Gary Katona – The Spark

Although I would draw constantly since I was kid, I didn’t ‘trust’ high school art teachers and never took a formal class until I was accepted at Chouinard on ‘probational status’, hoping to pursue filmmaking. The “introduction to drawing class” was headed by Jack Kling, who had us drawing on the floor, mixing our own inks, and fashioning crude drawing utensils. It was the Liberation of a lifetime and to this day I remember him, down on the floor next to me, responding to a drawing and saying “This just all turned on for you didn’t it ? ” And it had. Another moment, a couple of semesters later, I recall Liz Eklund (sp?) , a terrific administrator and part time instructor, who scolded me about my drawing “This is too easy for you. I want to see you WORK.” and she was right. I went on to my BFA and accepted a full scholarship, becoming part of the transitional team, to CAL ARTs and an MFA, only to realize by comparison (especially in those chaotic early days of CIA development) how truly fortunate my timing had been @ Chounaird; Bob Kurtz, Ed Reep, Bill Graham, T. Hee…and so many talented friends and fellow students, and how blessed we were to have experienced it.

Gary Katona

Bonnie Maffei – Arts Habitat Garden Road Studios, Monterey, CA

When I was an aspiring young artist, I received the amazing news that I had been awarded a scholarship to attend Chouinard Art Institute in L.A. I was very excited. I recall my first life drawing class, straddling one of the wooden “horses” with my drawing tablet propped up in front of me. I was painting the female figure using india ink and a large round brush, when my coffee spilled across my drawing. What followed was a series of figures painted in rich brown tones. I had ‘discovered’ coffee as a painting medium. The life drawing instructor then encouraged me to experiment with other media. Currently, I am exploring the effects of color, light and shadow, and how colored lights transform the colors of paintings. My experiences at Chouinard was the beginning of my life as an artist.

Bonnie Maffei

Stories From The Chouinard House

You are making a very important contribution to Los Angeles culture. In fact you are helping us realize we really have one in the visual arts. Thank you and great success.

Beatrice Findlay

Randy Akers

I was one of the lucky ones to graduate in 1969. It was a remarkable time as the disciplines from any one arena merged. I was friends with designers, ceramicists, illustrators, painters and sculptors. It all rubbed off. Of course the most important thing were the faculty. Hammersley, Woelffer, Kanemitsu, Reep, Canavier, T. Hee. They were the best. Where we really learned was hanging out with each other. Peer group pressure was enormous. It was the best of times and could never be replicated.

Stuart Denker, Designer

During the early ’60s I played a minor role at Chouinard as a member of the short-lived Design Lab
(‘Forgotten its formal name) whose faculty included John Lautner, AIA; Robert Bond, industrial designer;
Richard Selje, industrial designer; John Canavier, sculptor. The specific classes I taught were Projection
Drawing and Perspective Drawing, both of which were aimed at the beginning level for art students making
the transition from the Fine Art foundation classes to a general industrial design, architectural design and
interior design. I also filled in at the lab on the days that the four individuals named above were not
scheduled to be on hand.
The Design Lab was not included in the menu of departments that became the nucleus of CalArts,
following of the demise of the Chouinard Art Institute.

Stuart Denker

Ed Ruscha

While another art school in the area had dress codes (ie: Art Center: no facial hair, no sandals, no bongo drums) Chouinard was free and easy. Shall I say more freedom for everyone? It was great and it worked.

Laddie John Dill

Chouinard not only taught you the techniques of being an artist, it also, and most importantly, taught you how to live as an artist. Everyone is different. In my case, this was my experience. I learned a lot more than what was mentioned in the brochure.

William Stout

I attended Chouinard from 1967 to 1971. Because of the timing of my attendance I was offered the chance to go to the new CalArts or stay at Chouinard, as for a time both schools were open simultaneously. I am very, very happy I chose to remain at Chouinard (it was a simple decision; amazingly and idiotically, there was no illustration department at CalArts. The Powers That Be killed a great and wonderful thing).

The differences between Chouinard and Art Center back then were vast.

Art Center illustration students were all taught the same slick style. The samples of student art hanging in their hallways were indistinguishable from one another. Their promise was that if you learned the Art Center style you would immediately segue into a decent career in illustration after graduation. I knew NY art directors, however, who would humiliate Art Center graduates by naming each class their samples were from when they showed their portfolios, then rejecting their work as unoriginal and uninspired.

At Chouinard, the instructors would look at your work and then teach you how to be a better you. They were interested in the enhancement of the skills and problem solving abilities of each individual as individuals. When I teach, I use this same approach. I call it “The Chouinard Method”.

The saying back then went that if you graduated from Art Center you would earn a comfortable (but anonymous) living as an artist. If you graduated from Chouinard you would end up as a gas station attendant (remember them?) — or world famous.

I benefited enormously from my Chouinard education. I often learned as much from my fellow students as I did from my instructors — and I learned a lot from most of my fine instructors. Some time after I graduated, I studied privately with one of the very best teachers I had at Chouinard, Hal Kramer, for about twenty years. What I learned from Hal at Chouinard and afterward continues to serve, inform and benefit my careers as both a fine artist and as an illustrator.

Pearl Cozens at Chouinard

My mother , the late Pearl (Cozens) Haskett attended Chouinard in the mid to late 1930’s. She was an abstract watercolorist who exhibited with Mark Tobey, Morris Graves and other modernist painters of the West Coast, after she moved to the Northwest in 1946. She studied with Dale Owen, who became the Art Director of the(then)Cornish Art Institute in the late 1960’s. I attended Cornish in 1970-73 , although my first choice was Chouinard ,but they were having dificulty so I applied to Cornish College at Dale Owen’s advice. I have to do some research to get moms dates correct. I recall my mother telling me that she often modeled at Chouinard as a teenager to cover tuition for drawing classes. I stayed in contact with Dale Owen while he was doing a major mosaic for a church known as St Peters in California. in the 1990s. I have to do some research to get my facts together. Dale used to compliment me when he told me he could see the “California school”, influenced from my mom’s teaching, come through in my watercolors. I am happy to have come across this site. I will be glad to share some early newspaper articles I have about my mother’s exhibits in California museums in the 1950s. I have my art studio in Seattle and live in Steilacoom, Wa. My mother grew up in Newport Beach, CA and I was down there last month.

Where is Leonard Cutrow?

Leonard Cutrow was a high school friend of my mother’s, who became a dear family friend. For a certain time Leonard designed lighting fixtures for my father’s company, EJS. I believe he taught at Chouinard. His oils and drawings are powerful and evocative of a mid 20th century aesthetic. The State Department commissioned him to visit Viet Nam during the war and paint what he experienced. I was very young when I originally saw those oil paintings but they are forever imprinted in my memory.

Teri Cohan Link

A Perpetual Legacy

I came to Chouinard in 1958 on a half tuition scholarship. It was culture shock to the extreme from conservative Glendale to what seemed to be a scene from a Felini film as I approached the front entrance on my first visit. Pretty quickly I realized that I was in the right place – what a caldron of creativity!. My favorite instructors were Bob Winquist and Robert Irwin; two incredible mind-stretchers. What was great about Chouinard was that they gave you all of the basic tools and then allowed you to explore your art to the max.

Great looking site, by the way, and I’ll be coming back for more…..:)

John Norman Stewart

Greetings from a follower

I attended the last workshops you offered in South Pasadena at the Mission Street site. I took two courses in basic drawing and learned so much. These two courses gave me the foundation to drawing that I needed to understand and practice drawing principles.

I am hoping your foundation will offer adult classes again. If you have adult classes scheduled, please send me a link.

In the meantime, I will support your foundation.

Best regards,
Bonnie Kilgore Lund


Hello,Wonderful site. Will visit it often to stay in the loop concerning future Chouinard developments. Had no idea, until today, that any of this had gone on.

I’d be proud to have my work included among the work of the other
former Chouinard students on your directory page. I attended from
1967 – 1971, graduating in 1971.

Thank you for the site.

Best regards,

-Bill (AKA: Trowzers Akimbo)


I began Chouinard in 1965. Two instructors who have had a lasting influence on my practice were Fred Hammersly and Jules Langsner. Studying art in the 60’s was an amazing experience. Every day brought a new experience in the classroom and in life.

Sam Erenberg