Having grown up in Providence, RI, a few miles from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD ) in the 60’s, I was exposed to art as a vibrant presence throughout the city. My father wanted to be an artist but didn’t pursue his talent so he encouraged me by buying me charcoal drawing sets. I sent my drawings of Liz Taylor as Cleopatra to an art show on local TV and was invited on as a guest. In elementary school, I received a scholarship to take Saturday classes for kids at RISD. I won an art contest sponsored by the SPCA for fifth grade students in Providence Public schools to attend summer camp at a wildlife sanctuary in New Hampshire. Throughout high school my art teachers submitted my drawings and paintings to student shows that traveled nationally and internationally.
I received a full scholarship to Northwestern University (1973-77) where I decided to focus on literature, performance, and theater. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career but yearned to return to visual art. In 1984 I received a scholarship to California Institute of the Arts where I earned an MFA in visual art (1987). Along with several other interdisciplinary artists from CalArts, we created About Productions, a non-profit arts organization where I served as co-founder and co-artistic director. The mission of the company was to use visual arts, video, dance, and performance to “challenge traditional assumptions about history, cultural identity and gender.”
Interdisciplinary Performance Work
The LA Times dance critic, Lewis Segal wrote, “Alan Pulner is a locally based performance artist whose pieces are nearly overloaded with ideas, humor, energy, and high ambition,” and he listed my work as a dance/performance highlight of 1988. Rapture Stations in the Virtual Funhouse was a collaborative art installation/performance/music work which was produced at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in 1989 with funding from the National Endowment of the Arts, Art Matters, and the Rockefeller Foundation. My performance work at Highways Performance Space, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Los Angeles Theater Center (LATC), and other art spaces always received positive critical notice, especially in the Los Angles Tines and LA Weekly in which our work was often chosen as “Pick of the Week.” My visual artwork has been at Highways and other art venues and was included in the Hudson Valley Art Festival in 1986.
I continued as an artist and co-artistic director of About Productions until 2000. I began my career as an elementary school teacher in 1992 for the Los Angeles Unified School District. I am an National Board Certified Teacher who, besides teaching students in the gifted and talented education program (GATE), have been providing professional development to teachers district-wide in incorporating visual art appreciation, history, and practice into the elementary classroom for 20 years. My students, in turn, have won prizes for art projects the Museum of Latin American Art and DWP. My current body of paintings spans over ten years. I have also served as long-time cleric for my spiritual path, Eckankar.