Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Faces of PUC: Nephtali Marin

Nephtali Marin has been at PUC for the past four years seeking a BFA in film and tends to leave a lasting impression on everyone he meets. While forgetting him is not likely to happen, he wanted to make sure he didn’t slip your mind while he spends the year serving as a student missionary in Brazil. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder but just in case you’re starting to forget our friend Nephta, or haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him just yet, we asked him a couple of questions to help everyone get to know him better. And since he’s busy acclimating to life in a different country, try not to judge him for his short answers (even though we might just a little🤣). 

What is your dream job?

DoP (Director of Photography) for narrative films. But honestly, I’m still figuring this out …

How does that compare to what you wanted to be when you were young?

Well, I wanted to be a doctor so I’d say it’s pretty different. I probably won’t be saving lives, but hey you never know! 

What is your favorite thing about being a part of the Pioneers family?

We are all equal. Whether you are a 4th year, 1st year, or faculty, I’ve never felt like there is a hierarchy. We all experience similar ups and downs which help us become close.  

Where is your favorite place in the world?

My Abuelitas house on thanksgiving. 

What show are you binge-watching right now?

My Hero Academia 

What is something you’re passionate about?

Making people laugh.

Recommend a place in the Bay Area to visit on a weekend.

Dolores Park in San Francisco. 

 

What I Should Be Doing: An Interview with Music Alumnus Brennan Stokes

By Becky St. Clair

Brennan Stokes graduated from Pacific Union College in 2013 with a degree in piano performance. Having discovered a love for composition while studying with Professor Asher Raboy in the department of music, Stokes chose to continue his education at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, graduating in 2019 with a Master’s of Music in composition. Today he maintains a teaching studio in San Francisco’s Sunset District, passing on his love of music to the next generation of pianists. 

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How did you discover your love for music?

My parents are both musically inclined; they both sang in the church choir, Mom took piano lessons as a kid, and Dad plays the trumpet. They started me in piano lessons when I was in kindergarten, but there was always music in our house. I just took it and ran with it.

How did you settle on the piano?

It was the first instrument I learned, and it was a match from the start. I really liked it, and according to my teachers, I showed some promise for it, so I kept playing. Piano just made sense to me. 

How did composing become part of your musical life?

I always assumed I was going to be on one side of the page. I knew I was going to learn it, research it, analyze it, but I never considered creating it myself. When I found out I had to take a composition class for my degree, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but after our first assignment I realized how magical this process is and I fell in love with it. I continued to take classes with Professor Raboy even after the requirements were done. Creating new music was incredibly exciting for me. 

Tell us about your studio.

I teach 30-35 students a week, all between the ages of 5 and 13. My schedule is very flexible; since most kids are in school, I am relatively free during the day. I start teaching around 3 p.m. three days a week and teach until 8 p.m. I enjoy what I do. I consider myself very fortunate to be working in my field, teaching young musicians.

When you’re not teaching kids to create music, you create music yourself. Describe your approach to practicing.

Really, it starts slow. Paying attention to fingerings becomes essential; training my hands to do smaller tasks automatically. Then I focus on rhythm, hand by hand, figuring out what each part of the piece sounds like, then I put it all together. A valuable tool Dr. Wheeler gave me is reverse practice. If you only ever start your practice at the beginning of a piece, that’s always going to be the strong part. But if you start at the end, which is often the hardest part, you ensure the end is also strong. Then you feel even more comfortable with the piece. 

What is the difference between hearing a piece and playing it?

It’s a totally different experience to hear a piece than it is to see what the hands have to do to make the piece happen. You may feel like you know a piece after listening to it multiple times, but when you sit down to actually play it, you realize there are little rhythmic or harmonic nuances you didn’t realize were there. For example, the harmonies in some Chopin and Rachmaninoff pieces are super crunchy. It sounds like you’re playing something wrong and you check the notes three times, but that’s really what it is. You learn it, and suddenly it’s not crunchy anymore; it works. 

Aside from providing a way to make a living, how has studying music contributed positively to your life?

The last several years I’ve been getting into poetry and it has turned into a cycle of self-enrichment. I read poetry and feel like it was meant to be an art song, so I create some vocal music to go with the poem. Also, music allows me to meet really incredible people from all over the world. Music is the most universal thing; it doesn’t matter where you come from or what language you speak, you can bond over music. I love how it brings people together.

Who is your favorite composer to play, and why?

I’d say Chopin and this relatively new 20th century English composer named York Bowen. Chopin changed the game for solo piano. Yes, it’s technical, but once you get it in the fingers, it becomes so fluid and so natural. There’s playfulness, there’s sadness, and the composer’s intentions are really clear. Bowen utilizes really rich harmonies and has a bit of a jazzier feeling. I don’t think he’s well known but he’s written a ton of music; in particular, his preludes and ballads feel really nice to play.

Who is your favorite composer to listen to, and why?

There are two to whom I constantly return: Ravel and Beethoven. I have yet to encounter a piece by Ravel I’m not stunned by. He was a wizard of music and his chamber and orchestra music is stunning. Every instrument’s shape and technique is magic because he thought about more than the obvious ways to use the instrument. He utilizes every aspect of shading to get different tone colors and sounds.

Beethoven takes his time with his surprises. What he did to change musical form is a reminder that if you feel like doing something, you can. He’ll pull a fortissimo out of nowhere or move through his harmonies in an unexpected way. His sonatas are really rich; one movement is fiery and passionate then another is lyrical and serene. It’s incredible to realize you don’t always have to do the same thing all the time. He reminds me to come back to things that are good and innovate. I’m still looking back to these masters and finding ways to influence my music-making process. 

What is something you want to improve about your musicianship, and what are you currently doing to move in that direction?

Right now, rhythms and the finer points of notating what I want, maintaining my ear to get the intricate harmonies I love. I constantly have to work at how I put the complicated pieces together in the way I want them. During my first year of grad school, I took a musicianship class, and it was insane but incredible. Walking out of that class, my ear was so much sharper than it had been walking in. I still use techniques from that class to keep track of what has happened in a piece and what I’m doing next. 

What is the highlight of your career thus far?

Definitely my first composition recital in November 2017—the first time I heard one of my pieces performed. I had composed two songs for mezzo soprano, violin, cello, and piano, and I was terrified. I’m so used to being in the driver’s seat, and it was terrifying to be the composer just sitting in the audience watching four other people do my music and having zero control over what happened.

It was an immense learning curve handing my music over to other musicians; what I think works initially may not actually work after a second pair of eyes looks it over, especially when I’m composing for instruments that are not my primary. I also learned that how performers interpret music is also a part of the creative process.

A lot of people came up to me afterward and said it was amazing. It was a moment when all of my fears of not being good enough vanished. To be positively received by an audience was wonderful, but for my music to be positively received by the musicians playing it was even better. It was confirmation I was doing what I should be doing.

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If you could change one thing about society’s perception of classical music, what would it be?

I wish more people understood if you have the context of 20th century music, it will make more sense. The 20th century saw a lot of horrible things happen, and that’s reflected in dissonant 20th century music. It’s not necessarily pretty to listen to, but if you understand what they’re trying to say you don’t necessarily disagree with it. It takes a moment to transcend what you’re hearing and realize what the composer is saying; for example, a minor key with shrieking strings can express how a Polish composer feels about the Holocaust. If you understand what it is they were experiencing or reacting to, it contextualizes their voice and makes the music more accessible. 

How do you deal with performance anxiety?

I read a book on performance anxiety and the author said if you don’t get nervous, if you don’t feel anxious or get a boost in energy (whether positive or negative) before a performance, it’s apathy. You don’t really care. If you’re nervous before you perform, it means you want to do a good job and perform to the best of your ability to make sure what you put out there is wonderful. That really changed my way of thinking. I’ve learned to recognize what happens to me and where my nervousness affects me the most, then find a way to adjust. I try to fully relax my body and tell myself I’m going to give a wonderful performance. I reassure myself I’ve practiced, I’m ready, and I’m a good enough musician to find my way through the performance. This is music and music is fun, and sharing it with others should be enjoyable. That nervous feeling just means I’m doing the right thing. I’m doing something that matters to me. And that’s how it should be. 

 

Fall Fest Fun

This weekend was PUC’s annual Fall Festival where the Pioneers family came together to enjoy food and fun. With booths full of things to buy, things to eat, and causes to support, Fall Fest is one event everyone looks forward to.

Here are just a few of our favorite moments.

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Members of SOL Club pose for a photo before the crowds come! 

 

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These lovely ladies are taking a break by the English table! 📚 

 

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The Biology Club had the cutest succulents for purchase! 🌿  

 

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No explanation is necessary.🤣 Thanks for the laughs, REVO! 

 

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The Mabuhay Filipino Club really wowed everyone with their Tinikling which is a traditional Philippine folk dance! 

Browse through the Fall Fest album on facebook for even more! 

 

A Moment in Time: Artist Davis Perkins Exhibits at PUC

By Becky St. Clair

Always drawing as a kid, Davis Perkins doesn’t remember a time when art wasn’t a part of his life. Perkins attended the University of Oregon, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, and he has now made art a career. He has original artwork in a permanent collection at the Smithsonian as well as in the Pentagon and has done one-man shows at the Alaska State Museum and the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum.

On Nov. 9, Perkins will host an opening reception and artist talk at 7 p.m. in the Rasmussen Art Gallery right here on campus. His exhibit, Landscapes: A Moment in Time, will be on display through December 8 (the gallery will be closed Nov. 23-Dec. 1 for Thanksgiving break). We caught up with Perkins and asked him a few questions to get to know him and his craft better. 

What first sparked your interest in painting?

I was always drawing as a kid. It was something for which I seemed to get a lot of “praise.” I was raised on a farm in rural Oregon and was always outside. It was during my three-year stint in the Army I really started to draw a lot, and when I got out of the service I attended college, initially studying history, but taking more and more drawing and painting classes. I had great support from my professors and they encouraged me to pursue painting seriously. I switched majors to art and began in earnest. I initially started in oil painting, and it’s what I love most to this day.

How did your career start?

While in college, I was a smokejumper (parachute firefighter), and I worked during the summer fire season. After graduation, I moved down to the Bay Area to paint during the winter, going back to Alaska to spend the summers jumping fires. It was a very seasonal lifestyle! When a professor advised me to start a series of paintings of my experiences as a smokejumper, I began jumping fires with a small sketchbook, documenting my work during the slow times. The series ended up being my senior thesis project. I had a lucky break with that final series; first, the Alaska State Museum gave me a one-man show of the work, and the next year, the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum gave me a one-year solo exhibition of my work. The Smithsonian has three of my paintings in their permanent collection. I also have a painting in the Pentagon with the Air Force Art Collection.

How does your environment play a role in your art-making?

As you will see in the exhibit at the Rasmussen, I consider myself a traditional landscape painter. Much of my life has been spent outdoors, and the wonders of nature are what inspire me, therefore much of my work is plein air. For larger studio pieces I always work outside for reference studies.

What is one of your favorite pieces you’ve created, and why?

Hmm … that’s a tough one! I’d say some of my favorite pieces are the quick studies done on location. They often seem the freshest and most spontaneous. I am constantly attempting to not overwork a piece; I try and limit an outdoor painting session to no more than two hours. By that time, the light has changed significantly. I will often start a painting in the morning and move on to another in the afternoon. If there’s more work that remains, I can return the next day.

Tell us about your studio. What kind of space have you created in order to be comfortable expressing yourself?

I’ve got a great studio! It’s located in downtown San Rafael and is part of a complex called The ArtWorks Downtown. There are about 35 studios in the building and it is a wonderful complex in which I have many good friends. I have a high ceiling studio with a skylight, as well as good artificial lights. I’ve been in ArtWorks Downtown for about 15 years. Come visit anytime!

What’s something you still want to learn about art-making, and what are you doing to acquire that knowledge?

A good question! I am obviously still learning and it is an ongoing ambition, but I’m focusing on the study of color primarily. For the past three years, I have been on the faculty of the annual Plein Air convention. The four-day convention attracts painters from all over the world, and individuals give wonderful lectures and demonstrations. I gain a great deal from attending these lectures and learning from some of the world’s top artists. I also try and take advantage of living in the Bay Area and travel to museums here as often as I can. We are so fortunate to have access to the de Young, the Oakland Museum, and others; they have wonderful collections!

large-Perkins_Doc's PondWhat makes oil painting different from other kinds of painting?

What is delightful about oil painting is the ability to alter your work: You simply wipe it off! Often when I’m painting a cloud, for example, I will decide to start again. During the process of wiping off the paint, a new shape will emerge that I like and will develop. I especially like the ability to glaze over the dried paint with a translucent layer of color. It’s a technique used by oil painters for hundreds of years. As I mentioned, I am constantly exploring and reading about mixing color. It is an ongoing process!

How do you start a new piece? 

A large white canvas staring you in the face can be intimidating. So I always start a painting with a thin wash, usually in an earth color. I then use a little darker, thin paint to start developing the composition. This is really the most fun time to paint; you’re exploring, wiping out, redrawing with thin paint. You can’t screw it up! I then start to develop the basic values–light and dark. When I’m satisfied I’m on to something, I’ll start applying heavier layers of paint. Then it’s, “Fingers crossed!” Ha!

Who is another artist you admire, and why?

I would have to say Richard Schmid is one of my greatest inspirations. He is nothing less than a National Treasure. I have had the pleasure of meeting him, and I own all of his books. He’s been an inspiration to hundreds of young artists.

 

Faces of PUC: Caleb Pudewell

Caleb Pudewell is a senior here at PUC and couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the graphic design field. He is already putting his skills to use in the public relations office as one of the student designers. 

We asked Caleb to answer a few questions so we can get better acquainted with him.

What is your dream job?

I would love to work as a graphic designer for a company that allows me to travel the world. Imagine living in Spain for a month, and then maybe a few weeks in Japan, followed by a short stint through the Southwest of the USA. That is my dream job.

How does that compare to what you wanted to be when you were young? 

As a child, I always wanted to work with animals and I was also curious about being a doctor. I still love animals and they serve as an inspiration in my designs. Being a doctor though, no way! I couldn’t deal with all the blood.

What is your favorite thing about being a part of the Pioneers family?

I love how devoted the professors are at PUC. I often go to them for advice on professional matters as well as personal issues. They always offer a listening ear and that’s something I’ve really grown to appreciate.

Where is your favorite place in the world?

Wow, what a tough question. I love so many places. I don’t know if I have a favorite but I would really love to go and visit Barcelona again. It’s a beautiful city with a rich culture.

What show are you binge-watching right now?giphy-1

Mindhunter, Brooklyn-99, and Parks & Rec are a few of my favorites.

What is something you’re passionate about?

I love nature and everything about it. Every chance I get, I love to go and explore new places and find off the beaten path activities.

Recommend a place in the Bay Area to visit on a weekend.

One of my favorite weekend spots is Bodega Bay. You can visit the beach, find some great food, and pick up some saltwater taffy for the ride home. It’s an amazing place to visit.

 

Five of Napa Valley’s Best Study Breaks

By Sarah Tanner 

The Napa Valley is known best for luxury living, fine dining, and watercolor sunsets set against the dark green of its surrounding mountains. For college students with limited budgets and even less time, while the area is gorgeous to take in, it is not always easy to find inexpensive activities to relieve the stress of classes. Luckily, the valley has much to offer, and discovering your next favorite study break location is easier than you think!

Lake Berryessa

Adventurous students with a love for the outdoors can head to Lake Berryessa for a variety of activities including kayaking, fishing, hiking, and a number of water sports. Less than a forty-minute drive from PUC’s campus, this lake makes for a fun weekend hangout location. It’s also the perfect spot for hot weekends early in the fall quarter, when students can pack a picnic lunch and spend the day surrounded by nature, and still make it back to the dorms in time for nightfall.   

St. Helena Farmer’s Market

The St. Helena farmer’s market is a lovely Friday morning activity just a few minutes’ drive down the hill. This event is open from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. each week and features the valley’s favorite artisan products. Located in Crane Park from May through October, fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as a number of baked goods are available for purchase. Grab a coffee, and wander the stalls for a quick morning get away. 

Bocce Ball

St. Helena features a number of parks that include bocce ball courts. This easy afternoon activity pairs best with a handful of friends and a large pizza. Take in the sunshine and let your competitive spirit run wild as you compete on the court. With a little skill and some luck, this game is relatively simple to master, and a great way to fit outdoor activity within a busy schedule. 

Robert Louis Stevenson State Park

A favorite area of its namesake author, and located just north of Calistoga, this state park includes a number of hiking trails and cycling opportunities. It encompasses Mount St. Helena, as well as a number of scenic viewpoints. With hiking options ranging from short jaunts to a ten-mile round-trip, Robert Louis Stevenson practically begs for return visits.

Bouchon Bakery

Tucked between restaurants lining Yountville’s main street is Bouchon, a local bakery known worldwide for their award-winning desserts. What better way to treat yourself after a long week of classes, quizzes, and studying? Pick up a house-made macaron, pain au chocolat, or take a loaf of fresh-baked bread to go, and enjoy a well-deserved break from the stress of the quarter. 

Whether you prefer to wander the streets of Calistoga, fit in an early morning hike, or sample your favorite baked goods, the Napa Valley has a number of budget-friendly activities practically made for busy college students. With a wide variety of options and locations, the valley offers something fun for virtually everyone. 

 

Sensibilities: Douglas Sandquist at the Rasmussen Art Gallery

By Becky St. Clair

In the early 90s, Douglas Sandquist attended PUC as a bio-chem. Upon being accepted into dental school after his junior year, he left PUC and headed to dental school. He went on to become a dentist back in his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada, where today he curates the unexpected combination of his dental career and photography. 

In 2016, a photo Sandquist took in Iceland with his iPhone and shared via Instagram was requested by Apple for use in a worldwide marketing campaign. This resulted in mega exposure for this Nevadan dentist-photographer. (More on this in the Q&A—keep reading!)

Some of Sandquist’s photographic art will be displayed in an exhibit in the Rasmussen Art Gallery beginning this Saturday, Oct. 12, with his opening reception at 7 p.m. He will present an artist talk and refreshments will be served. Before you go, though, you may want to learn a bit more about the artist himself. We did, so we asked him a few prodding questions. 

Introducing: Douglas Sandquist.

Where did you grow up, and how did that environment contribute to how you view the physical world? big-image-1

I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s right in the middle of the Southwest part of the United States. California, Utah, and Arizona, along with their beaches, deserts, and National Parks, gave me the opportunity to get out and see what was out there. I’ve never stopped exploring.

 

 

What sparked your original interest in photography?

I actually dabbled with it even as a child. It wasn’t until I wanted to get better at taking photos for my day job as a dentist that I really started getting serious about it. I wanted to somehow be able to capture what I do. Most dental photography is macro photography, but it’s also portrait photography. I originally wanted to learn how to take better clinical photos, so I delved into learning how to better use a camera, how to compose a shot, and how to work with different lighting. One thing led to another, and I started to enjoy photography outside the office just as much as in it.

What was the first camera you used to start shooting artistic/intentional photography?

I bought a Canon 10D in 2004.

What camera is your instrument of choice now?

I currently use a Canon 5D Mark IV and, of course, an iPhone. 

Where do you learn your photography skills?

I’ve never taken a formal photography class. I am mostly self-taught, but I have also participated in workshops all over the world, and have engaged in online mentorship programs for over 10 years.

Okay, let’s talk about the Apple iPhone ads. (You knew it was coming!) How did this happen?

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Crazy as it sounds, I didn’t submit my photo to Apple. In January 2016 I took a photo with my iPhone and posted it on Instagram with a few hashtags—as you do—and a few months later, I was contacted by Apple and their advertising agency, requesting the use of my photo in a campaign. I agreed, and within a matter of months, my photo—taken with an iPhone 6S—was on billboards, in magazines, and on signs around the globe.

 

 

 

Where did your photo show up, that you know of? big-image-3

That photo appeared on over 30 billboards all around the world: L.A., San Francisco, Dallas, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Paris, India, six cities in China—including Shanghai—Korea, Thailand, Mexico, Tokyo, and Turkey, and on the back of magazines all over the world. 

 

What inspires you as a photographer?

I love challenging what I see and then attempting to capture it. It also means I get to get out there and go see the world. 

What are your favorite subjects to photograph?

I particularly enjoy capturing cold landscapes and the stars in the American Southwest. 

How do you think the desert of the American Southwest and the frozen tundra of Iceland are connected for you? What draws you to those environs to shoot? big-image-2

Both of these regions offer plenty of opportunities to ask, “How did this happen?” Whether it’s a massive arch-like Double Window in Arches National Park or the glacier ice that ends up on the black sand beaches of Iceland, there are always unique views and perspectives to capture and ponder. I also love the way the light transforms these elements. Different times of the day or year create different scenes that often catch me off-guard and illuminate my sensibilities.  

We have to ask one completely abstract question, so here goes: If the experience of taking the perfect photo had a color, what would it be? big-image

Sunset Orange 🙂