The papers of California art historian, writer, instructor, and curator, Melinda Wortz (1940-2002) date from 1958-1992, and measure 17.45 linear feet. The collection includes documentation of Wortz's tenure at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), where she specialized in collecting and presenting the California "light and space" artists during the 1970s and 1980s. Wortz's papers include biographical information, personal and professional correspondence, interview transcripts and sound recordings, professional and student writings and notes, diaries of five trips abroad, UCI administrative, dossier, and teaching files, general subject and artist files, printed material, several pieces of artwork; and photographs.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of California art historian, writer, instructor, and curator, Melinda Wortz (1940-2002) date from 1958-1992, and measure 17.45 linear feet. The collection includes documentation of Wortz's tenure at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), where she specialized in collecting and presenting the California Light and Space artists during the 1970s and 1980s. Wortz's papers include biographical information, personal and professional correspondence, interview transcripts and sound recordings, professional and student writings and notes, diaries of five trips abroad, UCI administrative, dossier, and teaching files, general subject and artist files, printed material, several pieces of artwork; and photographs.
Wortz's biographical material includes annotated appointment books and calendars, resumes, and some family, financial, and legal records.
Correspondence files document Wortz's activities beyond her work at UCI, including scattered correspondence with artists such as Eleanor Antin, Daniel Barber, Christo, Craig Kauffman, Cork Marchesi, Martha Rosler, Eve Sonneman, Hap Tivey, and Elsa Warner. Correspondence also relates to arrangements for lectures, juries, panels, symposiums, and other professional activities in which Wortz participated.
Interviews include transcripts of four interviews conducted by Wortz with subjects including Peter Lodato and Dewain Valentine, and a sound recording of an interview with Nina Wiener.
Writings and notes include drafts, and some published copies, of articles and essays written for journals, magazines, and exhibition catalogs; Wortz's dissertation and thesis; notes; student essays and class notes; and scattered writings by others. Included in the published works are copies of Artweek containing articles by Wortz, and drafts and published copies of essays on Larry Bell, Robert Irwin, Jasper Johns, Jay McCafferty, Isamu Noguchi, Robert Rauschenberg, Klaus Rinke, Beth Ames Schwartz, and James Turrell.
Diaries document five separate overseas trips to locations including Asia in 1977, Paris in 1978, and the U.S.S.R., where Wortz delivered a paper on Robert Irwin, in 1989.
University of California, Irvine, records include Wortz's administrative files documenting her work on various committees, her directorship of the Fine Arts Gallery, including budget and exhibition records, her work as Chair of Studio Art, and her collaborations with other faculty, including Judy Baca, Sandy Ballatore, Tony Delap, Craig Kauffman, and Rena Small. Wortz's dossier files provide a thorough record of her accomplishments from the late 1970s-1990, and her UCI teaching files document the content of core art courses which she taught at UCI in the 1970s and 1980s.
Subject files provide additional documentation of Wortz's interest in particular artists and subjects, and include scattered correspondence with artists, as well as additional correspondence, reports, printed material, index card files, sound cassettes, and photographs, documenting her interests in art and politics, feminism, religion and spirituality, museum management and training, and other subjects.
Printed material includes announcements, catalogs, journals, newsletters, and material specifically documenting Wortz's activities.
Artwork includes a piece of floor covering from a Jim Dine exhibition, a booklet by Daniel Barber, Flams by Rena Livkin, and several pieces of unidentified artwork.
Photographs include photos of Wortz with her family and with UCI faculty including Tony DeLap, Craig Kauffman, and Ed Moses; photos of events with friends and family, including Hap Tivey's wedding to Liza Todd with Elizabeth Taylor in attendance; photos of artists including Frederick Eversley, Bill Harding, Jack Ox, and Stephen Zaimo; and photos of artwork by artists including Tony DeLap, Barbara Smith, Marc Van Der Marck, and others.
The collection is arranged as ten series.
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1966-1988 (0.25 linear feet; Boxes 1, 19)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1967-1992 (1.25 linear feet; Boxes 1-2, 18)
Series 3: Interviews, 1971-circa 1980s (6 folders; Boxes 2, 18)
Series 4: Writings and Notes, 1958-circa 1990 (4.25 linear feet; Boxes 2-6, 19)
Series 5: Diaries, 1977-1989 (6 folders; Box 6)
Series 6: University of California, Irvine, 1960-1991 (4.8 linear feet; Boxes 6-11, OV 20)
Series 7: Subject Files, circa 1960-1990 (4.25 linear feet; Boxes 11-15, 18)
Series 8: Printed Material, 1960s-1980s (1.8 linear feet; Boxes 15-16, 19)
Series 9: Artwork, circa 1960s-circa 1980s (3 folders; Boxes 17, 19)
Series 10: Photographs, 1960s-1980s (0.6 linear feet; Boxes 17, 19)
Biographical / Historical:
California art historian, writer, instructor, and curator, Melinda Wortz (1940-2002), taught at the University of California, Irvine, from 1975, serving as Director of UCI's Fine Arts Gallery and Chair of the Department of Studio Art. Wortz's special area of interest was the work of the California "light and space" artists emerging in Los Angeles in the 1970s.
After attending Stanford University and graduating from Radcliffe College with a bachelors degree in art history, Wortz received her masters degree in art history from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her doctorate in theology and the arts from the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley. Wortz taught at California State University and the University of California Extension in the early 1970s. At UCI her colleagues included Judy Baca, Sandy Ballatore, Tony Delap, Craig Kauffman, and Rena Small.
Wortz married Edward C. Wortz in the early 1970s, following her divorce from her first husband, Thomas G. Terbell, Jr. Edward Wortz's first career was as a research scientist working on NASA contracts in the air research industry in Colorado and California. Later he was involved in the arts and participated in collaborations with artists including Robert Irwin, Coy Howard, and James Turrell. He worked with Melinda Wortz to develop their personal collection of contemporary art.
Melinda Wortz was a prolific writer who wrote extensively for national art periodicals, including Arts Magazine, and Art News. She also wrote, and served as editor, for the California periodical Artweek from the 1960s to 1990s. She wrote numerous catalogs for artists including Larry Bell, Cork Marchesi, Doug Moran, Beth Ames Schwartz, and James Turrell; and published articles on Dan Flavin, Robert Irwin, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and others. She lectured at Brown University, the Center for Art, Salt Lake City, Contemporary Art Museum, La Jolla, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the San Diego Museum, Wellesley College, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and many other institutions. In 1989 she traveled to the U.S.S.R. to deliver a paper on Robert Irwin at the International Art Critics Association annual meeting.
In addition to her curatorial work at the UCI Fine Arts Gallery, where she organized exhibitions for artists including Alice Aycock, Jonathan Borofsky, Audrey Flack, Jack Ox, and Dennis Oppenheim, Wortz curated exhibitions for University of California sister colleges, Pasadena Art Museum, and others.
Wortz received UCI and National Endowment for the Arts grants in support of her writing, and served on advisory boards of the Contemporary Arts Forum, Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara, Robert Rauschenberg's foundation, Advisory Board of Change, Inc., the Pasadena Art Museum, and others.
Wortz was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease at the age of 50 and died in 2002.
The collection was donated by Edward C. Wortz, Melinda Wortz's husband, in 1994.
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
The Melinda Wortz papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.