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Annual Holiday Arts Festival Takes Sabbatical for 2014

The Richmond Art Center has announced that its annual Holiday Arts Festival is taking a sabbatical for 2014.

“Organizing this annual community event is a labor of love and one that we all look forward to each year, but as a nonprofit and the largest visual arts center in the East Bay, we are often managing multiple priorities with limited resources. We determined that taking a sabbatical from the Festival this year would ensure that we are able to maintain the high quality of our on-the-ground programs,” says Richard Ambrose, executive director for the Richmond Art Center. The Festival will return in December 2015.

The Richmond Art Center has been celebrating many milestones this fall.

The Center’s Art in the Community programs, which bring free art-making classes to Richmond children, have experienced unprecedented growth and demand and have doubled in number in just one year. Over the Sept. 13-14 weekend, the Art Center hosted hundreds of people at the opening reception for new exhibitions, including a showcase of works by world-renowned artist Richard Diebenkorn and numerous artists from the Bay Area Figurative Movement.

These exhibitions, which underscore the Art Center’s historic role in supporting emerging and established artists, are complemented with a series of free programs and an expansion of the Center’s gallery hours to include Sundays.

Meet our Volunteers: Gene and Roger

Gene Erickson and Roger Smith
Exhibitions Installation and Logistics Volunteers

How long have you been volunteering at Richmond Art Center?
Gene: Since moving up to the East Bay in 2006!

What do you like most about volunteering here?
Roger: Everyone here has a sense of what a special resource the Center is for the community and for the artists who show their work here. It’s great to feel a part of that.

Do you always work together as a team?
Gene: “Yes, and we are partners in private life too; 25 years!”

Before moving to the East Bay, Gene Erickson and Roger Smith were partners in life, but they pursued completely independent careers. Now the couple has melded their range of talents to become the Richmond Art Center’s dream team of volunteer art handler / installers.

San Francisco Chronicle: Closely Considered: Diebenkorn in Berkeley: When friends draw

‘Closely Considered: Diebenkorn in Berkeley’: When friends draw

Meredith May

Sep. 10, 2014Updated: Sep. 11, 2014 4:56 p.m.

This untitled ink and graphite on paper (1964) from the Grant Family Collection is part of the Richmond Art Center show.
This untitled ink and graphite on paper (1964) from the Grant Family Collection is part of the Richmond Art Center show.Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

Painter Richard Diebenkorn, whose style has been described as a bridge between Henri Matisse and Abstract Expressionism, became a household name while living in Berkeley from 1955 to 1966, where he and a group of artists started a renaissance of figurative painting, which later became known as the Bay Area Figurative Movement.

Many of his paintings made it into private Bay Area art collections, where a majority of them remained, out of public view. Until now. Beginning Sunday and running through Nov. 16, the Richmond Art Center will display more than 40 of Diebenkorn’s intimate figurative drawings and prints from his Berkeley years, several of which have never been displayed in public.

“Closely Considered: Diebenkorn in Berkeley” will also include drawings by Diebenkorn’s Bay Area figurative contemporaries and friends, including David Park, Elmer Bischoff, Frank Lobdell, Nathan Oliveira, James Weeks and Joan Brown.

“The works on display come from a drawing circle they had together. They would meet in each others’ studios each week and be models for each other,” said guest curator and Berkeley painter Jan Wurm, who studied under Diebenkorn at UCLA. “It was a social interaction for them as well, because as artists they’d spend so much time alone painting, this was an opportunity to eat and drink together and talk about art and life.”

Born in Oregon, Diebenkorn moved to San Francisco at age 2, and began drawing at 5. He entered Stanford University in 1940, and studied classical oil painting technique under professor and muralist Victor Arnautoff, and Professor Daniel Mendelowitz, with whom he shared a passion for the work of Edward Hopper that influenced his own paintings.

“His printmaking was complex for the time,” Wurm said. “He’d use different media, overlapping etchings by scraping into the plates directly or altering them with acid baths, or he’d color his prints by hand or tear them into a collage, just to see what would happen.”

Wurm culled the show from former students, artists and friends she knew who had beloved Diebenkorn works in their private homes. The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation opened their database to her and let her scan their archives.

“I specifically chose pieces that had another life in people’s life,” Wurm said, “One person had a Diebenkorn in the dining room, or their bedroom, or right by their front door so they could consider it every time they were about to walk into the world. I noticed people really were devoted to their Diebenkorns, for the way his work shifted how they saw color and space.”

Also included in the show is a set of six etchings of a coat on a hanger that Diebenkorn created for a book of W.B. Yeats poetry published by Arion Press in San Francisco, which creates limited-edition artworks and classics using a 100-year-old printing press.

“He transforms a line from a Yeats poem about a coat on a hanger into a sense of loss, meditation and mortality,” Wurm said. “There’s a great deal of tenderness and emotion invested in these drawings, which I’m hoping people will find revelatory.”

The show includes a schedule of retrospective events and art classes in Diebenkorn’s honor, including a free Sept. 21 talk given by Diebenkorn’s daughter Gretchen Grant about watching her father at work and living in a home driven by art, and a documentary about Diebenkorn created by Kathan Brown, founder of Crown Point Press in San Francisco, which published Diebenkorn’s work.

Meredith May is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @MeredithMaySFTop Picks In Shopping

View article online here:

Fall Programs Include Works by Richard Diebenkorn & Improvements

Our fall programs, which includes an exhibition of works by world-renowned artist Richard Diebenkorn, will kick off with a gallery reception for the public on Sat., Sept. 13, 2014, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

“Our exhibition lineup this season is exceptionally strong, and underscores the Art Center’s historic role in supporting emerging and established artists,” says Richard Ambrose, executive director for the Richmond Art Center. The Art Center has also launched a series of improvements that highlight its historic legacy as the largest art center in the East Bay.

“As we look to the future, we’re elevating the quality of all we do — from the level of exhibitions the Center presents to our accessibility to diverse communities,” says Ambrose. “We’re thrilled to bring back the work of Richard Diebenkorn, one of the most influential painters of the last 50 years. He exhibited his work at the Art Center in the 1950s and held his first major exhibition of drawings here in 1968.”

The main exhibition, Closely Considered – Diebenkorn in Berkeley, will showcase works by artists from the Bay Area Figurative Movement, which includes artist Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Elmer Bischoff, Nathan Oliveira, James Weeks and Joan Brown.

The Art Center’s galleries will also feature works by other Bay Area artists, including prints by Frank Lobdell, large-scale paintings by Tom Holland and the printmaking practices and collections of Juan Fuentes, Art Hazelwood, Jos Sances and Jim Nikas.

Reinforcing Richmond Art Center’s Historic Legacy
The Art Center is making numerous improvements as it looks forward to its 80-year anniversary, which will be celebrated in 2016.

Enjoy the Art Center’s New Website!

We’re thrilled to announce the launch of the new website — just in time for our Fall session which includes the return of Richard Diebenkorn with an exhibition of his works on paper and a series of public programs which will provide a background on the historic role that the Art Center played in the rise of the Bay Area Figurative movement.

Our new site has been completely redesigned in an effort to make it easier for you to learn about our exhibitions and free events and more easily search our classes and programs.

Here are a few features that we think you’ll enjoy:

Take a look around and let us know what you think.

Volunteer Profile: Teresa Philips

Teresa Philips
Administration, Exhibitions and Front Desk Assistant Volunteer
Volunteered over 600 hours since 2010!

What is your favorite thing about volunteering at the Richmond Art Center?
“The opportunity to be around so many positive people!”

Teresa Philips is a familiar and welcoming face at the Richmond Art Center, having volunteered over 600 hours over the past four years working both at the front desk, and in the exhibitions office helping to organize the Center’s archives.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Teresa moved to the East Bay in 1995 and now lives in Richmond Annex. In addition to her role at the Richmond Art Center, she studies business computing at East Bay Works, and also plays tennis. She began volunteering at the Richmond Art Center at the suggestion of a friend. “I was looking for a way to occupy my spare time,” says Teresa, “and my friend told me to check out the Richmond Art Center. I’m really glad I did. There is just a very positive energy here.”

Art Center Wins “Best Community Art Center”

We are honored to have won Best Community Arts Center in the East Bay Express’ Best of the East Bay 2014. And we are amongst great company — congrats to our friends at Point Richmond Music Festival for winning Best Outdoor Music Series.

We’re thrilled that our exhibitions, on-site programs and traveling programs are being recognized with such a great award. As more people learn about and experience our work, we count ourselves lucky to have such passionate and creative instructors, dedicated volunteers and such engaged students and generous donors. Not to mention the talented artists whose work we have had the opportunity to showcase in our galleries. It takes a community of people to make the Richmond Art Center such a creative hub. THANK YOU community!

Richmond & San Pablo Teens Unveil New Collaborative Murals

Eighteen teens from Richmond and San Pablo will unveil the two large murals they collaboratively designed and painted during a community celebration on Thursday, July 31 from 3:00 – 4:00 pm in the Marina Bay neighborhood of Richmond.

The murals are the culmination of a free eight-week summer class, part of the Richmond Art Center’s traveling Art in the Community programs, and sponsored by Topline, a business accelerator program which started in Richmond in June.  The murals grace the entrance of its 40,000-square-foot building, which Topline’s founder, Allan Young, calls the biggest incubator co-working space in the East Bay.

“This mural project has been both a wonderful way to engage and build community and generate pride amongst the teens,” says Richard Ambrose, Richmond Art Center Executive Director. “The murals are a lasting piece of public art that the teens, the business community and the entire city can be proud of for years to come.”

Press Release: Richard Diebenkorn’s Work Returns to Art Center

Fall Exhibitions Highlight Artists of Bay Area Figurative Movement

(Richmond, CA) – The Richmond Art Center is pleased to announce its Fall Exhibitions program including, Closely Considered – Diebenkorn in Berkeley (September 14 – November 22, 2014), an important exhibition of works on paper by Richard Diebenkorn created during his Berkeley years (1953-1966). An opening reception will be held on Saturday, September 13, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. The exhibition and opening events are free and open to the public.

The exhibition Closely Considered – Diebenkorn in Berkeley (September 14 – November 22, 2014) is  celebration of the historic role that the Richmond Art Center played in supporting the artists of the Bay Area Figurative Movement, including Richard Diebenkorn, during their formative years. Diebenkorn, who spent most of his life in California, exhibited at the Art Center in the 1950s and held his first major exhibition of drawings here in 1968. This exhibition, guest curated by Jan Wurm, will include more than 42 intimate works by Diebenkorn and key artists of the Bay Area Figurative Movement, including David Park, Elmer Bischoff, Frank Lobdell, Nathan Oliveira and James Weeks — some of the artists closest to Diebenkorn.

San Francisco Chronicle: Ruth Braunstein Collection Helps Mold Clay’s Reputation

Julian Guthrie

June 11, 2014Updated: June 12, 2014 8:45 a.m.

Even before Ruth Braunstein opened her first art gallery in Tiburon in 1961, she was collecting pieces that made her happy and was drawn to works in clay.

A new exhibit of Braunstein’s private collection of ceramics that opens Saturday at the Richmond Art Center pays tribute to her advocacy of clay as a fine-art medium. Many of the pieces – by well-known artists including Peter Voulkos, Richard Shaw and Robert Arneson – have never been shown before.

“I love the exhibit on several different levels,” said Richmond Art Center curator and exhibitions director Anthony Torres. “It’s paying homage to Ruth’s life and work, but the collection is also a form of portraiture. It tells a great deal about who she is, and shows how she worked hard to democratize art.”

He added, “It’s diverse and beautiful, and there’s a whole myriad of objects.”

Braunstein, the founder of the San Francisco Art Dealers Association who closed her eponymous South of Market gallery in 2011, after 50 years, recently told Torres: “When I came to San Francisco and saw what people were doing with clay, I flipped out. This was before I knew there was a thing called craft and craftspeople. So when I opened my gallery in Tiburon, I showed clay.”

The exhibit at the Richmond Art Center includes a range of clay objects, from freestanding sculptures to utilitarian-style works, such as teapots, bottles and cups. There is a 3-foot-high vase by Voulkos and an assemblage of objects by Shaw. There are tiny sculptural forms that allude to modern dancer and choreographer Martha Graham (Braunstein was a professional dancer early in life), and a self-portrait by Arneson.

Braunstein, now 91, told Torres: “It has taken many years for people to accept clay as an art form. It has happened in Europe, Korea, Japan and places like that. It has been very hard for Americans to cotton to clay, for some reason or another, (but) Richard Shaw and Peter Voulkos have been recognized all over the world.”

Braunstein is expected to attend the opening-night reception on Saturday.

“Focus on Clay” is one of three new shows offered by the nonprofit Richmond Art Center, founded in 1936. The other exhibits include “Sculpture,” featuring mixed-media works by established and emerging sculptors, and “Slusky and Sullivan: Sculptures, Drawings, and Related Antics,” with works by noted University of California artists and professors Joseph Slusky and Chip Sullivan.

If you go:

Ruth Braunstein: Focus on Clay: Reception 5-7 p.m. Saturday. Through Aug. 22. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrett Ave., Richmond. (510) 620-6772.


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Richmond Art Center
2540 Barrett Avenue
Richmond, CA 94804-1600


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