Hellman Visiting Artist Program

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The unique Hellman Visiting Artist Program was created to foster dialogue between scientists, caregivers, patients, clinicians and the public regarding creativity and the brain. Each year, an accomplished artist (visual artist, musician, writer or other creative individual) is invited to visit the Memory and Aging Center to learn about neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia. We encourage a creative exchange between the artist and the researchers, as well as interactions with patients and families who agree to participate. The Visiting Artist also shares their creativity with the larger community through a public performance.

2013–2014 Artist: Geoff Hoyle

Geoff Hoyle trained with Marcel Marceau’s teacher, Etienne Decroux, in Paris, developing his unique physical bravura comic style, a combination of court jester, vaudeville and English music hall comedian. He made his mark in the Bay Area as the Pickle Family Circus’ beloved clown, Mr. Sniff. Later, he created the critically acclaimed "Feast of Fools," featuring masked Commedia Dell'Arte characters including the libidinous and elderly Pantalone (Hoyle claims he will no longer need to use a mask for this one), Il Dottore and the prat-falling Arleccino. It is a depiction of Everyman striving for dignity in the face of a multitude of struggles, big and small, that is not unlike Hoyle’s own search for meaning in his hit solo show, "Geezer." His award-winning shows "The Convict’s Return," (about taking "Feast of Fools" to Broadway and its mixed reception there) "Geni(us)" and "The First Hundred Years" (an improbable history of comedy) have been seen in San Francisco, Paris, London, Berlin, Taiwan, New York, England and the former Soviet Union.

Regional theater appearances include Seattle Repertory Theatre, ACT, La Jolla Playhouse and Berkeley Rep appearing in, among others, "Volpone," "The Alchemist," "The Beaux Stratagem," "Endgame," and "Act Without Words." He created the original Zazu in the Broadway cast of "The Lion King" and appeared off-Broadway in Bill Irwin’s Mr. Fox and in Tony Kushner's and Maurice Sendak's adaptation of the children's opera "Brundibar." He appeared in "Scapin" at ACT and Lemony Snicket's "The Composer is Dead" at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. He also appeared regularly with Teatro Zinzanni. His solo show, "Geezer," recently played at The Marsh Theater in Berkeley.

2014 Artist Events

Empathy & Observation
Meet the artist with a short performance and panel discussion
Thursday, July 31, 4–5 p.m.
Pottruck Auditorium, Rock Hall
UCSF Mission Bay Campus
1550 4th Street, San Francisco
reception following in Gallery 190 at the Memory and Aging Center

Empathy & the Actor’s Brain
Thursday, December 4, 7–9 p.m.
Byers Auditorium in Genentech Hall
UCSF Mission Bay Campus
600 16th Street, San Francisco

Clive Barker stated, “I will go to my grave believing that the actor could be the most important experimental social scientist in the world.” Through detailed observation and active embodiment, actors step into the perspective of another and share this experience with the audience. This sharing connects the actor and the audience to the wider human experience. In this evening’s performance, comedic actor Geoff Hoyle will present his observations and reflections on aging through the experience of several characters of his creation. The conversation will continue with Drs. Robert Levenson and Katherine Rankin who will share their research findings on emotion, empathy and performance. By bringing together these scientists and artist, we reflect on how the arts can increase our connection and deepen our human experience.

Past Hellman Visiting Artists

2012–2013 Artist: Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield, prize-winning poet, translator and essayist, is the author of seven collections of poetry and the editor and co-translator of four books containing the work of poets from the past. Her work appears regularly in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, and other journals and can be found in the 2013 editions of The Best Spiritual Writing, The Best American Poetry and The Pushcart Prize Anthology. Her poetry speaks to the central issues of human existence—desire and loss, impermanence and beauty, the many dimensions of our connection with others and the wider community of creatures and objects with which we share our lives. Her subjects range from the metaphysical and passionate to the political, ecological, and scientific to subtle unfoldings of daily life and experience. Among numerous honors, in 2004 Jane Hirshfield was awarded the 70th Academy Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement by The Academy of American Poets, an honor formerly held by such poets as Robert Frost, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Elizabeth Bishop. In 2012, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy and received the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry.

2011–2012 Artist: Heidi Clare

Heidi Clare is widely acknowledged as the best old-time fiddler currently performing. Her style and the material that she chooses to perform keeps alive the hundreds-years-old traditions established by immigrant fiddlers (mostly European) who came to America starting in the seventeenth century and established the fiddle as a major American instrument for folk dancing, Appalachian ballads and hoedowns, and bluegrass breakdowns. She does it all, and applies the muscle to her performances that has been indicative of the hard working pioneer farmers and stock men and women who carried the traditional sounds of the instrument into modern times. She not only plays the music that drove the raucous dances of those pioneers, but the dances the steps as well. She has performed all over the U.S. with her own band as well as with the Reeltime Travelers, which also recorded on the sound track of the movie, Cold Mountain. Unlike many of the other “folk-type” fiddlers that play traditionally oriented fiddle tunes, Heidi Clare is formally trained and holds a master’s degree in music.

2009–2011 Artist: Deborah Aschheim

Deborah Aschheim makes installations based on invisible networks of perception and thought. Her work since 2005 has explored the subject of memory, leading her to collaborate with musicians and neuroscientists on projects that are an equal mix of science and poetry. Aschheim holds a BA degree in anthropology from Brown University and an MFA degree from the University of Washington. She has received fellowships from the City of Los Angeles, the Pasadena Arts Commission, the Durfee Foundation, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She has been artist-in-residence in the North Carolina Healthcare system; at Fundacion Valparaiso in Mojacar, Spain; at Headlands in Marin, California; at Hallwalls in Buffalo, NY; at the Bemis Center in Omaha, NE; and at the Roswell Museum and Art Center in New Mexico. She lives in Southern California.

November 26, 2014