Robert Brady, Squeak Carnwath, Jim Melchert, Katherine Sherwood, Livia Stein, and Gale Wagner are respected, established artists and teachers, so aficionados may recognize their works in Local Treasures. All six have also been interviewed by Richard Whittaker, editor of the arts journal works + conversations. This show, curated by Whittaker and Berkeley Art Center director Suzanne Tan, builds on those interviews, which are available at the gallery as well as on its web site; it honors artists whose personal philosophies about the difficult, rewarding creative life make for irresistible reading.
Some examples follow. Brady (“TowTom,” “Area 51”): “I’m driving along and, all of the sudden, I just got this overwhelming connection with nature … connection to the profundity of what this world is, and our experience in it … this thing that everybody needs … is essentially an affirmation, or a gratefulness, or a mindfulness, about being one part of this whole universe. We are a living organism.” Carnwath (“Partegas Londres Finos #6,” “Paint Box”): “Artists are … radio receivers. Our job is to be available, to accept information and to make it visible. And it works best when the information that we accept is … part of our deeper self.” Sherwood (“Tells the Future,” “Causes Love”): “I see the vast continuum of what a person can be … some people are deaf and they make fantastic art. Some people have learning disabilities, some people have problems of intellectual development, and they make beautiful art.”
And others: Stein (“Airplane,” “Cake”): “When I first got here [to Shattuck Avenue] I’d be out front cleaning up all sorts of trash … If Gandhi could clean toilets, I could easily pick up a few pieces of trash.” Wagner (“Jumbo Jimmy,” “Gatsby”): “In the hospital after I was wounded [in Vietnam], I would build stick and tissue airplanes … About fifteen years ago … someone mentioned the Moffett Field airship hangar … Once a month guys gather there to fly rubber-band-powered planes …. Eighty-some guys aged from about 5 to 80 flying these silent, rubber-band powered airplanes. It just touched me. I started and have never looked back.” Whittaker will interview some of the artists, and art historian Peter Selz will discuss the entire show. See website for schedule. Local Treasures runs through August 8 at Berkeley Art Center (1275 Walnut St., Berkeley). 510-644-6893 or BerkeleyArtCenter.org