Berkeley Art Center in the 1990s

The 1990’s the Bay Area saw an increase in experimental art. Young artists flocked to the San Francisco Mission District. The new community made work that pushed the boundaries by integrating street culture, music culture, folk art in a new expression of contemporary art. BAC in the 90’s expanded its programing to include artist salons, poetry readings, art installations and exhibitions curated by world renown curators.

Below are selected exhibitions from the 1990’s at the Berkeley Art Center. 

Textures of Nature
November 1992 - January, 1993 

Featuring work by Alan Firestone, Angela Lim, Barry McGee, Susan Parker, Kiyoka Sarada, Anne Siberell, Thet Win, and curated by Rolando Castellon. Rolando Castellon was born in Nicaragua and came to the United States in 1956. He is one of the founders of Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco, a non-profit community-based arts organization whose mission is to foster public awareness and appreciation of Chicano/Latino art.

After serving as curator at SFMOMA 1972-1980, Castellon was in touch with the yet-unnamed Mission School from the beginning. Using materials such as mud and readymades in his own work, Castellon gathered a group diverse exploring the use of non-traditional artistic materials.



Asian Roots, Western Soil:
Japanese Influences in American Culture

December - January, 1994

Values such as harmony, serenity, acceptance and wonder are rooted in Japanese culture and have influenced and attracted many artists in North America and Europe for decades. This exhibition featured works by 33 artists who are influenced by Japanese art and culture, regardless of background, including Peter Voulkos, John Toki, Isamu Noguchi, Ruth Asawa, Sam Francis and Tom Marioni.  Art, craft, and design all shared equal prominence in the exhibit.

As different artists from diverse backgrounds absorb Japanese influences, the results do not coalesce into a style, but reflect true individuality. The experiences of “others” are absorbed and deflected, appropriated, transformed, and on a continuum, influence the next generation.

Arbie Williams Transforms the Britches Quilt 
April - June, 1994 

Arbie Williams moved to Oakland with her family, one of tens of thousands of African-Americans to do so in the 1930s and 1940s. She is a recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts and became a renowned quilter. Her “britches quilts” were made from overalls and pants worn to the point where they were no longer serviceable for their original use. Eventually, as necessity for the quilts faded, Williams allowed herself “relaxed standards of execution” and “ leeway for experimentation.” The quilts in this exhibition were from the collection of Eli Leon and the show traveled from the Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery at U.C. Santa Cruz.            

On the Edge of the Century:
Printmaking and Social Commentary in the 1990s
curated by René Yañez
June - July, 1999

This printmaking and social commentary show was curated by local San Francisco artist, curator, and producer Rene Yanez. Yanez is widely recognized throughout the Bay Area for projects that promote greater awareness of local social and political issues. He has curated a number of exhibitions and collaborated with local organizations including Oakland Museum of California, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Berkeley Art Center to name a few.