In the February 1990 newsletter
the Guild announced a self-juried show to be held at the East County
Performing Arts Center from March 2 - March 30, 1990.
Robert L. Pincus wrote another
review of a Guild show for the San Diego Union March 11, 1990:
should artfully bow out of Juried Exhibition
"Today the latest version
of the annual Artists Guild Juried Exhibition closes at the San
Diego Museum of Art. And it seems like precisely the right moment
to make a sensible proposal - that in years to come the museum devote
the time and space used for this exhibition to a higher-caliber
show of contemporary art.
I say this knowing full well
my idea will be resisted, perhaps fiercely. The museum's association
with the Artist Guild is long and the attachment runs deep. The
record-keeping has not been precise, but these annual shows have
been held regularly since the late 1940's, and with some irregularity,
they have appeared since 1926, when the San Diego Museum of art
- then the Fine Arts Gallery - was inaugurated. (For several years,
beginning in 1926, the museum shared space with The Artists Guild,
then called The Art Guild.)
Moreover, the Artists Guild
is older still. It was established 75 years ago
. In its early
years, some of the more important artists in the city's history
served as its presidents, including painters Maurice Braun and Alfred
Mitchell. When both the city and the art world here was more provincial,
the Artists Guild surely was representative in a way it is not today.
Delve into the history of
many a major museum in the United States and you will discover that
it once hosted a similar show. But that association ended when the
museum - and the city - reached a particular moment in its development.
never seemed to arrive for the San Diego Museum of Art. Actually,
force of habit has over-ridden sound judgment. In 1990, it is clear
that the innovation for which I am arguing is long overdue.
Juried shows have their place.
Indeed, I have acted as juror on several during the past decade
And I have done so because artists, particularly unknown and emerging
ones, sometimes gain valuable exposure.
But the place for such an
exhibition is not at a museum, particularly one that devotes precious
little time and funds to exhibiting contemporary art. On those few
occasions when recent or current work appears in a museum, it should
be work of a high order. It should be presented in the form of a
So the museum should now seize
the moment. Why not use that time and space devoted to the Artists
Guild Juried Exhibition to a modest solo exhibition for a worthy
local artist, or perhaps a theme show that features several. There
simply is no excuse not to at this juncture; the curators who can
make this possible are in place
Year after year, the Artists
Guild Juried Exhibition has been a highly uneven grouping of work,
and many of our best local artists choose not to enter. This year's
version is no exception. It has a few intriguing selections
But aside form these and a
few other examples, this show, like past versions of the Artists
Guild Juried Exhibition, is not the quality we have a right to expect
from a museum exhibition. The local audience deserves better. The
strength of art being made in San Diego warrants such a change.
The Artists Guild can surely
find another venue for its annual juried affair. And the museum
can make a decision, however difficult, to improve the quality of
John McKee Jr. wrote this
note to the Editor of the San Diego Evening Tribune on March 19,
1990. It was published in the May 1990 Newsletter:
"I am writing in regard
to the article by Robert Pincus printed on March 11, 1990. In the
article, Mr. Pincus suggests the discontinuation of the San Diego
Museum of Art's Guild show. First: because he thought the show contained
works by artists not warranting the quality of a museum exhibition.
Second: some artists worthy of showing chose not to show. Third:
this effort could better be given to showing the work of a worthy
The issues supporting one
argument or the other are as complex as the world of art actually
turns out to be. They involve the vagueness of public versus elitist
connoisseurship; the need to show accepted contemporary works since
too few can be shown. The answers are also complex. The San Diego
Museum of Art is not designed for the exhibition of contemporary
art, that assigned duty is for the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary
We are fortunate to have a
man of Mr. Pincus's ability. He is very articulate about art and
the issues as they have been defined. He did a very fine job of
judging the recent mid-winter award show at the San Diego Art Institute.
However, it is apparent from the result of the judging of all shows
of this type that they represent the particular bias of that judge.
This show exhibited a predominant interest in modernism and art
Judges should not agree on
their approach to art. Instead, in these eclectic times, it is difficult
to recognize any innovation in art as related to the making. It
can only be addressed as it relates to the issue of our times. It
would seem appropriate for Mr. Pincus to encourage a better participation
of the artists who choose not to exhibit in the Guild show than
to disband an organization which represented the very heart of the
San Diego art community. In spite of his excellence in reporting,
Mr. Pincus should look more to the issues as they relate to the
strengthening of the artistic community of San Diego, particularly
when it involves an organization so closely related to the origins
of the San Diego Museum of Art itself."
On March 14, 1990 Jean Swiggett
wrote this letter to Joseph Hibben, President of the SDMA.
"A few moments ago I
re-read the inadequate review by Robert Pincus in last Sunday's
San Diego Tribune. The timing was deliberately calculated to be
an insult appearing as it did on the last day of a seven-week schedule--not
only to the Artist's Guild but to the Museum as well.
I am opposed to Pincus' suggestion
that the historical Artists Guild Annual be eliminated and that
a series of one-man or small group shows of unknown or little known
artists be substituted. I am opposed because of the many local artists
of merit who have not been given that honor over the years, but
also because of my opposition to any proposal made by Pincus. I
have no respect for his aesthetic appreciation and taste nor for
some of his practices which I find unethical if not illegal
Pincus has made previous snide
remarks in print concerning the management of the Museum. Adopting
any of his ideas could be considered as deferring to his judgment
and giving him an importance he doesn't warrant.
I sincerely hope the Board
will not consider this proposal.
I write to you as a member
of the San Diego Museum of Art since 1946 and as an artist exhibiting
nationally for well over fifty years."
The following was recorded
in the March 16, 1990 minutes:
"COVA: Jennifer Spencer
spoke about COVA membership - the AG has never paid dues in the
past. Is there some way that members could pay dues???? They are
one dollar per member up to a cap of $250.00. The guild cannot join
as a group because we are a committee of the museum and in the past
the museum has not approved of this."
Another letter was written
by John McKee Jr., this time to the Editor of the San Diego Union
on April 1, 1990.
I said that all
judges of art shows have bias for their own particular view. I implied
that Mr. Pincus had one as well. His bias as seen in his judging
of the Art Institute show was for Modernism and Art as an idea.
My point is that Mr. Pincus
has a view. It is not the only view and should be considered as
such, no more."
Jean Swiggett wrote this follow
up letter to Helen Copley, owner of the San Diego Union on April
"I am writing about the
column by Robert Pincus in the Union, March 11. He suggests that
the Artists Guild Annual, customarily shown at the San Diego Museum
of Art be eliminated
Pincus feels the artists Guild
Annual can be presented in many other places, but as the Guild was
the original group upon which the Museum Association was founded
In judging the Art Institute
Mid-Winter Annual recently, Pincus is reported to have started the
jurying by automatically rejecting all paintings of a realistic
Artists paid a $15 fee for each entry. To have his
work summarily rejected without giving it adequate attention and
because of style, not quality, seems unethical
His diatribe of two years
ago concerning my one-man retrospective at San Diego State, I think,
was supposed to put me (and others painting in a realistic style)
in our places
If you sincerely care about
art in San Diego (that is all forms of art, not limited to a self-important
critic's prejudices), you will see Pincus for what he is--a 'menace.'
Get rid of him!"
The following is the President's
Message by Betty Riis as it appeared in the June 1990 newsletter:
"This year, the seventy-fifth
anniversary of the Artists Guild has been very special for me, your
chairperson. We have looked back into the history of the guild and
re-examined our 'roots'. In doing so, we gained a better understanding
of our position within the museum and we have created a harmonious
atmosphere in which our organization can go forth and accomplish
bigger and better things. It has been a joy for me to work and become
friends with the museum staff and to know our guild members better.
They have ceased to be just a name on a piece of paper, they have
Here is an excerpt from the
August 1990 newsletter's President's Message by Edwin Wordell
"Good news! The Guild
has arranged for Helen and Newton Harrison the University of California
at San Diego's internationally recognized environmental artists,
to jury an all member exhibition at the Lyceum Theater Lobby Gallery.
The exhibit will open September 20, 1990 and run almost six weeks
to October 30, 1990. During this period of time it is estimated
by the theater's management that between 20,000 and 25,000 patrons
will visit the theater complex and view this exhibit."