HomeFront Community Arts Center — Long Beach

In partnership with the Arts Council for Long Beach, HomeFront Rising will host visiting artists for month-long residencies beginning in July of 2017. The artists will lead workshops aimed primarily at providing career guidance to veterans whose work is intended to benefit the community. Our concept of the arts is relatively broad, and includes folk/traditional arts, literary arts, performing arts, visual arts and media/journalism. The program is slated to run for one year in its initial phase, and will expand thereafter.

HomeFront Rising founder/project director Jeff Norman has assembled a dedicated team focused on not just the arts but the art of living. Photographer-artist Anita Razzano steers program development, curation and event production. Architect Yolanda Lettieri and developer Raul Nario create housing solutions and design mixed-use projects. Restaurateur/Navy veteran Dan Tapia is in charge of food and beverage concepts. Playwright/Marine veteran Melvin Ishmael Johnson trains veterans to work as stage managers in the Los Angles theater community. He is also leading the development of a full-scale Veterans Community Theater Company based on the Community Theater Model and NESONA Model, which merges the arts with anti-violence strategies and conflict resolution.

Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez: “This…is exactly what our city needs to continue helping veterans in Long Beach further their artistic abilities or gain new ones as they learn from accomplished artists from around the region.”

Jon Zell is renowned in Long Beach for his exquisite taste, musicianship and knack for producing truly special events. He is the founder and bandleader of MOVE, a versatile assortment of friends who perform reverent theme shows celebrating the works of beloved rock artists such as David Bowie, Pink Floyd and the Beatles. Jon is on board to help shape our variety show and upcoming U.S. Tour of Duty.

Our HomeFront Media Group prepares veterans and reporters for war zones and the like. In September of 2016, we presented a public talk with syndicated radio host Maria Armoudian, author of Reporting From the Danger Zone, at the Hellada Gallery in Long Beach.

Maria, a longtime Angeleno who now lectures at the University of Aukland in New Zealand, will return for a residency later this year. She’ll lead workshops on radio hosting, writing/publishing books and reporting in danger zones. Maria will also advise us concerning the strategy for our own media organization which creates and publishes content for all platforms.

Although they don’t generally characterize it as such, many service members function as investigative journalists (gathering intelligence on reconnaissance missions, and writing reports) while on active duty. So who better than veterans to combat “fake news” in the civilian sector, and to fill the independent journalism void with reliable, intrepid reporting?

The need for credible media outlets is so great that it’s a matter of national security, and our commitment to transcending political divides is an evergreen calling. The publicity we generate from such advocacy serves as a means of outreach to veterans who benefit from our services. Our journalistic mission provides us with a natural reason to engage the community.

Lisa Lowell, best known for her backing vocals with various artists, has recorded and toured extensively with Bruce Springsteen. She is also a talented chef and caterer with a great passion for the environment, agriculture and community development. Her residency will include conventional workshops on the craft of music, as well as seminars aimed at helping musicians discover atypical ways to apply their skills and sustain financial security.

Our various workshops are offered free of charge to all veterans. In some cases, the intended outcome is of a therapeutic nature. For example, professional musicians from Rock to Recovery soothe the restless souls of those in recovery by writing and recording songs with them. Absolutely no skills are required to enjoy the benefits: increased self-esteem and a sense of belonging.

Likewise, The Strindberg Laboratory, an innovative nonprofit that presents professional theater workshops and plays for disadvantaged populations, has agreed to partner with us in Long Beach (in addition to working with us at our Los Angeles headquarters, where they’ve been presenting workshops for the past three years and continue to do so). Strindberg co-founder Michael Bierman explained in an online discussion that all veterans have a story to tell, and are encouraged to participate.

Richard Harvey’s Creative Warrior Workshop was conceived to provide cancer fighters, survivors and their support people with creative means to process the challenges and changes inherent in living with cancer. The program was adapted to serve the community of Century Villages at Cabrillo in Long Beach, where hundreds of veterans live. Richard’s own journey through brain cancer is the impetus for his devotion to healing through creativity.

Colette Brown is a Long Beach-based artist who focuses on the intersections of art, cognitive health, aging, perception and language. She’s a Research Assistant at CSULB Psychology Department and UCLA School of Medicine, teaches an ongoing ceramics class at the Long Beach Senior Arts Colony, and is the Principal Investigator on The Mind is a Muscle II (a cognitive health program that aims to reduce dementia risk). She adapted the program to benefit veterans searching for opportunities to create, discuss, and learn about connections between art and brain health.

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