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Posts tagged as “arts”

Michelle D’Arbanville: Topanga As Mentor


Special To Topanga Journal

Michelle D’Arbanville has had many mentors in her life. The community of Topanga has been one of them. Originally from Orange County, her world was one of privilege but also prejudice. From an early age, Saddleback Mountain was her backyard where she became acutely aware of the “protective, sacred sense of nature.” Each morning, when she arrived at middle school, it was the nature of prejudice and intolerance that she was forced to face. 

Mary Crescenzo

By Mary Crescenzo

She was a minority, albeit a white girl, from a well-to-do home. She was involved in theatre and “Indian” ceremonial dance as an elementary school student, a Jew in a place where her religion was not the majority and a female at a time when a prescribed life for young women was the norm. Anything outside of that narrow realm meant consequences. Subsequently, She bonded with other girls who didn’t fit the mold. She and her friend Karen, who was Japanese-American, were “teased and ridiculed by other students.” When D’Arbanville saw others being disrespected and violated, she stood up and said, “No! I do not accept this!” The consequences for having a strong thought and expressing it were many. Within her group of friends that also included others of white privilege, there grew a common commitment to embrace and embody inclusion for all. D’Arbanville still remains friends with many of those women and men. “These close friends helped make me who I am. I look back and see how I connected with them and Mother Earth, and how it all began my deep, personal interdependent relationship with nature and humanity.” 

“These close friends helped make me who I am. I look back and see how I connected with them and Mother Earth, and how it all began my deep, personal interdependent relationship with nature and humanity.” Michelle D’Arbanville

The healing aspects of nature brought D’Arbanville to Topanga more than once before she settled here. Just out of high school, she, Michelle Waxman, at the time, hitchhiked from Malibu to Canada at age seventeen. On her travels back, she found her way to Humboldt State College where she took courses but was urged by a dear friend there to seek out the Dell’Arte School of Mime and Comedy which was just opening in Humboldt. She took her friend’s advice and fell in love with the physical theater work that is Commedia Dell’Arte. It was there D’Arbanville met one of her mentors, a well know mime master named Carlo Mazzone-Clementi from Padua, Italy. He inspired her “to learn how to take the fall” physically and figuratively, in her life. She fondly recalls a quote from Carlo, “The ground is your friend.” After six years of study, she travelled to LA to pursue acting, writing, directing, teaching and the facilitating of community programs. She later left for New York to continue her theatre work. She was also inspired by the book, Improvisation for the Theatre, by Viola Spolin.   

“When I moved to Topanga in my mid-thirties, I had a summer opportunity to bring and facilitate, for the first time at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum theater, the work of Commedia Dell’Arte, the sixteenth century form of Italian improvisational theatre that celebrates, through the storytelling of the archetypical life of migrants, the comedy and tragedies of their lives, of all of our lives.” At that time, she was also a facilitator of “The Council Project” through the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) at Palms Middle School, a program that was steeped in First Nations traditions, formerly called Native American traditions, empowering others through dialogue. D’Arbanville also taught the Dell’Arte techniques at various LAUSD schools through the STAR program, a United States government education initiative. At Crossroads School in Santa Monica, she facilitated a life-skills program developed by the school called, “The Mysteries Program,” which focused on the empowerment of children through dialogue. In Topanga, D’Arbanville has also taught performance at Corazon and staged her work, “A Howling Necessity, Cry Out Your Weakness” at the Topanga County Library. 

D’Arbanville attended local and regional women’s groups that encouraged the creation of her own performance pieces and found participating in these groups to be a rite of passage. “We are always in a creative matrix, always in comedy and tragedy, in the pain and joy of life.

Moment to moment, we are in change.” Through many sweat lodge ceremonies, guided by her teacher, Wallace Black Elk, she’s gained a deep understanding for compassion and wholeness for humanity. Topanga’s circle of community and its reverence for the land of the Chumash and Tongva-Gabrielino tribes has made a true impact on her life’s vision and work.

“Topanga has given me a subtle awareness of this, and the knowledge to risk, to trust. It comes back to the somatic awareness – how we deal with the body. We are walking with a lot of fear and trauma in our bodies and somatic work releases the fears and trauma. When it comes to culture, a multicultural community makes us powerful. I’ve gotten my strength from Topanga to continue my work of education through tolerance.” She and her husband, Philip D’Arbanville, established, “Living Wellness: A Global Action Network for Change” that has established numerous programs including, Walk Across the World, Global Steps for Unity and Harmony, Sounds of the Sacred, Songs of the Earth, Film & Theatre for the Soul, and Care for the Caregiver. Her passion is for “empowering the community through its gentle release of tension and celebration. By taking action individually and collectively for universal and social responsibility, together we can inspire changes that help elevate humanity.” 

When asked how she responds to the chaos that seems to be engulfing our country and world at this point in time, she quotes the poet, Rumi, ‘There is a community of the spirit. Join it, and feel the delight of walking in the noisy street, and being the noise’. D’Arbanville believes that this is the time to come together and transcend the boundaries of hatred, prejudice and fear. “My childhood propelled me into the work I have done and continue to do. Humanity inspires me. Protestors are my favorite people right now. I am excited by the noise, we need to change.”

Living Wellness will present its 12th annual celebration of “Walk Across the World, Global Steps for Unity & Harmony” at the Topanga County Library on Saturday, October 6, at 2 p.m..

ON THE WEB:

http://www.livingwellness.com/


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Artist Toby Salkin: “The Women’s Movement Wanted Us To Be Free”


Special To Topanga Journal

A member of Women Painters West and the Topanga Canyon Gallery (TGC), Toby Salkin has her heart in Topanga Canyon and the San Fernando Valley, and it shows in her paintings and collages that light up the room with colors reminiscent of this region. Salkin is a committed member of TCG’s collaborative space in the center of Topanga, Her story of commitment to art, the women’s movement, family, and the gallery is evident in her enthusiasm for life and the creative process. 

Mary Crescenzo

By Mary Crescenzo

Q&A: 

TJ: What brought you to California from the East Coast in the mid-70s?  

SALKIN: My first husband, Jay, was a sales manager in the toy business. He had come out to California from New York on business, loved it and wanted us to live here. I thought it was a great idea, so we moved.  

TJ: What did you want to be when you grew up? 

SALKIN: An artist. I was always drawing as a child. I remember painting my first oil painting in probably first or second grade.  

TJ: Were your parents supportive of your ambition?  

SALKIN: Always. My aunt was an artist, my mother’s sister. Art was a very important part of my life growing up.   

“Two things I most like to use, even in my collages, are red, and leafing in gold, silver and copper.” Toby Salkin

TJ: You said you lived in New York. Did you study art there?

SALKIN: I took high school art classes. I thought I wanted to be a decorator, so I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. I was married at twenty-two and had two children soon after, so we moved from New York and bought a house in a new development in Pine Brook, New Jersey. On warm nights, after the kids were bathed, I’d sit on my front stoop wearing bell bottoms with my long hair parted in the middle enjoying coffee or a glass a wine. I found out later from a neighbor who eventually became my friend, that she cried to her attorney husband that when she saw me that there were hippies in the neighborhood! I decided I needed to go to my local YMCA and take art classes. I had a fabulous teacher, a woman who encouraged me. One day she called me out of class and asked if I wanted to join a group of women painters who met at her studio to work. I was elated. At the time, I was doing cubist work in muted colors. When we moved to Westlake Village, California, it was the saddest thing to leave that class, because I loved it so much. I was so overwhelmed my last day at the Y, I accidentally walked out of an emergency exit door and sounded the alarm!  

TJ: Did you continue your art studies in California? 

SALKIN: One of the friends I made at Westlake Village was also an artist who told me about Everywoman’s Village in Van Nuys. This organization had opened at the time of the original women’s movement. It was a great space for women to paint, but, unfortunately, it’s now closed. I studied painting in Los Angeles with Alex Vilumson, a Russian artist who I would say brought me into the light. He had me using bright colors which I still use today. Most of my paintings start with red. I just love the bright intensity of it. Two things I most like to use, even in my collages, are red, and leafing in gold, silver and copper. I’m drawn to this. It just makes me happy.  

TJ: What is your approach to color? 

SALKIN: When I put my bright colors out on my palette, I don’t have anything definite going on. I just start on an idea. I use a lot more colors than most artist do. I also use black. 

TJ: What is the biggest challenge when starting a painting?

SALKIN: I think it’s usually around the idea of wanting to paint the next day but not yet knowing what to paint. Then I wake up around 3 o’clock in the morning with an idea, I think about it, and the next day I start by drawing on canvas. I very rarely start with a piece of paper. I often use photographic images that inspire me. I just finished a series of portraits of famous artists, including Picasso. One of my recent collages depicting war is called, “Make Love Not War,” that old slogan from my activist days in the Sixties when I was a hippie, even though I was married.

TJ: What part of the painting process is most challenging when painting? 

SALKIN: I start the painting, and I’m very excited. Then, after a three or four hours, which is the maximum I paint at one sitting, I look at it. At first I love it, then I hate it. That part is the most frustrating. I walk away from it but force myself to go back in a day or two. By the time I’m done I usually love it. 

TJ: Do you recall as a young female artist any struggles you faced amongst your male counter parts? 

SALKIN: The women’s movement always wanted us to be free. I always was. I was a woman who did what I wanted to do. I was able to be a stay-at-home mom, and I painted as well. Lately I’ve been thinking about the 60’s, and there’s no doubt about it, men were in control. I was very aware of this. I supported the movement and worked for the Democratic Party. One day, when I rang a doorbell while canvassing for the party, a woman opened the door and said, ‘Shouldn’t you be home with your children?’ ” 

TJ: Before you began painting in Los Angeles full time, what other passions did you possess? 

SALKIN: I sold real estate for thirty years, was a real estate office manager, and trained other agents. I loved it. 

TJ: When you’re not painting a specific subject matter, how do you approach the concept of abstract art?  

SALKIN: Abstraction is more difficult. I starting thinking it’s going to be one thing, but it becomes something else.   

TJ: Tell me about your love of painting old and antique cars? 

SALKIN: On a rainy summer’s day, I was waiting for my son in a house he had rented in East Hampton, Long Island. The home, belonging to a New Yorker cartoonist and writer, was filled with a variety of art books I had never seen. As I was enjoying going through the books, I looked up and saw an old Chevy parked in a covered area. I took a photo of it and later went home and painted it. I started looking at other cars, and soon old cars became a subject matter of mine. 

TJ: Do you work in any other art medium besides oil painting and contemporary collage? 

SALKIN: I’ve done stone carving and assemblage works with manikins. I love collage. Collage  artists are the ones who always have their heads down, picking up stuff from the street. I have a huge collection of papers, newspapers, old books etc. that I use as materials for inspiration. 

TJ: According to The Topanga Canyon Gallery website, http://topangacanyongallery.com/

a group of artists got together in the spirit of the first Topanga Artists’ Guild in the 1950’s, and formed a collaborative space showing works of members that include, to this day, well-known as well as emerging artists from the greater Los Angeles area. Its mission is committed to “keeping art in the canyon alive.” What is one of your earliest memories as a gallery member, and how does the gallery work?   

SALKIN: I’ve been a member for about six years at its present location at Pine Tree Circle.  When I first joined, there was a wall dividing the space in half, front and back. Some of the artists came up with the idea of creating one big room. Instead of having work by artist members featured every month in the front, we now fill the space with four featured artists every other month, and a group member show on alternative months. Each member sits the gallery for a total of eight hours per month. You must be juried in to become a member and each artist pays a yearly membership fee. We also rent the gallery one month out of the year to an art organization for display of their work, and we conduct an annual tour of our artists’ home studios. 

TJ: Describe your art in one word.

SALKIN: Playful

TJ: Describe yourself in one word. 

SALKIN: Confused. No, eclectic!

ON THE WEB:

http://topangacanyongallery.com/


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Jill Burgeson & How She’s Helping To Change Music: Fender Play


Special To Topanga Journal

Already up for her job as VP of Marketing at Fender Guitar, Burgeson told us of the new project the guitar giant she is recently working for has just launched. It is called Fender Play, the complete learning app for guitar players. Burgeson heads up the marketing for this new project. 

“I’ll be working on this new app called Fender Pay,” said Burgeson. “Essentially it is a subscription based app. It is videos that are awesome. Let’s say you want to learn how to play acoustic guitar. You go through the app. You choose acoustic guitar. There are all these lessons for acoustic guitar. Everything is filmed. It is basically like having a private lesson for way less money and by professionals.”

Kriss Perras headshot by Alan Weissman

By Kriss Perras

Fender Play is Fender’s new subscription based private lesson app. It is a video-based learning platform for iPhone and desktop applications. It has hundreds of easy to follow instructor-guided video lessons that use a song-driven, personalized leaning path that enables even brand new players to master chords and riffs quickly. The app asks a number of pertinent questions when the user first opens it. What is the user’s preferred instrument and genre, like acoustic or electric guitar and pop or rock music? There are a few other steps to set up the app.

“You go through the app. You choose acoustic guitar. There are all these lessons for acoustic guitar. Everything is filmed. It is basically like having a private lesson for way less money and by professionals.”

Jill Burgeson

Once you’re set, the instructor starts by teaching the basics, like how to plug in an amp, attach the strap to the guitar and the basic guitar anatomy, like the bridge, tone control, pickup selector, the strings, pitch and string names E,B,G,D,A,E. The music based learning comes from some majors in each genre like U2, Shawn Mendes, The Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters, Meghan Trainor, Carrie Underwood and others. The curriculum was created with prestigious music programs such as the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and Musicians Institute of Hollywood. Then it is a matter of applying yourself with the lessons the same as you would with a private instructor. The lessons are clear and easy to follow. The app is affordable, especially for the in-depth instruction the teachers provide.

ON THE WEB:

https://www.fender.com/play?ub=d 


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The Bowling Sisters: Feminism, Film Directing & The Inner Female Monologue


Special To Topanga Journal

Strong independent voices like the The Bowling Sisters – Kansas Bowling (22) and Parker Love Bowling (19) are make it happen people. Their drive and achievements are a refreshing outlook of the millennial generation. No sibling rivalry here. They’re true supporters of each other’s talents, and not to mention they’re best friends. They’re old souls that relish in old cinema, literature and travel, bringing a fire and passion to their inspirations that have become reality.  

Kansas Bowling is currently directing her second feature film while simultaneously directing music videos, two dozen already under her belt. Her latest music video for a band called Death Valley Girls features the legendary Iggy Pop. Her first feature film – B.C. BUTCHER – was shot on 16mm film in the wilderness of Topanga Canyon and the waterfalls of Jalan Jalan. Her film premiered at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd in 2016. That same year she was featured in W Magazine as one of the up and coming talents to look out for. She continues to innovate and create imagery to be remembered for decades. Memorize the name Director Kansas Bowling.  

Miranda Robin

By Miranda Robin

Her younger sister Parker Love Bowling is another star on the rise. Her dedication, creativity and confidence are what continue to make her roles captivating and memorable on screen. She is an avid reader and writer who uses her knowledge to build on character choice. In addition she is able to design and make her own wardrobe, wearing her own styles as she sings original standards at The Mint and other Los Angeles venues. The camera loves her. Parker Love Bowling will have her name in lights.   

These women were asked to reflect on the word Feminism, a sensitive subject and a way to guide human choices. It crosses generations, blending ideas to form a new hope of equal rights and a solid voice for all people. The voices of Kansas and Parker are powerful, honest and ready to succeed.    

“Feminism and political correctness today has become rabid and dangerous at times. Its important people think for themselves and read into issues before jumping on bandwagons.” Kansas Bowling

TJ: Do you think there is a difference on views of feminism between decades?

KB – Feminism and political correctness today has become rabid and dangerous at times. Its important people think for themselves and read into issues before jumping on bandwagons. Media has made it very easy for misinformation to spread, and people are becoming brainwashed easier than ever. Remember that you don’t have to agree with every “feminist” issue because it’s what you’re told is the right thing to do. 

PLB – There is definitely a new wave of pseudo feminism that is destructive to the very concept.  So-called feminists should not petition for superiority over men. 

 

TJ Do You Remember The First Time You Heard The Word Feminism? 

KB – I think I first heard it when my parents got divorced, and my mom started dating a woman. 

PLB – No clue when I first heard the word Feminism, but my guess is it was from my 7th grade English teacher when I read a biography on Margaret Sanger. 

TJ: Do You Consider The Term Feminism More Of A Positive Or Negative Idea? 

KB – I think it rides a fine line. 

PLB – I think Feminism, by text book definition is a positive term. EQUALITY, not female supremacy. 

TJ: As A Writer-Director, Do You Think About Feminism While Writing And Describing Characters And Themes For Your Films? 

KB – I don’t tend to think about any issues while writing. I just write and then the issue / theme presents itself from somewhere in my subconscious. There are occasionally themes that come through in my writing that would be considered feminist. 

PLB – I don’t think about feminist issues while writing, though naturally my films seem to be female driven. I like to write about vulnerability and the inner monologue of the female. 

TJ: When Hearing Feminism, What Are You Interpretations Of How Each Political Party Feels About The Word and What It Demonstrates? What Political Party Do You Find You Standing Ground? 

KB – I don’t feel like either party has a healthy relationship with feminism – one side goes against everything it stands for while the other side exploits it. 

PLB – I think both parties misconstrue the true meaning of feminism. I believe in equal rights, but I certainly don’t believe in the belittlement of men. 

TJ: What Are Your Thoughts On Men Still Getting Paid More Than Women? Do You Think It Is Fair? When You Pay You Actors For A Film Shoot, Is The Pay The Same?

KB – I think the issue lies more in men getting offered bigger roles more often than women and that’s where the pay issue comes into play. It seems to be more of a problem with the types of movies being made. I pay my actors differently based on the project and what roles they’re playing. Usually a more experienced actor will get paid more than someone with no experience at all. But it obviously never has anything to do with gender. 

PLB – It’s obviously not fair for a man to get paid more than a woman if they are doing the same job, but there are exceptions. If a male actor is more well known than a woman, it would make sense that he gets paid more and vice-versa. 

TJ: What Is Politically Correct For Social Media, And What Gets A Site Shut Down? What Are Your Ideas Of Censorship On Social Media? 

KB – Social media could never be a real platform for art because of the censorship issues. It’s not important in the grand scheme of anything, which is why people should focus more on creating rather than advertising.

PLB – Censorship is fascist. Social media platforms should not be allowed to remove art or suppress freedom of speech. 

TJ: As Actors In Film, When You Are Making Roles For Yourself, What Types Of Roles Do You Gravitate Toward? 

KB – I’m only now getting to a point where I can turn down roles so I haven’t yet had the luxury of being able to pick and choose. 

PLB – I take whatever roles I can get, though I prefer to be the antagonist in a film. I feel there’s a wider range of expressing yourself in that niche. 

TJ: How Did Growing Up In Topanga Affect Your Thoughts In Social Interaction And Self-Expression? 

KB – I was practically ostracized from Topanga for having a lesbian mom so it should have instilled introverted conservatism in me, but instead it made me realize how unimportant people’s opinions are if you’re happy. 

PLB – Topanga is very isolated, which has made me extremely shy while meeting new people. Growing up in Topanga also made me very paranoid that the people I meet have secret agendas. 

TJ: Your First Feature Film Was Made In Topanga. Did The Location Inspire Parts Of Your Film Or Were They Written Prior To Location Scout? 

KB – I followed the Roger Corman school of thought – use what you have. My dad lives in Topanga and has the state park at his backyard. A cavewoman movie seemed like an easy and cheap movie to make with what I had available to me.

TJ: What Are The Main Themes In Your First Feature Film And The Second FEature Film? Talk About Similarities And Differences. 

KB – My first feature film had absolutely no themes, moral, or allegory. It was merely a trial of me seeing how to make a film on my own, which then happened to get distributed by TROMA. My feature that I am working on now is about troubled adolescence inspired by all of my friends growing up in Topanga. 

TJ: When Writing For Others To Read, What Female Views Are Mostly Constant In The Characters You Create? 

KB – I write from my subconscious so every character is myself. I don’t write different genders.  

PLB – I write about the worst aspects of myself so I can come to terms with them. I like to write and read about the darker side of any character’s mentality. 

TJ: What Is Your Main Goal/Message You Want To Express Through Your Films? 

KB – There are a lot of messages I put into my work, but most important to myself is to never censor my own work for the sake of others. I would rather get in trouble for something I stand by than never say anything. 

PLB – I’m not sure there is a main goal. I like to explore the subconscious of the characters I play or write.   

Our future is bright with women like Kansas and Parker at the helm. Their views are owned with wisdom, research, knowledge and a love of creating art through any medium. The Bowling Sisters are taking on the world and the world is ready for them. Support talent, support a voice and make your own voice known whenever you can. 

ON THE WEB:

http://kansas-bowling.com

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm6718920/


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Jill Burgeson: Non-Conformity & Being The Change Agent


Special To Topanga Journal

She’s not that tall but bright, bright-eyed, witty and strong-willed. She entered Topanga Table with a wide smile and a huge presence. Seriously, her personality took up the whole space. Yet she was soft-natured and humble. It was readily apparent how she rose to become VP of Marketing at Fender Guitars. Her career hasn’t been above the fray of discrimination in the workplace though. Her story is at once beautiful and shocking. 

Jill Burgeson said she is the breadwinner of her household. Her husband stays at home with their daughter. She said, “This dynamic is surprisingly rare. I’m a couple of years older than him. We were both in advertising. Before we got pregnant, we talked about how we wanted one of us to raise her. We saw a lot of people have to do nannies. We waited to have kids until I was in my thirties. We thought let’s just be deliberate and make some choices here and make some sacrifices.”

Kriss Perras headshot by Alan Weissman

By Kriss Perras

The Burgesons planned ahead. They saved her husband’s entire salary for a year. They lived in smaller places. They didn’t take as many vacations, so that one of them could stay at home.  They decided that would be him. She said he was less passionate about his career than she was. That’s the way it always was, recounted Burgeson.

“It has always been hard. Some days I can get really resentful. Some days I feel like why can’t I go to the beach today and hang out with everybody? Why can’t I make the school play? That can be really hard, especially as a Mom. I walked into a party one time here in Topanga.This Mom looked at me. She said, ‘Oh your daughter does have a Mommy.’ I respect both sides. If both people have to work. If the Mom stays home. If the Dad stays home. But come on, have some thought about it.”

“And because I was a girl, I always felt like I had to keep proving myself over and over again.” Jill Burgeson

But let’s roll back the clock to the beginning. Let’s see how this powerful woman began. She got started in a small town about two hours south of Buffalo, New York called Allegany. She thought then the only options for a career for women were teachers, nurses or to be a mom. Initially going to college to be a teacher, she decided she didn’t have the patience for that field.  

“It didn’t feel progressive. It didn’t feel interesting to me at all,” said Burgeson. “I ended up going into business. I knew that was always exciting. My Dad has his own business too. When I got into that I fell into marketing. I was fascinated with how it all works. How advertising works. How you can take something that is seemingly simple, or even boring, and spin up an interesting story about it and get people to want it. There’s something cool about the psychology of all that.” 

Her first job was as a marketing assistant. Two years later she landed a position at an advertising agency in New York. It was the kind of job where everyone worked late hours, but her co-workers became the best friends of her life.

When asked had she encountered discrimination or the glass ceiling in her work experience, she had an intriguing answer. Burgeson said she was recently on a panel with similar topics on feminism. One such topic was how do biases we don’t notice influence our work lives? 

“I was always pretty young looking,” said Burgeson. “And because I was a girl, I always felt like I had to keep proving myself over and over again. Every time I’d walk in a room, it was like ‘Oh that’s cute. How can we help you?’ And I had to say ‘No, I’m in charge here.’ Whereas I would see other people it would be assumed, guys especially, they were in charge. On the East Coast when I worked there, guys would be treated differently, because they would be taken golfing or out drinking with the boss.” 

Work related golf and drink outings are not a cliché. This is where most of the deal making is done in business. Recent studies show golf in the business world is less about ability and more about being on the course where decisions are made. According to one recent survey by Statistic Brain, 90 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs play golf. CEOs who regularly play golf are paid 17 percent more on average than those who do not. Dysfunctionally, only 22 percent of US golfers are female.

“I remember going out for drinks for the first time with the bosses on the East Coast, I was like oh I’m in. I’m one of the gang now. But it was just me and all the guys, because you have to push your way into all that. You weren’t automatically invited to those things above and beyond work.” 

Burgeson recalled how that’s where a lot of things happened in the work world for her. She could bond with her workmates and become friends with them. Having to push her way into that, also having to go outside of her comfort zone of vulnerability of being feminine to being tough. During that time period she was coming up through things was the mid to late 90s to early 2000s. This would be what some would remember as the grunge period of music, when Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were big, not when they first emerged, but when they hitting it big. We had guitar distortion, angst and anguished vocals and lyrics. Along with that came stocking hats and combat boots for fashion fads.

“I don’t think my vulnerability and femininity was welcome in the workforce at that time,” said Burgeson. “I think that has certainly shaped how I have approached things. I’m still like, no crying at work. I’ve still been shaped by that mentality. I felt like it was a sign of weakness. But now I think it is a sign of passion. It’s OK. Men can and should cry. It’s OK.”

Women are so often told to shut down the waterworks in a business setting. Crying for people in general is empowering, according to psychologists at the American Psychological Association (APA). Most people feel relieved after crying that was due to stress from interpersonal relationships and anxious or sad thoughts, according to the APA.

But the glass ceiling is very humiliating, degrading and sucks the power from you. Burgeson recounts just such a moment.

“I’ve been told to sit in a room and help ‘dress’ the room,” Burgeson said. “They told me ‘oh hey we need another girl in here. You fit the part. You’re in here.’”

Burgeson recounted how she has always tried to warn other people, the people that are coming up through and have straight talk with them. 

“I did some things like that. Looking back I should’ve said no. I didn’t really know any better. I don’t like to conform to rules. I’ve been told even by women I need to play the game, play the part,” said Burgeson.

According to a LeanIn.org study, based on the results of a survey of more than 70,000 employees from eighty-two of this study’s participating companies, three trends that disadvantage women were clear: Women experience a workplace skewed in favor of men; Women of color, particularly Black women, face even greater challenges; Women and men see the state of women—and the success of gender diversity efforts—differently; men have a more positive assessment that often clashes with reality. 

Burgeson said she has noticed things are changing for both sexes somewhat. She has noticed a movement for boys that it is OK for them to cry. Before there was a thing about women being too loud. Now it is OK for women to be dynamic, she said.

“Before it was if you were a women you were being assertive or bitchy. Now there is a little bit of an over correction stage where people are saying everybody can say whatever they want,” Burgeson said. “It will probably balance out at a certain point.” 

Over the last five or six years Burgeson has been brought into places where she’s a change agent. She said it is awesome, fun and exciting but also a challenge. She was working at PMG as key strategist hire. PMG is a recognized leader in the digital advertising industry based out of Austin, Texas. 

“It’s a Texas based agency run by all guys,” said Burgeson. “I helped bolster the women leadership. So I think the women were like oh my gosh, yeah. There is somebody else doing this, and we can talk to her.”

The next phase of Burgeson’s career was her dream job. She was offered a position as VP of Marketing at Fender Guitars. 

“I’m stoked. I’ve always wanted to work in music,” said Burgeson. “This is such an exciting time to be in music. Everything is changing. One of the challenges I’ll be facing there is how do we tell the story of this iconic brand in a modern way within the digital world?”

“Fender knows close to 50 percent of those buying guitars are women today,” said Burgeson. “So they know they need to change. They know they need to study their audience better. They’re really excited and interested in doing that. I can’t wait to help them do it.” 

In ten years Burgeson hopes that she can remain within the music industry. She thinks now honing in on marketing and music she feels that is where the next chapter of her career.  She hopes to lead something major, something interesting. 

“What I always like to do,” she said. “I always try to take on roles I know I can bring them something but also I’m going to be learning a lot as well. I would say as long as it keeps my brain on fire, and that I can actively make a change and make a difference, I will feel fulfilled. Music to me is a personal passion.”

No one else will set boundaries for you, this passionate leader warned the next and previous generation. You have do it yourself. Every single day there may be one more phone call you can take, or one more email or meeting, but at five or six o’clock just stop doing it, she said.

“If you need to get home, whether you have children or not, the only person that’s going to let you do that is you,” said Burgeson. “That’s one thing I’ve realized over the years and have made room for. Being a woman in the work place and with a child, I really have to check myself when I walk through the door. Being tough, on, direct, and driving things all day, I love that. If you carry that exact same energy home with you, It can be really hard on relationships. You need to let someone else decide what’s for dinner. Just stop being the one in charge for a second, or balance it out a bit. Be an equal partner when you get home.”

Burgeson’s story is a mind-blowing Salvador Dali painting. She has swept the advertising world by storm and unlocked the creativity and imaginations of a whole new generation of musicians. Influential yet vulnerable and even shocking that such strength and beauty can be taken advantage of so callously. Yet wonderfully inspiring that she can channel her vulnerabilities and sensibilities into a powerful career trajectory where very few women have traveled. 

ON THE WEB:

Fender Play: https://www.fender.com/play?ub=d


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