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Eureka: The Eureka Fellowship Awards 2002-2004

June 11, 2005 - August 14, 2005

John Bankston: Into the Rainbow, 2003; oil on linen; 54 x 48 in.; courtesy of the artist and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco. Photo: John Wilson White.

The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is proud to present new work by the twelve artists who received the Fleishhacker Foundation's Eureka Fellowship between 2002 and 2004. Since 1986, the Foundation has recognized the importance of supporting artists in the San Francisco Bay Area. Its support, in the form of direct, unrestricted grants of $25,000—the Bay Area's largest cash prize for individual artists—is even more crucial now, in a period of diminishing support for the arts.

For an artist, such a grant can make an enormous difference, whether it is used to cut back on a day job or to purchase equipment or supplies. As Fleishhacker Foundation Executive Director Christine Elbel wrote in the exhibition catalog, "The primary benefit, according to recipients, is that the fellowships allow them to focus on their art during a pivotal time in their careers."

The Fleishhacker Foundation asked forty–nine nonprofit arts organizations to nominate artists, who were then reviewed by a panel of national jurors: Karen Higa of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, James Jensen of the Contemporary Museum in Honolulu, and Hamza Walker of the Renaissance Society in Chicago.

In addition to celebrating the Eureka Fellowship winners, the BAM/PFA exhibition, on view in Gallery 2, provides an opportunity for the UC Berkeley campus and general public to learn about and enjoy the accomplishments of some of the region's most exciting artists. Other than the fact that they rose to the top of the nominee pool, the artists in Eureka don't have a great deal in common. Rather, they exemplify the healthy diversity of styles, attitudes, and media that is characteristic of Bay Area art.

Kim Anno creates lush, oil–on–aluminum abstract paintings that combine fields of reflective color with calligraphic lines. John Bankston borrows the form of children's coloring books to create his colorful narrative paintings. In a series based on the Old West, Bankston's characters are exclusively black and male, raising questions about race and sexual identity in our mythology. The collaborative team castaneda/reiman makes elaborate site-specific installations using common construction materials such as drywall, plaster, insulation, and cement that are often augmented by painted elements. May Chan's delicate objects—a re–creation of her mother's wedding dress; baby shoes made from her own hair–relate to family and tradition. Personal history is also the inspiration for Jim Christensen's exquisitely crafted sculptural installation that evokes the many different locales, from trailer parks to apartment houses, in which he grew up. Chris Finley makes abstract paintings characterized by a dynamic profusion of swirling elliptical shapes that are derived from distortions of human faces. Tom Marioni's shelves of beer bottles hark back to his early actions, in which he privileged the activity of art making as well as its social dimension. Hector Dio Mendoza built a sculpture in the form of a tree out of Styrofoam to underline the contrast between the natural world and the nonbiodegradable materials that threaten it. Rachael Neubauer's sensual, polystyrene biomorphic forms engage the floor and the wall, and while they suggest body parts, invite multiple interpretations. Shaun O'Dell's precise renderings describe a personal cosmology composed of symbolic references to American history. Robert Ortbal draws on decorative art traditions, from Rococo to Moorish, as well as on the natural world in his elaborate sculptures. Michael Temperio's meticulously printed photographs depict opal mines in the high Nevada desert.

We wish to express our thanks to the Fleishhacker Foundation, especially to Executive Director Christine Elbel, for their contribution to the arts in the Bay Area and for underwriting the cost of this exhibition and its catalog. They share BAM/PFA's commitment to supporting the Bay Area's outstanding artists and bringing their work to an appreciative public.

Constance M. Lewallen
Senior Curator for Exhibitions