3..2..1.. Happy New (School) Year!

Elda Pineda, Program Director

By Elda Pineda, Program Director


colored-pencilsI’ve always loved that “Back to School” feeling. As a kid, the world felt so alive with possibility whenever September rolled around. Along with unblemished Pink Pearl erasers, the woody scent of freshly sharpened pencils and the unwrinkled splendor of new Pee-Chee folders, there was the anticipation of making new friends, the potential of getting straight A’s, the unbridled hope of taking a good school picture and, maybe, finding a sport I played well. Any sport. Just one.

As an adult, my appreciation for a fresh set of office supplies remains undiminished, but that Back to School feeling has come to represent so much more. A new school year presents a clean slate, the opportunity to reinvent yourself into the person you want to be, and a world when last year’s mistakes and unmet goals are acknowledged, learned from… and then left behind. Back To School is a reboot.

A P.S. ARTS program reboot was the unofficial staff theme this summer. As we planned for the upcoming year – including the first year of our merger with Inside Out Community Arts and year one of serving the entire Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District – we challenged ourselves to focus not who we are today, but who we want to be and more importantly, who our students need us to be, tomorrow and beyond. The consensus was, more than ever, our students deserve the highest quality arts education possible. They deserve excellence.

As an organization, we have defined excellence as maintaining the highest standards in every aspect of the organization, from the office to the classroom. It means striving for the ideal.  It means stretching beyond the comfort zone of what’s “good enough” and being unafraid to fail.  It means taking our program theme for 2014-2015 to heart and actively “Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers.” And because we’re P.S. ARTS, it means doing all of the above with joy and passion.

Lofty ideals for certain, so we also spent a lot of time working with our staff and faculty to find the practical applications and ground the ideal in reality.  For example, for our office staff, it meant reorganizing and shifting roles and investing in infrastructure to support our growth as an organization. For our artists, it was a reaffirmation that the lessons we teach our students extend far beyond the classroom. We dismantled all of our teaching processes and examined everything we do: from curriculum planning, to how we greet students, to how we end each class, and we asked ourselves to be mindful and intentional about each step. We also talked about our relationships with our school partners, our students’ parents, and the neighborhoods they live in and created strategies on how to best engage them and create a sense of community through the arts.

We’re looking forward to sharing stories of our new endeavors. We are so very excited about the direction we’re heading, and we’re grateful for all of you, our supporters, for taking this journey with us. We hope that you, too, might be inspired to take a moment for renewal! (At the very least, buy yourself a new pen and notebook. It always feels good. Promise.)

Happy Back To School Reboot!

What Role Does A Teaching Artist Play In The Classroom?

By Benin Marshall, Education & Programs Intern

What role does a Teaching Artists play in the classroom?  How much do these artists impact the lives of their students?  My summer as the P.S. ARTS Education & Programs Intern has allowed me to better understand how important Teaching Artists are in the lives of the children they serve/teach.  P.S. ARTS Teaching Artists provide an outlet for creativity in the arts that many of their students would not have access to otherwise.  P.S. ARTS engages students in learning about the arts and encourages students to apply what they’ve learned to their daily lives.

I first got the chance to see a P.S. ARTS Teaching Artist in action at Harvard Elementary in MacArthur Park.  The Teaching Artist I shadowed was Matthew Orduña, a P.S. ARTS Theater Teaching Artist.  When I first stepped into Matthew’s class, I could instantly see the chemistry he had with his students.  He would engage them on different levels, asking them about their hobbies, favorite athletes, and why they liked that particular athlete.  For this particular project, Matthew had his students make a film out of one of the student’s scripts in class.  He also gave his students the opportunity to participate in every role the film had.  Students worked in casting roles, cinematography, lighting, set design, costume design, and sound.  It was amazing.  What stood out the most to me was how Matthew allowed his students to be creative problem solvers.

In one instance, Matthew asked students where a specific scene should be shot between a dialogue with the mother and her son.   One student gave the ideal location for the scene, though at that time of day the location was not accessible.  So the students brainstormed for a while more and finally came up with the solution of filming the scene in front of a window in their classroom.  They arranged the set for the scene, the actors rehearsed their lines, the director said, “Quiet on the set.”  In four takes, the students had the scene they needed.  This is exactly the kind of teaching and learning we need in the classroom–teaching that inspires students to actively participate and share their ideas and creates a learning environment that is both positive and collaborative.

Jose Castellanos Family Art Night 2014

Students at Jose Castellanos Family Art Night in 2014.

Another P.S. ARTS Theater Teaching Artists, Leo Vargas, had the same effect on students when I attended a P.S. ARTS Family Art Night at Jose Castellanos Elementary in Los Angeles.  Leo, along with Stephanie Kistner and Amy Knutson of the Education & Programs Team at P.S. ARTS, made sure every student had what was needed in order for the event to go well.  The lesson was based on the concept of painting to music. Students would look at a masterwork while Leo explained how the artist created the particular piece.  With this concept in their minds, Leo put on music and the students and their parents began to paint.  Leo had the whole audience engaged in the activity. Students were very involved in their painting and asking questions.  The Education & Programs Team supported the Teaching Artist, students, and parents by providing answers to any questions they might have had and additional art materials for them to use.  The event was a success and ended with a raffle giveaway of t-shirts, crayons, and music!

P.S. ARTS Teaching Artists play a critical part in student learning.  They go into the classrooms ready to give these students the skills to master their craft.  Since all of the P.S. ARTS Teaching Artists are also practicing artists, students get the opportunity to work with professional artists and learn useful skills that are used in the arts field. P.S. ARTS allows students to tap into their creative nature.  They provide students with the creative outlet needed for them to be successful in life and serve as positive mentors that will help them along their journey.

This summer internship at P.S. ARTS has truly taught me a great deal about what it takes to have a successful arts education nonprofit.  It takes a clear mission and a team with drive, open communication, and respect for one another.  It was very important for me to see how the staff at P.S.ARTS took time to check on their Teaching Artists and make sure everything was going well in their class.  Also, the Education & Programs Team was involved in creating lesson plans (for Teaching Artists and other nonprofits), To Go! Projects (for students to take home or access online), and Family Art Nights (which brought the community together and had parents engage with their children in making art).  This internship has given me a lot of new inspiration that I will use in the future to create positive change through the arts.

Intersections: Arts & Special Education

Stephanie Kistner, Senior Program Coordinator

By Stephanie Kistner, Senior Program Coordinator

For me, summer has always been a time to re-energize, reflect, and plan. Here at P.S. ARTS, it’s much the same. This summer the Programs Team has been busy reflecting on our accomplishments as an organization and planning our programs for the upcoming  year.

As part of the planning process, we annually research and review program models and best practices in the fields of arts and education. There are always exciting and innovative things happening in the arts and education worlds, and we’re eager to learn more about what’s happening in the field, in schools, and in classrooms.

Accessible and equitable arts programming are important values of P.S. ARTS, and with the addition of inclusive arts programs to our roster, utilizing best practices in special education and inclusion programs has been a priority.

Last month I had the opportunity to attend The Kennedy Center’s VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education Conference in Alexandria, Virginia. VSA is a department of the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center that serves as an international organization that promotes arts accessibility for all. VSA also supports arts education opportunities for people with disabilities.

The VSA conference brought together program administrators, teaching artists, arts specialists, classroom teachers, special education teachers, and researchers from across the country to learn more about the arts and special education.

The theme of the conference was “intersections.” Intersections between arts and special education, intersections between classroom teachers and teaching artists, intersections between arts specialists and special education teachers, and intersections between practitioners and researchers. The conference brought together a professional network of individuals who all believe that the arts play an integral role in the education of ALL students.

Students in the P.S. ARTS inclusive arts education program at Grand View Boulevard Elementary.

Students in the P.S. ARTS inclusive music education program at Grand View Boulevard Elementary.

I went to the conference with a mission: to find best practices and exemplar models that we could apply to our classrooms. What I quickly realized, and what I know very well working in education, is that there is not a one-size-fits-all model when it comes to classrooms, special education, and inclusion programs. To me, that is the exciting challenge of teaching, designing, and implementing lessons that fit a wide range of learning styles and that meet the needs of every student in the room.

Some approaches that I enjoyed learning more about and will continue to help P.S. ARTS Teaching Artists implement include:

  • UDL: Universal Design for Learning: UDL is a framework that helps educators design lessons for learners of varying abilities and learning goals. The framework can be applied to virtually any sort of educational setting and lends itself well to arts programming and inclusive, self-directed learning. UDL is central to P.S. ARTS programming and can be seen in all of our classrooms.
  • Social Emotional Learning: This approach is particularly helpful in inclusive classrooms that include students with Emotional Behavior Disorders (EBD) or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It can be difficult for these students to feel safe and comfortable enough to engage and participate in classroom activities. Social Emotional Learning through ensemble building in theater is one approach to reach and include all students as everyone learns together how to recognize, share, and control emotional responses.
  • Inclusion Based Arts Programs: One major take away from this approach was the community effort that it takes to manage and implement successful programs. Community is central to what P.S. ARTS does and this objective directly aligns with our programming. Built-in planning time, information sharing, goal setting, benchmarking plans, and clear methodology and approaches all contribute to student success in areas of increased communication and socialization skills, arts proficiency, and academic learning.

The conference opened with a quote by President John F. Kennedy that largely informs VSA’s work, and which closely resonates with the work of P.S. ARTS:

“I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but…for our contribution to the human spirit.” – President John F. Kennedy

Everything I learned at the VSA conference reinforced our values as an organization, primarily that providing universal access to an education that includes the arts is a matter of social justice, equity, and responsible public policy. I’m constantly inspired by the work that P.S. ARTS does and the change that it seeks to make in the world – in education, in classrooms, and in each and every student that we serve.

Spotlight On Our Tastemakers for Taste for Venice

Chelsea Martell, Events Coordinator

By Chelsea Martell, Events Coordinator

Taste of Venice, which will take place on Sunday, September 14th (tickets are on sale now!) is an exciting opportunity for our organization to collaborate with our culinary neighbors and host an event in the community we call home to raise vital funds for our arts education programs.  Taste of Venice, originally a fundraiser for Inside Out Community Arts, another Venice-based organization we acquired this summer, is an afternoon where local chefs open their doors for a unique tasting experience and a great cause.

New to the event this year is the addition of a Tastemaker committee comprised of culinary experts from throughout Los Angeles.  The Tastemakers will lead the Tasting Tour portion of the event, which will consist of well-known Abbot Kinney restaurants providing our guests samples of their favorite dishes.  Our Tastemakers will provide their expert insight into the food community of Los Angeles, as well as the dishes being sampled throughout the night.

As a thank you, we wanted to include a special feature about some of the Tastemakers who are part of this year’s event, as well as share why arts education is so important to them.  We are grateful for their work and for being a part of Taste of Venice 2014!

Devin AlexanderDevin Alexander, Chef of NBC’s “Biggest Loser”

Media Personality, Healthy Comfort Food Chef, Weight Loss Expert, and New York Times Bestselling Author Devin Alexander is the Chef of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser”, Host of “America’s Chefs on Tour” on PBS, author of eight cookbooks including “The Biggest Loser Cookbook” Series, and Executive Chef of Devinly Decadence™ on Royal Caribbean Cruiselines.  Devin’s unique approach to healthy cooking and her motivational personal story have landed her appearances on more weight loss and fitness shows than any other food expert or nutritionist in America.  Devin has shared her secrets for unbelievably decadent yet healthy foods through frequent appearances on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Biggest Loser, Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, The View, FOX, CNN, and others, and through over 500 magazine features including Prevention, Men’s Health and Shape. Having maintained her 70-pound weight loss for close to 20 years, she lives and eats her message: you don’t have to deprive yourself to be fit and healthy. For more information: www.devinalexander.com.

What is your favorite dish? I’m often spotted eating bowls of meatballs and bowl of garden fresh heirloom tomatoes – this Italian girl always goes back to her roots!   And then, of course, I rarely go a day without a Devinly Delites™ Brownie or Muffin.

Gary BaumGary Baum, The Hollywood Reporter

Gary Baum is a senior writer at The Hollywood Reporter, where he covers the intersection of the entertainment business and Los Angeles, with a focus on cultural issues and investigative features.  His dining stories have ranged from an exploration of the industry’s enduring appetite for investments in risky restaurant ventures to an oral history of Beverly Hills’ The Grill on the Alley. He also writes The Hollywood Reporter’s Hot New Restaurant column.

Why is art important to you? As John Updike put it, “What art offers is space – a certain breathing room for the spirit.”

What is currently your favorite dish? Right now, grilled stone fruit with burrata.

Challen CatesChallen Cates, Actress and Wine Producer, Challen Winery

Challen Cates is an actress of stage and screen (A Million Ways to Die in The West,   Big Time Rush) as well as a producer of award winning Pinot Noir – Look for her own personal label in wine shops and restaurants this fall, Challen Winery.  She is currently on stage in “Is There Sex After Marriage” at the Two Roads Theatre.

Why is art important to you?  Art is a life force that keeps me inspired, inquisitive and passionate.

What is your favorite food?  Chocolate pot de creme.

Jessica CollinsJessica Collins, Actress and Professional Chef

Jessica Collins is an Emmy-nominated actress and a professional chef.  Currently playing no-nonsense attorney at law Avery Bailey Clark on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, Ms. Collins is also a graduate from the pristine cooking college Le Cordon Bleu.  A recurring culinary guest on CBS’s “The Talk” and Hallmark Channel’s “Home and Family”, she produces and hosts her own cooking show “Sugared” and has an entertaining food blog at jessicacollins.com.

Why is art important to you? Art is in everything I see and do.  As an underprivileged kid myself growing up, I understand first hand the impact that the arts can have on a child.  Having art in your life at an early age builds confidence, provides healing, and gives hope.  As an adult, art continues to be the most satisfying way for me to express myself.  Allowing and encouraging creativity in people of all ages creates endless opportunities for all of us. 

What is your favorite food? Spaghetti Amatriciana… maybe because I’m part Italian, it’s pure perfection to me.

antonio diaz photoAntonio Diaz, Founder of Life & Thyme

Antonio Diaz is the founder and editor in chief of Life & Thyme, an online magazine documenting food culture with a storytelling sensibility.  Using the food industry as a canvas, Antonio and his band of creatives at Life & Thyme strive to create beautiful stories through the written word, films, and photography about the people that feed us.  When he’s not writing or documenting, you’ll often find him eating tacos or drinking cortados.

Why is arts important to you?  Art is important because it’s our way of putting imagination into reality.

What is your favorite food?  The taco.  It doesn’t really matter what kind of taco, as long as it’s a taco.  You can put anything onto a tortilla and make it a taco.  Everyone always seems happier while eating tacos.

CD caratdietCarole Dixon, The Carate Diet

Carole Dixon’s international career in film, television and publishing has led her around the world and her exotic escapades have all been documented in hundreds of global magazine, newspaper and web articles. Currently, Carole is the Editor-in-Chief of www.thecaratdiet.com – a luxury lifestyle site based in LA and the Editor-at-Large for Caviar Affair Magazine in the Bay Area. Other projects have included Editor of NBC’s The Feast; Wallpaper Magazine and their popular ‘City Guide’ Books; contributing writer for Departures, Town & Country, Rob Report, Angeleno, Malibu, Zagat and the N.Y. Post, among others, reviewing luxury 5-star resorts, Michelin-starred restaurants, wine country regions, spas, shops, interior design, art, jewelry and architecture. Carole was also the producer of TV program Food For Thought, hosted by AA Gill of the Sunday Times in London for many years.

Why is art important to you? Art provokes great conversations and welcome controversy while getting the creative juices flowing. A favorite piece can completely change my entire mood and open up a world of possibility. Besides food, this is one of the best ways we have as a culture to connect with our local communities as well as far-flung destinations.

What’s your favorite food? A good old taco and fortunately living in LA, there is a good Mexican restaurant or taco truck on just about every block.

Chef JudyJudy Han, Corporate Executive Chef of Mendocino Farms

As the Corporate Executive Chef of Mendocino Farms, Chef Judy continually pushes the limits on how to make ‘just another sandwich’, and designs innovative, soulful sandwiches, salads, and sides that use the best, seasonal ingredients from the restaurant’s local artisan farmers and ranchers. Han’s first job was at Lucques under Suzanne Goin, where she learned the virtues of working with local vendors who produced organically grown sustainable foods, after which she went on to work in some of LA’s finest kitchens, including Sona, Grace, Koi, and Literati II, before joining the Mendocino Farms team in 2007. When the passionate, energetic Han is not in the kitchen, she loves traveling and spending time with her husband and two children.

Michele GanMichele Gan, Owner of Serves You Right! Catering

Many elite Angelinos & Hollywood celebrities know Michele Gan as the go-to caterer for their private soirees and dinner parties.  A 1993 graduate of the California Culinary Institute, Michele’s background consists of 20+ years of experience in the food service industry.  Focusing on seasonal “California Cuisine”, she has become one of the most sought-after caterers in Los Angeles.

Why is art important to you? I believe arts education is crucial to a child’s development.  Every day I encourage my daughter to create, dance, explore, and express herself!  Throughout my career in catering and event planning, I am constantly reminded of the value of a creative mind and an artistic approach to food and event design.  I support P.S. ARTS because I know I’m not only enriching the lives of children today, but also contributing to a beautiful future.

What is currently your favorite dish? My philosophy is that food is best when it’s fresh, and not over handled.  Although I appreciate new trends and molecular gastronomy, I most enjoy a freshly shucked oyster or a beautiful pan-seared piece of seasonal fish.  I also believe that tradition is key.  Therefore, if it’s lunchtime you’ll find me at the Apple Pan!

Adam GertlerAdam Gertler, The Food Network

Adam Gertler is a chef and television host.  He was a finalist on The Food Network’s Next Food Network Star and host of Will Work For Food and Kid In A Candy Store.  He is the “wurstmacher” (maker of fine sausage) for Dog Haüs restaurants and the host of FX Movie Download on the FX network, a show that presents movies with behind-the-scenes features.

Why is art important to you? Growing up, the arts were what saved me.  From a young age, I knew I had no talent for athletics and I often got in trouble for being a class clown and a daydreamer.  When I discovered the arts, particularly theater, my life instantly had a purpose.  Theater and the performing arts made me feel like I had a place in the world, like I belonged to a secret club, and that helped me through all the awkward stages of my development.

Josh GoldmanJosh Goldman, Soigné Group and Owner and Operator of Brilliantshine

Josh Goldman started his career in food & beverage while bartending in college. His immediate passion for the industry led him to pursue formal coursework with the Court of Master Sommeliers, where he earned the distinction of Advanced Level Sommelier. Goldman then honed his skills for managing front of house operations and creating elevated service standards for some of Los Angeles’ most acclaimed establishments. Under the helm of chef Walter Manzke,his role as General Manger at critically acclaimed, Bastide and later on at lauded French bistro, Church & State, was instrumental in earning back-to-back 3-star ratings from the Los Angeles Times.

In 2009, Goldman joined chef Michael Voltaggio at The Dining Room at the Langham, Pasadena, overhauling the wine program to complement Voltaggio’s innovative menu. In 2011, he would open Voltaggio’s flagship restaurant, ink., as General Manager and Beverage Director. Notably, ink. was awarded the title of “Best New Restaurant in the Country” from GQ Magazine and became a highly regarded establishment in Los Angeles’ exciting evolution of fine dining.

In 2012, Goldman would team up with mixologist Julian Cox to create Soigné, a boutique management and consulting group focused on beverage program development and restaurant/bar training, operations and management. Together, they have created unique and compelling bar programs for Circa in Manhattan Beach, Belcampo in Santa Monica and Acabar in Hollywood.

Goldman has won several bartending awards including a national championship through Cochon 555’s“PunchKings.” Additionally,Goldmanisconsistentlysoughtaftertojudgewine competitions around the country and currently is a part of the advisory board of the Museum of the American Cocktail.

Alan JacksonAlan Jackson, Chef and Founder of Lemonade Restaurant Group

Chef and Founder of Lemonade Restaurant Group, Alan Jackson has helped redefine the fast casual dining segment in Southern California.  The idea for Lemonade came from the ongoing question, “What’s for dinner?” He realized that the options for a quick bite or take-out were limited, and not particularly healthy.  So he sought to create a chef-driven, relaxed approach to contemporary California cuisine.  Lemonade offers fresh, healthy food made from seasonal ingredients and caters to people looking for a quick lunch or “grab and go” dinner.  Since the opening of its flagship location more than six years ago, Lemonade has opened thirteen additional locations throughout Southern California and most recently Dubai.

Catherine McCordCatherine McCord, Founder of Weelicious

Catherine, mom to Kenya and Chloe, created Weelicious.com in 2007 as a platform to show parents around the world how easy and beneficial it is to expose children to wholesome, delicious homemade food.  After personally struggling with how to feed Kenya, Catherine recognized a need for realistic and nutritious recipes for parents using minimal ingredients that are fully loaded with flavor.  Weelicious now houses more than 1,200 original recipes and more than 230 videos.  Catherine inspires her community with ingredients that are readily available and recipes that are fast and easy.  Once a day, Weelicious debuts a new recipe or tip as well as a how-to cooking video posted each week to provide a wealth of cooking information for families.

In addition, Catherine is on Guy’s Grocery Games on the Food Network and has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, and Access Hollywood Live.  She also has a monthly column in Parents Magazine and Huffington Post.

Why is art important to you? Art has always been a way for me to channel my energy. I became passionate about cooking because I look at it as edible art. Art is such an amazing way to express yourself and feelings.

What is your favorite food? Figs.

tara-mattMatthew Poley, Chef of Heirloom LA

Originally from Clarkston, Michagan just outside Detroit, Executive Chef and Co-Owner Matt Poley began “catering” at an early age, cooking for friends and family at high school tail-gate parties before football games.  In 2004, he moved to Los Angeles, where he was classically trained by Gino Angelini of Angelini Osteria and from there, sent to intern at the two-star restaurant, Vissani, near Orvieto, Italy.  Centrally based on a small farm and completely self-contained, this was where Matt learned the value of personally knowing where he sources his ingredients.  Matt continues this tradition at Heirloom LA, seeking out small farms and humanely raised livestock for the fresh ingredients in his dishes.

Why is art important to you?  Art is important to me because so often people call food art.  As Tara likes to say, “You can’t hang it on the wall,” but certainly it can be artful and I am delighted to see food plated so artfully now at some of my favorite restaurants.

What is your favorite food?  Favorite food has to be LASAGNA!

Kate RolandKate Roland, LA Brunchers

Kate Roland is a co-founder of LABrunchers.com, a website dedicated to all things brunch.  Along with fellow co-founder Leah Smith, these LA Brunchers are Los Angeles’ one and only brunch gurus. Their website features local restaurants with exceptional brunches, focusing on supporting restaurants highlighting farm fresh ingredients, locally sourced items, and of course, delicious cocktails.

Why is art important to you? Whether it is a book you cannot put down, a painting that moves you, or a meal you talk about for weeks to follow, artistic expression allows you to escape the mundane if even for a moment.  It is also something you can enjoy with a cocktail in hand – one of our favorite things about brunch.

What is currently your favorite dish? Since mimosas are not an option, our favorite food has to be eggs.  From crab cake benedict to croque-madam, you can find us eating this brunch staple at any time of day.

Dana SlatkinDana Slatkin, Beverly Hills Farmgirl, Chef and Owner of Beverly Hills Farmers Market, Inc.

Dana Slatkin is a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef, cookbook author, food writer, and cooking class instructor in Los Angeles.  As the Beverly Hills Farmgirl, Dana teaches a popular series of cooking classes in her home, runs a pop-up shop and online store, and writes a weekly blog, 90210farmgirl.com. She is currently at work on a food-obsessed television show.

Why is art important to you? Art informs everything I aspire to do well, from cooking to teaching to producing to parenting. Words often fall short in helping us express ourselves. That’s where art comes in. Life would be awfully drab without art.

What is your favorite food? My favorite foods are dirty chai lattes, creamed spinach, cheese with crusty bread, and fruit cobbler.

SONY DSCJennifer Sommer, Sommer Dish and West Coast Correspondent Food & Wine

Jennifer Sommer believes everyday is a fresh opportunity to discover the world through food and shares her favorite finds on her website, sommerdish.com.  With an extensive career in publishing, she currently acts as Food & Wine magazine’s West Coast Correspondent, writing and reporting for the New York-based, award-winning editorial team.  Additionally, she acts as an advisor to many lifestyle brands and start-ups, including Santa Monica-based Tastemade, while placing a priority on giving back to her community.  She currently resides in Pacific Palisades with her equally food-obsessed husband and their two sweets-obsessed daughters.

Why is art important to you? Art is important to me because it has played a large role in my family’s history, allowing family members to capture timeless moments in a way not possible with words.  My youngest daughter is a budding artist and I want her to know a world where art is valued, accessible, and can create opportunities for all.

XO2A0088Freddy Vargas, Executive Chef of Scarpetta & Paninoteca

Freddy Vargas joined Scarpetta Beverly Hills as Chef de Cuisine in 2010 leading an award winning team of chefs, sommeliers, and servers while overseeing the day-to-day operations in the kitchen. He was promoted to Executive Chef in 2013. Earlier this year, he conceptualized an artisanal sandwich concept that became Paninoteca – which he oversees and operates right out of Scarpetta’s kitchen for lunch on weekdays.

Vargas began his career with Chef Scott Conant at Scarpetta at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach in 2008 where he spent one year as Sous Chef before moving to New York to work as Chef de Cuisine at the flagship location. Prior to joining Chef Conant’s team, Vargas held the position as a cook at David Burke & Donatella in New York’s Upper East Side from 2006 to 2007.

A graduate of the American Culinary Institute of New York in 2005, Vargas enjoys being a leader, but says it’s his relationships with the guests and knowing what they really like that allows him to truly be creative in the kitchen. In 2012, he was honored as on of Zagat’s 30 Under 30 in Los Angeles. Most recently, he won his episode of Esquire TV’s second season of Knife Fight.

Drew and Ben LA Foodie PictureDrew Hubbard and Ben Waters, L.A. Foodie

Drew founded L.A. Foodie in 2008 with the intention of blogging and reviewing the dives and shacks that make-up his favorite spots in Los Angeles.  Drew writes many of the reviews and posts on the blog, provides many of L.A. Foodie’s tweets, and joins Ben Waters on the #LAFoodiePodcast.

Ben was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, which means he can survive on barbecue sauce alone for up to three weeks.  Ben enjoys taking pics of his food and posting them on Instagram, reviewing new restaurants, and sunsets (alcoholic or otherwise).  He also produces & co-hosts the #LAFoodiePodcast as well as the occasional YouTube video.

Why is art important to you? The creation and enjoyment of art encourages abstract thinking.  The creative process is fun and rewarding, plus it helps foster the development of problem solving skills.  In short, art makes you better at life.

What is currently your favorite dish? Not much beats a great hamburger.

In addition to the list, we are also extremely excited to have Challen Cates, Nick Liberato, Lulu Powers, and Jon Shook on our Tastemaker committee.  We look forward to seeing you on September 14th!

TakePART Art Festival 2014 Recap

Knutson, Amy.Edited.Cropped

By Amy Knutson, Education & Programs Assistant

On June 1st, 2014 we held our 3rd Annual TakePART Art Festival at Prairie Vista Middle School in Hawthorne, and it was a huge success!  More than 2,000 people attended, 24 student groups performed, there were 18 art booths throughout, and over 500 pieces of student artwork were displayed in a student art gallery.

We’d like to give a big shout out to all of our TakePART partners, booth participants, and the 80+ volunteers who made it possible!  We couldn’t have done it without all of your help.  At this end of this article you will find a photo gallery of some of the pictures taken at the Festival by myself, Senior Program Coordinator Lauren Deck, and Amy Philips from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.  We are also thrilled to share this video created by our Getty Foundation Programs Intern, Benin Marshall!

The TakePART Initiative, facilitated by P.S. ARTS, is a collaborative partnership between arts education, philanthropic, health, and community organizations, along with five school districts in the Centinela Valley region (Centinela Valley High School, Hawthorne, Lawndale Elementary, Lennox, and Wiseburn Unified) who have come together to ensure that the over 20,000 children in this region have equal access to high-quality, sequential arts education from Kindergarten to 12th grade.

Finally, I am also excited to announce the launch of the very first TakePART Initiative website (takepartinitiative.org) created by the Teen Techies in our newly acquired Teen Media Initiative, an Extended Learning program of P.S. ARTS.  The Teen Media Initiative gives teenagers exposure to digital media education and opportunities to assist local businesses in creating websites and marketing materials.  The TakePART Initiative website created by our Teen Techies will be a great resource for all of the organizations involved in this collaborative partnership.

Once again, thank you to all our partners and supporters who have helped make the TakePART Initiative such a success! We all feel so privileged to be working with a group of such dedicated partners!

Taste of Venice: Sneak Peek!

Chelsea Martell, Events Coordinator

By Chelsea Martell, Events Coordinator

Taste of Venice LogoIf you haven’t already heard, this summer P.S. ARTS acquired the Venice-based organization Inside Out Community Arts and with it, their fabulous Taste of Venice event.  Taste of Venice is an opportunity for the chefs in our eclectic community to open their doors for a unique tasting experience in support of our award-winning arts education programs.  We have some exciting additions to this year’s event that will hopefully make the experience even more enjoyable for the generous participating restaurants and our enthusiastic guests.

This year, as in years past, the event will begin with an Opening Celebration at the Electric Lodge followed by a Tasting Tour on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. However, this year our guests will be divided into 25 self-selected tour groups, each led by a well-known member of the Los Angeles culinary community, who will help spark conversation about the great tastes at each stop along the way. We are so grateful to those confirmed thus far including Michele Gan, Chef and Owner of Serves Your Right! Catering, Chef Nick Liberato of Venice Whaler Restaurant, Jennifer Sommer of Sommer Dish, Gary Baum with the Hollywood Reporter, Kate Roland of the LA Brunchers, and Drew Hubbard and Ben Waters of LA Foodie; these culinary experts will also be at the Opening Celebration, which we are excited to announce will be hosted by Adam Gertler of The Food Network. The Opening Celebration will include a silent auction, cooking demonstrations, and music as well as sample bites from other Venice-based restaurants. Finally, this year’s Taste of Venice will include a Post Reception offering guests dessert and coffee to cap off the evening.

We would like to say a special thank you to all of the restaurants and culinary experts who help make this event so special (and delicious!), and we look forward to making this year’s Taste of Venice the best one yet.  Also, be sure to follow the Taste of Venice Facebook page to stay up to speed on participating restaurants.

We hope you will join us on September 14th!

Confirmed restaurants for the Opening Celebration:
Barnyard Venice
Café Gratitude
Chaya Venice
Groundwork Coffee
Hotel Erwin – Barlo Kitchen & Cocktails
Komodo Venice
Superba Snack Bar and Superba Food & Bread
Venice Whaler Food & Bar

Confirmed restaurants for the Tasting Tour:
Hal’s Bar & Grill
Joe’s Restaurant
Primitivo Wine Bistro
TOMS drip coffee
Willie Jane

September 14th, 2014
Opening Celebration: 3pm-4:30pm
Tasting Tour: 4pm-6:30pm
Post Reception: 6:30pm-7:30pm

The Electric Lodge
14161 Electric Avenue
Venice, CA 90291

Please note: Tasting Tours will begin promptly at 4pm. Please be sure to arrive in plenty of time to enjoy the many restaurants at the Opening Reception and find your Tasting Tour group.  Stay tuned for tickets going on sale August 6th!