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    Joy of the Optical: Stuart Davis at the de Young

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    "Stuart Davis: In Full Swing" exhibit will be up at the de Young Museum through Aug. 6. Photo courtesy of the de Young Museum.

    Before the Campbell Soup tote bags and Hello Kitty fashions took over the gift shops, there were early pop art pioneers who paved the way for the genre’s commercial success today. Juxtapose hard-edged geometric shapes and bold enigmatic graphics with pop-culture references and you’d get Stuart Davis. A master of modernist strokes, this jazz-influenced visionary represented one of the most vibrant eras in American culture. The seminal exhibition of the proto-pop art artist has made its way to the West Coast. “Stuart Davis: In Full Swing” is on display through Aug. 6 at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

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    'Offsprung' Finds Film Festival Success

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    “Offsprung” director Rain Zheng and producer Shiyi Gu. Photo courtesy of Shiyi Gu.

    One precursor to consider when diving into art is to “not take anything too personal.” But for Shiyi Gu, graduate student from the School of Motion Pictures & Television at the Academy of Art University and producer of Offsprung, hearing mixed reviews about it almost prevented her from submitting the project into film festivals. And if she let that get the best of her, it would have never won the Best Student Film award from the Women’s Independent Film Festival in Los Angeles this spring, or been awarded the Silver Medal from the WorldFest-Houston International Film & Video Festival.  

    “We didn’t want to give up,” she said. “Patricia Pawlak (former film distribution, marketing and film festival participation instructor) supported me very well and gave us good advice, which encouraged me to send it to the different film festivals just to give it a shot. Many of the crew and actors worked very hard for it so I tried for them.”

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    Screen Acting Achievement Awards Honors Students and Faculty

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    Acting student JLynn Femiano and School of Acting instructor Karen Hirst. Photo by Bob Toy.

    On May 26, Sutter Street Theatre buzzed with excitement as the Academy’s School of Acting kicked off its first annual Screen Acting Achievement Awards. The ceremony honored this spring’s graduating acting students and also paid tribute to eight young actors for their exceptional film work. Four School of Acting faculty members—Sarah Kliban, Clark Houston Lewis, Wes Sneeringer and Boris Zubov—were also honored for their contributions to the students and the department. 

    The event capped off a film festival held in the theatre earlier that week. The festival included several screenings of the many diverse movie scenes created throughout the year that gave all Academy acting students a chance to showcase skills. 

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    Positive Mindset Helps COM Instructor Fulfill Dreams and Inspire Others

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    School of Communications & Media Technologies instructor Toan Lam interviews “Hamilton” cast member Ari Asfar, who plays Eliza Hamilton in the Chicago production of the hit Broadway musical. Photo courtesy of Toan Lam.

    When Toan Lam told people he was going to get tickets to the musical sensation “Hamilton,”—without paying scalpers a fortune—they often looked skeptical. After all, the Broadway hit has been selling out in record time at theatres across the country. But that didn’t deter Lam. 

    “I believe that manifesting trust and action equals traction,” said Lam, who teaches COM 103 and 303 classes at Academy of Art University. “I didn’t know how I would get a ticket, but I knew it was going to happen.” 

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    Moving to Baby's Beat

    Writer/director Edgar Wright and actor Ansel Elgort discuss the musically infused, high-octane heist film, Baby Driver

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    Ansel Elgort and director Edgar Wright on the set of TriStar Pictures’ Baby Driver.

    To quote the film’s opening song “Bellbottoms” by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: “Ladies and gentlemen, right now I got to tell you about the fabulous, most groovy” film of the summer—Baby Driver. Written and directed by Edgar Wright (of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy), Baby Driver is a thrilling action movie that’s uniquely in step with the music being listened to by talented getaway driver, aka “young Mozart in a go-cart,” Baby, played by actor Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars).

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    The Verdict Is In: 'Legally Blonde' a Smash Hit for School of Acting

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    The cast of the School of Acting’s production of “Legally Blonde.” Photo by Bob Toy.

    From the opening number of Academy of Art University School of Acting’s musical “Legally Blonde,” it was clear that the actors were having a blast. And so was the audience that packed 620 Sutter Street Theatre on a recent Friday night. 

    In the first scene, a bevvy of Delta Nu sorority sisters sashayed around the stage singing the infectious “Omigod You Guys,” excited for their beloved president—and the play’s main character—Elle Woods’ pending engagement to her boyfriend, Warner Huntington III. By the time Elle joined them on stage mid-way through the song, the audience was swept up in the moment and burst into applause.

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