When Max Krone, a University of Southern California professor, dreamed of an Idyllwild campus to educate artists, it was a vision inspired by Idyllwild itself — its mountains, meadows, creeks and creatures.
As Pamela Jordan, Idyllwild Arts Foundation president, looks forward to a yearlong celebration of the realization of Krone’s dream, what was true for Krone in 1946 is equally true for Jordan in 2015. “Idyllwild Arts could not exist without Idyllwild,” said Jordan. “Our location is very unique to us as an arts school, both physically and philosophically.”
Jordan recounted and emphasized Krone’s belief that Idyllwild’s sylvan setting is the perfect relaxed and healthy environment in which to nurture aspiring artists — a place to share the natural beauty, the art and the aspirations, and to celebrate the connections and friendships formed in and strengthened by this mountain setting.
For Krone then, as it is for Jordan now, it is not just about growing the art in the artist but also about growing the humanity in the human. “Some art schools want you to just be a great musician or visual artist,” Jordan observed. “To be a great citizen is not necessarily a part of that. We want to grow citizens who will contribute to society. That is what makes us different. It is all part of our quest to find and become our better selves.”
Jordan, who became IAF president in 2014, said the 70th-anniversary celebration is an opportunity to recommit to the founder’s vision — to introduce both Summer Program and Academy students to what makes Idyllwild unique, and in the process, build greater and more productive bonds between the campus and the town. “It’s an opportunity to reflect and celebrate who we are as artists and as a community, and to look forward, finding ways to use our art to contribute to the greater social good.”
Jordan is committed to marketing Idyllwild Arts and the Summer Program as part of and a reflection of Idyllwild’s small-town connectedness and cohesion. “It’s about our diversity, our location, our community and our family,” she said. Jordan remembered saying shortly after taking up her duties as president, “We have got to get off of Tollgate Road and out into this community. We are going to be in this parade [the annual Rotary Fourth of July parade].” As part of creating greater connections with the town of Idyllwild, Jordan said IAF is exploring getting an in-town gallery and performance space. “This will create a better opportunity for us to get to know one another.”
As a further extension of the need to get “off campus,” Jordan said, “We [the board] believe it helps us to go out in the world to promote Idyllwild Arts as a Southern California school surrounded by such rich resources, both natural and educational.” She discussed how advantageous it is for students to go off the Hill for lessons and for opportunities to see their prospective professions at work in the Los Angeles art and culture scene. “This area is an open textbook,” she said. “It is so valuable for our students to go down into the field and then come back to this environment to hone their skills.”
As part of Idyllwild Arts’ commitment to grow contributing citizen artists, Jordan discussed a new “art in society” initiative to challenge and educate students about using their art to make contributions to society. “It will be its own program this fall,” she said. “We’re planning to create a Center for Creativity and Social Entrepreneurship and develop a plan to find funding.”
Another initiative, part of the 70th-anniversary celebration, is to better integrate the Summer Program with the Academy. “It’s one family,” said Jordan. “Everyone comes to the same institution.”
Of her tenure as the new IAF president, Jordan said, “It’s my job to harness all that they [board, teachers, staff and students] have taught me about who they are. I must be bold enough to walk in this direction.
“The 70th-anniversary celebrates what we have accomplished and gives us an opportunity to get clearer and clearer about our mission — to attract students who are appropriate for who we are, an educational institution that cares about people, grows citizens, and its mission can only be accomplished in this location. You cannot imagine Idyllwild Arts being apart from Idyllwild.”