Saunders wrote this note to Tom Frankovich on November 4, 1987
It occurred to me that the Artists Guild might undertake a program
or two at the museum on behalf of the Artists in San Diego
panel discussion discussing local issues, attitudes, feelings, support
or lack of it from ethnic perspectives might be one or two.
discussing art criticism - similar to one done at SDSU and UCSD
- but somehow not identical.
might bring together commercial gallery directors: Locally owned
to discuss goals, policies, purposes, experiences.
the ethnic groups - we have members of the African-American artists
in our African Arts committee - the Chicano artists deserve more
respect and recognition as artists than they now receive from the
community in general
think the guild could do something significant about the artists
situation in San Diego whether or not they will be well attended
(whatever that means)."
November 8, 1987 Ellen Phillips wrote this letter to Steve Brezzo:
note of appreciation for the way the Artists Guild Exhibition and
awards were handled this year. I was delighted that:
The juror gave more than two awards. There are many good artists
in San Diego. Lets make this an every year occurrence.
The Museum publicity department did an excellent job collecting
information on award winners and photos of their work. The Guild
Show write up was given a prime spot in the SDMA Newsletter.
The award winners and the juror were invited to the press conference.
I think this is a first. It was enjoyable for me and I hope informative
for the press. It was too bad some of them missed the opportunity
to talk to both the juror and the artists. I particularly enjoyed
having time with Russell Forester.
You, Steve Brezzo, attended the opening and presented the awards.
This year's catalog was light years ahead of the lists of past years.
keep these good things going.
major drawback to the show was the small exhibition space this year
(and last year) and, I hear, next year too. Many local artists do
their best work in large format. The Museum is the prime space to
show these works. Please assign the Guild Exhibition to the large
gallery it occupied before 1986.
support of the Guild is vital. (Allied Craftsmen, who at one time
had yearly shows in the museum's large gallery that were well attended
by San Diego art and craft enthusiasts, were pushed into these same
small rooms prior to being permanently removed from the museum.
I don't like the parallel).
also feel that invitations should be sent to all museum members,
not just to the Artist Guild. We appreciate and want the support
of all museum members. If mailing is too expensive, at least make
a large splash in the bulletin the month before the Guild opening.
This would allow for more communication between guild and museum
members as well as interest and support - to everyone's advantage.
you and the Artists Guild for the steps forward this year. Lets
work together to eliminate the drawbacks."
following statement by juror Russell Forester was printed in the
1987 exhibition catalog:
task of an art juror is never an easy one, and the selections made
are always highly subjective at best.
share the pride of the artists selected for the San Diego Artists
Guild Annual Exhibition. However, as an artist myself, I apologize
to the many artists whose work is not included, as I have personally
experienced that deflating feeling of rejection.
include all 200 entries was not feasible; to select only the few
pieces which spoke to me most eloquently would have made for a very
arbitrary and personal exhibition of six to ten works.
exhibition represents a broad selection of artistic statements which,
in my view, reflects the scope and diversity of work created by
the Artists Guild."
Gibbs wrote a note to Tom Frankovich about his contribution to the
SDMA's endowment campaign. He said, " I'm not sure anything
would be gained by printing this letter in the Artists Guild newsletter.
However, I'll leave that decision up to you." Here is his original
letter addresses to Joseph Hibben dated December 10, 1987:
letter is written in reference to the San Diego Museum of Art's
appeal to make a significant contribution to the Endowment Campaign
of the museum.
a member of the museum for some forty years and as a past president
of the Artists Guild, I am aware of the need for the kind of campaign
presently being pursued. I am also impressed by the fact the 75%
of the funds needed to realize this financial challenge have been
concern lies with the climate that prevails, in the minds of many
members of the Artists Guild, with the present director's attitude
toward recognizing the work of regional artists.
the present director has been in charge, a highly respected group
of craftsmen, the Allied Craftsmen of San Diego, have been totally
eliminated from the museum's exhibition program and the recognition
of the Artists Guild has been reduced to a kind of tokenism that
does not benefit an organization that was a founding partner in
the existence of the San Diego Museum of Art.
am willing to accede to your request to pledge money to the museum's
Endowment Fund because I think it is a worthwhile goal. I am not,
however, interested in making this pledge if the present director
continues to maintain what I consider a cavalier attitude toward
many who support the museum through their membership.
March I attended a meeting sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce
in which representatives from the Old Globe, the San Diego Opera
and the Museum of Art spoke about their efforts to obtain funding
for their institutions. The representative for the Museum of Art,
Jane Rice, was quite candid concerning the needs of the museum and
the difficulties encountered in seeking adequate community support.
It is largely due to this person's assessment that I am willing
to make a contribution. It is however, given with considerable reservation
and in spite of the present 'leadership."
are Notes by Tom Frankovich from the January 1988 Guild newsletter:
Artists Guild Board met recently with Mr. Joe Hibbin, President
of the Board of Trustees, SDMA
. The thoughts in that document
contained suggestions and recommendations to the SDMA and the Board
of Trustees that, if adopted, would drastically alter prevailing
modes of Museum operation. Some of those issues were aired to Mr.
Hibbin at that meeting
. The motivation of administration must
not be based on always saving money at the expense of quality presentations.
the present time, however, the misuse of Artist Guild members' works
to undermine the integrity of exhibitions as well as to the detriment
of all involved. Based almost exclusively on economic considerations,
the Guild has lost much over the past years. The Museum Board has
cut back on opportunities for Guild members to actively participate
in the best way they can, and that is through the exhibition of
behavior of the Administrators has caused many Artists Guild members
to feel increasingly disvalued. Such disvaluing may be intentional,
or may be unintentional. Regardless
of whether it is a result of malice or just insensitivity, it accounts
for much of the anger, frustration and discouragement that now runs
rife through our membership. For examples of disvaluation and air
of suspicion all we need do is to study our losses at the Museum
over the last years:
Guild Award Winners Exhibit
Art Sales and Rental Gallery
Annual Artists Guild Exhibit confined to extremely small gallery
year we give the Museum a quality exhibition. Numerous hours of
donated time and energy go into these programs. Yes it's true, we
have made some progress. Not-withstanding, the Guild continues its
concern with the over-all attitudes and lack of responsiveness to
its artists community. The proposals we advance for positive change
are intended to strengthen the Museum itself. The Guild asserts
that we constitute a vital unit of the Museum and are important
to the fulfilled actualization of the Museum.
winds of change are upon us, I hear a tremendous amount of praise
for our steps forward. I do believe that many artists and the community
at large are pleased and supportive of what we do. The Guild feel
that we have an interested Board of Trustees and that they will
confirm our continued success by confirming our proposals that we
have presented in our communications. The Guild continues to be
a strong force to be reckoned with. Your Guild Board is standing
up to be counted. We will remain active and vocal in our attempt
to force our recalcitrant administrators to deal fairly with the
artists' as professionals worthy of respect."
article came out in the Los Angeles Times (San Diego County edition)
on January 2, 1988:
artists ruefully noted that it doesn't help matters that the two
local museums don't present a major annual show of local artists
And the San Diego Museum of Art did its annual Artists Guild exhibit
that perversely surveys the lower, rather than the upper end of
the art talent in San Diego." (Steve Beck-von Peccoz held a
long conversation with the author of that article, Hilliard Harper,
and said in a note to Tom Frankovich, Guild President: "He
was criticizing the Museum, not the Artists Guild, for not showing
good, or best, local artists, not all of whom are in the Artist
Guild. He certainly did not want to contribute to any problems between
the Museum & Guild.")
Frankovich wrote a letter to Joseph Hibben, President of Board of
Trustees and Director Steven Brezzo on January 13, 1988. In it he
outlines three exhibition proposals for the SDMA:
It is indeed a great pleasure to submit to you a few proposals that
I truly believe in and that I feel will make a major contribution
to the San Diego Museum of Art.
purpose of the art exhibition proposals is to encourage the growth
and development of the artists within the Museum; to foster the
expression of artistic talent within the city; and to engage in
an educational program which advances these objectives. Through
systematic 'regional art awareness programs' designed to present
an overview of talent, ideas, scope and functions of the local art
community, Artists' are given a chance to broaden their audience,
and the public has the opportunity to increase their awareness of
local art and artist. The desire is to promote excellence in art
and create a lasting relationship between the artists, Museum and
a wider segment of the population. The 'art awareness' programs
will help fulfill the need for San Diego Museum of Art to retain
its local growing arts population by increasing community support
programs are designed for the cultural advancement of art and artists
and the community at large
programs can create a foundation that supports art and artist, generating
new incentives, attitudes and directions. Never before in the history
of the San Diego Museum of Art had such a turnkey concept been realized.
This extraordinary venture can create a success system that our
Museum can grow with and benefit from. These programs can rejuvenate
the Museum and give our community the opportunity to give their
minds and spirits the finest opportunity for cultural advancement
with the letter Tom presented detailed descriptions of three programs.
The first was for a "Major Historical Retrospective of Art
in San Diego," to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Guild
and the 1915 World Exposition in San Diego to be held in the spring
of 1990. The second was for a "San Diego/Yokohama Exchange
Art Exhibit," for the spring or summer of 1989. The third proposal
was to turn Gallery 1 into an on-going "Artists Guild Space."
(Note: None of these proposals were accepted by the SDMA.)
January 14, 1988 Kay Whitcomb wrote a letter of support to Tom Frankovich.
In it she stated:
president of the Trustees does not run the Museum or make the decisions
- Steve Brezzo does and getting to him is the only way you'll get
some of the opportunities back. The Contemporary Arts Committee
ran that Rental Gallery at the right front (Gallery 1)
was not manned daily
I had offered to come & sit if they
could not find sitters but I was never notified, and Richard Riley
(Union art critic) came to review show when it was dark, Aug. 1980
Selber *She has an office #8 in the Bldg. in Balboa Park
heard of the Art Guild!!!
The Wall St. Journal ran an article
quoting Gerald Hirshburg - Nissan International - 'San Diego as
an Art Cultural Wasteland!'
Eye on San Diego Channel 10 came on with the same view - All the
Art Guild should have written otherwise, they really do believe
we are not out there!! Maybe this is time to demand TV coverage
also wrote a letter to Bill Griffith "Eye on San Diego"
my knowledge I have never known the San Diego TV media to cover
San Diego visual art scene before
so I looked especially for
your December 26th program. You are terribly uninformed and obviously
have swallowed Hirshberg's uninformed opinions hook line and sinker
from the Wall Street Journal.
Diego TV media & city has not been supportive of visual arts!!!
I have paid my dues to the San Diego Cultural scene, serving on
the Board of the San Diego Art Guild for many years, their chairman
1968-89, a committee of the San Diego Museum of Art. This Guild
is at least 72 years old, helped found the San Diego Museum of Art
in 1925. Their library has an archives which has documented some
of the local artists
Art Guild used to have several shows per year at the Museum and
the La Jolla Museum used to have a local juried exhibition. The
Allied Craftsmen of San Diego used to have a wonderful yearly exhibition
at the San Diego Museum of Art which had an attendance of 35,000
in the late 60's
A barrel of injustice I could site but what's
the use; no wonder all my major commissions are out of this area!
Hal Clement has done some interviews in the folk arts.
margin note) When UCSD came, they treated the local art scene as
though it did not exist - Over and over the new comer has done this
- Hugh Davies (director of the La Jolla Museum) has done this!"