Welcome to MindSpace!
MindSpace is a space committed to a meeting of minds through sharing, and by sharing we hope to form a strong sense of community that all can rely on for joy, support, and aspiration.
The best way to tell the story of Community Ed mosaic art instructor Carmelo Fiannaca is to visit him in his stunning Tuscan-style villa with its sweeping view of the Malibu coastline.
It’s there you will see the beautiful mosaic work that this award-winning and internationally exhibited artist has done throughout the house, both indoors and outdoors and in his workshop.
It’s there you will see his outdoor pizza oven, a clue to his love for cooking for others.
What the house will not fully reveal is his range of artistic talents, or the impressive commissions he has received (including John Wayne’s former estate), or the journey that led him from Sicily to California via Switzerland, or how Santa Monica College changed his life, or how much he loves teaching students who all have interesting stories of their own.
Fiannaca’s deep passion for art began as a young child in Agrigento Sicily, Italy. His family moved to Switzerland when he was young, and it was during this time that he discovered drawing and painting.
By 10 years old, he gained attention through his comics and stories, whose illustrations showed advanced abilities in art. During a summer trip to Sicily, Carmelo discovered the Cathedral of Monreale in Palermo where he became inspired to explore the color, texture and surfaces of mosaic art.
He received his degree from Plattenleger Verband in Lucerne, Switzerland in design, restoration, fabrication and installation. Carmelo continued his studies through a scholarship from the National Art Association and later ended up at SMC, where he received his degree from the School of Design, Art and Architecture.
The path that led Fiannaca to SMC’s art school was actually a musical one. A guitarist, he came to Los Angeles in 1993 to study at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood. Afterwards, he started playing in clubs and bars in Hollywood with a band called Big Muckamuck, whose lead signer was Tequila, a well-known vocalist.
“That’s what kept me here,” he said. “I remember thinking, ‘This is fun.’ But on the side, I was making mosaic tables.”
Eventually, he moved back to Europe, sold his house in Sicily and returned to L.A. to study sculpture and art at SMC.
“I loved the Art Department,” he said. “So many wonderful professors took me under their wing because they knew how dedicated I was. The school was like my studio, and I would often arrive before classes started and leave after the last professor left.”
Fiannaca cites two professors– sculpture professor Don Hartmann and Ronn Davis, currently Art Department chair – as particularly influential in his artistic pursuits and career. In fact, Davis, who is still a close friend, was the one who suggested Fiannaca to teach at SMC Community Ed, which he started doing five years ago.
Fiannaca not only took classes through the Art Department, but he was also admitted to SMC’s School of Design, Art and Architecture, a widely praised program for a small group of talented students who were taught by leading artists such as George Herms.
Right after graduating from SMC, Fiannaca got a significant commission to do a mural in a wealthy couple’s home in Montana. It took him a year to complete the mural in his studio before shipping it to his client.
That launched his career as an artist who designs, fabricates and installs one-of-a-kind mosaics and sculptures for gallery, architectural, community and home settings. He says his mosaics are produced using the finest materials gathered from sources around the world: smalti, gold, marble, vitreous glass, ceramic and more.
He recently completed a three-year-long installation at Duke’s Point – the former home of John Wayne – in Newport Beach. His award-winning art is exhibited both nationally and internationally and is represented in private, public and corporate collections.
An accomplished artist, he travels the world and is constantly exploring both classical and cutting-edge mosaics, sculptures and installations. He continues to draw his inspiration from the world around him, and his work reflects many of the masters: Picasso, Gaudi, Warhol, Klimt, Hundertwasse, Nikki de Saint Phalle, Simon Rodia (creator of the Watts Towers), as well as his own Italian mosaic art heritage.
By Michelle King, Director of Career & Contract Education
In our continuing effort to build industry partnerships and to help train the local community in gaining high-demand professional skills, I’m pleased to announce that Community Ed’s SMC Extension is planning to launch courses to help individuals obtain the highly regarded Avid User Certification.
Photo by Pete Brown
As the leading digital editing software, the Avid User Certification is a highly regarded credential that should serve well to help students and professionals enhance and expand their career opportunities.
The test prep course for Avid’s Media Composer – the film/video editing application used in most movie and television productions – will provide instructions that are specific to passing the Avid Certification examination. The certification-training course will be offered via a condensed schedule, with the goal of appealing to those who want a quick and focused learning opportunity. The course will conclude with proctored examination sitting.
Photo by H. Michael Miley
Later, we will be adding a prep course for those seeking to successfully complete the Avid Pro Tools User Certificate examination. The Avid Pro Tools user certification is highly regarded by those in the entertainment industry involved in the digital music audio composing, recording, editing and mixing.
The Avid certificate is the latest addition to our industry recognized certification offerings. Some of the other programs that lead to certification include the OMCP (Online Marketing Certified Professional) designation that offers a wide range of study including:
As always, we are excited to build on our program offering to cultivate opportunities in exciting careers with great job growth potential.
Spanish instructor Cecilia Dighero has had an extraordinary life – as a Fulbright Scholar, teacher, interpreter, United Nations worker and wife of a successful actor-playwright with whom she had many adventures.
The affection goes both ways. “Cecilia is delightfully educational, entertaining and beautifully organized,” said student A. Cameron. “She shouldn’t change a thing. Hers has been the best language class I have ever taken, and I’ve taken a lot.”
Born in Valparaiso, Chile, she came to New York under a Fulbright Grant to study English. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in Spanish Language, Literature & Theatre.
She has taught most of her life, mainly in New York City and Los Angeles. While in New York, she served at the Chilean Desk at the United Nations. She has also worked as an interpreter and has subtitled movies in Spanish as well as Italian (she is also fluent in French and Portuguese).
Dighero is one of – if not the – longest tenured instructors at Community Ed. Indeed, she created the Spanish program at Community Ed.
She has also taught at Pepperdine University and through SMC’s regular academic program, but she says Community Ed is her favorite place to teach “because I love working with adults who are motivated to learn.”
Dighero is still working through her grief over the loss of her husband. She has many happy memories with a man who shared her love for languages – he spoke French and Spanish fluently – and who was an accomplished actor and playwright. His play Bullshot Drummond, which he also performed in on Broadway and in San Francisco, achieved critical acclaim and was later made into a film Bullshot, produced by George Harrison.
He also co-wrote and starred in the zany musical comedy El Grande de Coca-Cola, the off-Broadway hit performed in several languages other than English.
Dighero also shares many memories of their time spent together at their property in Joshua Tree, which also serves as a bed-and-breakfast. “I try to go there as much as possible because it’s really peaceful, quiet and beautiful.”
|What kinds of students take your class?|
All kinds – professional people (doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants) artists, moms, businesspeople who need to communicate with their workers, young adults who want to learn the language of their ancestors, etc. We live in L.A., should I say more?
Tell us one to three things that most people don’t know about you.
I used to be in a theatre group In New York. I know how to ride a horse and play the piano (but not at the same time). I love art in all its forms.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Go with my husband to a spa in Northern California for a long weekend and finding out when we got there that clothes were optional.
What is your idea of a perfect day?
Relax in nature with friends, music, a good book and a glass of wine.
What is one of the best compliments you ever received?
I love your class. I have learned a lot. You are funny, entertaining and I am always looking forward to coming.
What was the last picture you took with your phone?
A photo of the beautiful flowers we had for the Memorial Celebration of my husband’s life and achievements.
What book(s) are on your nightstand now?
“Healing Through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair,” by Miriam Greenspan, and “Amor” by Isabel Allende.
To say jewelry designer Gian-Martin Joller is a popular instructor is an understatement.
Students like his Jewelry Design class, offered through SMC’s academic program, so much that they want to take it over and over again. But state regulations restrict course repetition, leaving students stranded without their beloved professor and class.
SMC Community Education came to the rescue and is offering a modified, but similar class starting this fall. And because the course is not for credit and fee-based, there are no restrictions on how many times students can repeat the course.
“I’m so pleased that Professor Joller will be able to offer this popular jewelry making class through Community Ed,” said SMC Trustee Louise Jaffe, who received calls from students asking for help. “Unfortunately, the state has imposed restrictions on how many times a student can repeat a class. It’s great that SMC can expand offerings through Community Ed to serve the community.”
A Swiss-trained jeweler and artist, Joller has been working in Europe and the U.S. for many years producing fine custom-made jewelry and restoring antique jewelry for museums and private collections.
He has been teaching in the SMC Art Department nine years, and also teaches classes at Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles.
Aside from his degree from Switzerland, he attended SMC for three years before transferring to California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, where he earned bachelor and master of fine arts degrees.
I decided to become a jeweler when I was 17 years old. What initially attracted me to it was that I could do everything from designing to the fabrication of pieces. Later, through my work restoring antique jewelry for museums and private collections, I got interested in the history of jewelry and the techniques and processes that were used back then. Many of them I still use in my work today. On the other hand I’m not opposed to the use of more modern techniques such as 3-D printing. It’s the creative part of designing in combination with the technical part of fabricating that interests me.
There are many kinds of students that take my class. It ranges from art students to people in the fashion world, to the retired fire chief. I always enjoy seeing people from all walks of life and ages come together in my class.
I hope it’s because I’m so passionate about it. The class is designed so that the students learn the basic techniques relatively quickly. Once they see the potential of this, there is no stopping them. It gives the students an opportunity to transform their ideas into a physical form.
I have a passion for wood and stringed instruments. I also build electric bass guitars and guitars.
The craziest thing was when I decided to run a 50-mile ultra-marathon in the Santa Monica Mountains last year. At the time, I didn’t think I would do something like that again. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it pushed me to my limits. I did two more since then.
Coming home at the end of the day and knowing that I’ve accomplished everything I set out to do. That unfortunately rarely happens. I like to set my goals high.
I went on a field trip with my son’s class and took a picture of him standing in front of the Space Shuttle engine at the California Science Center.
“How Bad Do You Want It / Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle” by Matt Fitzgerald, a book about endurance sport psychology, and Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air”.
Gian-Martin Joller will teach Jewelry Design this fall.
“Dinnertime,” Frank Damon’s winning image
Frank captured his image with a Canon 5D Mark 3 camera and a wide-angle lens. The retired Pacific Palisades lawyer has taken Ed Mangus’ “On the Street with Your Camera” class, and he has taken several SMC academic courses, including Spanish and photography.
Frank Damon, Photo Contest Winner
“I was ecstatic about winning this award,” said Frank. “It is always reaffirming when you win an award, especially with so many entries and terrific competition. And to win an award from SMC is frosting on the cake.”
Frank, a retired attorney who lives with his wife in Pacific Palisades, has been taking pictures since he was a child, but had to put down his camera for a long stretch of time when his law practice became too busy. Over the years he has volunteered extensively with a wide range of organizations, and currently serves as a docent at the Getty Museum.
Kudos also to the other two finalists in the Photo Contest – first runner-up Laurie McCormick for her landscape “Countryside,” and second runner-up Geri-Ann Galanti for her “Sailing in Ushuaia,” a reference to the capital of Tierra del Fuego in Argentina and the southernmost city in the world.
Second Runner-Up Geri-Ann Galanti’s “Sailing in Ushuaia”
Altogether, 22 participants submitted 90 images in the 2016 Photo Contest, a significant increase over last year’s 63 images from 14 contestants.
By Rev. Dr. Louise-Diana
It’s unavoidable: there are difficult and demanding people in the world. Sometimes it feels like there are quite a few of them.
There’s always one: the toxic coworker or boss that can drive you crazy and question your self worth. They make your work life more difficult and you may feel certain that life would be easier without them. It may be a family member that you just can’t resolve an issue with.
Everyone encounters difficult people and experiences the frustrations of interacting with them. But frustration, and the outcomes of conversations with difficult people, are at least partially under YOUR control. By learning and applying various tips and strategies you can make your life easier and have fewer problems.
Although most of us have had our fair share of difficult colleagues, not many of us have mastered the art of dealing with them. Many people feel it is easier to let the hostile behavior slide and hope that it stops. Little do they know, leaving these challenging situations unaddressed will allow the behavior to continue.
The idea in dealing with difficult people is to first look at your role in the situation and then to try the following strategies:
1) When discussing problems with difficult people, keep it short and direct. It minimizes a stressful situation for both of you. Don’t argue with them, as it’s a waste of time. When you do speak, be sure your tone is non-emotional and non-confrontational.
2) Generally speaking, it is good to practice starting conversations that create goodwill. Ask people about the things they like – family, hobbies, TV programs and work in general. This is a very good way to disarm them, get them talking and make them feel more comfortable. If you are dealing with silent people who ignore you and seek safety by refusing to respond, then there should be another response. Silent people get away with not talking because most people are uncomfortable with silence. Get them to talk by asking open-ended questions that can’t be answered with just a yes or no, then wait at least one full minute and don’t try to fill the space with words to ease your own discomfort.
3) Oftentimes, indirect language works because it focuses on the work rather than the person. Instead of saying, “You need to get it to me,” you can say, “Reports must be prepared.” That way, people are less likely to feel that they are under attack.
4) Learn to admit when you’re wrong. Make apologies to all you have harmed. It can be as simple as saying, “I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” “I made a mistake” or “I could be wrong.” The more you do this, the easier it becomes.
5) Confront problems professionally and with confidence. As a matter of fact, when you get into a tough point, don’t raise your voice, as dealing with difficult people in a calm and permissive way will most likely keep the emotional level and force the person to listen to you.
6) Keep in mind that how you communicate with others has much to do with how people respond to you. Difficult people are difficult because their desires are being met through their difficult behavior. Difficult people are often fully aware they are being difficult. They continue because there is a reward in the end result. You have to analyze what you have been doing in the past that rewards or encourages the difficult person’s behavior. Then, stop rewarding them.
7) Knowledge is power and it’s to our advantage to develop and practice effective conflict management practices that facilitate discussion. Read related books, attend workshops (like mine), listen to tapes or CDs. Learn how to establish an immediate rapport through a smile or eye contact. Develop as many skills as you can. This way you gain credibility, and your efforts will soften those opposing you. Effective communication is critical.
8) Build your self-confidence. Self-confident people are not as concerned with what other people think about them. They will not instinctively let the difficult person have their way in hopes of being liked. Additionally, people with high self-esteem are less likely to respond to the difficult person by being a difficult person.
If the difficult person tries to verbally bully you, just say, “I don’t allow people to treat me this way.” Then slowly and calmly walk away. So be confident and look your bully in the eye. Don’t forget to breathe (most people tend to forget to breathe when under stress). Speak in a calm and clear voice while asserting yourself by naming the behavior you don’t like and state what is expected instead.
9) If you can’t see the problem from the difficult person’s point of view, ask them. While this may not work with some, it’s usually a good idea in the case of closer relationships. The trick is, in arguments, you need to have patience with the other person, and self-restraint with yourself.
Some difficult people are experts at taking potshots and making sneak attacks in subtle indirect ways. Respond to those snipers with a question like “Are you’re making fun of me?” Although a sniper usually replies to such question with denial, it will reduce the chance for similar attacks in the future.
10) Remain open to other people’s opinions, viewpoints, and ideas. Share yours, as well. Find something to appreciate and comment on in a clever way. Too often, we focus on what people are doing wrong. Try to catch them doing something right and comment on it. It makes people feel less under attack.
Dealing with difficult people takes persistence and practice, so don’t get discouraged. Although these strategies won’t change the difficult people, they will break their ability to interfere with your daily activities. Most important, you’ll feel more confident and you’ll start to enjoy your life.
Rev. Dr. Louise-Diana will teach “Dealing with Difficult & Demanding People,” July 11-25.
Ed Mangus has big plans for his photography students.
Mangus – a Los Angeles native who has taught a wide variety of photography courses at SMC Community Ed since 2006 – is currently working with program administrators on two major proposals. The first is to create a 2017 Community Ed calendar featuring student images. The second is to do a book featuring photos taken by intermediate and advanced students in his “On the Street With Your Camera” class. To do this, each student would be assigned to a six-month project to create a broad portfolio of images.
And he has no doubt the resulting publications will be top-notch. “I tell my students there is no reason why you can not produce images that are as good or better than my images,” he says. “And you know what? They do. They produce beautiful images.”
Mangus, an award-winning photographer and instructor, has more than 35 years of professional experience working in all aspects of photography and in college-level photography and laboratory instruction.
His freelance work specializes in ad campaign photography, documentaries, environmental portraiture, and production still photography. His personal work is photographing people in their environment.
“One of my key skills is to communicate well with people, individually and as a group,” he says. “It has always been gratifying to me to provide instruction to students to enhance their technical and artistic development in photography.
Over the years he has taught, or co-taught with Craig Mohr, a wide variety of Community Ed classes, including Basic and Beyond Basic Photography, Photo Walking Malibu, After Dark: Shooting Like the Pros, Digital Monochrome, Outdoor Lighting Techniques, and Flash Photography. His next class, “On the Street With Your Camera,” begins April 23. (He has also been an adjunct photography professor in SMC’s academic program since 2007.)
Tell us a little about your students.
I’ve had an amazing diversity of students, of all ethnic backgrounds and ranging in age from 14 to 75, including actors, entertainment industry executives, doctors, attorneys, retired professors and more. At least three students that I know of went from Community Ed to our academic program, graduated and were placed in outstanding corporate photography jobs.
Which photographers do you admire and/or draw inspiration from?
What is your idea of a perfect day?
What book do you currently have on your nightstand?
The books that are within arm’s reach that I am currently reading or using for visual reference are Art & Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orlan, Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon, The Sixties by Richard Avedon, Portraits by Irving Penn, The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Fireflies by Keith Carter.
What is the most meaningful image you’ve created?
A picture of my Calabrese mother with a rolling pin. She was making ravioli and I wanted to capture that. The image said everything about my mom, and it’s the only photo of mine I have on the walls of my house.
What do you like most about teaching at SMC Community Ed?
The diversity of the students, not only their ages and professions, but particularly the rich mix of cultural backgrounds. Our common bond is a love for photography. The beauty of photography is you can go anywhere in the world and you don’t need to speak the language because we all speak the language of what it takes to create an image.
Ed Mangus’ next class, “On the Street With Your Camera,” begins April 23.
By Rev. Dr. Louise-Diana
(Rev. Dr. Louise-Diana is teaching a two-part “Assertive Communication Skills for Women” workshop March 31 and April 7 at SMC Community Education.)
Do you want to be seen as a highly credible, authoritative communicator who commands attention and get things done?
Communication is vital in creating and maintaining a relationship, whether it is an intimate relationship—such as with a partner, child, or friend—or a professional relationship—such as with a co-worker, supervisor, or client.
Your communication skills affect how you solve problems, how you resolve conflict, and the level of trust you generate in your relationships. A lack of communication may result in confusion, misunderstandings, and the development of poor communication patterns.
Communication experts agree the clearest, most productive and most effective way to communicate is honestly and openly, which is assertive communication. This type of communication allows for the potential of people to also communicate openly and honestly with you.
Assertive communication is defined as clear, direct, honest statement of feelings; use of “l” messages; speaking up appropriately for oneself while considering the needs, wants, and rights of others.
There is a new study from Stanford Graduate School of Business that shows in the business world, women who are aggressive, assertive, and confident but who can turn these traits on and off, depending on the social circumstances, get more promotions than either men or other women.
This is certainly encouraging, yet I find that learning to assert oneself appropriately in the workplace still remains an issue for many women. One of the most effective ways to communicate confidence is to use assertive communication, and many women find this challenging. Part of the problem is the lack of confidence to use “I” statements in assertive communication, (that goes against some of the lessons we have learned about always putting others first).
Here are some tips and guidelines to build your assertive communication skills:
1. Visualize the person you want to be. How would that person behave and communicate? Do you currently exhibit this behavior and what do you have to change?
2. Ask for feedback from trusted colleagues about the way you are coming across. This would be a great discussion with a mentor as well.
3. Practice using “I” statements. Stay true to your feelings without blaming others.
4. State your opinions clearly.
5. Accept compliments with grace. Say “thank you.” It’s simple but somehow we always find the need to give credit to others or discredit the compliment. An example is someone saying you did a good job and you say the team did it. Well, what was your part in the team effort? What was your contribution? Acknowledge. Don’t downplay the compliment. Take credit.
6. Practice giving your opinion at least once during every meeting.
7. Make it a goal to speak during every meeting.
8. Practice saying “no! Especially when people (your boss or direct reports) delegate inappropriately to you. Don’t fall into the trap of taking on the work when it’s not appropriate.
For more tips and in-depth instruction on this topic, please register for my two-part “Assertive Communication Skills for Women” workshop March 31 and April 7 at SMC Community Education.
Inner Fitness is a personal growth system developed by Rev. Dr. Louise-Diana, a respected authority in the field of personal effectiveness: a yoga therapist, certified clinical hypnotherapist, motivational speaker, and ordained Science of Mind Minister. She helps people take charge of their lives by achieving balance and inner harmony. For more information, call 310-840-2253, email email@example.com or visit www.innerfitness.com.
By Alice Meyering, Program Coordinator of Community & Contract Education
Attention SMC Community Education current and former students – we want you to enter our Second Annual Photo Contest! The winning image will be the cover of the Fall 2016 class schedule.
Dean Reyes’ shot of Griffith Observatory was the 2015 winner.
Prizes will be awarded for the winner, first runner-up and second runner-up: $75, $50 and $25 credit vouchers, respectively, for Community Ed classes. In addition, the images will be used in our monthly newsletter, Sound Bites, as well as on social media.
Last year we were overwhelmed by the quality of the submissions we received, more than 60 in all! This year we hope to receive even more entries and we are excited to see the incredible talent of our students.
Andy House was a finalist last year with this photo.
The rules are simple:
Susan Jackson’s “Shoes” was also a finalist in 2015.
Judging will be in three parts:
If you have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (310) 434-3400.
Share your vision with us – and good luck!
The following is an excerpt from film and screenwriting instructor Simone Bartesaghi’s new book, “The Director’s Six Senses.” The book has been receiving great reviews.
A director is a storyteller. No more, no less. We must start with pure and simple storytelling. No camera yet, not even pen and paper.
However your story starts, with a “Once upon a time” or “In a galaxy far far away,” whether it’s a story you’ve come up with or real events that happen to you, we all do it the same way.
We tell our stories by selecting words that our audience can understand. We try very hard to make sure that the story that begins in our mind will eventually become the same story in our audience’s mind.
Film instructor Simone Bartesaghi (standing, far right) with students.
When two people from different countries meet, if they keep speaking their own languages, they won’t be able to communicate. The communication part — it’s the key. This is why a good director chooses carefully the images and the sounds that are going to tell his story. Shooting a movie is like breaking down an image into pieces for a puzzle. The puzzle is then assembled by the editor and the director with the intent to maintain the integrity of the original story.
When the movie is watched by the audience, it’s experienced again piece by piece, shot by shot, sound by sound, and it’s important that the pieces of the puzzle are going to be put together with the same meaning by the audience.
There are people who are gifted at crafting fascinating stories; they are able to engage the audience with precise words and intonation while avoiding dull moments and irrelevant details.
You might be thinking, I’ve never been good at telling stories, so I’ll never be a good director. Here’s the great news. When you stand in front of an audience and tell a story with your voice, you may be shy and self-conscious but that doesn’t apply to moviemaking. You won’t perform your movie in front of every audience, right?
And now a warning. If you want to be a director to become rich, save your time and your money; become a lawyer, a doctor, or a plumber. Directing doesn’t easily lead to fortune and glory. Most of the time, even when everybody applauds, you still feel disappointed because what you’ve achieved is just a pallid reproduction of what was in your mind.
Becoming a director takes hard work, research, and faithful commitment to your dreams and inspirations.
But if somewhere deep inside, you have a fire for storytelling that won’t stop sparkling, then this is the book for you. I’ll show you how to feed that fire and make sure that you won’t have to work for the rest of your life. After all, we don’t call it “work” when we would be willing to pay to do it, right?
“The Director’s Six Senses” is an innovative, unique, and engaging approach to the development of the skills that every visual storyteller must have. It’s based on the premise that a director is a storyteller 24/7 and must be aware of the “truth” that he or she experiences in life in order to be able to reproduce it on the big screen. Through a series of hands-on exercises and practical experiences, the reader develops the “directorial senses” in order to be able to tell a story in the most effective way.