Two students sitting on desks holding phones.

Julie Adler

Class of 1999
School of Interschool – Art & Music MFA

In 1996, when I first arrived at CalArts as a grad student in the Art school, I also decided to take advantage of the Music department and signed up for non-major vocal lessons with Jacqui Bobak. That same semester, I took a class with Mort Subotnick in B305. That’s where I met Andrew Bucksbarg, Roger Allen Ward and Terry Dame among others. We all became fast friends. Many hours were spent in that almost suffocating room, laughing and agonizing over how to make a CD Rom. With Andrew in particular, perhaps because he had a background in voice and he too loved to make objects, we were quite goofy and we started collaborating.

This particular video that I submit is of a piece simply entitled ‘Improv with 2 Telephones’. Our last semester at CalArts in 1999, Andrew came to me one day with some f-kd up/altered pushbutton phones he had worked on and asked me to ‘play’ them with him. The desire here was to juxtapose ritual/instrumental actions, vocalization using the everyday common action of the telephone. How to engage in the preservation of an obsolete tradition? We improvised the mundane actions of picking up the receiver, dialing, talking, and hanging up as well as exploring new possibilities the phones have to offer. Andrew specifically asked me not to be overly dramatic. I had to restrain myself while he tried to keep a straight face. We ended up performing them as part of my grad recital in ROD.

And then, we kept performing the piece after graduation at the Bradbury Building and then again as part of the New Experimental Variety Show and Side Street LIVE in Los Angeles.
Andrew became one of my closest friends. We continued to make pieces and perform together for some years after graduating. We stayed in touch as best we could after he moved away from LA to try an artist’s life in NY and then he returned the Midwest where he had grown up. Sadly, and suddenly, he passed away in 2018 in his sleep. It was devastating for me and others like Lara Bank (also a CalArtian) who was also very close to him. We miss him so very much.

So, I submit this memory on his behalf. He would have giggled at the idea of me sharing all this. And he probably would have rewritten this! He was that meticulous and thoughtful. He might have liked to have come to the reunion but we would also be commiserating about how we were still too broke to afford it. Andrew would have probably tried to leverage some crypto to maybe try and come. If he were still here. But I digress.

I continue to make art and carry on because of Andrew. He would be upset with me if I did not.