I Am the West Series
The Autry partnered with KCET, the nation’s largest independent public television station serving Southern and Central California, to create an original television series titled I Am the West. The one-minute stories offer a glimpse into the lives of people who reflect the cultures and innovations of the American West.
Shot verité style, without narration or an on-camera host, I Am the West allows us to meet unexpected people, see unexpected things, and be in unexpected places. The point of view is first-person and personal, the tone is real and honest, and the stories are full of heart. We see how people's cultures and unique experiences of life in the West inspire them to do what they do. We learn how they make life meaningful for themselves and their communities, and we see how the spirit of optimism and big dreams lives on in the West today.
January 2012 Stories
Huntington Beach, CA
Artist Judith Hendler began her jewelry career in the early 1980s somewhat by accident. Wanting to wear something special to one of her art openings, she dug into her furniture designer husband’s scrap barrel and created a necklace for herself out of transparent acrylic. When the necklace she created garnered more attention than the sculptures in her show, she began focusing on designing jewelry, and she has never looked back.
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles Artist and activist Raul Baltazar studied at Art Center College in Pasadena, Self-Help Graphics in Boyle Heights, and at East Los Angeles College. Baltazar sees the role of the artist as one that is critical to social change. He is at once performer, painter, filmmaker, sculptor, muralist and teacher. He is deeply connected to community. He teaches art to juvenile prisoners and at risk youth.
Bel Air, California
As the oldest of seven children, Simona Elkin's early life in San Antonio, Texas was more than difficult. But her family was strong, and their history unique. Elkin's great great grandfather, Gregorio Esparza fought against Santa Anna’s army and died defending the Alamo. This historical connection to one of our nation’s most famous battles has given her family much pride.. The story of the Alamo will live throughout history, as will the family stories Simona passes down to her grandchildren.
I Am the West
Created by the Autry National Center of the American West
Producer, Director, Writer: Paula Kessler
Camera: Zach Putnam and Neal Brown
Editors: Zach Putnam and Laura Purdy