Southwestern College was hatched from a golden egg with much promise in the fall of 1961 with twelve full-time instructors, and three or four administrators, some hens and some roosters. I was hired to teach graphic design after teaching art at Newport Harbor High School for two years and Santa Monica City College for one year. Dick Robinson and John Clark, local high school art teachers, were also hired by temporary President Bill Kepley to teach fine art and art history part-time that first year.
Our new two-year community college shared classrooms with Chula Vista High School and had one exclusive small administrative building for the bookstore and faculty/administrative offices. My first goal at the college was to establish an art gallery,which I believed to be critical to the education of art majors as well as the general student population. Exposing people to contemporary art and ideas became one of my missions. In our L shaped building was a hallway with student lockers. The walls and lockers were quickly covered with 4’x8’x1/2″ sheets of white fibreboard creating the first art gallery at Southwestern College. The first exhibition consisted of paintings and drawings by John Baldessari, November 13- December 8, 1961. Nine shows followed that year including one-person shows by Ethel Greene, Joyce Fitzgerald, Richard Allen Morris and Harold Gregor. I was now acting department chair and the gallery director, with no formal exhibition/museum/gallery education or experience.
The Baldessari show of non-representational images set the stage for the future controversial direction of the art gallery program and perhaps the department itself. Many faculty, students, administrators and public were outraged.
In the spring of 1962, the Southwestern College Art Department created what was to become for many years, the annual “Film as Art” program.
Meanwhile, Bill Kepley returned to his permanent position, one year early, in Lancaster. Superintendent Joe Rindon hired Chester De Vore, a Chula Vista high school principal and football coach as the new president. Dick Robinson joined the full-time art faculty.
During the 1962-63 school year, there was, among others, a four potter show with Jean Balmer, Mark Flemming, David Stewart and Val Sanders, a one-person show by Pat Nelson, a Mexican Folk Art show, and the first Annual Purchase Award Show juried by the director of the San Diego Art Musem Warren Beach. A painting by Dorothy Stratton won first place and Russell Baldwin won second prize with a bronze sculpture. Both pieces became the first acquisitions in the new permanent collection. The Film As Art program was continued.
The 1963-64 gallery program was busy with one-person shows by Lee Christensen, Robert Fries and Russell Baldwin, a Pop Art show “Snap!, Crackle! and Pop! with John Baldessari, Fred Cooper and Richard Allen Morris, a group show called “The Illustrator or Designer as a Painter,” and the Second Annual Purchase Award Show. The juror was Willie Suzuki, from El Camino College, who selected works by Richard Shields, John Rogers and Norma McGee for purchase. There were 35 pieces in the show. The funds were provided by the Associated Student Body Organization.
In March of 1964, the art department and the AWS presented a program called “Something Will Happen-ing,” a panel discussion about Pop Art and the Pop Art Show. John Baldessari, Richard Allen Morris, and Fred Cooper represented the artist point of view and various faculty and students represented the other views. The sometimes outrageous event was quite lively when student six foot nine inches Garnet Linzey parading around the crowded room with a bra on and a sign stating “I dreamed I went to a happening in my Maidenform Bra.” Art instructor Dick Robinson wandered into the room, looking dazed and confused with his long hair combed in front of his eyes, reached for some notes in his brief case exclaiming “I tried to come up with something appropriate for notes on this subject,” and pulled out a roll of toilet paper. He couldn’t understand how artists could be so flexible changing from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art. Apparently, I was the moderator.
Meanwhile, the new campus east of Chula Vista on Otay Lakes Road was completed and we prepared to start classes there in September of 1964. Well known local Sculptor John Dewitt Clark joined the full time art faculty, who had been teaching at Hilltop High School in Chula Vista.
The new art building had three studios, one lecture room, one dark room, one faculty work room and one large open space designed to be the art faculty offices. The decision was made by the art faculty to convert the faculty office space to a temporary art gallery and the faculty work room to faculty office space. The walls were painted white and other changes made for its continued role as an environment to show mostly contemporary painting and sculpture.
The inaugural show in October of 1964 was titled “Teeny Weenie Art” and must have been a group show of a tiny kind. The “Film As Art” programs were conducted in room 801 following the receptions in the art gallery.
The day before the formal dedication of the new college campus, in December of 1964, John Roger’s sculpture “All Day Sucker” was removed from the library by someone in the administration because they thought it might be offensive to the public. The piece represented a child whose body had been deformed by thalidomide, a medication taken by thousands of pregnant women from 1957 to 1961 to combat morning sickness and insomnia. About 10,000 children in the world suffered severe malformities. A piece by Don Hughes was removed from the gallery the same day because it was thought to be phallic in nature.
I organized a much larger invitational exhibition to follow, titled “Polychrome Sculpture,” most of which was installed in the large foyer of the Student Union nearby. There were numerous artists from Los Angeles in the show including Judy Gerowitz, now Judy Chicago, Ed Carrillo, Lloyd Hamrol (Judy’s husband), John Manno, Kim Stussy and a piece by Claes Oldenburg loaned by the Dwan Gallery. Several colorful folk art pieces were loaned for the show by the Art Center in La Jolla. There were favorable reviews in San Diego Magazine and Art Forum in New York City.
There were smaller shows “Color in Printmaking” and the annual “Student Show,” both in the art department gallery in the art building. Two exhibitions that year became unbelievably controversial: The “Third Annual Purchase Award Show” installed in the foyer of the Student Union and Bill Copley’s one man show “Paintings and Flags” in the gallery.
Dick Robinson and I were the jurors for the purchase award show and we had $600.00 from the Associated Student Body to buy one or more works for the permanent collection. Apparently, 300 local artists were invited to submit slides for the competition and out of 130 actual submissions by 90 artists, 30 were selected for the exhibit.
The jury unanimously selected for the $600.00 purchase award prize the painting ”Maddog’s Last Gig,” by Phil Kirkland, a professional painter and illustrator and graduate of the Chouinard Art School in Los Angeles. When a black and white photograph of the painting, which represented a man and woman lying next to each other in bed mostly covered with a colorful bedspread with a steaming ship on a horizon line formed by the top of the bedspread and a night stand with a white pitcher and red heart, was published in the local newspaper the Chula Vista Star, Lowell Blankfort, Editor, the image looked like the woman was white and the man was “of color.” It was simply a change in color value of the two figures. Miscegenation was suspected by many members of the community and the protests and criticism poured onto the campus in many forms, including a letter of protest to the college superintendent from the Chula Vista Art Guild, signed by 18 very indignant women artists.
Another piece in the show by Dan Longueuiel titled “Oh Can You Say?” drew much heat from the local American Legion chapter for portraying the Statue of Liberty on a toilet seat with some sticks of dynamite placed on the statue’s base next to a winking George Washington reading from the bible to Little Orphan Annie, all framed by a toilet seat decorated with the stars and stripes. The local chapter of the American Legion was outraged and Longueuiel received numerous crank calls threatening a tar and feathering and other abuses to his body. A letter did reach Governor Brown’s office in Sacramento complaining about the piece and the art department. One American Legionnaire promised he would take the case all the way to the Supreme Court. The Veterans of Foreign Wars called the piece a “gross disrespect,” and a resolution to that effect was referred for statewide action at its state convention in Sacramento June 18-24. Longueuiel was a Republican and voted for Barry Goldwater. I played bridge with him when we were both working as graphic designers at Convair Astronautics. He was very conservative for an artist.
During a panel discussion, “The Artist as a Fat Cat,” George Cohen thought that the male in the painting, Maddog, was actually purple and that Kirkland had been watching too much color tv.
The painting show by Bill Copley, one of the adopted sons of the publishing tycoon Clifton Copley, who sold his interest in the Copley newspaper empire to become an artist, also drew some heavy criticism because the work showed, among other French things, keystone gendarme chasing after naked ladies. Henry Seldis, art critic for the Los Angeles Times wrote: “William Copley offers a show of paintings and assemblages that would be hard to beat for sheer fun and irreverence. A serious artist, this painter turns his expressions into a jocular vein in which nothing is sacred.” A number of people objected to his interpretations of the American flag. But there was no burning.
After the reception on April 2, 1965, the film “Ballad of a Soldier” was shown in room 801.
The 1965-66 school year gallery schedule of nine shows opened with “Airplanes,” paintings by Bill Noonan, Phil Kirkland, Charles Faust and John De Marco. There were one-person shows by Norma McGee, Guy Williams, Dave Stewart and Arline Fisch. There were two student shows and a Mead Library of Ideas show in conjunction with a Roten Gallery traveling show and sale of very inexpensive prints. The fourth annual purchase award show was actually an invitational sculpture show with juror Maurice Tuchman, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum. He selected, if my memory is correct, four pieces for purchase @ about $200. each, works from Peter Voulkos, Stephen von Huene, Dennis Oppenheimer and Fred Cooper.
John Baldessari joined the full-time art faculty about this time and became an important advisor to the gallery program as well as an outstanding and influential instructor. There were now five male instructors in the department, including Ron Lawson, who taught photography. Mrs. Lynn Bungay joined us for one year, an excellent teacher from Los Angeles.
In June of 1965, the executive committee of the college transferred the responsibility of the Film as Art program from the art department to the Dean of Activites. A Dean remarked, apparently as a rationale for the decision, that I was “doing too much.”
There were 12 shows in three locations during the 1966-67 gallery season including a large exhibit of Robert Cremean sculpture in the library and and the Annual Purchase Award Show of outdoor sculpture which was juried by the Los Angeles Ceramic Sculptor John Mason.
Jim Hayward exhibited neon work in the Art Department Gallery and then in January of 1967 “Dada Lives” occupied the space with reproductions of most of the famous Dada pieces made by the Art 4 class. Rick Ledford reproduced Man Ray’s “Flat Iron With Tacks.” Barbara Putnum made a handsome copy of Meret Oppenheim’s fur covered cup and saucer. Bill Burger reproduced Duchamp’s “Fountain”. Walter Kirkpatrick constructed a handsome reproduction of Kurt Schwitter’s “Merzbau.”
In addition to the show, there was an absolutely outrageous Dada performance in room 801 with Dada films, poetry, music, performance and chaos along with dada likes of Robert Glaudini, Richard Allen Morris, Tom Driscoll, Doug Durrant and Susan Long. And then there was the provocative new student body art club founded by members of the exhibition design class, “Dada Eta Mu Pie,” pictured below. Please read those Greek letters again. Dada Eta Mu Pie.
The 1966-67 “Film As Art” series scheduled 14 programs which were shown free at 11am and 8pm on Fridays. There were full-length features, documentaries and selected shorts, all showing the motion picture media as a work of art. The directors were Louis Malle, Michelangelo Antonioni, Vittorio DeSica, Andrzej Wajada,Jean-Luc Godard, Alexander Nevsky, Robert Bresson, Akira Kurosawa, Luis Bunuel and Jonas Mekas
The 1967-68 gallery program, as follows, was the last conducted in the temporary gallery and the Student Union foyer.
George Nicolaidis and Sheldon Kirby shared the gallery for one exhibition. We rented a Smithsonian American flag show and collected and showed the famous psychedelic rock posters then being used in San Francisco to sell the concerts.
John Baldessari curated a show of work from Los Angeles called “Some L.A. Cats” and when John and I drove-up to Los Angeles in a well identified college van to get the work, one of the artists was busted for possession of marijuana. The three of us had been out for breakfast and Jim had purchased a cigarette rolling machine at Thrifties. During the short absence, his rented house in Venice burned down and the firemen discovered a cache of the grass. He was immediately arrested by plain clothes police officers and hauled-off to jail. In those days, that was a very serious infraction of the rules. The suspect left a couple of joints in our vehicle, which we promptly dumped into a Weinersnitzell trash bin after pretending we had eaten two hot dogs. John and I both thought we were being tailed and observed by Los Angeles Police. Jim got probation.
But the show of the year was the Sixth and last Annual Purchase Award Show, this time for outdoor sculpture and juried by Kurt von Meir, Ph.D, University of California at Los Angeles, a distinguished art scholar selected by John Baldessari. Drawings, photographs and maquettes were submitted for selection in an open competition. There were no entry fees, handling fees, postage stamps or entry forms. All material submitted were returned pre-paid. The winner for the $1900 purchase award was the young Los Angeles artist Bruce Nauman. His winning piece is described by the title: “A four foot by four foot by four inch slab of steel with the word dark inscribed on the bottom.” The controversy generated by the purchase of that piece using student body funds was almost unbelievable.
Whereas “Mad Dog’s Last Gig” was controversial because of the race issue, this one was all about money. There was serious discussion by the student body officers to withhold the funds. Most of the faculty and probably all the administrators thought we had been conned by the artist and the juror. The juror made a prediction that those critics who value art only for the money involved will not be disappointed by the purchase. In 2006, the University of California at Berkeley offered to purchase “Dark” for $250,000. The art faculty turned-it down. After all, Bruce Nauman was now an international art star and there was the possibility of the piece appreciating even more, after his, you know, his leaving. The current administration at Southwestern College has taken the position that whatever funds are derived from the sale should be deposited into the school’s general fund, and not into a foundation which would use the income to support the gallery program.
At the end of the 1967-68 school year, the Art Department’s permanent collection numbered some fifty pieces and included works by Dennis Oppenheim, Stephan Von Huene, Peter Voulkos, Guy Williams, John Baldessari, Richard Allen Morris, Harold Gregor, John Rogers, Russell Baldwin, Norma McGee and let’s not forget Bruce Nauman. Works in the student loan collection numbered twenty-seven.
June 1, 1967 the art department announced that the student organization had budgeted $1,500. for the acquisition of prints, drawings, photographs and paintings for a special student loan collection to be loaned to students like library books. Pieces from the permanent collection were available to display in offices, the library and learning resource center.
Meanwhile, John Baldessari initiated a new art department program called: “Artist Speakout” and it may have premiered with a panel discussion called “The Artist as a Fat Cat,” which followed the showing of the film “The Savage Eye” in the Film As Art Program which may have followed an opening in the gallery. Notable members of the distinguished panel included: Donald Brewer, Director of the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art (Art Center); Dr. Allen Anderson, Department of Philosophy, San Diego State College; George Cohen, Art department, Northwestern University; Sheldon Kirby, Artist; Richard Allen Morris, Artist; and Dr. John Stewart, Provost of the Second College at the University of California at San Diego. Apparently, there are very few records for these events, which is too bad, because they were well attended, stimulating and provocative.
Another one of these programs may have been a lecture by Maurice Tuchman, Curator of Modern Art from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art who talked about his Ed Keinholz exhibit.
The second annual 1968 “Artist Speakout” was open free to the public and held on Friday nights in room 801. April 5th Robert Irwin and Paul Brach spoke. April 19th Henry Hopkins spoke. April 26th Big Daddy Roth, Kurt von Mier and at least one Hell’s Angel spoke. May 3rd Mike Agnello, organizer of the Los Angeles Provos, and some San Francisco friends spoke, and May 10th, Bill Kerby, film maker from UCLA, spoke.
Meanwhile, the design and construction of the art department’s second building had proceeded which included a drawing studio, a ceramics studio and the new art gallery. The school architect, George Foster, gave us everything we asked for with the exception of a wood floor. Those things included an outdoor patio and a large work room with doors large enough to drive vehicles through. I gave him a photo of the Whitney Museum in New York City and requested the same grid ceiling system for lighting and the same portable wall system in order to adjust the interior of the large rectangular space for a variety of different kinds of shows.
During this period the administration was concerned about the liberal, bohemian and activist climate they claimed pervaded the art department environment. The axis of four, Baldessari, Clark, Matheny and Robinson, who had been sharing office space in the work room, was split-up, hopefully to end their corruptive influence on the art students. Conflict and confrontation between the administration and the art department faculty became rather routine. John Baldessari provided much needed arbitration skills to mend the fences.
The inaugural exhibition for the new permanent gallery in the spring of 1969 was supposed to be a large California invitational all media “Representational Show.” A number of famous artists had agreed to be in the exhibit and Cart and Crate was going to handle the round trip shipping at our expense. $1000. was available for acquisitions. March 20, 1969 I sent a letter to everyone involved that, “due to a variety of complex reasons, the ‘Representation’ has been canceled. Apparently, I had resigned my position as the Art Official in charge of the gallery.
When Steve Cropsey, Associated Students Organization President, threatened to cut the athletic department’s share of student funds, athletes in May of 1969 marched to the student union to hang a football player in effigy with a sign “Don’t hang athletes.” Apparently, art students cut it down and placed the dummy in a wooden coffin used before for an anti-war statement about Vietnam with a sign “Bury athletics.” The athletes raised the coffin on their broad shoulders, changed the sign to “Hang the Art Department,” and marched again, but this time to the art gallery courtyard where a reception was taking place for the student show “Bummette,” which included a two hour rock concert, some 300 guests and strawberry ice cream cones for all. Somehow, the coffin ended-up inside the courtyard partially buried under a tree, burying the effigal remains of the athletic department. While a number of the jocks stood outside the walls of the courtyard throwing water balloons and raw eggs at the guests, other letterman burned the coffin.
At various times during the roaring seventies, painting instructor and department chairman, Dick Robinson organized four art auctions to raise funds for his painting studio – easels, sound systems, etc. His painting students produced very good counterfeit copies of well known paintings of the time, and then they were displayed in the gallery and auctioned off to the highest bidders. In 1965, the auction featured “Pop Art” bogus paintings by such artists as Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and other famous artists. The local chapter of SCUM (Society of Cutting Up Men) invaded the gallery one night and kidnapped the counterfeit painting of Andy Warhol’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe.
A ransom note demanded a public apology from Robinson for having works in the show/auction which degraded and distorted the role of females in our society. SCUM was also upset because no women Pop Art painters were in the collection. Robinson refused to apologize and said, “I will cut off my brush, but that is all.” Ten minutes before the auction started, the missing painting was found in a storage locker in room 711. The Art 4 class was suspected of perpetrating the outrageous crime and provocation. A few years later Andy Warhol was shot by the real founder and only member of SCUM. No joke.
During Jon Pittman’s tenure as gallery director and later, in addition to many other excellent shows, the pseudo art official organized five annual and bi-annual “Cockatoo Grove” exhibitions exploring a variety of art mediums and dimensions, the 4th in particular with a special invitations to attend by the infamous accordion player Lawrence Welk and that other guy Steve Martin. Cockatoo Grove was a grove of eucalyptus trees located on Otay Lakes Road near the college. Year by year, business developments destroyed the grove until one day, it was all gone.
One of the most bizarre situations during the late sixties occurred underneath a house in National City. Dana Goldman, an artist from Los Angeles, created a fantastic underground environment labyrinth of tunnels and niches filled with artifacts of undescribable descriptions (I just cannot remember what they were). I think he entered the outdoor purchase award that year with a huge construction of telephone poles and timber held together with rope and cable. He had installed the piece in front of the library apparently irritating the administration. One weekend during the show, the ground on which it stood was over-saturated by too much sprinkling of holier than thou water and collapsed, requiring its removal.
Another Los Angeles artist John Manno, Founder, Chairman of the Board and Director of the Art Disposal Service, liked to park his white van, with the proper signage of the side identifying the organization, in front of galleries on La Cienega Boulevard during their Monday night openings in the sixties. In 1968 I was awarded the San Diego franchise to operate a similar service to artists, galleries and museums down here, the service of dumping surplus art. As stated in the news release, artists’ disposal needs will be considered first, since they produce surplus stuff and therefore bear the burden of responsibility. The major destruction of art pollution was in December of 1969 at the Otay Landfill, when a number of artists and collectors gathered to witness the smashing by a bulldozer of an impressive number of art works collected by the Art Disposal Service of San Diego. One of our students, Paul Hawkins, laid down in front of the bulldozer to protest the sacrilege.
In October of 1976, Judy Chicago and other women artists were invited to exhibit their work. Before giving a lecture in Mayan Hall, Judy Chicago ordered all the men to leave the room, apparently minus their $1. admission fee. This was the same Judy Gerowitz who had been in the Polychrome Sculpture Show in the sixties.
Bob Schneider and Jon Pittman curated a Les Krims photography show sometime in 1972. The mailers were held-up by the administration until the last minute because of a school board election. Apparently, the image on the mailer might have offended the voters. There was much “wringing of the hands” in those days. At the various art openings, happenings and performances, there were always in attendance various members of the school administration, apparently to make sure everything was on the up and up, as they used to say. The college open house in May of 1967 was a good example of how much the administration liked the art department. Art Students demonstrating their skills to the public in Dick Robinsons painting studio dressed-up as hippies and flower children from Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco with incense and candles, brought comments from President De Vore as follows: “The art department, as all others, was intended to represent to the public a ‘typical’ classroom situation. Instead, the place was bedecked with flowers, incense was burning and weirdly dressed people milled about. Loud music was playing and by that I don’t mean the usual bop type things kids listen to. The element of people hanging around were not the ‘long-haired, bearded’ types the campus countenances, but ‘Hells Angels’ types. You know, the ‘jackets bit.” De Vore continued, “You find that if you defend the art department you are defending all sorts of things having no connection with the art department. Love-ins, be-ins, anti-Vietnam issues – are interwoven into it and wrapped into one package tagged ‘art.
That was true. Most of us believed the war in Vietnam was a tragic mistake and we were not shy in expressing those convictions. In April of 1967, the art department rented a bus for students and faculty and participated in the massive anti-Vietnam protest in San Francisco.
There was a period on unrest, agitation and conflict within the school in the seventies that made the art faculty very uneasy. Cuts were made in our academic programs from Sacramento and continued threats by the administration, apparently created a sense of impending disaster. I expressed that concern by writing the following poem, based on a poem by Man Ray about the death of Dada:
Now, we are trying to revive the art department. Why?
Who cares? Who doesn’t care?
The art department is dead.
Or is the art department alive?
We cannot revive something that is alive just as we cannot revive anything that is dead.
Is the art department dead?
Is the art department alive?
The art department is.
Despite the conflicts, arguments, papers, meetings and controversy, the art department survived and flourished.
In the late sixties and early seventies the department witnessed significant growth and a whole new flock of full-time instructors were added to the faculty: David Richardson, Jon Pittman, Pasha Turley, Joanne Peterson, Barbara Strasen,Paul Sparks, Judi Nicolaidis, Bob Schneider, Stan Wilson, Michael Schnoor, and Gary Hudson. Some stayed on and some left.
One of the great exhibitions of the century was the audacious and wonderful “25 Years: Southwestern College Alumni Show,” October 6-24, 1986, with a reception, reunion and party October 4th at 7pm in the gallery. “Art Imitates Life” and “Life Imitates Art.” The catalog for the show consisted of 25 pages, one for each school year starting in 1961-62 and ending in 1985-86. Faculty and students designed collages for each page with the names of the alumni in the show who were attending school at that time. Seventy-two (72) alumni were so honored. The exhibition was superb and the work suggested they had received a decent education at Southwestern College.
Jon Abel, when asked in the invitation to participate in the show to comment about his art experience at Southwestern College replied: “I liked the art department better than it liked me.” When asked to describe the work he would show, he replied: “second rate Flemish realism.” John graduated from the University of California at Riverside, now teaches art history at Mira Costa College, has changed his palette and style and evolved into an excellent landscape/ object painter and art critic.
Raul Guerrero mentioned smoking his first joint with Marcia Durrant and Peter Brown.
Walter Kirkpatrick: “Dada lives in Bisbee.”
Anna Rebecca Koch: “My main influence was Michael Schnoor, an excellent instructor who gave me the most encouragement.”
Randy Long wrote, “I still have vivid memories of the “Staff of Life” (bread) exhibition, one of my favorites.”
Tom Mc Ilwain commented, “More fun than a barrel of Cercopithecoidea.”
David Roy Norton wrote, “A special thanks to Jon Pittman and John Clark for opening my eyes and mind to art.”
Vicki Jones said, “I most remember and appreciate the comraderie between the students and the art faculty.”
Roger Salter, “The soul sought, and there were many there to offer.”
Elfi Schwitkis, “I am particularly indebted to Richard Robinson.”
Charles Winchell, “I liked it when you were young and rebellious.”
Richard Lou, “Bob Schneider turned-me-on.”
Many of our art students from the sixties and seventies went on with their art educations and evolved into serious artists and/or teachers.
Jon Pittman took the reins I dropped, and assumed command of the gallery in the fall of 1969 and led the pack for four years. Pasha Turley directed the gallery for the next two years and then for a period three for four years various members of the full-time faculty curated shows without an official director. I assumed the position again sometime in the eighties for a number of years, until Judi Nicolaidis took over. Now(January, 2007), Liz Sisco is the director and the chairwoman of the department.
Social protest, de-segregation, assassinations, anti-war demonstrations, censorship, conflict, controversy, art events and student/faculty growth all contributed to the spirit of a dynamic and exciting ten year period, more or less, of the art department’s evolving history. And the art students were terrific!
The remarkable impact of Southwestern College on the San Diego art scene during the 1960s still reverberates, not only for the artists, students and public who experienced it first-hand, but also for those who, in looking back, have more recently begun to appreciate this city’s mid-century arts heritage. In February, 1994, the San Diego Union-Tribune published a fine piece by Welton Jones on this same topic. In that article John Baldessari is quoted as saying “… in retrospect, Southwestern College was very important, even though a lot we did was just spitting in the wind. And, if you had eliminated Matheny from the picture, none of that stuff would have happened.”
Our hat’s off to you Bob Matheny, for all you have contributed to our lives as an artist, teacher, friend and a very funny guy! Thank you for this affectionate remembrance.