"You See," a Bawdy, Witty Look at a Remarkable Period in California Art
Hearst Panel to Discuss Impact of UC Davis Faculty
MORAGA -- On view at the Hearst Art Gallery at Saint Mary’s College from May 3 through June 22 will be the largest public exhibition ever of work by University of California - Davis faculty members Robert Arneson, Roy De Forest, Manuel Neri, Wayne Thiebaud and William T. Wiley.
A panel discussion with Neri, exhibition curator and director of the Richard L. Nelson Gallery Renny Pritikin, Brian Gross of Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco, longtime representative of the art works of Arneson and De Forest, and moderated by painter and printmaker Jessica Dunne, will take place on Sunday, May 4, at 2 p.m., in the Soda Activity Center. A reception in the nearby Hearst patio will follow the program.
"History was made in the Central Valley in the early '60s when five great artists came together on the same faculty for over a decade and changed the nature and perception of art in California forever," said Nelson Gallery director Renny Pritikin. "We are tremendously excited to be able, for the first time, to display the best of these little-seen works in a single exhibit -- and to be able to travel the collection."
The exhibition includes 36 works from the Nelson's permanent collection. "The Palace at 9 a.m.," Arneson's enormous ceramic ode to his '50s-era Davis tract home, will anchor the show, together with three Thiebaud masterworks and three of Neri's most admired figurative sculptures. "Crash," Arneson's bronze homage to Jackson Pollock, is also included, together with rarely seen paintings, drawings and prints by De Forest and Wiley.
All five artists came to teach at UC Davis between 1960 and 1965. Thiebaud, at 86 remains one of the most popular and respected American painters of the 20th century, continues to teach UC Davis art students. Arneson, who played a critical role in the elevation of ceramics from craft to fine art, remained on the faculty until his death from cancer in 1992 at age 62. Neri, regarded as one of America's most important figurative sculptors and the leading Latino artist of his generation, was a faculty member for 25 years. De Forest, who died last May at age 77, also spent nearly a quarter century on the faculty, amassing a body of work that continues to reflect and shape Northern California culture today. Wiley, who developed perhaps the most original and influential drawing style of his time, spent a decade teaching and creating art on the Davis campus. The three surviving artists continue to make strong work well into their 60s, 70s and beyond.
Julia Marshall, Ph.D., California State University, San Francisco art historian, notes that "the UC Davis campus was originally an offshoot of the Bay Area art world but soon became a center of its own, one that in many ways eclipsed the Bay Area scene and invigorated and shaped the entire region. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of the Davis/Bay Area artists at this time was the development of an alternative to New York, a regional art that spoke to and for Northern California and replaced the pretensions of the East Coast art world with an earthy, honest and vital local West Coast authenticity.”
The "You See" exhibition was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. A 106 page color catalogue, produced by UC Davis, with essays by Pritikin, Jock Reynolds, and Simon Sadler, accompanies the exhibition.