Guest Host Alums
(Names from F-J)
These bio statements are as-written at the time of the guest host takeover, so keep in mind that people's information and accomplishments will change over time. You're reading a time capsule from when their takeover was published on LA River X.
Friends of the LA River (2019)
FOLAR is a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to ensure a publicly accessible and ecologically sustainable Los Angeles River. Founded in 1986, FoLAR has undertaken decades of history-making work. FoLAR inspires River stewardship through community engagement, education, advocacy, and thought leadership. Their work includes La Gran Limpieza (the Great LA Clean Up) every April, the mobile LA River Rover classroom which takes the river to schools and community events, and river programming every summer. Their “Crack the Concrete” Campaign in 2019 worked to harness public policy advocacy and community engagement to fight for the river's present and future.
Their LA River X takeover shared various staff perspectives and favorite places along the river's course.
FoLAR has not joined the Western Water Archives.
Follow FOLAR on Instagram.
Fred Kaplan (2020)
Like so many, Fred Kaplan discovered the LA River as a small child, from the back seat of the family car driving the endless freeways. Fred's dad, a New Yorker with a boundless appetite for connection with nature, loved the LA River so much that after his death, the family built a riverfront bench in his memory at one of his favorite spots. Fred's documentary film, 'The River Under the City of Angels' (2012) is a rolodex of important river voices as well as a profound personal reflection on how landscapes matter. You can watch it on YouTube, and you really must. Fred Kaplan has made more than 96,000 photographs of the Los Angeles River, and counting.
His LA River X takeover, the largest ever, ranges from majestic concrete infrastructure, to Mondrian-inspired hand colorings, to larger-than-life birds, to a deftly curated reading list, his 2010 documentary film, and of course the memorial bench built for his dad down by the river, and ravaged recently by wildfires.
See Fred's takeover in the Western Water Archives.
Listen to Fred Kaplan in conversation with Tilly Hinton, Ph.D. in November 2020.
Watch Fred's documentary film, 'The River Under The City of Angels' (2010).
Follow Fred on Instagram.
Gabriel Tellez-Morales (2022)
Gabriel Tellez-Morales is a software engineer and a photographer drawn to architecture, engineering, landscaping, and history. Lately, his gaze has been on nature, architecture, and people. Gabriel’s interest in the river started when he moved to Los Angeles eight years ago. A photography mentorship program with David Alan Harvey & Alejandra Martinez catalayzed this interest into the article "Rio de Los Angeles" which was published in Burn Magazine on September 2021. Gabriel, lives with his wife and son in Playa del Rey, California.
His LA River X takeover takes you on a trip from the LA River’s source to mouth.
Gabriel has not joined the Western Water Archives.
Follow Gabriel on Instagram.
Helen Kim (2020)
Helen H Kim is a Los Angeles-based multimedia artist whose multimedia practice raises questions about the politics of gaze. She is interested in both clarifying and obscuring dualities within cultural and social constructs. Helen has many childhood memories of staring at the LA River from the backseat of the family car but knew nothing of its history or significance until she became an adult. A few years ago, Helen created ‘Home Is Where the Heart Is: Living in the Streets of Los Angeles’, a map-based multimedia documentation of T and C. These two women were unhoused for 10+ years and spent some time along the river, but currently live in Section 8 rental-subsidized housing.
Her LA River X takeover shares maps, videos, photos, and text from her 'Home Is Where the Heart Is' project, made possible through the Mental Health & Wellbeing Grant from the LA County Department of Mental Health and the California Mental Health Services Authority.
Henry Cherry (2021)
Henry Cherry discovered the river when he lived on the east coast, in movies and cop shows. When he came to Los Angeles to live, he'd already spent some time living by the Mississippi River, so he brought his camera to see how the concrete abated the natural world. An almost immediate meeting with a Snowy Egret, so white and pure against the backdrop of the urban cityscape, had him enthralled and forever in the River’s grasp. Formerly a cowhand, a bike messenger and a chef, Henry is now a journalist and photographer based in Los Angeles. He has been nominated for the Pushcart and the Orison Award and a finalist for both the Stegner Fellowship and the PEN/USA Rosenthal Fellowship. His work has appeared in the LA Weekly, Australia's Cordite Literary Review, PBS, the Louisiana Review, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Henry has been a featured reader at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and at Litquake in San Francisco. He's the teaching artist and course creator of the John Wessel Photography Program, and is an avid outdoorsman.
His LA River X takeover shares fascinating images from the Glendale Narrows and the Valley.
Izaac Enciso (2023)
Izaac Enciso is a visual artist based in LA and Mexico City. He works with film, sculpture and sound to create multisensory experiences. For seven years, Izaac’s art studio was in Tropico, Glendale and from there he would walk to the river and be amazed by how much water actually flows through it during the rainy season. His book - ‘Fifty One Miles, a journey through the Los Angeles River’ - is published by SIE Publishing.
His LA River X takeover shares photography from his 2016 journey along the entire LA River, during which he made photographs using a series of custom filters crafted from materials collected from the river.
Izaac has not joined the Western Water Archives.
Follow Izaac on Instagram.
James Meraz (2020)
James Meraz works and teaches in Environmental Design, a field that encompasses and blurs the line between architecture, interiors, exhibition, and public space design disciplines. James specializes in sustainability, ecological and social impact issues. In 2015 he created Eco Research Lab @ecoresearchlab where he takes design students into biodiversity hotspots to learn from nature’s intelligence, performance, and behavior systems. He has studied and researched biomimicry in the rainforests of Costa Rica, the plains of the Mojave, and the alpine forests of Slovenia. He describes the LA River as an "undeniable presence" in his life, and he got to know it while a student at Sci-Arch. When he wasn't taking classes with the inimitable Mike Davis, who was writing 'City of Quartz' at that time, James could be found driving his jeep own into the concrete riverbed through the 6th Street tunnel to explore this strange and wonderful riparian zone. James Meraz has been an instructor at Otis College, UCLA, Sci-Arc, and is currently a full-time Professor at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, Ca. USA where he has taught since 2001. He also has been visiting Professor at Tama Art University, Tokyo, Japan, and created Eco Research Lab in 2015.
His LA River X takeover celebrates the life of his late son Luke, and shares captivating line drawings of the river coupled with river reflections and thoughts about some of LA's most significant commentators.
James has not joined the Western Water Archives.
Follow James on Instagram.
Jasper Lutyens (2020)
Jasper Lutyens is LA River X's youngest guest host. At 11 years old, Jasper is already a powerhouse of river attentiveness, ecological activism, and community science. He was a winner of LA River Public Art Project’s Inaugural Lewis MacAdams Prize earlier this year for his river monitor beacons. If you’re walking or cycling the river bike path in Frogtown, you’ll see one of these in action, communicating water quality measures to the public . As well as his regular school commitments, Jasper learns through exploration and adventure at Synthesis School, the Elon Musk/Space X/Ad Astra spinoff that offers new ways of learning for 8-14 year olds. Jasper plays piano, is working his way through all the Harry Potter books, plays video games with friends online, and pre-COVID had spent time exploring more than twenty countries, back when international travel was a thing.
His LA River X takeover shares perspectives on river advocacy as well as innovative designs for habitat and nature interpretation.
Jes Tormoen (2020)
Jes Tormoen (@jetski1717) is an Environmental Scientist. She spends her time wading around watersheds and sampling industrial stormwater run-off. Her passion? The Los Angeles River. Jes changed her life path five years ago – leaving behind a crazy restaurant management career to pursue environmental science. She grew up in the majestic wilderness of Minnesota, spending most of her time camping and fishing before moving to attend California State University, Long Beach where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science with a biology minor. Jes completed water projects with the Catalina Island Conservancy and held an internship with East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. Now she interns with a local non-profit where she is a part of their River Assessment Fieldwork Team. She samples stormwater run-off for their water watch program, as well as working in classrooms and on the river educating high school students across Los Angeles. One of the next big things for Jes is applying for graduate school where she will earn her Master of Science in Environmental Hydrology. Jes is an avid promoter of people’s right to clean air and water and is obsessed with stormwater management.
Her LA River X takeover zoomed in on science, water quality, and the surprising abundance of life in the Los Angeles River.
Jes has not joined the Western Water Archives.
Follow Jes on Instagram.
Jess Ofelia Sandoval (2023)
Jess Ofelia Sandoval was born in Compton and raised in Southeast LA near the LA River. For the past decade, she has lived in Northeast LA where she works as a nature-based educator and gardener. Jess’ paintings are abstract works of color that focus on landscapes and portraits from memories: past and present. As a teenager, Jess spent ample time exploring the river in Hollydale Park and Compton. Living close to the Glendale Narrows stretch of the river in adulthood has inspired her to begin revisiting Southeast LA, connecting with her earliest days with the river.
Her LA River X takeover combines videography of the equestrian culture that thrives along the river in South East LA with original artworks.
Jess' takeover is being ingested into the Western Water Archives.
Follow Jess on Instagram.
Jim Kisiel (2021)
Jim Kisiel is a Professor of Science Education at California State University Long Beach. He has undergraduate and graduate degrees in Chemistry as well as a Ph.D in Education. Jim teaches current and future classroom teachers in the Science Education Masters program, as well as researching and publishing in his discipline. Jim’s interest in nature and landscape photography dates back to his late teens when he used his father’s old Petri SLR during family trips to the East Coast and hikes through the local countryside near Pittsburgh, PA. His interests in landscapes simultaneously grew as took up watercolor painting during high school. As life got busier, Jim’s passion for photography blossomed, spurred by explorations of the unique landscapes of California. Drawing upon expertise developed from his painting experiences, he continues to explore the finer points of controlling light and color via the technology of a single lens reflex camera (currently, a Canon EOS Rebel T5i SLR) as well as the ubiquitous iPhone. As a scientist and science educator, Jim’s photography is deepened by his understanding of the science behind the phenomena he observes at the river and captures through his camera. Although not born and raised in Los Angeles, he’s made his home here since 1988. Jim lives in Frogtown, and takes advantage of the proximity of the river as a source of inspiration and place for reflection.
His LA River X takeover depicted the river as conduit, ecosystem, intersection, dump, and refuge.
Joe Petricca (2020)
Joe Petricca is a screenwriter and film education specialist. He worked at the prestigious American Film Institute for over twenty years, most recently as Executive Vice Dean. His impact is global: Joe is the Chief Advisor of the International Academy of Film and Media in Bangladesh and was honored with a Chevalier from the French Government for contributions to French cinema in Los Angeles. He is a screenwriter, and when he's not writing Joe volunteers with the SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition, supporting people who are unhoused. Joe's been exploring the river since he moved to Atwater Village in 1991. Since Lucy the Australian Shepherd Dog joined his family last year, the river has become a daily destination. They are regulars at Spoke Bicycle Cafe, Wax Paper, and Marsh Park.
His LA River X takeover shows the river from Joe and Lucy 's view, the place that seemed to Joe in the 1990s "a magical secret" and is now his beloved backyard.
John Kosta (2021)
Fine artist, Claremont resident, and one of the River’s most loyal observers, John Kosta embarked on an ambitious program of documenting the river’s entire 51 miles in oil paintings after he visited the River as part of his landscape architecture studies in 2017. This was a reunion, as John had played on the river’s banks as a child decades earlier, it was his playground and his muse. Kosta is a Fine Artist Member of the California Art Club and an associate artist of Oil Painters of America. His paintings are held in private collections in California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, and Europe. He hopes that his Los Angeles River Series of paintings will help bring greater appreciation to urban rivers around the world and to bolster efforts by local authorities for their revitalization.
His LA River X takeover shows a selection of John's paintings, reminding us that we already have in our trust a landscape that’s truly worthy of our attention and our care.
John Worthy (2020)
John Worthy was born and raised mainly in Hollywood, John has been a professional photographer on and off all his life since he was 15 years old. Recently retired from working in TV for 20 years as lead camera operator and later the chief engineer of a station, John is now relishing having free time to get back into photography. He's been photographing the LA River since 1981, he has amassed a hefty personal reference library of LA River literature.
His LA River X takeover is a fascinating dive into his personal photographic archive.
Joshua Payne, aka JP Orchestra (2022)
Joshua Payne is a full-time performing musician, and JP Orchestra is a cult favorite, especially for Angelenos who know and love the Los Angeles River. JP plays pop-up shows in the riverbed - announced only on social media - enthralling fans and astonishing passersby, who are reminded that the river is indeed a hotbed for both creativity and the wonderfully unexpected.
His LA River X takeover shares photos, videos, and -most importantly - music, from the Los Angeles River.
Julia Wasson (2021)
Julia Wasson has lived in Los Angeles all her life. She is a veteran elementary educator and curriculum developer. Julia’s Huffington Post columns - co written with Cathy Weiss - told stories of such LA luminaries as Ron Finley, Judy Baca, and Aaron Paley. Her debut picture book for children will be published by HarperCollins. Julia’s favorite line of Lewis's poetry is, "I built this river, not with my hands, but with my imagination." For her, it’s a call on all of us to continue building.Julia Wasson
Her takeover shared a selection of poems from the late Lewis MacAdams to recognize and celebrate what would have been Lewis’ 77th birthday, on October 12, 2021.