Animation and glass fuse in vivid mind of Cal State Fullerton artist

By Tien Do

Ever since I was young, I knew I wanted to express myself in an artistic way. Then when it came to my adolescent years, I was exposed to the possibilities of acting and 3-D animation.

CSUF art major Tien Do looks up at one of the glass orbs in David Guiterrez’s spring exhibition “Celestial Interval.” Photo courtesy Tien Do.

With this exposure, I thought for sure that these two subjects were the careers that I wanted to pursue. This all changed during my third year of study Cal State Fullerton. During that time, I was waitlisted for an introductory class on a new 3-D modeling program called Maya. I was waitlisted as No. 1, but, unfortunately, I was unable to enroll in the class. Panicking, I entered an open class, not thinking that it would drastically affect my medium or emphasis in art. The course was an introduction to glassblowing.

My first steps into that class led me to a new perspective in art making. I never left. For the past three years, not only have I been enrolled in the animation program, but I’ve been active in the glass program, as well.

The journey and experience toward the medium of glass was so surreal. It felt like I was sculpting and shaping a medium that was stubborn, erratic and filled with life. Compared to the practice I had with animation, it was the polar opposite.

With animation, I was creating a static object into something that resembles a being of life. Whereas with glass, I was creating something alive into something static. Even though these practices seem different, they hold similar qualities in terms of shaping and sculpting an object.

Like everything that includes heavy devotion, it took time to understand the medium I was using. With a determination to be more involved, I invested myself heavily into this medium of glass. I believe that during the first two semesters, I devoted 40-60 hours a week to working with glass, in order to understand the material and to better use it in my creative projects.

I would practice heavily to understand the molten properties of glass, as well as participate in helping others, including the faculty member who taught the course, Hiromi Takizawa, assistant professor of art.

That devotion didn’t go unnoticed. Surprisingly, Hiromi nominated me and helped me acquire scholarships to represent Cal State Fullerton at a prestigious glass school called Pilchuck. This facility is located in Stanwood, Wash., where artists have the opportunity to work with a master artist to develop their skills and creative thinking. This opportunity to go to Pilchuck has solidified my interest in glass into being an artist of glass. I have gone there for the past two summers — the first as a student and the second as a teacher’s assistant. Now, I will be returning for my third year, as a student for Master Artist Martin Janecky.

At the Pilchuck Glass School, you are exposed not only to the artist/session you applied for, but also to the community that expands internationally and around the world. Everyone I have met had a different way or a new way of how to create objects in glass. But that wasn’t the importance of Pilchuck; instead, it was creating a bigger family within our glass world. Since the community is quite small, I believe it is necessary and a treasure to meet various artists that come along our journey.

With this philosophy in mind, I was able to create bonds with such notable artists as Ethan Stern, Kelly O’Dell, Raven Skyriver and Morgan Peterson, among others. Meeting these artists gave me hope and inspiration. The time spent at Pilchuck can be pretty intense, since it is a workshop that lasts two to three weeks with at least 9-12-hour days, back to back. Its facility has all the equipment for the students and artists to use, in order to accomplish our creative vision. It is an experience unlike any other, and it is a great way for an artist to get the most out of the time provided for each session.

In the CSUF glass lab, art major Tien Do is heating a sculpture to add details in an image he titled “Dancing With Fire.” Photo courtesy Tien Do.

I am thankful for this alternative route or segue from the 3-D animation world. Without that experience, I wouldn’t have the knowledge to become a better craftsman and artist. I owe thanks to my mentor Hiromi Takizawa for showing me another form of art making.

Art major Tien Do will be returning to the Pilchuck Glass School in July. In the fall, he will begin his senior year of study at Cal State Fullerton and has his sights set on graduate school. His long-term goal is to open a studio for glass or animation. In the future, Do also hopes to be able extend to students the same mentoring opportunities he has been afforded.


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Melanie Griffith is Mrs. Robinson in Laguna Playhouse’s ‘The Graduate’

We know Melanie Griffith from ’80s and ’90s films like “Something Wild” and “Nobody’s Fool,” but the curvaceous blond with the kewpie-doll voice is no stranger to the stage. She played Roxie Hart in the Broadway revival of “Chicago” in 2003 and starred opposite Scott Caan in his play “No Way Around But Through” at Burbank’s Falcon Theatre in 2012. Following stepson Jesse Johnson’s performance in last year’s production of “King of the Road” at Laguna Playhouse, this month Griffith bares all on the same stage as Mrs. Robinson in “The Graduate.”

Based on the novel by Charles Webb and the classic movie starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, “The Graduate” premiered in London in 2000, where Kathleen Turner played Mrs. Robinson. And now, at age 60, it’s Griffith’s turn to take it off while trying to seduce Benjamin Braddock. “As long as I’m lit well, I’ll be fine,” the actress says, adding with a sigh. “I’m really fat and gone to hell.”

As the daughter of Tippi Hedren (Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”), Griffith grew up partly in Hollywood. Her break came in 1975 when she played a runaway nymphet in “Night Moves.” That role led to a string of seductresses and victims until Mike Nichols (who directed “The Graduate”) cast her in the career-defining “Working Girl,” which won her an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe.

The A-list movies and A-list husbands are behind her now, but so is the cycle of addiction and rehab. These days, Griffith is single for the first time in her adult life after four marriages to three men, including Don Johnson, father of their daughter, “Fifty Shades of Grey” star Dakota Johnson, and actor Antonio Banderas, whom she divorced in 2015 after nearly 20 years together.

COAST: We haven’t seen you play an antagonist like Mrs. Robinson often in your career. What made you say yes to this?

Melanie Griffith: I really liked the whole idea of it, Mrs. Robinson. I’m 60. I figured might as well. Mrs. Robinson, she’s definitely age-appropriate. It just seems like it would be a lot of fun.

COAST: Do you remember the first time you saw “The Graduate”?

MG: I think I was too young to see “The Graduate” when it came out. I think I saw it more around when I did “Working Girl” because Mike Nichols directed it and I was more interested in the directing than in the acting or in the story even. I was interested in the story, but I think I’ve seen it a couple of times over the years. It’s such a good movie.

COAST: What do you recall about working with Nichols?

MG: I loved him. I loved him. Every single minute I got to be with him, I loved him. He was just an amazing director. He was an amazing human being.

COAST: The movie is such a product of its time. Is it as relevant today as it was when it came out in 1967?

MG: I think it’s relevant to today. It’s people trying to have relationships. It’s people being human and trying to find love.

COAST: I know there are some new scenes added to the play that weren’t in the movie.

MG: The play is kind of different. I like reading it better than the movie because it’s concise; it’s a play. It’s not like the movie in a lot of ways. The essence of it is like the movie, but I think it’s a little more intimate and you sort of understand the relationship a little better, and the needs of each character and why they do what they do. I don’t think it changes the end result. It’s kind of a more enjoyable ride, the play. I think the audience will feel more included in what the characters go through.

COAST: Your daughters are actors. I wonder if you run lines with them?

MG: With Dakota, not really. She’s a powerhouse. She doesn’t need me. Acting is a really personal thing. I don’t give them direction or tell them what to do or how to do it.


COAST: Following your divorce to Antonio Banderas, you said you were stuck. Can you elaborate on that?

MG: I was stuck in my marriage. So it’s been the past three years of me becoming unstuck, I guess you can say.

COAST: How does one become unstuck?

MG: It’s the first time I’ve been alone in my life. I’ve always had a man, and now I’m single for three years and I’m learning to be OK with myself, which is probably the best thing a person can do in life in order to be able to be really good with someone else. Hopefully that’s what it is, anyway, that’s what I’m thinking.

COAST: Now that you’re single again, might you take a tip from Mrs. Robinson and date a younger guy?

MG: I haven’t ever dated a younger guy, myself. But there are a lot of women that I know who … I guess you would call them cougars. I guess Mrs. Robinson is kind of the original out-there cougar. Not that that’s what I would go for, the character. I don’t know how you would do that.

SEE IT: “The Graduate,” Feb. 21- March 18, Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. $86-$101. 949.497.2787 ::

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