Creative Catalyst

The San Diego Foundation Creative Catalyst program strengthens San Diego’s creative economy by providing opportunities for local professional artists to create work that advances their careers, increases civic engagement and enriches our quality of life.

We award artists with $10,000 to $20,000 fellowships, and partner with nonprofit arts and culture mentoring organizations. Fellowships require the development of new work or advancement of existing work over a 12-month period that includes extensive community engagement and culminating project exhibitions or performances for all San Diegans to enjoy. San Diego-based artists 18 and older working in visual, performing, literary and media arts at all stages of their careers are eligible to apply. Artists must not be enrolled in degreed programs during the fellowship.

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2018-2019 Grant Cycle

The San Diego Foundation is pleased to announce that the Creative Catalyst 2018-2019 grant cycle is coming soon. The application opens September 2017 and will remain open through December 2017. Grant guidelines and a link to the application will be available here.  Interested parties will have an opportunity to ask questions during an online webinar. The webinar date will be announced in the grant guidelines. Please wait to ask questions until the grant guidelines are posted.

This year, to encourage more opportunities for artists and a broader set of applications, rather than having artists apply to pre-selected arts organizations, artists will choose any qualifying arts organization, pair independently with them and submit a joint application. The Foundation encourages grant seekers to begin thinking about partnering opportunities now.

2016 Artist Fellows

Steve Gunderson

Actor, composer, arranger, orchestrator, musical director, director and playwright

Sponsor: The San Diego Ballet

Steve Gunderson

Steve Gunderson is an actor, composer, arranger, orchestrator, musical director, director and playwright. As a musical arranger, Gunderson created Off Broadway’s Back To Bacharach & David (which was revived in Los Angeles with the participation of Burt Bacharach and Hal David), he co-wrote and arranged the score for the musical Suds, which has had dozens of productions worldwide, and most recently he co-created and arranged the score for the World Premiere of Everybody’s Talkin’: The Music of Harry Nilsson starring Tony Award Winners Alice Ripley and Gregory Jbara. As an actor he has had major roles in San Diego at the Old Globe Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Repertory Theatre, Cygnet Theatre, New Village Arts, North Coast Rep, Diversionary Theatre, and he has won several San Diego Critics Craig Noel Awards.

Project:The Artificial Woman” is a collaborative music/theatre/dance piece exploring artistic, romantic and power relationships between artists Oskar Kokoschka and Alma Mahler and its reflection in today’s society. When Alma broke off the suffocating affair, Oskar eventually commissioned an artist to make a life size Alma doll, and in this tale the doll becomes the truth teller of the piece, ready to pounce on the roles that society dictates women are supposed to play, and turn them on their heads. With original score and words this project will create not just a new musical work, but new poetic material that will challenge and delight our artists and local audiences in telling this dark and very strange variation on the Pygmalion theme.

Michelle Montjoy

Practicing artist and teacher

Sponsor: Oceanside Museum of Art

Michelle Montjoy

As a practicing artist and teacher in San Diego county for over twenty years, Michelle Montjoy has had solo shows at the Oceanside Museum of Art, The Athenaeum Arts and Music Library and Art Produce Gallery in North Park.  Montjoy was included in the 2015 Cannon Invitational, numerous regional juried shows and was invited to show at Paseo Taos, and the OneBeat festivals in New Mexico.  She has facilitated many community art projects, taught art in public schools, the Lux Art Institute and The Athenaeum as well as being engaged with local professional artist collectives.

Project:River” is the reimagining of traditional techniques and attitudes of knitting into a contemporary role that connects communities through comfort, inspiration and empowerment.  Using large table top looms or finger crocheting forms, the community will be invited to contribute to a visual conversation by knitting or crocheting, braiding or knotting a form using old t-shirts.  The resulting unusual abstract piece of art will be installed as an exhibit and will embrace the connection, fluidity, and vitality of the many hands of the community involved. The multiplicity of those hands’ work becomes a conversation. Not nostalgic or sentimental, the artwork is a translation of domestic form to cultural object. It’s a retro-revolutionary approach to engagement and art making.

David Reynoso

Scenic and costume designer

Sponsor: The Old Globe

David Reynoso

David I. Reynoso is an award-winning scenic and costume designer living in San Diego most widely recognized for his designs on the Off-Broadway hit SLEEP NO MORE (2011 – OBIE Award) and for Liz Lerman’s HEALING WARS (2014 – Helen Hayes Award nomination).  He is an incredible artist, with a superb eye for design and a strong sense of storytelling. His work is visually stunning, conveying laser sharp character details and illuminating the world of the play. His designs can also be seen at regional theaters such as: American Repertory Theater, Arena Stage, The Old Globe and La Jolla Playhouse, among others.

Project:Waking La Llorona” is a visually lush, immersive theatrical experience inspired by Mexican myths and folklore and their correlations to San Diego and other cultures throughout the globe. Inspired by the relationships between the Mexican legend of La Llorona (which has roots tracing back to the Chumash of Southern California), the Ancient Greek tragedy of Medea and the Irish Banshee story, this project will explore these legends through the lens of Medea, allowing themes of social oppression, sexism, and racial divides to rise to the surface. It will fuel conversations about ancestry, identity, social justice and cultural celebration while developing a new theatrical work with visuals at the forefront and inspiring an appreciation for Southern California’s rich and diverse history, with an emphasis on primitive Mexican folklore.

Janet Tiger

Playwright

Sponsor: Playwrights Project

Janet Tiger

Janet S. Tiger is an award-winning playwright whose plays and monologues have been produced internationally and published in anthologies in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.  She is the recipient of an NEA-COMBO Fellowship Award, numerous contest awards and multiple commissions.  Tiger is a longtime member of Scripteasers, and was the Playwright-in-Residence at Swedenborg Hall from 2006-2008.  Her works have been performed at numerous venues, including The Naples Players Theatre (2016); the San Diego Fringe Festival (2014); the Oregon AARP Conference (2014); and the Kennedy Center (2014).

Project:Caregivers Anonymous” is a theatrical experience illuminating caregiving as a valuable element of our society and designed to entertain as well as to be a catalyst for change. A collection of connected monologues about a diverse group of ordinary, yet extraordinary people who care for others, this project will create awareness of the essential nature of caregiving. It will be a voice for family members and others who serve as selfless, often silent, under-appreciated, under-valued service providers and awaken the audience to the true Circle of Life: where once we were taken care of as babies and children, then throughout life we take care of others – grandparents, parents, relatives, friends, children, and at the end, others care for us again. It also serves as an introduction to the proposed H.R. 3377: Social Security Caregiver Credit Act of 2015 that could give Social Security benefits to caregivers.

Tim West

Stage performer, director and playwright

Sponsor: San Diego Writers, Ink

Tim West

Tim West is an active veteran stage performer, award-winning director and produced playwright; he is also a teacher and teaching artist.  His first short works were collectively staged as Strange Bedfellows, leading to commissioned works Phenomenal Acceleration (1999) and Universal Monster Show (2002). While feeding his appetite for collaborative projects, West honed his ensemble writing skills at The Aubrey Skirball-Kenis Foundation (2000-01). He formed Bad Quarto to mount A True Historie of Prince Prospero in the San Diego Fringe Festival. West’s award-winning play Great Reckoning in a Little Room (2013) was staged in Revelations Readings and published in Best of Red Bull (2016).

Project:Upstart Crow” is a serial collaborative theatrical event based on the Lost Years of William Shakespeare, a narrative across six (6) episodes in a year-long mini-season of original drama. A writing team will pair younger writers from community organizations, high schools, and universities, with more experienced writers to mentor them.  Writers will be encouraged to use this opportunity to make literary and historical drama accessible, using Shakespeare’s own technique of mirroring his own social concerns in art, including exploration of some serious themes: addressing contemporary ethnic, religious and gendered identities via an earlier era of rapid and widespread social transformation. It is our world, seen through Will’s – imaginatively, collaboratively reconstructed to serve social needs with subtle messaging.

2015 Artist Fellows

Alicia Baskel

Alicia Baskel - Creative Catalyst FellowBaskel’s choreographic process fuses her two greatest interests: dance making and creative writing. Her performance work enlivens the space between reality and fiction, movement and language, creating an experience that takes the audience on a visceral journey.

Sponsor: Mojalet

Project: “Process Works” is a touring dance series that brings the experience of dance performance to local science institutions and their employees, encouraging professionals in various fields of science to value their own creative processes.

Todd Blakesley

Todd BlakesleyActor, producer, director and playwright who is well known for crafting unique theatre experiences. His work in “Dream Immersion” theatre eliminates the separation between actor and audience by engaging them in the same dramatic situation.

Sponsor: Playwrights Project

Project: “Dark Matter” is a script development, workshop production play about the world and what could happen if we all had to escape because of the ravages of extreme weather, water wars, over-consumption and unsustainable population and ideological strife which become too much to bear.

Brian Goeltzenleuchter

Brian Goeltzenleuchter - Creative Catalyst FellowGoeltzenleuchter’s artwork and design infuses interdisciplinary research into the creation of participatory environments, scripted and improvised performances, olfactory art, painting and object making.

Sponsor: San Diego Writers, Ink

Project: “Olfactory Memoirs” will work with members of a San Diego community to identify a topic that engages their collective memory and challenges them to approach it using the sense of smell. The artist will design evocative scent-scapes that will be adapted for collaborative performances with writers, media makers, or dancers and document these performances in a scent-infused book.

Matthew Hebert

Matthew HebertMatthew Hebert creates work that deals with technology and its effects on the environment and our sense of place. His work takes recognizable furniture forms and layers new forms of use and meaning onto them.

Sponsor: Escondido Arts Partnership

Project: “Information Retrieval” will transform used filing cabinets into solar-powered, kinetic dioramas that represent remembered landscapes. It will explore the effects of information technology on our experience of the landscape.

Bhavna Mehta

Bhavna MehtaEngineer-turned-artist who has become a well-known storyteller through her cut paper artistry. Her style is influenced by folk art traditions from India and based on the premise that everything is connected.

Sponsor: Oceanside Museum of Art

Project: In “Paper Pattern Story,” Mehta will collect stories of San Diego’s rich diversity, find common patterns and rhythms, and build a cut paper installation in which a larger overarching narrative will emerge.

Ron Najor

Ron NajorProducer/director whose film credits include “I am Not a Hipster,” which aired at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.

Sponsor: Media Arts Center

Project: “American Babylon” is an in-depth film documentary that profiles three Iraqi refugees trying to assimilate to American culture after being displaced from Iraq due to the war.

Noe Olivas

Noe Olivas - Creative Catalyst FellowSculptor and multimedia artist interested in social practice, the art of collaborating with others—both skilled artists and the general public—to co-create works of art and arts education programs.

Sponsor: New Children’s Museum

Project: “Untitled Space” is a rolling social sculpture using a 1967 Chevy Step Van. The vehicle will serve as an alternative, unconventional, yet utilitarian mobile space for which artists, performers, musicians, etc., to conceive their work within the context of a site specific neighborhood or city.

Roberto Salas

Roberto Salas - Creative Catalyst FellowSpecializes in public art projects that are inter-generational, crosses economic divisions and speaks to a local audience of similar yet unique life experiences.

Sponsor: Camarada

Project: “The Silent Buzz” is a public art installation to build awareness of the importance of bee pollination on future populations using plasticine (puddy-like modeling clay) cast into rubber molds to create a series of large scale bee shapes.

Mike Sears

Mike Sears - Creative Catalyst FellowSears is a San Diego-based actor, playwright and teacher. His work has been seen in New York City as well as regionally and throughout San Diego, at such theaters as the Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego rep, and Cygnet theatre, among others.

Sponsor: The Old Globe

Project: “When it Comes” is a metaphorical theatrical tale that uses actors, text, movement, live music and shadow puppetry to share the story of a couple that tries to have a child and the experiences they encounter along the way.

Yale Strom

Yale StromViolinist, composer and multi-talented artist who is one of the world’s leading scholar-ethnographer-artists of klezmer music (traditional secular music of Ashkenazi and Hasidic Jews) and history.

Sponsor: San Diego Rep

Project: “Common Chords Extreme!” brings chamber music to two of the newest refugee groups in San Diego – Somali and Chaldean. The artist will compose one string quartet (premiered by the Hausmann String Quartet ) and one jazz quintet (premiered by the Tripp Sprague Jazz Quintet), each based upon Somali and Chaldean folk melodies.


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