announcement came out in the San Diego Evening Tribune on September
11 Named to City's Arts Panel
Diego now has a new Public Arts Advisory Board, the 11 members of
which were approved by City Council yesterday. The single vote in
opposition was cast by Councilman Bill Cleator.
a Sept. 11 hearing, Cleator had complained that a member of the
slate nominated by Mayor Hedgcock would not 'know a statue from
a garbage can.' He refused to say to whom he was referring.
Cleator said he 'probably should apologize' for the remark, but
went on to say 'I'm not so sure I'm wrong.' Leaders of San Diego's
major visual arts organizations, however, reacted favorably to the
composition of the new board
Livesay, past-president of the 250-member San Diego Artists Guild,
said last night of the
board, 'it sounds dynamite to me. It's a good group. They've got
a real mixed bag on there and it sounds to me like a qualified board.
It sounds like it fairly represents visual art, which has not always
been well represented in the town."
announcement was collected by the San Diego Clipping Service: The
La Jolla Light Nov. 8., Blade Tribune Nov. 15, and the Daily Californian
Nov. 14 & 23, 1984 recorded the following:
the first time in the 70 year history of the San Diego Artists Guild,
the annual All-Media Exhibition will be open to all professional
artists in San Diego and Imperial Counties. In years past, the Artists
Guild, a committee of the San Diego Museum of Art, accepted only
Guild member's entries to San Diego's oldest annual art competition."
(Note: The exhibition opened Feb 15, 1985)
Komac, Director San Diego State University Art Gallery wrote this
letter to Steve Brezzo, Director SDMA and to Artists Equity on December
Perhaps in order of importance, the first issue is that of requiring
artists to pay to enter the competition process. It is not that
my concern is with the amount, even though $10 is excessive and
there is a double standard allowing two views of three-dimensional
work and only one of two-dimensional works, (are paintings always
so readable without the benefit of detail close-ups?) but with the
general concept of them having to pay at all. This puts the museum,
a professional, non-profit institution in the position of being
regarded with the same motives as a vanity gallery. Moreover it
bespeaks an attitude unaware of the financial straits suffered by
most artists in our nation today. Certainly there are those who
can afford it, but vastly more who cannot. Again, however, ignore
that issue and consider the appropriateness of having the exhibited
artist pay to show their work.
to that the questionable system that allows and requires artists
to pay to have their work rejected
also think you and I are in agreement that the bulk of this sort
of exhibition, and probably 85%, is not museum quality work and
was selected only because the juror was impelled to put together
an exhibition of a minimal size for the space allowed
the question is one of how the museum can properly relate to its
most obvious constituency: artists in its community. I will state
categorically that I do not feel the museum owes its local artists
exhibitions within its galleries. But, there is some degree
of responsibility upon the museum and its staff to be aware of the
local art community and to support it
curatorial staff can make studio visits, be present at gallery openings,
and just generally be aware of what is going on under their noses.
An attitude of isolation and lack of concern is counter-productive
and leaves the institution open to criticism and defensive posturing
accept this commentary in the spirit in which it is offered: constructive
observation and dedicated commitment to our community and its institutions
and artists. These observations are most certainly not my own or
am I the author of the underlying concepts. Locally the Artists
Equity chapter has long lobbied for this consciousness
it has been said that the issue of responsibility to regional artists
in San Diego is the proper purview of the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary
But every local art presenting institution has some stake
in this issue, including the university galleries. I feel the San
Diego Museum of Art should realize the necessity for the exchange
of interest between it and local artists
fact is the system and committee are already in place in the form
of the Artist Guild to address these issues. I feel they need your
support and guidance, as not only as the Director of the museum
but also as an aware observer of national and, I suspect, local
art scene. You are burdened with being their conscience, mentor,
and arbiter. Sure there are complicated politics inherent in the
situation and feathers will be ruffled, but such will always be
so and the museum will be able to take ready defense in its knowledge
that it is ultimately correct, honorable and well-intentioned."
local chapter of Artists Equity replied to Dennis Komac, Steve Brezzo,
and Guild President, Robert Simpson in this letter penned by Gerry
Grove, Corresponding Secretary, in December 26, 1984:
of Artists Equity, wish to commend you concerning your letter to
Mr. Steven Brezzo. You have presented valid criticisms which were
very direct but not offensive, viz.:
responsibilities of the San Diego Museum of Art to members of the
local art community,
'industrialization of art' as a for profit venture as opposed to
the display of works which are of true museum quality,
insularity of the curatorial staff as opposed to their active participation
in local art functions,
need to reinstitute colloquia and informal discussion groups which
may have interdisciplinary overtones.
criticisms and concerns were constructive and positive. It is hoped
that Mr. Brezzo (and the Guild) will give them serious consideration."
January 25, 1985 - March 24, 1985 the Felicita Foundation for the
Arts held a "small image" show for the Guild at the Mathes
Cultural Center in Escondido. (Note: This center later evolved into
the California Center for the Arts, Escondido Art Museum)
review, by Mark Elliot Lugo, appeared in the San Diego Evening Tribune
on February 22, 1985:
Artists Guild Opens Its Juried Show
the past few years, San Diego's most important juried art exhibition
-- the San Diego Artists Guild all Media Membership Exhibition --
has been predictable and uneven.
situation was unfortunate because the San Diego Museum of Art, which
holds the exhibition, offered guild members and their works the
prestige of museum affiliation (guild exhibitions are held in the
museum itself) and unrivaled exposure to the general public. Contributing
to the exhibition's problems were its jurors. Many of the out-of-town
museum administrators didn't seem to have an eye for art. The guild
membership, moreover, seemed generally uninspired, perhaps because
the museum had discontinued the practice of awarding solo museum
exhibitions as prizes to winning guild exhibition artists.
keeping an eye on the museum's administration, which has slowly
but efficiently been exorcising the curse of local art from its
programs, the guild's board of directors enacted an exhibition-enlivening
and rather historic idea this year. The idea, one that has been
debated at guild board-meetings for several years involved opening
up the competition to non-guild members, not only in San Diego County,
but in Imperial County as well.
it appears that this new exhibition variant, dubbed 'The Artists
Guild Open Juried Exhibition,' could replace the annual guild membership
exhibition once every three years. This limited implementation will
partially preserve the major benefit of being a guild member, that
is, the privilege of being eligible to compete for guild exhibitions.
help inaugurate the open exhibition, Robert McDonald, Chief curator
of the Laguna Beach Museum of Art, was enlisted as juror. McDonald
is well-liked locally, has a lot of jurying and art-writing experience,
and his taste in art is wide ranging and liberal enough to accommodate
whatever the situation might demand. He's also quite familiar with,
and a staunch supporter of, San Diego's art community
exhibition is better looking than those of the past few years. This
is primarily due to the broad range media represented, the colorfulness
of the artworks, and the excellent way the exhibition is displayed.
better looking does not necessarily nave anything to do with substance
or content or an 'edge,' either in conceptual or formal terms, and
it is in this area that the exhibition could use some additional
strength, some character, some 'uglying up.' Selections were, by
in large, very traditional and very safe, with a few pieces blatantly
commercial looking and innocuous. Those are better suited to hotel
lobbies or offices than to a museum exhibition.
has defended his choices, calling them 'a portrait of the community,'
as effective a statement as any in neutralizing any criticism. If
a community produces decorative art, then it gets a decorative exhibition.
June 18, 1985, the Guild minutes recorded the following:
has been approved for the purchase of Solander Boxes to be donated
to the museum."
September 17, 1985 this was recorded in the minutes:
board authorized a check request for $130 to be paid to COVA."
on October 15, 1985 this was recorded in the minutes:
the museum does not donate to other art groups, we shall make no
further donation to COVA. Individuals who desire to do so can join
COVA on their own for $10 per year."
San Diego Evening Tribune October 18, 1985 printed this announcement:
New Galleries to Open Nov. 1
EXHIBITON: Group exhibitions of artworks by members of the prestigious
San Diego Artists Guild are rarely seen outside the walls of the
San Diego Museum of Art. Tonight, an exception to the guild's museum
exhibition tradition opens with a public reception from 5-8 p.m.
in the plaza of the Arts Room. The room is a formal gallery space
off the lobby of First Interstate Plaza, 401 B St. It is provided
through the courtesy of Bowlen Holdings Inc. Russell Baldwin, Boehm
Gallery director, selected 23 works for the exhibition. Prizes were
awarded to Ken Maney and Jean Swiggett."
San Diego Union in January 1986 printed this article by Ed Jahn:
Artwork removed at judge's order
Diego Donkey Cart,' an assemblage by National City artist David
Avalos, is supposed to 'encourage direct social dialog,' according
to the flier announcing its installation this week in front of the
Federal Courthouse downtown.
artwork, showing an undocumented alien being frisked by an immigration
officer atop a Tijuana tourist cart, lasted only a day before Chief
U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson made his own art statement.
Thompson overruled an earlier approval for the installation and
ordered the work disassembled and removed. Thompson said the structure,
along with the barbed-wire-topped fence surrounding it, presented
'a security threat' to the courthouse.
who is the artist-in-residence at the Centro Cultural de la Raza
in Balboa Park, had intended to spend his lunch hour with the assemblage
talking to bystanders during the work's planned two-week stay at
the courthouse. Now he says he will be doing his talking in court
and with the media.
said he believes Thompson may have taken offence because the federal
court system handles many undocumented cases.
American Civil Liberties Union chapter here said it is preparing
a federal lawsuit to have the work returned. Members of the city's
Public Art Advisory Board said the judge's actions were 'an insult
to the community' and leaders in the Chicano community called his
act 'clear and simple political repression.'
refuse to submit to a violation of my freedom of expression,' said
'The idea that that work represents a security threat is complete
.' Avalos said.
played by the book and got the permit,' he added. 'Now a federal;
judge is acting as art censor and trying to put on a cover-up.'
for whatever political statement the work might be making, Thompson
. 'I did not interpret (the work) as being political.'
Thompson added that it was impossible to work out a compromise 'because
security risks call for summary judgment.'
Avalos assemblage was subsidized through a $2,700 grant from the
National Endowment for the Arts, according to Lynn Schuette, director
of the non-profit Sushi Gallery that is sponsoring a 'Streetworks'
show involving Avalos and three other artists."