangerous music, mocking the attitudes of 'Oh, those kids and their dangerous music' " says student organizer Jared Naysack. "We didn't anticipate that would be the attitude we actually encountered with the administration and campus security."

The festival, sponsored by the UCSC Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Network was to benefit the Campus HIV Program.

UCSC police say too much advertising and a popular lineup featuring nine local bands, including Spitkiss and Oliver Brown, threatened to turn the 200- to 400-person event into an excess of rock & rollers.

"The original event they had described would not have required police presence," says UCSC police Sgt. Nancy Carroll. Police estimate 1,000 concert-goers would have showed up for Rockslut.

In dreams, maybe, Naysack says. From the get-go, in March, Naysack says he told police he expected between 200 and 400 people to attend Rockslut. "I said my dream would be 500." Still, 400 would be a more realistic estimate, he says. Not a thousand.

Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood and associate vice chancellor of undergraduate education Lynda Goff knew about the concert, too, and received regular updates from Naysack, who is also Greenwood's intern for the HIV Program.

"I talked about it being my project for this quarter with the chancellor and vice chancellor Lynda Goff, and they all seemed excited about it," Naysack says.

Two days before the event, UCSC police had a change of heart.

"They said they were concerned about security, and they wanted to cancel the event," Naysack says. "We had six UCSC proctors to monitor how many people were coming in and out of the event [and] 15 [private] security guards, and we also had a $1-million insurance policy from the YMCA. And none of this was good enough."

While Student Center director Tara Crowly calls it "purely a logistical nightmare," student organizers suspect ulterior motives. "This says to me that there is a hidden agenda to suppress student communication through music and sexuality," Naysack says. "As a student--not to mention an intern of the chancellor--that, yeah, we were really misled as to the university's support for the event."

With tickets selling for $5, and donations from food sales and vendor sales, organizers estimate the event would have raised $3,000 for the program.

"It's so ridiculous," says UCSC student Nicki Ishmael, an event coordinator. "It's such a positive thing to have so many people come together for such a great cause. The faculty are still afraid of rock & roll and teenagers."

For more information, check out www.rockslut.com.

War of Art

Observers have long grumbled about the selection process for the Cultural Council's banner October art event, Open Studios. This year's selection has drawn an angry response from a respected group from the Mission Street warehouse/studios complex for excluding longtime Santa Cruz artist Barrington MacLean.

"If the Library of Congress Art Selection Committee, the Cabrillo and UCSC hiring committees as well as many other juries and galleries accept this professional artist's work, why did the Open Studios Committee not find his qualifications up to their standards?" The letter was signed by seven Santa Cruz artists: Mary Dudley, Manny Santana, Daniel Stolpe, Susan Wagner, Donald Roy Thompson, Steve Chang and Vivienne Andres.

Open Studios committee chair Sally Jorgensen says that MacLean's presentation didn't score high enough on the committee's three criteria: technical proficiency, style and vision and a cohesive body of work.

In previous years, MacLean's application might have earned a second look when the committee evaluated his extensive résumé and exhibition record. For this year's judging, however, Jorgensen says the committee decided to make most of the evaluations solely on the slides, only considering experience for the final cuts.

In a draft letter of response, Jorgensen explains that making a true examination of an artist's experience and reputation is a difficult task. "It's hard to imagine such an approach could be a fair, objective, defensible one--or even operationalizable (sic)."

MacLean questions whether the committee's criteria--especially the cohesiveness of the work--are adequate to evaluate a professional artist.

"I'm a schizophrenic person," he says. "But I'm a dynamic schizophrenic. In my culture, I come from Panama, that's what it means to be an artist."

Wrath of Kahn

Mayor Keith Sugar got mired in deep do-do as a result of comments he made at the raucous May 31 meeting of the Santa Cruz Action Network, where he suggested that residents of Beach Flats go back to Mexico if they want to live in squalor.

But to some, Sugar's remarks pale in comparison to a comment by homeless advocate Robert Norris Kahn.

Kahn, better known by his "pen" name of Robert Norse, was there to lobby for SCAN support of the tenants of the Dolphin and Lee Apartments, who want a city council guarantee of permanent housing during and after redevelopment of their substandard buildings.

During the brouhaha, SCAN co-chair Bernice Belton accused Kahn of orchestrating the issue for his own purposes. In response, Kahn uttered a "Sieg Heil." Both Kahn and Belton are Jewish.

Belton's daughter, SCAN steering committee member Nora Hochman, did not attend, but later expressed outrage in an exchange of emails with Kahn, which she provided to Nu-z.

"Your use of the term is despicable beyond words," Hochman wrote. "As you well know and I'm sure intended, the term 'Sieg Heil' is the most offensive, provocative, hurtful thing that can be said or brought to mind to a Jew." Kahn had gone "beyond your usual annoying, obstructionist, naysaying, egotistical and self-serving ways and had the nerve to utter such ugly violent words."

The ever-sanctimonious Kahn responded that Belton had it coming.

"My 'Sieg Heil' was a spontaneous response to what sounded like another loud snotty barrage that had nothing to do with the issues at the SCAN meeting," Kahn replied. "When she is personally abusive to me, I feel it is appropriate to satirize her high-handed authoritarian behavior. For you or her to whine about it sounds like sour grapes."

Crippled Creek

Despite staunch opposition from county Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt and much of the Santa Cruz City Council, the Metro Transit District may get the green light to move ahead on the MetroBase bus center at a June 15 California Coastal Commission hearing.

Until now the project's main obstacle was a dispute over a waterway through the site, a 20-acre lot on Delaware Ave. owned by Liption Tea Inc. MTD management wants to relocate the drainage, but Westside residents appealed April 13 to the Coastal Commission.

The May 25 commission staff report designates the waterway a stream, not a ditch, subject to stronger protections. It also recommends the commission assume jurisdiction over the stream-moving project at the upcoming hearing in Santa Barbara.

But the report also says the commission should approve a coastal development permit for the project, allowing the stream to be moved on the condition that the California Department of Fish and Game weigh in prior to the relocation, and that future development be prohibited within 100 feet of the waterway.

"The commission first has to decided whether to assume jurisdiction," says coastal program analyst Kevin Colin. "Then they could accept staff's recommendation or not, there could be further modifications [to the project] or denial."

But given the politics, is the Coastal Commission recommendation moot?

"Until the board acts differently, the Westside is still the preferred site," says transit district GM Les White. The district's board of directors will meet July 21 to discuss alternate sites, including a Harvey West Park location.

Housing in the Pits

The university has long been criticized for not providing sufficient student housing. Now UCSC wants to preserve some on-campus beds, but not everyone is thrilled at how they are going about it.

Later this month the university will relocate the 19-unit modular village at Colleges 9 and 10, across from the Cowell Health Center, to the Lower Quarry and begin construction on new dorms. The complex will house 153 students.

UCSC lecturer Matt Osborn says that the project "directly contradicts two of their planning guidelines" concerning building in the canyons and encroaching on the Great Meadow.

The move appears to violate the 1988 Long Range Development Plan. The LRDP calls for future campus building to be infill, concentrated in the central campus. "Leap-frog development into new areas should be avoided."

The plan also specifically rules out development in the canyons.

"The canyons should be managed to ensure their continued use as wildlife corridors," reads the LRDP. "Temporary uses, trailers, farming projects or other activities which would be physically disruptive to the canyon landscape should not occur."

A draft environmental impact report was reviewed in March and approved by the UC Regents last month, according to campus spokesperson Liz Irwin.

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From the June 7-14, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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