Berkeley Art Center in the 1970s
The 1970s in the San Francisco Bay Area continued as an extension of the 1960s as a global cultural hub. Chez Panisse opened in Berkeley just down the street from the Berkeley Art Center and BART began operation. The Bay Area became a mecca for experimentation in contemporary art. It provided a less determined, less contained environment than New York City for artists to engage in the process and performance of their work.
The Berkeley Art Center exhibited work by over 156 artists from 1970 - 1979.
Below are selected exhibitions from the 1970s at the Berkeley Art Center.
Harold Paris: An Unforgiven Vision
October - November 1970
Ceramics used for the sole purpose of creative expression without utilitarian function was one of the major breakthroughs in ceramic sculpture in the Bay area at this time. In the Fall of 1970, Berkeley Art Center’s exhibition of Harold Paris' An Unforgiven Vision showed the extent to which clay could be used as a means of expression. Harold Paris, along with Peter Voulkos and Dan Haskin were working in a foundry along the Berkeley waterfront that they called The Garbanzo Works. Many younger sculptors worked as their assistants, such as Ruth Asawa and the studio turned out may large-scale public art works. Berkeley Art Center recently acquired Harold Paris' Wall II from 1960 to 1961 as a part of its sculptural garden.
Betye Saar: Black Girl's Window
December - January 1973
Saar's artistic development, as she began working with iconography that alluded to her heritage, personal biography, and astrology. The African American female silhouette is presented at the bottom of the window, and small tableaux representing destiny, phrenology, and love cascade across the top. The lion, representative of Saar's astrological sign, is inserted along with iconography of family, youth, and home. A daguerreotype image of Saar's maternal grandmother is in the bottom middle window, referencing the artist's Irish heritage. With Black Girl's Window, Saar delves into her personal biography and spirituality, engaging the personal, the political, and the mystical.