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A Chronicle Of The Passing Scene

February 19, 1993|SUE REILLY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Drawing on Experience

Nicaragua-born Norland Tellez is a gifted artist, with a talent not only for drawing, but for drawing upon his experiences, with power and evocation, according to Glenn Vilppu, acting director of the CalArts animation program.

His artist father taught Tellez and his two younger brothers to draw when they were children, to help them escape the pressures of the revolution in their native country.

He also took them to see a Spanish-dubbed version of the Disney classic "Snow White." The film made a lasting impression on young Tellez, now 21 and a junior in animation at the Valencia school.

In March, 1985--when he was 13--he joined his father, who had preceded him to Los Angeles. His mother and three younger brothers came in the following years. He went to junior high and high school in Inglewood and did well, learning English as he progressed. In ninth grade, a teacher encouraged him to apply for the California State Summer School for the Arts, and he was accepted on full scholarship despite having to compete against older students.

That summer's program was at CalArts, and animation was offered for the first time. The experience made him decide that CalArts was the college for him.

As a first-year CalArts student, he was one of six people selected from art schools across America for a Walt Disney Summer Internship, and last summer he did a feature animation internship at Hanna-Barbera/Turner Productions.

This semester, he is animation director on a child-abuse video for PBS that will use the voices of Edward James Olmos and James Earl Jones. Tellez is also working on his own 15-minute animated film and a book.

Tellez says being born in Nicaragua and raised in the United States has given him a broader, more global awareness, and he tries to stay close to his roots in his artwork.

When he graduates in June, 1994, he's hoping to have a Mickey Mouse future--animating for Disney.

Kitchen Cutup

Marshall Rothman is a table designer with a studio and store in Encino.

Rothman doesn't exactly make tables--he makes them look good.

For special dinner parties, he would create tables that brought life, and often a few smiles, to the festivities.

Take the 40th birthday party for Olympian Bruce Jenner, a man who was--and is--serious about his toys.

Jenner's then wife, Chrystie, commissioned Rothman to create a table or two that would be spectacular and sophisticated.

(Spectacular and sexist is what she got.)

The main table featured major food and was goofily decorated with Jenner's racing helmet, a blowup of the Wheaties box with his picture on it, and his signature bike coming out of a toy chest. There were also Gummi Bears, Tonka toys and lots of stuffed animals sprinkled among the buffet decor.

But the piece de resistance was the nearby hors d'oeuvres table, where, topless and seated in one of Jenner's go-carts, a young woman poured champagne for guests, the designer says.

Rothman, 50, who lives in North Hollywood, was discovered and put to work in the '70s by master chef Milton Williams. Williams fed people at parties given by and for the Westside and Palm Springs elite, with Rothman cooking up the table decorations.

When Williams died, Rothman continued working with various high-end chefs-for-hire, creating tables for people with last names like Gelson, Milken and Thomas (Danny and Marlo), he says.

When the partying died at the end of the '80, so did much of Rothman's enthusiasm for doing party table decor.

He decided to open a shop with former Century Plaza executive chef Raimund Hoffmeister. It's called Chef's Unlimited and it specializes in selling culinary tools, like knives, to the area's professional chefs and others serious about cooking.

So, while Hoffmeister now presides over the Los Angeles Culinary Institute at the Equestrian Center in Burbank, Rothman sells pots and pans on Ventura in Sherman Oaks.

But he still gives $30 classes to professional and non-professional party givers in table decoration for adults and children.

"The main thing I do," says the decorative resource, "is teach people how to let their imaginations soar."

Hold It Down, Will Ya?

The inspiration for Gary Haven's company literally came from a news bulletin.

"I heard that during the Oakland earthquake, computers were flying around some offices," says Haven of Agoura. The idea for Earthquake Services & Products was born.

He and partner (and neighbor) Michael Essrig prepare offices and homes for what we have all come to know as The Big One.

"We also sell survival kits that run from simple to all-inclusive and can cost anywhere from $15 to $400, depending on what you want," Haven says.

For $15, you get food, water and an emergency blanket. But if you pop for $400, you get enough food, medical and general emergency supplies for 10 people, including everything from written instructions to blankets to a deck of playing cards. The emergency supplies are packaged to last three days.

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