Tag Archives: California

Longtime CAPA & Dance Kids Production Designer Working on Highly Anticipated Star Wars-Themed Park at Disneyland in California

It’s one of the most ambitious and eagerly awaited theme park attractions Disney has ever attempted and longtime Dance Kids and Carmel Academy of the Performing Arts production designer Nicole Bryant Stephens has been intimately involved in its completion.

Carmel, CA, June 06, 2019 — It’s one of the most ambitious and eagerly awaited theme park attractions Disney has ever attempted and longtime Dance Kids and Carmel Academy of the Performing Arts production designer Nicole Bryant Stephens has been intimately involved in its completion.

Bryant Stephens, an independent design contractor, has been hired as a field art director for Mural Makers since November 2018, working on the massive 14-acre Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge theme park being built at Disneyland Park in California (another one is being built at Disney World in Florida). According to Disney, the attraction will be the largest single-themed land expansion ever, and will have restaurants — including the park’s first-ever cantina — rides and other experiences to offer customers a fully-immersive experience.

“It’s phenomenal to be involved in a project of this magnitude,” says Bryant-Stephens, who has worked with Dance Kids and CAPA for over 25 years. “Just walking around and seeing it come alive is incredible.”

This is not the first time she’s worked with Disney. She has worked on teams that designed and built Disneyland Hong Kong, Disney’s California Adventure, Tarzan Tree House, and Disneyland. And she’s now working with her mentors from those projects, including Walt Disney Imagineers Ron Monk, Dino Fauci and 81-year-old Stefan Borowitz, who came out of retirement to work on Galaxy’s Edge.

Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park in Anaheim is scheduled to open on May 31, while Disney World in Florida will open at the end of summer on Aug. 29. The goal for Disney is that fans will believe they have been transported into the world of Star Wars — at the Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu.

“The 14-acre, themed destination at Disneyland Park in Anaheim will be unlike any attraction experienced before,” said the Hollywood Reporter, which was given a sneak preview last month. “With two state-of-the-art rides (Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run), a plethora of shops and restaurants (all in the theme of Star Wars so as not to feel like they are part of a Disney stop), jaw-dropping spectacles and full-scale droids milling about, the land delivers on the ambitious project (Disney chairman and CEO Bob ) Iger foretold when he announced the park at the D23 Expo in August 2015.”

Needless to say, the Star Wars park is the biggest project Bryant Stephens has ever worked on.

Born in New York, Bryant Stephens moved to Carmel in 1977. She was educated at Frohman Academy for Musical Theatre Education in Carmel and received her bachelor’s degree in fine art in Scenic Design from Theatre School formerly the Goodman School of Drama at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. In addition to Dance Kids and CAPA, she has designed sets for Santa Catalina School, York School, the Wharf Theatre, the Forest Theatre Guild and up in Aptos for Naatak the largest Indian Theatre group in the country. But her most extensive experience locally has been with Dance Kids and CAPA, including the annual “Nutcracker” and the Spanish-language version, “Cascanueces: A Folklorico Nutcracker.”

“My family has been extensively involved with CAPA and four generations of my family has been involved with Dance Kids’ ‘Nutcracker,’ even my grandmother, brother Joe and parents,” she says. “There couldn’t be a better creative outlet for my family than ‘Nutcracker’ and CAPA.”

Bryant Stephens has been involved in theater and dance since age 4, and by 12 began being paid for her work in technical theater. Her three children, two boys and a girl ages 7, 13 and 14, are all involved with ‘Nutcracker’, and her husband is the technical director he also helps out at home while she’s working on the Disney project in Anaheim. She has her own set and production design firm, Bottega Designs for over 27 years.

Working on a Star Wars project was one thing, but she was just as excited to be working again for Disney.

“I am a fan of Star Wars, but I’m an extreme fan of Disney,” she says, especially since being herself a Walt Disney Imagineer, for the first time in 2005 working on Hong Kong Disneyland.

Construction on the Star Wars park began in December 2017, Walt Disney Imagineering designed the project in collaboration with the Lucasfilm Story Group, with Imagineer Scott Trowbridge supervising the project, Asa Kalama and Chris Beatty serving as executive creative directors, and Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo and designer Doug Chiang of Industrial Light & Magic involved as consultants.

The team decided to create a new planet of Baatu instead of using an existing planet from the Star Wars films such as Tatooine or Hoth in order to give guests a new experience.

“We wanted to build new Star Wars stories, new Star Wars destinations, but this time you could be in that story that required us to go to a new place,” said Trowbridge to the Orlando Sentinel. “This used to be a vibrant trading port back in the old sub-lightspeed days, but now with advent of hyperspace, its prominence has kind of fallen and faded a little bit which has made it a great spot for those who didn’t want to be on that kind of mainstream path. The smugglers, the bounty hunters, the rogue adventurers looking to crew up, the people who don’t want to be found — basically all the interesting people.”

“The outpost looks lived-in and the intentional imperfections make the area feel like it’s been around for hundreds of years,” said the Hollywood Reporter. “There will be three entrances into Galaxy’s Edge, which is located north of Frontierland, where Big Thunder Ranch used to be, that also required the reconfiguration of the Disneyland Railroad and Rivers of America. Scents and music will be piped into the land, including original customized themes created by Star Wars composer John Williams.”

Bryant Stephens expects to work on the Star Wars project through April then it’s back to the Peninsula to work on local projects until Disney needs her again.

About Nicole Anne Bryant Stephens

Bryant Stephens has been a professional set designer and artist since high school. She received her BFA in Scenic Design from The Theater School formerly the Goodman School of Drama, DePaul University, Chicago, Ilinois. She has designed and worked on hundreds of productions including sets for the outdoor Forest Theater in Carmel, a variety of television specials, live musical events, theme parks and casinos.

After college, Nicole moved to Las Vegas and began work for PRG (Production Resource Group) where she expanded her skills working in casinos designing stages for a variety of shows. She was lead scenic artist for Penn and Teller’s “Sin City Spectacular” for their three-year run. After her tenure at PRG, Nicole struck out on her own, quickly building a stellar international reputation. During this time she also partnered with her family to launch Bottega Designs, where she applied her talents as a production designer and scenic artist to her father and brother’s architectural work.

Nicole has a talent and passion for teaching others new skills and techniques, directing live performances, and managing local crews as a field art director on various large casino and theme park projects.

Bottega Designs



Marci Bracco Cain

Chatterbox PR

Salinas, CA 93901

(831) 747-7455


Fusion Art Gallery Opens in Palm Springs, California

Fusion Art is pleased to announce the opening of its gallery in Palm Springs, California on May 4, 2016.

Palm Springs, CA, USA — Fusion Art is pleased to announce the opening of its gallery in Palm Springs, California on May 4, 2016.

Located at 2658 S. Cherokee Way, in the historic Backstreet Art District, Fusion Art joins an assortment of artist-owned galleries and working studios that feature diverse collections of original, contemporary art by locally, nationally & internationally recognized artists.

Founded by Chris and Valerie Hoffman, the gallery was envisioned and formed out of a passion for art and the artists who create it. Originally conceived as an online gallery that hosts international juried art competitions and exhibitions, Fusion Art has now grown to include a “brick and mortar” space in Palm Springs.

“It has always been my dream to open an art gallery and I am fortunate to now be at a point in my life to make it a reality,” said Fusion Art owner, Chris Hoffman. “I know how difficult it is for an artist to receive wall space in any gallery. A gallery has economics attached to it and is in the business of selling art. But Valerie and I also know that exposure is key to sales. So we launched Fusion Art, initially, on the web.”

“The goal,” noted Valerie, “when the website launched in mid 2015, was to give emerging and established artists the opportunity to gain experience and exposure as well as promote and connect artists with collectors and art enthusiasts.”

The website currently hosts monthly, themed, international online juried art competitions and exhibitions. The gallery gives monetary awards to the top three winners in each category and the Best in Show winners receive invitations to participate in a group exhibition to be held annually in Palm Springs. The first group exhibition will be held at the gallery in November 2016.

The gallery will showcase Chris’s art as well at the artwork of several other very talented artists including Chicago based abstract artist, Michael Goldzweig; Cleveland based Op Art artist, Evie Zimmer; Colorado based palette knife artist, Jeanie Gebhart; and Los Angeles based, Argentinean artist and figurative bronze sculptor, Alicia Savio. Both Michael and Evie were award winners in Fusion Art’s online juried art competitions.

The mission of Fusion Art is to create an online gallery seamlessly connected to the brick and mortar gallery. Fusion Art promotes and connects emerging and established artists with collectors and art enthusiasts, while offering the opportunity to participate in art experiences, art related education, engage in dialogue with artists, and purchase fine works of art.

The Gallery’s opening reception will be held the evening of May 4th between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Media Contact:
Valerie Hoffman
Fusion Art
2658 S. Cherokee Way
Palm Springs, CA 92264

New Book Release – “Stem Cell Battles: Proposition 71 and Beyond” by Don C. Reed

How California became the center of the stem cell universe – and why that matters to you!

Palo Alto, CA, USA (November 28, 2015) — In 2003, during a state-wide recession, a small group of patient advocates fought for three billion dollars of stem cell research funding-and won. Award-winning author Don C. Reed’s new book, “STEM CELL BATTLES: Proposition 71 and Beyond” tells the up-close and personal story of the California stem cell agency, and the breakthroughs that came from it: challenges to cancer, AIDS, blindness, heart disease and more, conditions devastating our families, and the economy. One in three Americans suffers an “incurable” disease. Last year, chronic disease cost America $2.3 trillion dollars-more than all federal income taxes combined.

When Don Reed’s son Roman became paralyzed in a college football accident, a father-son quest for cure began. The Reeds helped pass laws to raise money for research and to protect scientists’ freedom to work with stem cells, including the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act of 1999. Then came Proposition 71: Bob Klein’s $3 billion initiative. The Stem Cells for Research and Cures Act was an uphill battle — but California prevailed.

And when the program actually began? Some predicted not even one therapy would make it all the way to human trials. Today, 28 stem cell-derived therapies are in various stages of human clinical trials, including: Diabetes: a credit card-sized device which may replace the insulin cells from a diabetic’s non-functioning pancreas; Paralysis: an injection of stem cells to reduce the wound and save function; Cancer: a way to help the body’s own immune system fight back; Blindness: rebuilding the retina in the most common form of vision loss-and much more.

“…warm, optimistic, determined…Stem Cell Battles is a prime example of how a small group of people can bring about significant change for many…valuable for that reason alone, but the human stories Reed includes make it more so.” – J.G. Stinson, FOREWORD Reviews (5 hearts)

See author Don C. Reed on the spot: given one minute to sum up stem cell research! https://www.cirm.ca.gov/our-progress/video/don-reed-why-we-need-new-stem-cell-therapies-and-how-you-can-help

Reed has won numerous awards: Teacher of the Year, the U.S. House of Representatives Community Service Award, the Educational Press Association of America Award, more.

“STEM CELL BATTLES: Proposition 71 and Beyond: How Ordinary People Can Fight Back Against the Crushing Burden of Chronic Disease-with a Posthumous Foreword by Christopher Reeve”. World Scientific Publishing, Inc., 432 pages, color illustrations, for a general readership. Pub date December 16th. Hardcover, softbound and e-book formats.

Available at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Stem-Cell-Battles-Proposition-Christopher/dp/9814618276

Don C. Reed

A Bold Move: 79-year old champion bodybuilder competes against 40-, 50-, 60-year olds!

Amador County, CA, May 08, 2015 — /EPR NETWORK/ — A career spanning nearly 50 years isn’t over yet for Amador County veteran bodybuilder and one of the original Mr. Venice Beach competitors, Arthur Peacock. Peacock, who is turning 80 this year, takes the stage with 40-, 50-, and 60-year olds this Saturday, May 9 at the Contra Costa Bodybuilding Championship, to be held in the Chabot College Performing Arts Theatre.

“There is no doubt that this is a career turning point for me. It’s what I’ve been training for my entire life, but especially the last three years. I’ll have 60-seconds to prove myself—my physique and my poses—with competitors between 40 and 69. That’s potentially almost 40 years younger than me.”

Peacock chose to compete in three classes for a couple of reasons—no 70s bracket existed, and he has every intention of continuing his legacy to inspire others who want to follow their bodybuilding dreams.

“I want people to see me and say, ‘I can do that. Look at that guy up there at 80.’ I want to inspire to the end; I’ve done it all my life. I’ve had world champions come up to me and say, ‘I remember when you stopped and spoke to me as a teenager, and now, 20 years later, I’m the number one guy. Thank you.’”

It was in 1965, as an already athletic young man in his early 30s, an avid swimmer, surfer cyclist, and hiker, that Peacock went as a spectator with his friends to his first bodybuilding competition. “I knew I wanted to do that—that I could do that.” And that he did, taking home his first trophy in the 1968 Mr. Venice Beach competition, which gave rise to a half-century career with more than 50 major titles earned.


For interviews requests, speaking engagements or photo shoot requests, go to: larisa@curtismode.com

Larisa Curtis

Mountainsong Galleries in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, is committed to representing more OPA and AIS credentialed Master Artists than any gallery in the world

Mountainsong Galleries announced today they will be the only gallery in the world to carry Kevin Macpherson’s Reflection on a Pond Series. Mountainsong Galleries has announced that the entire series – all 368 paintings – is now available for acquisition for $1.75 million.

Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA, June 04, 2014 – In August 1996, Kevin Macpherson conceived of a series of paintings. The term “series” is perhaps too modest a description for what came to be called the Pond Project.

This is not simply a group of works on a theme, nor a one year exploration of a single subject. Rather Reflections on a Pond was conceived as a physical challenge and psychological adventure in which a view out to a nearby pond would be documented on canvas at different times of the day and night, in all seasons. It took five years to complete.

Kevin describes the “Reflections on a Pond” series. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=O1DnVSLIAJw#t=0

“This was a five year painting project that is definitely the legacy of my work. The series sums up what my work is all about — light atmosphere and color. I believe painting the space between me and the subject, because of the persistence and dedication to complete a series such as this is, is indeed unique. This series of work is extremely personal and the sums of the parts are greater as a unit. It would have been very easy to sell off the pictures one by one but it is an important collection that says more as a whole,” said Kevin MacPherson.

Although he knew change was at the heart of the project, Kevin held several elements constant. Each painting was done on a 6 by 8 inch panel. His palette was consistent, and he remained faithful to the reality of the scene’s compositions.

While the series is about seeing as an artist, it takes its substance from feelings. Interwoven with Kevin’s eye is his heart. Emotions emerge in the paintings and echo in his commentary.

Viewing the 368 paintings, either in the book or at an exhibition, heightens our awareness of the subtleties in nature we often overlook and emotions we repress.

“The magnificent series of 368 paintings is a portrait of a year in the life of a pond: 365 days, the last day of the century, and the first day of the new millennium. But in reality, it is also a portrait of Kevin Macpherson—artist, husband, teacher, and member of the human race. You know this not only by looking at the paintings, but also by reading Macpherson’s journal notes.” said Jean Stern, Executive Director of the Irvine Museum.

In many ways, Macpherson’s Pond Series is a visual documentation of a journey into the Spiritual significance of being an artist. The pond is much more than a subject recorded throughout one year. It is a reflection of one year of life that defines all individual years of our lives. The pond is Macpherson himself, but it is also you and I. The Pond Series represents a speculation on life that gives meaning to the passage of time. It celebrates that passage in statements of color and form, of light and atmosphere.”  Where is the beginning quote and who said this?

Kevin’s own reflections on the series provide more insight. “I did the Reflections on a Pond series for me. One painting led to another, to many, and eventually to the series. My visual objective has rewarded me with much more. It has led to a record of my thoughts in color, a vocabulary I’m more familiar with than words. This is my visual diary.”

“My intention is for you, the viewer, to take a moment to wander through the paintings in no specific order. Look a little deeper, a little longer, pausing to see similarities and differences. Free your mind to explore. Perhaps you will venture somewhere unexpected.”

Marci Bracco Cain
Mountainsong Galleries
PO Box 3396
Ocean Avenue 3 SE Of San Carlos
Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921-3396