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Press Release: Viola Frey and Juan Carlos Quintana in The Human Spirit


In conjunction with our 80th anniversary, the Richmond Art Center will present two important companion exhibitions that trace the human figure as vehicle in Bay Area art.  

RICHMOND, CA — FEBRUARY 29, 2016 — As the Richmond Art Center reflects on its 80th Anniversary, appreciation for our rich history of artists and exhibitions illuminates current art practices and the shape and form of contemporary visual exploration. These influences on visual language and culture are revealed in the exhibition, The Human Spirit: Contemporary Figuration as an Expression of Humanism.

In particular, the autobiographical work of Joan Brown and Viola Frey stand as beacons to the younger artist striking out on a personal path peripheral to the mainstream and in pursuit of identity and place in the world. The challenges of treading new interior territory have been met by new voices including Lava Thomas in her portrayals of her Grandmother or her close friend and mentor, Mildred Howard, in which hair provides a vocabulary for identity. Similarly, Juan Carlos Quintana faces desolation and mortality with repetition and aggregation in a shared intensity of focus.

The Human Spirit: Contemporary Figuration as an Expression of Humanism runs from March 19 – May 22, 2016, and will focus on the historical and aesthetic development of Bay Area figurative art over the past 60 years. In conjunction with the exhibition, the Art Center will offer enlightening public programs including performance, video, music, and a series of talks.

Untitled (Skull with Hat on Glove), 1978

Viola Frey, Untitled (Skull with Hat on Glove) (1978), Ceramic, 11 x 10 1/2 x 12 inches (27.94 x 26.67 x 30.48 cm), Image courtesy of the Artists’ Legacy Foundation © 2016 Artists’ Legacy Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York.

Committee Member For The Defense of Bad Painting, 2015

Juan Carlos Quintana, Committee Member For The Defense of Bad Painting (2015), Oil and acrylic on canvas 22″ x 22″, © Juan Carlos Quintana, Photo courtesy Jack Fischer Gallery

The Spring exhibitions are sponsored by Artists’ Legacy Foundation, Blick Art Materials, Susan and Steven Chamberlin, James Curtis III, Richard Diebenkorn Foundation, Nina and Claude Gruen, Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson Charitable Foundation, Jacobs & CO., Oliver and Company, and Zellerbach Family Foundation.



 About the Richmond Art Center: The Richmond Art Center is the largest visual arts center in the East Bay, delivering exciting arts experiences to young and old alike who reflect the diverse richness of our community. The Art Center features hands-on learning, well-equipped studios, traveling Art in the Community programs and contemporary exhibitions in its galleries.

Every year, the Richmond Art Center serves thousands of students through classes and programs taught by professional artists, both onsite at the Art Center and at sites throughout Richmond. The Art Center’s four galleries mount rotating exhibitions that display the works of emerging and established Bay Area artists. Artists such as Richard Diebenkorn, Jay DeFeo, Wanxin Zhang, Hung Liu, Ed Rossbach and Peter Voulkos have been showcased here.


The Richmond Art Center originated in 1936, when local artist Hazel Salmi, who worked for the WPA, traversed the streets of Richmond with a suitcase packed with art supplies, eager to teach art to anyone interested. Today, everything at the Art Center continues to breathe life into Salmi’s original vision: That within every person lives an artist.

Please visit the Richmond Art Center’s website for a full detail of activities and events relating to these exhibitions.


Jessica Parker, Communications/Marketing Director

A downloadable version of this press release is here.


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