The Hearst Art Gallery, the museum of Saint Mary's College, is pleased to honor Carlos Villa as its seventh Master Artist. The Master Artist Tribute series was created to highlight Bay Area artists whose significant bodies of art work are rivaled by the influence of their teaching on generations of art students. On view from Saturday, Jan. 13 through Sunday, Mar. 4, the extensive retrospective will include new work created specifically for this exhibition.
Villa has been a force in the Bay Area art scene for nearly fifty years, often using his own Filipino traditions to explore the meaning of cultural diversity in American art. The long-time and much-loved San Francisco Art Institute professor was one of the first artists in the Bay Area to incorporate images of indigenous peoples and ritual objects into his work, reflecting the Oceanic, Asian, Latino and African heritage that is a part of the region's cultural history.
Over the years, Villa has incorporated an array of media and techniques into his work: painting, sculpture, constructions, installations, conceptual and performance pieces. Some of his signature works incorporate feathers and body ornamentation.
Villa was born in San Francisco in 1936 and received a BFA from the California School of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Art Institute, in 1961, where he studied with Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff, and Frank Lobdell, and an MFA from Mills College, studying with Ralph DuCasse. During his early years, he exhibited with Joan Brown, Manuel Neri and Alvin Light. In 1963, after graduation, Villa moved to New York, where his association with prominent East Coast color field and minimalist artists including Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, had a significant impact on his work.
Villa has exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Triton Museum, Santa Clara, INTAR Gallery, New York, the American Academy in Rome, and Galeria Bellas Artes, Havana. His work is in the collections of the Oakland Museum of California, the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., and the Whitney Museum, New York. Villa is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including recognition from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.
The Master Artist Tribute exhibition began in 1990 with Wayne Thiebaud as the first featured artist. Other honorees have been Nathan Oliveira, Manual Neri, Ruth Bernhard, Frank Lobdell, and Stephen de Staebler.
Master Artists Tribute VII opening events will take place on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 14, and will include a walk-through with Villa, with a reception in honor of the artist following. A panel discussion with Villa, moderated by Anna Novakov, Ph.D., chair of the Saint Mary's College Art and Art History Department, is scheduled for Wednesday, February 14, at 12:30 p.m., in the Soda Activity Center.
The Hearst Art Gallery, accredited by the American Association of Museums, was opened in October 1977. It is fitting that the 30th anniversary year open with a tribute to this outstanding artist and teacher.