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Jay DeFeo (at center, standing) with students at SFAI, c. 1962-1970, photographer unknown. Image courtesy the Jay DeFeo Foundation, © 2020 the Jay DeFeo Foundation/Artists Rights Society/ARS, New York.

 

1. Jay DeFeo (at center, standing) with students at SFAI, c. 1962-1970, photographer unknown.

2. An untitled sketch by Elmer Bischoff c. 1961, on the updated letterhead for CSFA after its name change to SFAI.

3. Robert Hudson in the studio, c. 1965, from a poster for his first New York solo exhibition in October, 1965.

4. Poster for the premiere of the film “The Great Blondino” in 1967, a collaboration between Robert Nelson and William T. Wiley. The program also featured the short “Catching the Asian Carp” by Bill Allan and Bruce Nauman.


In 1961, CSFA changed its name to the San Francisco Art Institute. Under this new identity, the school continued to evolve, expanding programming to include the multi-media and conceptual disciplines that were beginning to take form in the arts. The increasingly diverse faculty reflected this, as recent graduates and newcomers alike took up positions. Under the administration of Gurdon Woods and later Fred Martin, the post-war years of experimentation grew with newly introduced ideas of how art-making happened.


Many of the artists re-defining art in the Bay Area - those loosely collected under the 'Beat' or 'Funk' descriptors - taught at SFAI in these years. While some were continuing a legacy of instruction having studied at the school themselves, such as Joan Brown, Robert Hudson, Wally Hedrick, Jerry Burchard and Robert Nelson, others brought with them innovations from other Bay Area institutions. Among the faculty in the '60s were Ron Nagle, Bruce Nauman, Jay DeFeo, Manuel Neri, Franklin Williams and Sam Tchakalian, some of whom went on to lengthy tenures; even Bruce Conner briefly taught a seminar he called "Wasted Time: Unproductive Activity with No Practical Application." Beyond the arts faculty were writers and poets like Ken Lash (English), Kenneth Rexroth (Art History) and Richard Miller (History), invigorating the atmosphere of free thought and innovation. With San Francisco a nexus of counter-culture in the 60s, the inter-disciplinary exchange of ideas and collaboration between faculty and students was a proving ground for the performance-driven and conceptual art that began to emerge by the end of the decade. The growing and increasingly varied student body included artists as diverse in their practices, such as Carlos Villa, Richard Shaw, Paul Kos, Don Ed Hardy, Annie Leibovitz and Paul McCarthy.

 

Image credits:

1. courtesy the Jay DeFeo Foundation, © 2020 the Jay DeFeo Foundation/Artists Rights Society/ARS, New York; 2 & 3 courtesy the George Adams Gallery Archives.