Berkeley Art Center in 1980s

The 1980’s was a time of change and turmoil all across the nation. For the San Francisco Bay Area, the art scene continued to expand as artists and muscicians created thought provoking new works. For BAC, the center faced a brief closing after an arson fire in 1981, but reopened in 1982. By the mid-80’s the Berkeley Art Center was back in full swing with a variety of juried shows, poetry readings, and exhibitions that focused on social narratives that reflected the rapidly changing times.

Below are selected exhibitions from the 1980’s at the Berkeley Art Center. 

Common Threads:
Kate Delos, Mildred Howard
January 1 - February 10, 1980

Mildred Howard is a long time bay area artist well known for her large-scale sculptural installations. Over the years Howard's work has won numerous awards. She has shown her work all over the world including Berlin, Cairo and England.

Kate Delos is a bay area an artist and art instructor known for her bookmaking and painting. She lives in the Bay Area and had taught at the various local schools over the years. Her works have been featured across the west coast, as well as Paris and Tokyo.

Ethnic Notions:
A Public Presentation
October 24 - December 24, 1982

Curated by Robbin Henderson, foreward by Janette Faulkner, introduction by Robbin Henderson, essays by Leon F. Litwack and Erskine Peters

An exhibition of racist stereotype and caricature from the collection of Janette Faulkner. Ethnic Notions must be seen for its painful lessons in the power of images. These insidious articles owe their power not only to an iconography of mockery and derision but also to the fact that so many of them were mass-produced. Particles of toxic propaganda, they pervaded America like fallout from the Civil War and the ineradicable sin of black enslavement that detonated it. *The 1982 exhibition was exhibited again in 2000. The catalog was re-printed at that time. Both catalogs are available, however the 1982 catalog is priced at $65 as it is a collector's item.


Sculpture by John Abduliaami 

Intuitive Artists:
John Abduljaami and Ida Wilcher
May 2 - May 26, 1985

Paintings by Ida Wilcher and sculpture by John Abduliaami will open at the Berkeley Art Center 1275 Walnut Street. 

Both self taught artists these works are characterized by simple direct handling of the media. By chopping and carving and painting. The large wooden figurative sculptures by John Abduljaami exude a strong personal imagery evolved from raw primitive energy. When struck by Parkinson's disease, Ida Wilcher, a dancer in New York moved to Berkeley and discovered painting. Her lively paintings are an expression of her inner ability to move with freedom (like a dancer) through spheres of color and space.


Peter Selz Selects:
Seventeen Berkeley Artists

October 12 - November 20, 1988

As part of Berkeley’s first Multicultural Arts Festival Berkeley Art Museum founder Peter Selz was invited to jury an exhibition of local artists. The seventeen painters and sculptors chosen included: Elmer Bischoff, Robert Brady, Christopher Brown, Robert Carabas, Enrique Chagoya, James Cook, Stephen De Staebler, Sohela Farokhi, Rupert Garcia, Oliver Jackson, Betty Kano, Sylvia Lark, Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Jean Rainer, Raymond Saunders, Barbara Shawcroft, and Peter Voulkos. In the catalog foreword Selz wrote, “The men and women presented here cover a wide range in age and degree of fame, in ethnic background, and in style. If anything can be said about the art of the 1980s, it is the plurality of stylistic form.” Selz is now 96 and a professor emeritus of art history at Cal, is still living in Berkeley, in a modernist house in the hills.