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Artist’s difficult life won’t define her

Artist’s difficult life won’t define her


Call Pima Community College student Montessa White an artistic Cinderella. “I’m a creative, ambitious person — I like to think at least,” White said. “I think I’m pretty smart and I want to do what I want to do. I have a lot of dreams and passions and I’m trying to pursue that. I’m a dreamer.”

Montessa White puts finishing touches on a sketch at the West Campus Library.
Erik Medina / Aztec Press

White was born on June 14, which makes her a Gemini. Although White does not pay much attention to astrology, she believes Gemini actually does describe who she is.

“I can be two different people,” she said. “I can be smart and nice Montessa or really mean Montessa.”

White is originally from southern California, mainly the Yorba Linda and Placentia areas.

White didn’t grow up in an average family. She was raised by her mother after her mother and father separated. White’s mother left for California and her father stayed in Arizona.

“It’s complicated, I know,” she said.

White didn’t have a “happy-go-lucky” life as a child. She constantly movedaround and was homeless at one point.

“I was sleeping next to mailboxes with my mom’s jean jacket wrapped around me,” she said.

However, White said she doesn’t let that define her. She strives for the best, despite her struggles in life.

White can recall one moment she classifies as happy: the moment she met her stepfather.

“My life flipped upside down, like the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,’” she said. “We were in a really bad situation and then we moved into a nice household.”

“Goddess” by Montessa White

Eventually White moved to Oro Valley to live with her father, and attended Ironwood Ridge High School.

White’s years of moving around meant she missed a lot of high school between her freshman and sophomore years.

She had to scramble to make up missing credits needed to graduate.

“Everyone was bitching about their classes,” she said. “I had a full schedule, plus online classes. Twice as many classes.

It was hell.”

White completed high school with top grades, and graduated on time.

At PCC, White is majoring in digital art with a concentration in illustration. She is also looking into animation classes.

Besides attending school, White works as a student aide at the West Campus library. She works along Christine Seliga,

a library service specialist who has known White since August.

Seliga describes White as a creative and conscientious person.

“She’s got amazing skills with drawing and coming up with concepts for her design class,” Seliga said. “Montessa has

some visions that other people don’t have. She’s got some talents.”

Like many artists, White started drawing at a young age.

“My mom actually told me she would find my sketches on the toilet paper while using the bathroom,” she said.

Her go-to supply is a pencil. She does have other instruments for drawing but likes to stick to the basics.

White doesn’t draw inspiration from any famous artists.

“Inner Beauty” by Montessa White

“I actually don’t look towards famous artists,” she said. “I think their work is cool. I like looking at it sometimes, but I don’t care.”

White does relate to animator Tim Burton. They do not draw or create similar pieces, but she thinks they share similar art styles.

White can’t put a name to her style. She mainly draws people but tweaks them.

She also creates feminist art, which she defines as women drawing women.

Her post-Pima plans include finding a good school with digital art and animation programs, possibly in California.

She would enjoy any job related to full-length or short films, but would especially like to work on storyboards by helping with characters or background art.

Her dream job would be working as a storyboard artist at Disney.

In fact, Disney has been a very important part of White’s difficult life. Disney movies taught her life lessons such as to have courage and to follow her dreams.

If she could be in any Disney movie, White said she’d be in either “Beauty and the Beast” or “Cinderella.”

“Cinderella is my life,” she said. “I feel like I’m like Belle and a little like Jasmine because Jasmine is fierce and fire. I can actually see myself in any movie.”

ARTS BRIEFS: Four concerts on tap between March 5-23

ARTS BRIEFS: Four concerts on tap between March 5-23

Compiled by Elise Stahl

Pima Community College will present four concerts during March at the West Campus Center for the Arts.

Tickets are either $6 or $8, with discounts available for students, seniors, military, PCC employees and groups.

For more information, call the box office at 206-6986 or visit


Classical guitarist Lich: March 5

PCC adjunct instructor Michael Lich will give a classical guitar performance on March 5 at 3 p.m. in the Recital Hall. Tickets are $8.

Lich’s program will include pieces by Bach, Brouwer, Torroba and Rodrigo. Lich will also perform his own original compositions, including a new work in the theme of East Indian musician Amjad Ali Khan.

Lich has performed throughout the U.S., Brazil, Germany and South Korea. He also plays the banjo with his bluegrass ensemble, Noctrane, which will perform at PCC on March 23.


Chorale, College Singers: March 7

The Chorale and College Singers, directed by Jonathan Ng, will perform a spring concert on March 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Proscenium Theatre. Tickets are $6.

The Chorale will perform “Keep Your Lamp,” by Andre Thomas; “Oklahoma,” arranged by William Stickles; and “Choral Selection from Carousel,” arranged by Clay Warnick.

The College Singers will sing “Cantate Domino,” by Z. Randall Stroope; “Quick, Quick Away Dispatch,” by Michael East; “Bushes and Briars,” arranged by Donald James; and “Bobby Shaftoe,” arranged by David Willcocks.

The Chorale and College Singers will finish the show together, performing Fauré’s “Libera Me” from “Requiem.” They will also sing “Kyrie” and “Agnus Dei,” two movements from Haydn’s “Mass in the Time of War – Timpani Mass.” They will be accompanied by Susan Simpson on piano and Barbara Freischlad on percussion.


PCC Wind Ensemble: March 9

PCC’s Wind Ensemble, directed by Mark Nelson, will perform with Sierra Vista’s Buena High School Honor Band, directed by Duane Chun, for a spring concert on March 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Proscenium Theatre. Tickets are $6.

The Wind Ensemble will perform the overture from “Marriage of Figaro,” by Mozart; “Third Suite,” by Robert Jager; and “Puszta Four Gypsy Dances,” by Jan van der Roost. They will also play the “Zapfenstreich No. 2” military band tattoo march by Ludwig van Beethoven.

(A tattoo is a military performance of music. The term comes from a Dutch phrase meaning “turn off the tap,” which was a signal sounded by drummers or trumpeters to instruct innkeepers near military garrisons to stop serving beer and for soldiers to return to their barracks.)

The Buena High School Honor Band will perform “Resplendent Glory,” by Rossano Galante; “Among the Clouds,” by Brian Balmages; and “Clown Act,” by Thomas Kahelin.

The two bands will combine to close the show with “Pas Redouble,” by Camille Saint-Saens and “Into the Storm,” by Robert W. Smith.


Noctrane jazz/bluegrass: March 23

Noctrane: Progressive Bluegrass Ensemble will perform in concert on March 23 at 7 p.m. in the Recital Hall. Tickets are $8.

The band features Michael Lich on banjo, Jason Roederer on double bass and Jeff Sanders on guitar and voice.

Noctrane’s music explores the dynamic rhythms and sonic landscapes of jazz, bluegrass and roots, themes that will be highlighted in their program.

The band draws its influence from various music pillars such as Thelonious Monk, Pat Metheny, Bela Fleck and J.S. Bach. Noctrane has been featured at several Arizona festivals, including the Tucson Folk Festival, the Flagstaff Folk Festival and the Fiddler’s Dream Festival.

Noctrane, featuring Jeff Sanders on guitar and voice, Jason Roederer on double bass and Michael Lich on banjo will perform March 23. (Photo courtesy of PCC Center for the Arts)

FROM THE EDITOR: College encourages arts' excellence

FROM THE EDITOR: College encourages arts’ excellence


Music. Art. Theater. Dance.

Before I worked on the Aztec Press, I was oblivious to these programs at Pima Community College.

Because I’ve been interested in the arts from a young age, however, I was naturally drawn to writing about arts and entertainment.

When I take a trip down memory lane, I can look from last September to the present and recall highlights of meeting some of Pima’s many talented and interesting people.

One of my favorite people in the Theatre Arts department, Mickey Nugent, was a delight to interview both for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “In the Heights.” With an extensive background in theater going back to his Broadway days, he is warm and funny.

Todd Poelstra, the program coordinator for PCC Theatre Arts, is a man of many hats. Poelstra directs, handles lighting and set-building and additionally was a key part of the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Botanical Gardens. He is a quiet man with immense skill.

Nolan Kubota, dance faculty, was a pleasure to encounter. He has danced in theaters around the world and entertained many while a part of renowned dance companies. Look for more on Kubota in a profile by colleague Nicholas Trujillo in an upcoming issue.

David Andres was also a joy to get to know and a pleasure to bond with over our mutual love and concern for the future of our oceans. His art is brilliant and very moving. I have my fingers crossed for him to win the Governor’s Arts Award this semester.

I look forward to getting to know some of the gifted faculty in the music department, including Jonathan Ng, Mark Nelson, Mike Kuhn, Alexander Tentser, Alex Cardieri, Michael Lich and Jeff Sanders – an extensive list.

Carol Carder, the marketing and public relations director for the Center of the Arts at the West Campus, has been a helpful guide along the way. Her dedication to publicizing events is phenomenal and she’s been my partner-in-crime on many a story.

No column would be complete without mentioning my beloved Aztec Press co-workers, who have helped me to learn about excellence in writing and photography. You’ve all inspired me to improve and taught me about our craft and about life.

Last but certainly not least, there’s our adviser and fearless leader Cynthia Lancaster, who is leaving us at the end of this semester. It’s tough to put into simple words what her influence has meant to me. Travel safe and enjoy your retirement, Cynthia.

The newsroom has been a blessing to me in times when I needed a second home. It’s a serious yet joyful place, full of humor and, let’s not forget, dope music.

PCC previews Kahlo exhibit

PCC previews Kahlo exhibit


Broadway set designer Scott Pask discussed inspiration when he previewed an upcoming Frida Kahlo exhibit during a Pima Community College reception.

“This is very special for Tucson, and a very special collaboration as it’s the first that the New York Botanical Gardens has ever had” Pask said during an interview before the presentation.

After record-breaking attendance during a New York exhibition, Tucson Botanical Gardens partnered with PCC to have Pask bring the Kahlo exhibit to Tucson. The exhibit will provide a look into Frida Kahlo’s famous Casa Azul.

PCC hosted a reception April 22 at the Pima District Office to bring together the community and give insight into the construction and inspiration of the exhibit.

The theme of “Welcome Home” will be highlighted by bringing the Tucson community into the house of one of the most celebrated artists in history.

During the exhibit there will be a two week installment period which will close off the wildflower garden. The unveiling of the exhibit takes place opening night.

Tucson will be the second and final stop of the continuation of the New York Botanical Garden’s celebration of Kahlo’s first solo exhibition in over 25 years.

Patricia Houston, PCC acting vice president of instruction for Downtown Campus, explained that along with celebrating Kahlo’s work this event serves as a tool that has brought many different parts of the Tucson community together.

“Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life” will open on Oct. 10 and will remain open until May 16 at the Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

For more information on Pask’s Frida-inspired work, visit

Patricia Houston, Scott Pask and Michelle Conklin pose for a photo during a reception for Pask at PCC’s community boardroom on April 22.

Patricia Houston, Scott Pask and Michelle Conklin pose for a photo during a reception for Pask at PCC’s community boardroom on April 22.

Artist competition takes aim at graffiti

Artist competition takes aim at graffiti


The city of Tucson unveiled five murals made to discourage graffiti and tagging in the downtown area during a ceremony on Feb. 5.

The Environmental Services Department, along with Tucson Arts Brigade, created a competition that whittled 44 entries down to five winning designs that were painted on refuse containers.

Artists Johanna Hand, Sasha Lewis, Niki Glen, Porter McDonald and Ruben Moreno decorated the dumpsters with their unique designs after being selected by the Arts Brigade and the city.

The city provided $5,000 in funding for the pilot program, which was matched by the Graffiti Resource Council, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit vandalism prevention organization.

“The city spends probably $150-$200 to repair a dumpster that has been damaged by graffiti, and we’ve found that artwork like this helps deter taggers,” said Cristina Polsgrove, the Environmental Services Department information officer.

The five dumpsters will be on display at businesses across Tucson. If successful, the program hopes to expand in the future.

Artists, from left, Niki Glen, Johanna Hand, Ruben Moreno and Porter McDonald applaud the proceedings. Sasha Lewis is not pictured. (Aztec Press photos by Audrie Ford)

Artists, from left, Niki Glen, Johanna Hand, Ruben Moreno and Porter McDonald applaud the proceedings. Sasha Lewis is not pictured. (Aztec Press photos by Audrie Ford)


Sasha Lewis is known in Tucson for her use of bright colors and graphic animal illustrations.

Sasha Lewis is known in Tucson for her use of bright colors and graphic animal illustrations.


Local artist Porter McDonald painted clean, contrasting and vibrant graphics.

Local artist Porter McDonald painted clean, contrasting and vibrant graphics.


Johanna Hand’s design featured a cartoon whale floating in the sky via parachutes.

Johanna Hand’s design featured a cartoon whale floating in the sky via parachutes.

Submission deadline nears for student art show

-By Alyssa Ramer

Pima Community College students can submit artwork for consideration in the Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition at the Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery April 11-May 6.

Students may enter up to three pieces in these categories: ceramics, digital, drawing, fibers, metals, mixed media, painting, photography, prints, sculpture and fashion design.

Three jurors will select pieces for the exhibit. Interested artists should drop off their work at the Bernal Gallery in the Center for the Arts on West Campus on March 21-24 from 10 a.m-4 p.m. Students will be notified of acceptance by March 30.

The competition is open to any student enrolled at PCC on any campus during the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semesters. Work must have been completed during those semesters.

An informational flier and entry forms are available at the Bernal Gallery, or can be downloaded at Call 206-6942 for further information.

Art Briefs

Compiled by Melina Casillas

Chorale and College Singers: March 8

The Pima Community College Chorale and College Singers will perform their first concert of the spring semester on Tuesday, March 8, under the direction of Jonathan Ng.

The concert will be begin at the West Campus Center for the Arts Proscenium Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $6, with discounts available.

The Chorale is a large mixed-voice choir. Their program will include Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus,” “O Cara Mia, Addio” by Mike Morasky and a Tom Fettke arrangement of the popular song “You Raise Me Up.”

The College Singers, a select a cappella group, will present 20th century classical compositions including “The Seal Lullaby” by Eric Whitacre and “Sweet Love for Me” by Charles V. Stanford. They will also perform “His Voice as the Sound,” a hymn arranged by Alice Parker and Robert Shaw.

The Chorale and College Singers will be joined by Susan Simpson and Josh Gastelum on piano and Tony Martin on percussion, for some performances.

For more information, call the box office at 206-6986 or visit

PCC Wind Ensemble:

March 10

PCC’s Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Mark Nelson, will perform new and classical works at the first concert of the spring semester.

The concert will take place Thursday, March 10, at the West Campus Proscenium Theatre, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $6, with discounts available.

The program will highlight Vincent Persichetti’s “Divertimento for Band.” Other pieces include “The Southerner” by Russell Alexander, an arrangement of George Gershwin’s “Second Prelude,” Percy Grainger’s “Australia Up-Country Tune” and “Toccata” by Frank Erickson.

Wind Ensemble members will also perform in a flute choir, clarinet choir, brass ensemble and percussion ensemble.

For more information, call 206-6986 or visit

‘Variations’ student art:

Through March 25

PCC visual art students will display work through March 25 at the Student Visual Art Gallery, located at West Campus on the second floor of the Santa Rita building.

Gallery displays will featurework by the Louis Carlos Bernal 2016 scholarship recipients: Susan Marvin, Tony Polzer, Adrian Vargas, Karima Walker, Vincent Vigil and Brett Starr.

The gallery is free and open to the public. Hours are Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

For more information, call 206-6942 or visit

PCC students create winning art

PCC students create winning art


Alma Davila didn’t start appreciating art until she attended Pima Community College.

“When I was in elementary school, I didn’t have interest in art,” she said. “If I drew people, I just drew sticks.”

No one in her family was interested in art either, Davila said. They all loved math instead.

Nevertheless, Davila recently entered a poster contest sponsored by La Frontera International Mariachi Conference, and won first place.

A fellow PCC digital arts student, Marcela Pino, won second place.

Davila’s artwork will be reproduced and sold during the 2015 mariachi conference, which will be held April 8-11 at the Casino del Sol Resort.

Proceeds will provide financial support to young musicians who can’t afford to attend workshops.

Pino’s poster will be printed on T-shirts and book covers to help conference participants buy music books and other supplies.

Davila found it truly unbelievable that she won first place in the contest, along with a $500 prize.

“After I sent my entry, I kind of forgot about it,” she said. “Then one morning, someone called and told me that I won.”

Chloe Dior, a member of La Frontera’s board of directors, is excited that PCC students participated.

“We are happy that these young people channel their energy into something beautiful like art,” Dior said. “We applaud them for their hard work.”

Davila was always a hard-working student and did well while attending Roberts Elementary School and Tucson High Magnet School.

In high school, she started getting interested in architecture.

“In my third year, most of my classmates were already applying to different universities,” she said. “But I thought of attending Pima Community College instead.”

Davila graduated from Pima with an associate degree in liberal arts and decided to continue working for a second degree in digital arts.

“I still dream of an architecture degree and hope that I’ll get there,” she said.

The second-place winner, Pino, has been exposed to art since she was born. Her grandmother loves oil painting.

“My grandmother is amazing,” Pino said. “She is a great influence in my life.”

Pino didn’t hesitate to enter her artwork when she learned about the contest.

She was especially intrigued because contestants were asked to create art with mariachi flavor in memory of Natividad “Nati” Cano, who died in 2014.

Cano directed the Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano for 40 years.

The Los Angeles-based ensemble gained international recognition, and was one of four musical ensembles that collaborated with Linda Rondstadt on her 1987 “Canciones de Mi Padre” album.

Pino danced folklorico for many years, traveling across the U.S. with Tucson’s Ballet Folklorico Tapatio. The troupe also performed at the yearly mariachi conference.

She received a $100 prize for winning second place.

Pino uses a unique style to create her artwork.

“I like working with cut paper,” she said. “It’s tedious. It takes time, but I enjoy doing it.”

Pino learned from her Pima instructors that it’s all right to be different.

She is beginning to gain confidence and to explore additional ways to use paper in her creations.

Instructor Dennis Landry, the digital arts department chair, is proud of his students. He also commended all of the art instructors who’ve molded student talents.

“It’s the sum total of the hard work of all art instructors,” Landry said. “The students learned how to express themselves in unique ways through art.”

Both Davila and Pino gave kudos to La Frontera Tucson International Mariachi Conference for holding the festival in Tucson.

The four-day music festival and student workshop conference showcases the best in mariachi and ballet folklorico.

The TIMC, now in its 33rd year, promotes the traditions to a growing audience of both Latino and non-Latino fans.

Conference proceeds benefit children’s services at La Frontera, a community-based nonprofit behavioral health center.

Pg11-Art winners

Digital arts students Alma Davila, left, and Marcela Pino won first and second place in a La Frontera mariachi conference poster contest. (Larry Gaurano/Aztec Press)


Art, literary submissions due by March 2

Art, literary submissions due by March 2


Call to artists and writers: March 2 is the deadline to submit work to SandScript, Pima Community College’s award-winning art and literary journal.
The annual journal, created and designed by students, is accepting submissions from PCC students registered for at least two academic credits this spring or last fall.

Each year, the SandScript staff reviews and deliberates over a plethora of art, poetry and prose submissions. The competition to get accepted can be tough, but it’s admittedly easier than a national magazine.

“You’re just competing with your fellow students,” says Joshua Cochran, SandScript’s faculty adviser. “It’s an excellent way to get your first work published.”

This is actually the first year that SandScript is exclusive to students, having accepted faculty submissions in previous years. Students who work part time for the college or do work-study can also submit work.

All submissions are reviewed anonymously, identified by student number only. Therefore, material is chosen solely on merit.

“We got so many great submissions last year,” says Kaycee Petersen, SandScript’s 2014 editor. “It was fun and challenging deliberating over what got in.”

The SandScript staff looks for prose and poetry that is unique but relatable, delving into the many facets of human dynamic and experience.

Prose must have fully developed characters that are genuine and moving. The plot should make the reader think and explore unique perspectives.

Poetry should evoke feelings through details and images, be genuine and yet speak to something that goes beyond one’s personal experience.

For art, SandScript seeks work that shows an understanding of visual composition. The artwork should transcend and delve deeply into the spectrum of emotion, from disturbing to sad, simplicity to joyous abandon.

Art must be submitted in a scanned or digital version. For assistance, email

The semester ends with an unveiling ceremony. The SandScript journal is revealed, and the artists and writers share their work with friends and family.

To submit work, go to There you will find the submission forms and guidelines.

Make sure to thoroughly read the guidelines and follow the directions.

To write and create art takes exploration and hard work. To submit to a journal and share your work takes courage. So good luck artists, and into the fray.

Editors note: Danyelle Khmara is the 2015 editor of SandScript.

Pg10-SandScript 2014

Jacob Bannon creates dark, emotive works

Jacob Bannon creates dark, emotive works


Jacob Bannon has been making a name for himself in the underground music scene for more than 20 years.

His prominent endeavor is his work with Converge, a Salem, Mass., metallic hardcore punk band. In addition to his musical work, he is also famous for his work as a visual artist.

“I simply strive to make the most successful art and music that I can,” Bannon said via email. “For me, that is work that communicates and evokes the intended emotion, and leaves a psychological component of myself fulfilled.”

Bannon graduated from the Art Institute of Boston in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts for design. He has created memorable pieces for countless bands, including handling the artwork for Converge and many of the releases on his self-founded record label, Deathwish Inc.


As a whole, his artwork is dark and intersperses somber moods with aggressive bursts of color. Because most of Bannon’s art is used on record covers, his work often reflects the sound contained within.

Bannon usually creates elaborate prints by using cuts of various papers, then completes the work with paints and inks. The visual aesthetic varies, generating a unique and surprising gallery.

“Jane Doe,” the cover for Converge’s groundbreaking fourth album, is one of Bannon’s most famous works. The picture illustrates a starkly shaded woman, expressionless except for the wrathful gaze she bears on the looker while she is outlined by a sky of bleak autumn colors.

In keeping with the ferocity of the record it represents, “Jane Doe” is an image universally associated with Converge. It has grown into a household name in the metal and punk community.

Bannon’s piece for hardcore punk band Integrity’s 2003 album “To Die For” is equally bright and thematically dark.

Its prominent reds are painted to appear simultaneously as fire, sun and blood, forming a halo of bright chaos around its centerpiece. In line with the multifaceted use of red, the figure shows a skull with flesh from the neck down, marrying aspects of death and life.

Almost as famous as “Jane Doe” is Bannon’s art for Converge’s fifth album, 2004’s sorrowful and hopeful “You Fail Me.” This minimalist piece is awash in deep black, its focus and detail demonstrated through intricate webs of subtle gray and red.

The ache and rage that the record invokes go hand in hand with this scarred and moving piece.

Bannon’s visual art can be viewed and bought at, which boasts a complete gallery of his work.

His work as a musician can be heard on releases from Converge in addition to the atmospheric experimental bands Supermachiner and Irons.

Punk band Integrity used “To Die For” on its 2003 album. Photo courtesy of Jacob Bannon.

“Jane Doe” is the cover artwork for Converge’s fourth album. Courtesy of Jacob Bannon.