Now in its 63rd year, the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program annually hosts around 2,000 adults and young people. It has

Summer faculty Linda Ganstrom’s “Hot Clay, Cool Characters” exhibit at Parks Exhibition Center. Ganstrom teaches a class, “The Figure” this summer. Photo by Marshall Smith

graduated many famous alums including Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony conductor, and has benefited from extraordinary instructors including writer Norman Corwin, choreographer Bella Lewitzky, folk singer Pete Seeger, Broadway composer Meredith Willson, photographer Ansel Adams, painter Francoise Gilot and Native American artists Fritz Scholder and Maria Martinez.


For the first time, the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program will offer tuition discounts to full-time Idyllwild residents for selected classes. The 50 percent tuition reductions, similar to those offered full-time teachers and graduate students, will be offered on 18 adult classes this summer, in mixed media and book arts, printmaking, jewelry, painting and drawing, sculpture, writing and Native American arts.

Summer Program Director of Special Programs Heather Companiott said program directors have always been interested in bringing more locals into program events and courses and offering tuition reductions this year may help realize that goal. Interested locals should call registrar Diane Dennis at (951) 659-2171 ext. 2365 and register over the phone. Companiott said that is the easiest way to register. Online registration is available at Course descriptions are available at

Companiott noted that even full tuition does not cover the cost of running programs, given the pedigrees and expertise of the summer faculty, and full tuition is of course welcomed. Classes are generally small, 8 to 10, and since registration begins online on Feb. 1, popular classes sell out early. “We want people to come here and change their lives,” said Companiott. “This is a rare opportunity given the teachers we have.”

Local Joan Leal Carter hard at work in Brian Cohen’s drypoint etching class. Photo by Marshall Smith

This year’s instructors include some of the brightest names in their disciplines, including poet Matthew Dickman, the best selling American poet under 60, appearing as part of a specially funded Poetry Camp; ceramicist and hot clay artist Jeff Oesterich; Barbara Tetenbaum, featured in PBS Craft in America; and painter Lisa Adams, well-known contemporary artist important in the Los Angeles and New York art scenes. “The quality of the artists teaching is amazing,” said Companiott. Student work is displayed each week for community viewing — this week at 4 p.m., Thursday, June 28, in front of the library, but normally each week on Friday at 4 p.m. in front of Parks Exhibition Center.


The Native American tradition of classes and performances began in 1950 and continues to be an important part of summer curricula. From July 2 through 15, workshops in Cahuilla style pottery, Hopi basketry, Native American cuisine, native plants, Native American flute making and Navajo inlay jewelry and weaving are available. A privately funded Native American Arts Festival, July 8 through 14, runs concurrently with the arts classes and is a free event open to workshop attendees and the public at large.

Lectures and performances include lectures about Cahuilla tribal leader Katherine Siva Saubel, Hank Louis discussing building homes on the Navajo reservation, Dr. Lynnae Lawrence, a Hopi and Arishinaabe, discussing integration of Western medical traditions with traditional Native American medicine, and a film about Native American and New York City Ballet principal dancer Jock Soto. On Friday, July 13,a Pas de Deux choreographed by Soto called “Dark Made Light” will be performed to music composed by White Mountain Apache Laura Ortman. Cahuilla bird singers will also perform.

Parks Exhibition Center features a show by hot clay and metals resident artist instructors, Posey Bacopoulos, Linda Ganstrom, Jeff Oesterich, Silvie Granatelli and Richard Burkett.