Artist Jim Melchert and curator Constance Lewallen discuss creative life in the context of our new social reality.
Jim Melchert is one of the leading figures in the San Francisco Bay Area artistic community, noted for his openness to experimentation and his encouragement of that of others. While championing the new, with particular emphasis on conceptualism and clay, he also sets standards of integrity and grace among artists - like a patrician hippie.
Melchert was born in New Bremen, Ohio, in 1930 and received degrees from Princeton and the University of California, Berkely, where he studied ceramics with Peter Voulkos. He taught at the San Francisco Art Institute and then at UC Berkeley. He was director of the Visual Arts Program of the National Endowment for the Arts from 1977 until 1981 and of the American Academy in Rome from 1984 until 1988.
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Constance Lewallen is Adjunct Curator at the University of California Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. As Matrix curator there from 1980-88 she organized over 75 small contemporary art exhibitions. As Senior Curator from 1998 to 2007, she curated many major exhibitions, including Joe Brainard, A Retrospective, 2001; Dream of the Audience: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951-1982), 2001; Everything Matters: Paul Kos, a Retrospective, 2003; Ant Farm (1968-1978), 2004 (co-curated with Steve Seid); and A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s, 2007. All toured nationally and internationally and were accompanied by catalogs. Her exhibition, Allen Ruppersberg: You and Me or the Art of Give and Take, was presented at the Santa Monica Museum in 2009. State of Mind: New California Art ca. 1970, co-curated with Karen Moss, was part of Pacific Standard Time. It opened at the Orange County Museum of Art in 2011 and subsequently was presented at the Berkeley Art Museum and five other museums across the country and in Canada. In 2016, her exhibition Mind over Matter was presented at the UC Berkeley Art Museum, and currently, she co-curated with Ted Mann Stephen Kaltenbach: The Beginning and The End, on view until May 10 at the Manette Shrem Museum, UC Davis.
Her recent books published by UC Press include: 500 Capp Street: David Ireland’s House, Bruce Nauman; and Spatial Encounters (co-author with Dore Bowen). Lewallen is currently Editor at large for the Brooklyn Rail.
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