A Celebration of the LA Art Scene on Film at the Downtown Independent:
A Man with Stones, an epic tale of the Arts District and a miracle of Mexican art
WHAT: World premier of A Man with Stones, a documentary by Ron Colby about LA artist Woods Davy, a sneak preview of Tales of the American (a documentary about the Arts District’s American Hotel by Stephen Seemayer and Pam Wilson) and a special screening of Twenty Five Hundred & One, Patricia Van Ryker’s award-winning documentary about the miraculous achievement of a Mexican artist. $10 donation is suggested for admission. Online Tickets Proceeds will benefit the Arts District Center for the Arts (more about that at ladadspace.org).
WHERE: Downtown Independent, 251 S. Main Street Los Angeles, CA 90012
WHEN: Thursday, September 17, 8 pm One Night Only
A Man With Stones examines the art of Woods Davy, the internationally acclaimed LA artist who assembles natural elements — primarily stones — in fluid balancing acts — surely one of the oldest forms of artistic expression and one that is essentially timeless.
Davy might be thought of as among the first “green” Postmodern artists. In fact, he comes from a long tradition of post-Sixties artists who engage Zen notions of oneness with nature and profound respect for natural material in unaltered states. Writer Shana Nys Dambrot says Davy’s work is essentially a “kind of collaboration between artist and nature,” one in which the artist “prefers to cooperate with the pre-existing uniqueness and objecthood of his materials. The undeniably serene, contemplative chord struck by these works makes it difficult to refrain from discussing them in spiritual terms.”
Ron Colby’s film documents in fascinating detail how Davy approaches his work, where he finds his materials and how he assembles them. Occasionally intimate and with flashes of deadpan humor, Colby has created an affectionate portrait of an artist who emerged from the dead zone of urban LA in the 70’s to international acclaim in the 21st Century.
Sneak Preview of Tales of the American: It’s called the American Hotel, but there’s no doorman, no concierge, no mints on the pillow. It’s a no-frills haven for creativity at the heart of the downtown Los Angeles Arts District.
Since it was built in 1905, the American Hotel has been an important part of the cultural heritage of the area east of Little Tokyo. A last resort for some and a new hope for others, it has been called home by those on the fringe of society, whether black railroad porters who could not lodge elsewhere in the early part of the 20th century or artists looking for cheap rent in the 1980s. For two decades, it was the loud and raucous home of Al’s Bar, the legendary punk rock dive.
Tales of the American, a documentary by Stephen Seemayer and Pam Wilson, tells the colorful, intriguing, sometimes disturbing story of this resilient building and its place in a gentrifying neighborhood. Once a no-man’s-land wedged between Little Tokyo and the L.A. River, the Arts District is now home to expensive condos, designer sausages and sidewalk cafés. At the center of it all stands the American Hotel, a bohemian refuge in a changing world.
Twenty Five Hundred & One, written and directed by Patricia Van Ryker: For six years, Alejandro Santiago sculpted 2,501 life-size ceramic “Migrantes” commemorating the people of his town who were forced to leave in search of work.
ABOUT WOODS DAVY
For the past thirty years Woods Davy has worked with natural elements, usually incorporating various types of stone in fluid balancing acts that reflect the artist’s “Western Zen” sensibility. He might be thought of as among the first “green” Postmodern artists. In fact, he comes from a long tradition of post 60s artists, who either directly or just by their practical sensibility, engage Eastern or Zen notions of oneness with nature, organic systems of change as engines of art composition, and non-disruptive respect for natural material in unaltered states. Art writer Shana Nys Dambrot observed that Davy’s work is essentially a “kind of collaboration between artist and nature,” one in which the artist “prefers to cooperate with the pre-existing uniqueness and objecthood of his materials. The undeniably serene, contemplative chord struck by these works makes it difficult to refrain from discussing them in spiritual terms.”
In the “Cantamar” series, Davy has carefully selected stones that have been rounded and smoothed by the tumbling effects of the Pacific, at a beach in Mexico by that name (“Cantamar” translates to “song of the sea”). Davy’s sculptural combinations of these stones creates cantilevered arcs which appears to float like clouds, or roll like the waves that shaped them. They illuminate the poetry of nature. As Holly Meyers remarked in the LA TIMES, there is “something thrilling about a work that appears to defy its own natural properties,” while at the same time one can appreciate the work’s “meditative reverence.” (Krull Gallery)
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Ron Colby (Man with Stones)
Early in his career, Francis Coppola recruited Colby into his fledgling company and he moved quickly from casting and acting into the roles of production executive and producer. His credits include YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW, FINIAN’S RAINBOW, THX-1138, THE RAIN PEOPLE, THE GODFATHER PART II, HAMMETT, and THE OUTSIDERS.
Colby persisted with his writing, and personal filmmaking. His short film “The Longest Lens” won a Cine Golden Eagle (among other awards), and his documentary “Child Abuse and Neglect” won a U.S. Award of Excellence.
Ron went on to write screenplays for Universal Pictures and American Zoetrope and worked on many films with producers and directors including Milos Forman, Lorne Michaels, Ed Zwick, Wes Craven, etc.
He was Executive Producer on the John Hughes films, SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL and SHE’S HAVING A BABY and Production Executive on other films such as LISA, THE EXORCIST III and ONE FROM THE HEART. The documentary he produced on the making of Coppola’s ONE FROM THE HEART has been released on the newly re-issued DVD.
Ron also worked on many television movies as Producer including the highest-rated Hallmark Hall of Fame movie HARVEST OF FIRE, and Showtime’s LUSH LIFE. He has also been Second Unit Director on over a dozen films.
Colby continued writing and along the way, completed several original screenplays. His screenplay adaptation of the cult classic novel Golf in the Kingdom was purchased by Warner Brothers for Clint Eastwood to direct. More recently, Colby was Supervising Producer on the Mobil Masterpiece Theatre productions of Langston Hughes’ CORA UNASHAMED, Eudora Welty’s, THE PONDER HEART, and James Agee’s A DEATH IN THE FAMILY. He was the Producer of Esmeralda Santiago’s acclaimed memoir, ALMOST A WOMAN, also for Masterpiece Theatre, which won Peabody and Imagen Awards for best feature.
Since beginning Artists Confederacy, he wrote and directed four feature documentaries. “Pirate for the Sea,” is the film biography of Captain Paul Watson, the most controversial ocean environmental activist, ever. “Pirate for the Sea” had its World Premiere to great acclaim at The Telluride Film Festival. Since then ”Pirate” has won many “Best Documentary” awards, and been an official selection in numerous festivals including, Berlin, Dublin, Santa Barbara and Seattle. It was invited by the Good Planet Foundation to screen in Copenhagen as part of their environmental festival which ran concurrently with the United Nations Conference on Climate Change. It was subsequently optioned by Discovery and aired for two seasons on their channel, Planet Green. Currently his documentary, “Jones Beach Boys,” can be seen on WNET, New York Public Broadcasting. “Scotland’s Caddies,” is now entertaining golfers the world over and his recently completed film on sculptor Woods Davy titled “A Man with Stones” will soon be available after its benefit opening in May for the Arts District Center in Los Angeles.
Ron just finished a feature screenplay titled, WILD WITH ALL REGRETS, and along with “By Us,” is currently shooting an ocean environmental documentary “My Jetty” about individual responsibility for the health of the seas.
Stephen Seemayer and Pam Wilson (Tales of the American)
Filmmakers Stephen Seemayer and Pamela Wilson have interviewed more than 80 residents, former residents and neighbors of the American Hotel. “Tales of the American” will weave together their stories and memories of nearly four decades in what is now known as the Arts District in eastern downtown Los Angeles.
For more than 40 years Seemayer has distinguished himself as an artist and filmmaker working across a wide range of creative genres including performance art and multimedia production. His feature documentary “Young Turks” — made in collaboration with his wife, Pamela Wilson — tells the story of artists who colonized downtown LA in the early ’80s when it was an urban wasteland. That film is available on Amazon prime and other digital platforms.
Pamela Wilson is a film editor, author and graphic artist who worked for more than two decades as an editor at the Los Angeles Times.
More at talesoftheamerican.com.
Patricia Van Ryker (Twenty Five Hundred & One)
California native Patricia van Ryker received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Southern California and a Master of Fine Arts from California Institute of the Arts.
Shortly after graduate school, Patricia worked in Los Angeles theatre with credits in costume, scenic design and stage management. Simultaneously, she began designing for film and television. She transitioned from assistant to Production Designer with such cult television hits as, “Wonder Woman,”“V,” and the national security romp, “Scarecrow &Mrs. King.” Moving into features and movies-of-the-week, her design work has set the tone for kidnappers, stalkers, Malibu Beach kids, and more than a few murderers. Projects have taken her to locations across the country and across the border including winter stops in Nome, Alaska and the Canadian Yukon Territories. In two instances, her designs depicted true events. Filming in Sioux City, Iowa, she recreated United Airlines Flight 232 for, CRASH LANDING: THE RESCUE OF FLIGHT 232. In the docudrama AFTER THE SHOCK, her work revealed the streets, apartments and lives during and immediately after the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. For her design, she received a Cable Ace Nomination for Art Direction. She was Production Designer for ten seasons on the WB hit show, “Seventh Heaven.” Her work was honored with an Emmy nomination for Best Art Direction.
Early on, she incorporated still photography into her visual work. Her images have been exhibited in both the United States and Canada. Looking through the lens led to her desire to produce and direct documentaries. She received her chance with Producer/Director, Ronald Colby. For him, she executive produced the comedy pilot, “Ex-Chronicles,”and Co-Produced three feature documentaries, “Jones Beach Boys,” “Scotland’s Caddies” and “Pirate For The Sea.” “Pirate” premiered at the 2008 Telluride Film Festival subsequently screening in festivals in Berlin, Dublin, France, Italy, Canada, and across the United States. The film then enjoyed an extensive run on the Discovery Channel’s, Planet Green. Patricia recently was the Executive Producer on Mr. Colby’s current documentary, “A Man With Stones.”
In 2003, while visiting the gallery of a friend, she learned about the current work of Oaxacan artist, Alejandro Santiago. Later relating the story to Colby, he looked at her and said, “There’s your documentary.” And he was right. Traveling between Mexico and the United States from 2004 to 2008, she wrote and directed, while producing with Ron, the film, “Twenty Five Hundred & One.” It had its festival premiere in France in 2009 returning again the following spring as a selection in the Cannes Independent Film Festival. “Twenty Five…” subsequently screened in festivals across the United States, Mexico and Canada. It was awarded the Grand Prize at the San Antonio Film Festival, Outstanding Documentary at the Sacramento International Film Festival and Best Short Documentary at Toronto’s Reel HeART International Film Festival. The film premiered on KCET, Los Angeles Public Television in October 2011.
With Artists Confederacy, she is currently in early production on “By Us, The SustainableDocumentary.”A grand old-fashioned road trip, “By Us…” explores the lives of small gutsy local businesses – their challenges, the roles they play in their communities, and the vital impact they have on the overall health of the US economy. Their common mantra, “No Outsourcing.”
Interspersed with her documentary and design work, Patricia has taught Production Design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and spoken on film festival panels. Additionally she has been a guest speaker at libraries, community centers and schools ranging from 6th grade to college classes.
Patricia firmly believes that film is something all ages can share. Its capacity for bridging divides is endless and she is having a fascinating time finding paths and bringing others along on the adventures.
The Arts District Center for the Arts
The goal of the ADCA is to preserve Arts District as a robust, energetic and fertile center of creativity. The Center will create opportunities for artists to find an audience for novel, innovative, experimental and challenging work. It will include theater workshop space, a screening room and a gallery. More at ladadspace.org.
“The ADCA will enliven Los Angeles’ urban center and enhance the lives of urban Angelenos: promoting cultural tourism and affirming Los Angeles as a true world capital of arts and culture in the 21st Century” — José Huizar Councilmember 14th District
The Arts District Center for the Arts (ADCA) is a project of Los Angeles Downtown Arts District Space, a 501(c)(3) arts non-profit serving the Arts District and Downtown Los Angeles