Anglim Gilbert Gallery presents Tom Marioni & Jim Melchert, New (& Older) Work, an exhibition featuring works from both artists, paying tribute to their friendship of many decades. Marioni and Melchert are central figures of the Bay Area Conceptual movement of the 1960s and 70s, and their work is synonymous with the region’s artistic legacy.
Showing the breadth of their experimentation in a variety of media, both artists will present works dating from 1970 to the present. Jim Melchert’s Truncated Cone series from 1981 will be shown for the first time, as will a new sculpture Miles and a series of watercolors by Marioni.
Tom Marioni (born 1937) settled in San Francisco in 1959, becoming an early progenitor of conceptual practice. Recognized internationally for his work with sound, video, light and shadow, Marioni opened The Museum of Conceptual Art in 1970, a vanguard forum for re-thinking the definition of art practice and opening possibilities for new genres of art. The Museum of Conceptual Art presented groundbreaking installation and performance works, acting as a prototype for contemporary alternative art spaces. After its closure in 1984, the Museum’s archives became part of the Berkeley Art Museum (BAMPFA)’s permanent collection.
Marioni’s famous work, The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends is the Highest Form of Art, was first performed in 1970 at the Oakland Art Museum. He continues to recreate this seminal installation-performance work in public contexts (including museums), both nationally and internationally.
Marioni’s work is represented in the collections of MoMa New York, SFMOMA, The de Young Museum, and the Orange County Museum of Art. A retrospective of his work Tom Marioni: Beer, Art, and Philosophy was exhibited in 2006 at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati (with catalog). Other exhibitions include Out of Actions: Between Performance and the Object (Los Angeles MOCA 1998), The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia (the Guggenheim Museum in NY) and On Line: Drawing through the Twentieth Century (MoMA, New York).
Jim Melchert (born 1930) has, for decades, been an innovator in new concepts embracing performance and ceramic arts. Returning to the United States from Japan in the fifties, Melchert migrated from painting to a ceramics practice, guided by Peter Voulkos. With an emphasis on action, an influence palpable in the work of Abstract Expressionists, Melchert was inspired to bring the body and movement into his own process.
His own engagement of hand and body in the manipulation of clay evolved into a conceptual, minimal process. Triggered by John Mason’s work with bricks in the 1970s, Melchert took on the elements of ceramic tiles as units of exploration, focusing on the notion of building up and collapsing their utilitarian forms. Melchert says of his own practice:
“…And – now, where I am now with the tile pieces is that there are people devoted to ceramics who aren’t sure whether I am seriously involved with clay, because I am at an edge somewhere that – like, say, with conceptual art – that it’s the edge of what is considered to be ceramic.” - Jim Melchert, interview with Renny Pritikin for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 2002
A collegial spokesperson for the arts and his fellow artists, Jim Melchert has served as Visual Arts head at the NEA and Director of the American Academy at Rome, and has been central to the evolution of the Bay Area’s arts legacy.
He has exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Oakland Museum of California, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the University Art Museum at UC Berkeley, exploring a variety of media, including drawing, film, photography, performance and ceramics. After five solo exhibitions at the gallery, this presentation is part of a committed and influential presence Melchert has shared with artists and the Bay Area creative community.