An interview of Mary Fuller McChesney conducted 1994 Sept. 28, by Susan Landauer, for the Archives of American Art, Women in the Arts in Southern California Oral History Project, at the artist's home, on Sonoma Mountain, Calif.
Fuller McChesney discusses her childhood and growing up during the Depression; her student days at the University of California, Berkeley; the political response on the campus to WWII and the Japanese interment; her experience working as a welder in the shipyards which she considers her introduction to sculpture; her introduction to the art community in San Francisco through the cooperative Artists' Guild Gallery; her association with the Abstract Expressionists at the California School of Fine Arts in the 1940s; her foray into writing fiction and her success as a mystery writer; her work on the Archives of American Art's oral history project documenting the WPA art project in California; her first significant publication on the San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism, Period of Exploration, and the interviews she conducted in the mid-late 1960s for the project.
She describes her attitudes and philosphies about art; living at Point Richmond with her husband Robert McChesney, Edward Corbett, Hassel Smith, and poet Weldon Kees during the late 1940s; her impressions of the Cedar Bar and New York artists during the mid-late 1960s; her own artistic evolution and career as a sculptor; the intellectual and artistic sources of her work; her subjects and techniques; her public commissions; her audience and market; and her experiences and perspectives as a woman artist and feminist. She recalls Edward Corbett, Willem De Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Weldon Kees, Douglas MacAgy, Bea Mandelman, Conrad Marca-Relli, Agnes Martin, Robert McChesney, David Park, Ad Reinhardt, Louis Ribak, Hassel Smith, Clay Spohn, Clyfford Still, and Esteban Vicente.
Biographical / Historical:
Mary Fuller McChesney (1922- ) is a sculptor and art historian of San Francisco and Petaluma, Calif.
Originally recorded on 2 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hrs., 58 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators. Funding for this interview was provided by the Margery and Harry Kahn Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Communal Fund of New York.
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
An interview of Elmer Bischoff conducted 1977 August 10-September 1, by Paul J. Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art.
Bischoff speaks of his family background; the influence of art teachers and attitudes at the University of California, Berkeley in the 1930s; his years of teaching at the California School of Fine Arts (San Francisco Art Institute), first under the directorship of Douglas MacAgy and then under Ernst Mundt and Gurdon Woods; his fellow faculty members Clyfford Still, David Park, Clay Spohn and Hassel Smith, and their work in abstract expressionism. He recalls some of his most successful students, including Joan Brown, Manuel Neri, and William T. Wiley.
Bischoff explains his turning away from abstract expressionism toward figurative painting, and cites the influence of David Park. He credits George Staempfli as the first New York art dealer to be interested in Bay Area figurative painting. He discusses the origins of the Bay Area funk movement. He speaks of teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, and reflects on the differences between teaching in a university environment and an art school. He discusses his move away from the figure to large scale abstraction.
Biographical / Historical:
Elmer Bischoff (1916-1991) was a painter and educator from San Francisco, California.
Originally recorded 3 sound tape reels. Reformatted in 2010 as 5 digital wav files. Duration is 5 hr., 24 min.
These interviews are part of the Archives' Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.