Rehistoricizing Abstract Expressionism SFbay, 1950s-1960s

curatorCarlos Villalocationluggage store gallerydateJune 4 - July 31, 2010openingJune 4, 2010, 6 - 9 pm

A joint exhibition and symposium, curated by Carlos Villa and hosted by the Luggage Store gallery and San Francisco Art Institute, highlights the work of women artists and artists of color.


Rehistoricizing Abstract
Expressionism in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1950s-1960s
, an exhibition curated by Carlos Villa and sponsored and presented by the Luggage Store gallery, highlights the work of women artists and artists of color.

Carlos Villa, Associate Professor in the Painting Department has curated an thoroughlly engaging exhibition that reflects upon archival and oral history of women artists and artists of color working in the Bay Area from 1950-1969. The exhibition is accompanied by a web project that creates and contextualizes an archive of women artists and artists of color who were undervalued because of the public and personal hegemonic social and aesthetic scrutiny at that time. The archive will be located in the Anne Bremer Memorial Library at the San Francisco Art Institute and on the internet at (The website provides visitors with the opportunity to view not only biographical information about the many artists featured in this project, but it will also post images of their artwork. The website is an ongoing work in progress as additional information is received and added.)

Over 35 Bay Area artists featured in the exhibition include locally and internationally recognized artists including: Nell Sinton, Barbara Rogers, Bernice Bing, Deborah Remington, Mary O’Neal, Cornelia
Schulz, Ruth Asawa, Dewey Crumpler, George Miyasaki, Jose Montoya, Luis Cervantes, Manuel Neri, Joan Brown, Jay DeFeo, Bob Colescott, Joe Overstreet, Allan Gordon, Arthur Okamura, Sung Woo Chun, Wing Ng, Leo Valledor, Patricio Toro, Gustavo Rivera, Carlos Villa, Carlos Loarca, Jose Lerma, Frank La Pena, Jimmy Suzuki, and Jim Marshall.

Symposium: Rehistoricizing
Abstract Expressionism in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1950s-1960

September 10- September 12, 2010

San Francisco Art Institute, Lecture
Hall, 800 Chestnut Street San Francisco, CA 94133

The Symposium taking place in
September 2010 will be an opportunity for San Francisco Art Institute and the San Francisco Bay Area art community at large to learn more about the exhibition, archive and oral histories. It will also provide an unrealized occasion for community engagement with these marginalized and undervalued artists and their varied histories. A catalogue of the exhibition and symposium will be compiled to provide a tangible, historical record of this work.

San Francisco Art Institute was founded in 1871 and is one of the oldest and most prestigious schools of higher education in contemporary art in the United States. The school boasts an illustrious list of alumni in all of its disciplines and has consistently kept to its core philosophy of creating programs where creativity and critical thinking are fostered in an open, innovative, and interdisciplinary environment. The San Francisco Art Institute focuses on educating artists who will become the creative leaders of their generation.

This exhibition was generously funded by San Francisco Art Commision/Cultural Equity Fund; Grants for the Arts of the Hotel Fund, and was made possible with funding from California Arts Council and The San Francisco Foundation.


Ruth Asawa-  Ruth Asawa was in an internment camp as a child during WWII.  Her talent and hard work brought her to study with Joseph Albers at Black Mountain College in the 1950’s. As an educator in San Francisco. She introduced mural making to her students during the 1970’s. Her woven steel wire sculpture were once rejected by the San Francisco Arts Commission, as sculpture, because she had innovatively woven metal wire to form ovoid shapes that hung. ( sculpture, according to the Arts Commission, could only be welded or carved, in steel, stone or wood). Asawa’s sculpture was then red-lined as “craft” or “women’s work.”

Bernice Bing- Bernice Bing was a painter and social activist and icon for the Asian American art community , Women’s Movement and for the San Francisco arts community-at-large. She was the first director at the South of Market Cultural Center. She had as much as three to four jobs at a time to support her family while at the same time maintaining a rigorous studio schedule.

Joan Brown- Joan Brown’s Paintings were iconic representations of the Bay Area Figurative movement in the 1950’s -1960’s. In the early seventies those paintings and her sculpture were prominently noted in the Bay Area Funk Movement. The painting by Joan Brown (in the exhibition) is a portrait of a sculpture of herself by Manuel Neri.

Luis Cervantes- Luis Cervantes was an under acknowledged but well respected ceramic sculptor. In the 1960’s he opened the New Mission gallery, in the Mission District in the 1960’s, later with his wife Susan , started the Precita Eyes mural project which is still in operation. At a SFAI Alumni Reunion in the 80’s, Artist James Melchert confided to Cervantes that he,(Cervantes) would have won a prestigious prize in a local Ceramics competition in the 60’s had it not been awarded to a girl friend of a close friend of the juror from Los Angeles.(thanks for sharing)

Sung Woo Chun- Sung Woo Chun had a meteoric art career here in San Francisco. Within the four years that he was here at California School of Fine Arts, he was represented by the Bolles Gallery and had a solo exhibition at the Richmond Art Center. Sung Woo Chun received a doctorate degree in studio art then returned to Seoul, Korea, where he is director of the Kansong Art Museum.

Bob Colescott- Bob Colescott is an artist whose work was done in great respect of the traditions of oil painting. His paints his themes with humor, satire, love and mockery… He mocks love, sex, money, race, poverty, memories, anxieties, and fears. He made great gumbo. Among his many accomplishments, H represented the United States in the Venice Biennale.

Dewey Crumpler- He teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute and he is also an artist whose early murals are sources of inspiration to all who live around them African American historical themes were/are held in great esteem at the Bay View and Fillmore districts. Very early on, at 21 years of age, he completed a mural at Washington High School entitled  Peoples History. His Abstract and metaphorical paintings and Installations have been honored in solo exhibitions at the Dominican College at Marin, the Triton Museum in San Jose and most recently at the African American Museum in Los Angeles.

Jay De Feo- Jay De Feo’s large scale painting, Death Rose, which is now in the collection of the Whitney Museum, New York took 7 years, (working as much as 12 hours a day, six days a week ) to complete has grown to be a symbol of the Beat generation here in San Francisco, of the 1960’s. She was included in 16 Americans (Dorothy Miller) at the New York MOMA.

Sonya Gechtoff- Sonya Gechtoff is a highly regarded teacher and abstract artist who now resides in New York. While she was here in the 1950’s, her paintings as well as her teaching at California School of Fine Arts, was greatly influential. When Gechtoff was wheeling her baby stroller up the hill, she saw an artist and they started talking. She remembers (being both angry and inspired ) when he shook his head and said (something to the effect ) that she would never make it as an artist because she was married and had a baby. Sonya Gechtoff and Deborah Remington agreed that the Woman’s Movement did harm to the general perception of Women artists because (the movement) did not consider the individual maker.

Allan Gordon-Allan Gordon is an artist, writer, and a History Scholar. His art reviews have appeared in Art Week, a bi-monthly Bay area art publication. For many years he was a chairman of the Art Department at California State University of Sacremento. His art work has been shown nationally. At the Rehistoriczing Symposium in the fall at the San Francisco Art Institute, He will share the keynote presentation duties with Dr. Amalia Mesa  Bains.

Frank La Pena- Frank La Pena is an artist whose work has been used in ceremonial rituals and shown in Art Galleries. He is an elder in the Wintu Tribe of Northern California.

Jose Ramon Lerma- Jose Ramon Lerma is a multi-media collage artist. His work was featured at Galeria Dela Raza recently. Because of his long term commitment as a practicing artist from the 50’s, He was referred to as The Chicano Beat. His work : A Survey of Works 1947 to Present was presented at ARTZONE 461 Gallery in San Francisco.

Carlos Loarca- Carlos Loarca’s commitment as an artist never flagged in his over twenty years as an artist resident at SOMARTS here in San Francisco. His work was once referred to as being “craft”.

Jim Marshall- Jim Marshall is a renowned photographer of pop and jazz icons and scenes of the 1960’s through the 1970’s. His work has never been honored as art in a fine arts museum. In the eyes of the public, Marshall’s portraits of individuals seem to speak “volumes” of his subject.

George Miyasaki .artist and printmaker. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally.

Arthur Monroe- Before He came to the west coast and San Francisco, Monroe was a painter and an art teacher in New York, who was friends with many of the abstract Expressionists there. During the late1950’s and early 1960’s Monroe was a catalyst to many art activities in the North Beach district of San Francisco.

Jose Montoya- Montoya, was a co-founder of the Royal Chicano Air Force arts organization of Sacramento, California. He was also chairman of Chicano studies at California State University of Sacramento. Montoya is a noted Scholar, Poet and Lecturer of The Zoot Suit ethos and Pachuco methodologies.

Manuel Neri- Manuel Neri, is a noted Bay Area sculptor and artist. He is a past director of the legendary 6 Gallery. During his tenure , poets and musicians performed, at one of those performances, Allen Ginsberg read “Howl”, at the end of that performance, all of the poets took axes and hammers and “totaled” the house piano. Neri started his teaching career at California School of Fine Arts. He was asked by the Administration to teach a sculpture class : ironically it was the same administration that asked him to leave because He did not pay his tuition. The first showing of his sculpture at SFMOMA was very successful. His influence has been realized since the 1950’s. Because of his use of plaster as a sculpture material, since then all art departments in Northern California have used plaster as an excepted media.

Win Ng- Win Ng is a highly influential ceramic sculptor from the 1950’s through the 1990’s. His work was shown at the Braunstein Gallery. With his partner Spaulding Taylor, they founded the famous Taylor and Ng shops that featured art objects that were utilitarian as well as decorative.

Arthur Okamura- At the time that he and his parents were in the internment camp at a famous race track, there was a statue of Man o War, the famous race horse . Okamura at 8 years old would leap on the pedestal and ride the horse. Okamura was a successful Painter and teacher, his work was shown at Galleries in Chicago and the Braunstein Gallery San Francisco. He was a long time professor at the California College of Art.

Mary O’Neal- Mary O’Neal is an artist who taught at San Francisco Art Institute. She also served as a chairperson at the University of California Berkeley, Art Department. When she was a graduate student at Columbia University, living and working uptown; One day a large abstract painting at her studio was being criticized by some African American poets, for not being a solution to the problem At that moment, O’Neal turned around, looked at the poets while pointing at her painting which was covered with black pigment, and replied, is that black enough for you???!!!

Joe Overstreet-Joe Overstreet is currently a director of a non-profit gallery in the Bronx in New York. When he lived in San Francisco in the 1950’s-1960’s, he was a painter and a player in the North Beach Beat scene.

Deborah Remington-Was a co-founder of the legendary Six gallery here in San Francisco in the 1950’s. In the mid fifties she hitch hiked all around Asia by herself, learned calligraphy, taught the use of American slang at a Tokyo university, and starred in several Japanese noir films. became a teacher at SFAI. Later in the 1960’s she had four solo exhibitions at the Bykert Gallery in New York.

Gustavo Rivera- Gustavo Rivera is originally from Mexico, His work has been exhibited internationally and locally. He has exhibited with the Freedman Hackett Gallery in San Francisco and Paula Kirkeby in Palo Alto, California

Barbara Rogers- Barbara Rogers work is widely exhibited nationally and internationally. She has recently retired from University of Arizona. B.Roger’s work and persona have always been honest , open, detailed and professional. I can remember when she became chair of the Painting Department at SFAI, how the undercurrent of critical departmental situations would always become “boys vs girls”.

Cornelia Schulz. Cornelia Schulz was married, divorced and raised 2 sons. She was inspired by Germaine Greer,  Fear of Flying. She was the first woman artist hired in the studio program at University of California, Davis. She exhibits work with the Patricia Sweetow Gallery in San Francisco.
Nell Sinton. Nell Sinton was a thoughtful and prolific artist and philantropist who gave time and money to the California School of Fine Arts. Her work is exhibited in the Braunstein Gallery

Jimmy Suzuki. Born in Yokohama, Japan, studied with a zen master. Jimmy Suzuki was a free lance artist in New York from the 1950’s through the 1960’s. He has exhibited locally, Nationally and Internationally.

Patricio Toro. Patricio Toro is a Chilean artist primarily based in the San Francisco Bay Area, who has studios in Chile and Cancun. He paints very large canvasses.

Leo Valledor. Leo Valledor was 17 years old when he was awarded a full scholarship to the California School of Fine Arts. At 18, He was given an opportunity to do a solo exhibition of paintings at the 6 gallery. By the time that he was 20 he was asked to exhibit his work at the Dilexi Gallery in San Francisco. Valledor moved to New York in 1961 and became affiliated with the Park Place Group at the invitation of Mark DiSuvero. Valledor’s work was included in NYC group shows with Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt, Jo Baer ,etc. Solo exhibits in New York and San Francisco.

Carlos Villa was invited by Bruce Conner to exhibit work in the Rat Bastard Exhibition with Manuel Neri, Joan Brown and Alvin Light at the Spatsa Gallery in 1958. He lived in New York from 1963-1969-where he had a first solo exhibit with Poindexter Gallery. Back in San Francisco with questions, in 1969, he was inspired by work from Polynesia, Australia, New Guinea, Africa and began using blood, feathers, beads, broken mirrors because he wanted to bring in ritual and Filipino identity into his art practice.

Esteban Villa is a Co-Founder of the Royal Chicano Air Force Arts Organization in Sacramento, California. He teaches Art Education at California State University. When he and Jose Montoya enrolled as Fine Art Painters at the California College of Arts and Crafts, the program counselors immediately enrolled them into arts education classes instead of studio classes.

Gary Woo has been exhibited in many exhibitions in San Francisco, notably a one person exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and recipient of many arts prizes in San Francisco. He and his wife, Yolanda Garfias Woo lived in North Beach where they hosted many gatherings and discussions during the sixties and seventies..