Pribich featured interview articly

Michael Pribich

Michael Pribich was born and raised in Northern California.  He lives in New York City with his wife Esperanza Cortes.  He received a BA degree from Sacramento State University and MFA degree from Hunter College, NY.   He is interested in the artist’s role in advancing ideas that lead to continual growth and change.    He explores the idea that labor can be viewed as cultural production, resulting in an expanded social space.  

He has completed projects with the Public Works departments in Sacramento and Woodland, California.  2015-2018 projects and exhibitions include: Travel and study project locations include India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Guadalajara and Hong Kong.    Solo exhibitions; Labor Days, Cuchifritos Gallery, NY, Centerfield, Webb School, Knoxville, Tn. Group exhibitions at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art,  Bronx Museum of the Arts, Mocad, Detroit, Orange County Cultural Center and Flux Art Fair, NY. He was an artist resident at 360 Xochi Quetzal in Chapala Mexico, Jentel Residency, Sheridan, Wy; travel residencies in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Guadalajara. 

In addition to producing artwork he has been employed as a forest firefighter, logger, prison instructor, house painter, waiter, art handler and art courier.  


Interview with Michael Pribich

Michael Pribich is an artist’s artist who attended 360 Xochi Quetzal in the Spring of 2015. His work is smart, embedded with layers of meaning, beautiful, both pleasing and challenging, often monumental and deeply informed by sense of place. Michael lives and works in New York City and as you will read, also travels the world collecting history, materials and inspiration that he transforms with his keen eye and mind. -dek In your artist statement you write: “The disparity between classes informs your use of materials….” Mining the Pueblo is a series of art works that began at 360 Xochi Quetzal. I

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Charlotte portrait

Interview with Charlotte Hildebrand

Charlotte Hildebrand was our first comic book artist at the 360 Xochi Quetzal residency program. Charlotte lives and works in Los Angeles and is a genuinely funny person. She moved from New York to LA in the mid-80s to study at the American Film Institute. After school, however, instead of going to work in the industry, she produced her first child. While raising her children she worked as a writer and editor for various non-profit arts organizations, as a journalist and freelance book editor, as well as taught ESL. After the kids left home, however, she began an art practice, which continues to this day. Charlotte started her exploration of art by putting up wheat-paste posters in the dead of night around Los Angeles, which led to working as a muralist, painter, illustrator and cartoonist. She is presently working on a graphic memoir about growing up in segregated Louisville, KY. She also teaches graphic memoir and comic arts at the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock, a community based non-profit in LA, as well as teaching a private online workshop called Kuarantine Komics. -dek

Charlotte Hillenbrand
Grief Map comic by Charlotte Hildebrand

Give us some background about yourself as a comic artist.

When writing and editing work dried up in the 2008/9 recession, I began a blog. Mainly I wanted to get some stories and essays down that I had been working on for years. Out of nowhere (that may not be true, but it felt that way) I started to illustrate the stories, reaching back to an earlier time when I drew a lot. My blog posts picked up steam with those illustrations, which propelled me into melding text and images, but I didn’t have a name for it yet. Then I went to hear Allison Bechdel talk at the LA Public Library about her first book, Fun Home. It blew me away. I can honestly say it was a revelation: how one could tell stories through images, and in the doing so, elevating the story into another dimension. The mere fact of putting images to text like you do in a film, (remember I had studied filmmaking) changed everything. Not that I knew where to begin, but as I learned later, most comic writers/artists are self-taught. For me, comics became my métier.

Why was it important for you to attend a residency at this point in your career and what made you choose 360 Xochi Quetzal for your residency?

I’d been working on a compilation of coming of age stories, when the politics of our country changed and I found myself manically shifting my attention to political cartoons.  Steve Brodner, one of our country’s foremost political cartoonists was offering an online class through SVA, which I readily signed up for. During one of his sessions, he assigned a graphic memoir exercise, with comic panels, which is where everything really began to take shape. Last year I continued my study of graphic memoir in NYC with Amy Kurzweil, a cheeky cartoonist published in the New Yorker and Huffington Post. Back home I was getting stuck and started thinking about what I needed.  My vision included: being surrounded by people working on projects, while I also worked, but without interference, if you know what I mean. I remembered a friend mentioning this residency on Lake Chapala and when I looked into it, the one residence that was available for the time I could be there, seemed to fit my needs perfectly. And it did. I was able to complete 4 rather difficult chapters while I was in Chapala.

What changed for you in your work, goals and ideas as a result of this residency? 

I think the first thing was meeting Cobra and taking a tour of her studio. To see a woman take charge of her space, her work, her output, and to be able to work with community, was very inspiring and made me want to work harder. Also inspiring was seeing how hard the other artists in the residency were working. I felt strengthened by their commitment to their work. In Chapala, my own output was steady. I worked through a difficult historical passage about Louisville (when the fight for social justice meant you were a Communist), and some other more personal stories, which bolstered my desire to continue with the memoir. Until that point it was an iffy proposition— would I continue or not?—but after the residency I knew I would finish the book.

Fauci comic by Charlotte Hildebrand

What were the highlights of your residency? Tell us about a typical day in the life in Chapala, Mexico. 
I love Mexico, I’ve been to Mexico City and Oaxaca a handful of times and I always thought I’d go back there, but Lake Chapala called to me. On the website people called the residency magical and the town definitely had a special quality. Being on the lake was amazing, the musicians at night along the boardwalk, walking everywhere, a busy blue collar town as opposed to a tourist destination (although it’s that too). A typical day would be get up and do some yoga, make tea, sit down and work for about 4-5 hours on whatever chapter I was working on, and then around 5, walk to the little park, towards the lagoon, where the birds gathered. I was endlessly drawn to the the various types of birds. There were herons of all kinds: green, great blue, little blues, and night herons. Pelicans; egrets; black birds and swifts would also come out to this area before sunset and nest in the trees and the tall grasses. It was fascinating to watch and hear, and a peaceful way to end the day. (although sometimes I went back to my casita and worked for another couple hours).

Tell us about your creative process. You are working on a graphic memoir. Please tell us more about this form and how do you develop your ideas?

Well, the first thing I can tell you about my creative process is it’s not a straight line. I can spend weeks ruminating about something, and not know how to approach it, and it slips away. Or sometimes I spend weeks working on an idea and it ends up not working and I have to give it up. The stuff that works and is most meaningful, usually comes to me like a feeling that I can only describe as “whole.” I can put it down on paper and draw it out from beginning to end. It has a logic to it, with a complete arc. I used to be most inspired by taking long walks where an idea would pop into my head while walking. That still happens, but now, working on the memoir is more about sitting down at my desk and taking a deep dive into the past. I just completed a chapter about having to end a forbidden love affair when I was 16, because my father forbade it. But what I had forgotten, after I thought I’d finished the chapter, was how at one point in that relationship, I was sitting at my mother’s vanity, looking into the mirror, and asking myself existential questions, such as, was this what people called love? Was it love, or did I just have a stomach ache? All those memories came rushing back once I sat down and started writing/illustrating that chapter of forbidden love.

Breona comic by Charlotte Hildebrand
Runaway Slave comic by Charlotte Hildebrand
Wendy's comic by Charlotte Hildebrand

You are teaching a Kuarantine Komics class (great title!) and also a class on 4-panel comics. We would love to hear more about these unique offerings including your teaching philosophy and approach.

I really love teaching and seeing student work is one of the most satisfying feelings a teaching artist can have. Peoples’ stories are endlessly fascinating and I love seeing that students can execute their versions of your idea in ways one never would have imagined. But I don’t teach technique, in fact I encourage people to draw like they did as children, the more raw the better. I also discourage using an eraser. When the pandemic first began, I set up a workshop on Zoom called Kuarantine Komics to give people a place to express their fears and apprehensions. I encouraged people to draw what they were feeling without restrictions and not worry about limitations they had as artists. One young woman took off, a budding comic artist just waiting for the right moment to explode! My adult children were part of the class too and it was gratifying to see what great artists they both were.

My classes through the Center of the Arts Eagle Rock, a community based non-profit started out last year, and then moved to Zoom in March. These classes are more challenging, especially since our country has been in such upheaval. I warm up the class by giving different drawing prompts.  For self portraits, say, I suggest drawing 3 sides of yourself— your private, public and aspiring selves. And then we jump into the main theme of the evening. I’ll give prompts on a specific topic to get them going. Comics allow a place to say what’s on your mind, and the more raw the drawings, the more meaningful they are for the artist and viewers. The only down side is it’s harder for this teacher on Zoom. I want to stand over my students’ shoulders and point out the minutia that can make the difference between a good comic and a great one.  But on Zoom I’ve had to let the teaching flow in a new way. And the comics from those classes have really been great.

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Special Recognition Art Award in Sculpture

InBodied Light, Woman #3 & Man #3

Zahava Sherez is the winner of the Dr. Janet Jordan Special Recognition Art Award in Sculpture for her “InBodied Light”: Woman #3 & Man #3. Curated by Renée Phillip, founder of The Healing Power of Art and Artists. The exhibit entitled “The Spirit of Resilience” can be viewed through November 4, 2020.


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JAI Featured Artist of the Month- Shelley Heffler

Shelley Heffler - Quarantine Blanket 60" x 42"

Dear Art Lovers,
I am honored to be recognized by Jewish Art Initiative as Artist of the Month  for my artwork. This new body of work follows my Rescued Refuse series, inspired by the materiality of used vinyl banners, The process of manipulating the vinyl, tearing, slicing, cutting and painting leads to shapes that ebb and flow in time and space. 

To see The Shape Shifters, click HERE

Studio visits are available by appointment.
Stay safe, stay strong.


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Zahava Sherez

Zahava Sherez was born in Argentina, grew up in Israel and currently maintains studios in California and Mexico. She is fluent in English, Spanish and Hebrew. She is a painter and a sculptor. Her work expresses her life experience-immigrations, wars, loss as well as the richness of numerous cultures through poetry, color, and spirituality.   Her sculptures received an Award of Excellence in “Manhattan Arts International” juried exhibition; she won “Special Recognition” Merit Award from Upstream Gallery, and an Honorable Mention from Sculptural Pursuit Magazine.  Many publications have featured her artwork such as Best of America Sculpture Artists 2007 & 2010, Art Revue Magazine, and Sculptural Pursuit magazine.  Sherez has been teaching stone carving, clay sculpture, and mixed media for the last 30 years including eight years at Pixar University/Pixar Animation Studios and workshops in Puerto Rico and Mexico.


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Interview with Elizabeth Irwin

Elizabeth hiking on mountain with Sinatra

Elizabeth Irwin is a playwright, screenwriter, and teacher based in New York City. She has come to 360 Xochi Quetzal each summer for the last three years to work on a specific project. Last year she came with her sidekick Sinatra. There are a lot of nuggets here for aspiring writers. Enjoy the interview.

You have been to Chapala three times as part of the 360 Xochi Quetzal personal residency program. What keeps you coming back?

I find Chapala to be a wonderful, typical Mexican town. It’s not overrun by tourists. It’s lively but quiet. The food is wonderful and inexpensive. The people are friendly and it’s just really nice to be able to shop at the weekly open air markets, walk by the lake, enjoy traditional food and practice my Spanish while still having hours every day to devote to my writing. I also find Cobra and her husband to be excellent hosts and have very much enjoyed getting to know them. 

What benefits have you derived from the residencies?

Having time and space away from my typical obligations in New York is vital. Having the luxury of simply being. Creating the rhythm of my own days. Taking advantage of what Chapala has to offer on some days and staying quiet on others, taking it all in from the rooftop as I look at the mountains and the  sky. 

 How has each residency been different for you?

As I get to know the town better, I find my own little secret delights and then return to the ones I love. This past year I brought my dog and she pulled me (literally) off in new directions too including an excellent juice stand, far from the center of town so I have to thank her for that!. 

Elizabeth hiking to the Ajijic waterfall

What are you currently working on?

I am working on a TV pilot about sex workers advocating for their rights as well as rewriting a TV pilot about a public school teacher coach. I’m also working on a play about a group of women in a domestic violence support group. 

What are some highlights of this residency program for you? How can we make this program better?

The highlight for me is the very open nature of the residency. It’s as isolated or social as you want. It’s as low key or intense as you desire. I wouldn’t change anything! 

 What other residencies have you attended and how does 360 Xochi Quetzal compare?

Most of the other residences I’ve attended (Space on Ryder Farm, Omega Institute,  Primary Stages at Bennington College, Playwrights Realm Alumni Retreat) are more group focused which is nice. It creates a sense of camaraderie. But this feeds the other part of my personality that just wants to do her own little thing and not speak to anyone until after noon. 

Sinatra waiting patiently for a walk

Tell us about who you are as a writer and the trajectory of your career.

I’m a playwright who is branching out into TV writing and memoir writing. I’m concerned with social justice issues and how the personal and political don’t just intersect but lie in bed with each other all day everyday. I started off writing pretty straightforward naturalistic plays but recently felt more comfortable playing around with form. I like the idea of having art imitate life. Yes, our lives progress in this straightforward naturalistic way in one sense. But when you account for our rich inner lives and how they live alongside our day to day, you see how a true accounting of life can encompass both of those. 

What productions are in the works for you in the coming year

I’m a member of the Primary Stages Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group and we have a reading series every spring in which we showcase what we worked on throughout the year. That is my current focus – figuring out how to work with heart and a clear vision on my piece this year. 

How do you support yourself as a writer?

I began my career as a teacher so I still do a lot of work in the education field – part-time teaching, consulting for education nonprofits, training teachers. I make some money from writing, too. 

 What advice do you have for writers who are starting out? 

Learn your own unique process for writing and rewriting and then accept it and work within it. Don’t beat yourself up because your process isn’t like someone else’s or how you think it should be. I had to learn that the first time I hear criticism I hate it and think it’s stupid. Usually after I go home, take a walk, or a bath,  I can actually hear what was said and then consider it for rewrites. That’s just how I am and I share this with my collaborators so they understand my reactions. I also know that I write best I focus on small chunks and that I need a lot of support around structure. Therefore I make my schedule like that and I invest in getting the support I need. Figure out what works for you and then don’t fight it. 

On the patio of residency House
Walking Sinatra on the Chapala Malecon
S-Anderson-19 Award

Selena Anderson wins Rona Jaffe Foundation Award

We are proud to announce that one of our 360 Xochi Quetzal Resident Writers, Selena Anderson, is one of the six winners of the prestigious Rona Jaffe Foundation Award. This prize is granted to writers who demonstrate great talent and promise and comes with a $40,000 award. 

Anderson says that when she got the call about winning the prize, she tried to sound cool but was silently jumping up and down. Her nominator writes, “Selena articulates, through brilliant prose, the fears and thoughts that preoccupy modern society. I have been consistently struck by the ways in which she balances the confidence of a mature writer with the vulnerability that characterizes the most impactful work. There is, at once, an emotional honesty and physical reality to her writing that has captivated me from story to story.”  She also won the Transatlantic/Henfield Prize in fiction writing.

Selena is finishing a novel about three best friends who write letters to men in prison and working on a new project about the Texas-to-Mexico underground railroad. Anderson says that she will use some of the prize money to fund childcare so that she can finish some of her work-in-progress.


Selena Anderson Resources

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Selena Anderson

Ms. Anderson did her undergraduate work at the University of Texas at Austin and got her M.F.A. at Columbia, where she said “the best lesson … was to read with purpose.” She received her Ph.D. from the University of Houston. Tenderoni, Anderson’s recent collection of short stories melds fantasy and realism. The Rona Jaffe Foundation described it as examining “the boundaries of realism and fantasy … and interrogates the ideas of race, identity, and Black womanhood in the American South.” She is also finishing two other novels, Quinella and Cenisa, Samira, MonetHer work has appeared or is forthcoming from Glimmer Train (see Amazon link below), Kenyon ReviewJoylandAGNI, The Best of Gigantic Anthology, Oxford American, The Georgia Review, Bomb, Callaloo, and Fence, among others. In addition to 360 Xochi Quetzal, Anderson has also attended residencies at the Breadloaf Writer’s Conference, the MacDowell Colony, the Carson McCullers Center and the Kimbilio Center. Selena is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at San José State University in California and Director of their Center for Literary Arts. 


Selena Anderson wins Rona Jaffe Foundation Award

We are proud to announce that one of our 360 Xochi Quetzal Resident Writers, Selena Anderson, is one of the six winners of the prestigious Rona Jaffe Foundation Award. This prize is granted to writers who demonstrate great talent and promise and comes with a $40,000 award.  Anderson says that when she got the call about winning the prize, she tried to sound cool but was silently jumping up and down. Her nominator writes, “Selena articulates, through brilliant prose, the fears and thoughts that preoccupy modern society. I have been consistently struck by the ways in which she balances the

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Selena Anderson Resources (for an excerpt of Tenderoni)

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pbs news hour

PBS News Hour Covers Lake Chapala

In Mexico, seniors are traditionally cared for in the homes of relatives. But a boom of foreign retirees, many of them Americans, have begun moving to Mexico to live out their years, paying much less for independent and assisted living than in other countries. Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery reports.

A great many artists visit and receive inspiration from the beauty and tranquility that Lake Chapala has to offer.  Lakeside has begun to attract many younger people as well.  Mild climate, affordable cost of living, inexpensive medical and dental care, and many other service are a huge draw to the area for young and old alike!