An interview of Carlos Villa conducted 1995 June 20-July 10, by Paul Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art.
Villa discusses his "progress" from Filipino background to his art world identity; the phenomena and individuals who contributed to the new awareness in the mid-1970s: "El Movimiento," Chicano "Rasquache," Rupert Garcia, Amalia Mesa-Baines; the idea of "recuperation," and the sense of Asian-American identity and community as a basis for his art. Villa recalls growing up in San Francisco; his early life; living in the Tenderloin district and his exposure to racism; the influence of his cousin, artist Leo Valledor; growing up Filipino in California and the difficulties that accompanied it. Villa discusses popular (black) culture, jazz "guapo," zoot-suit style as role models and basis for aesthetic/art; his admiration for black self-esteem; his aesthetics; viewing art as a way out of the ghetto and an escape from racism.
Villa discusses his introduction to the California School of Fine Arts (soon thereafter the San Francisco Art Institute); his need to be part of the artist community; CSFA and other students and teachers; and his self-conception as a modernist. He discusses the technical aspects of his art; the influence of various Bay Area artists on his work; his investigation of Filipino art history and his role models; the role of the women at the CSFA and women as role models. Villa recalls his first show at Pointdexter in New York; his associations with minimalists and the Park Place Gallery group; his New York minimalist phase and his need to escape the New York environment after six years. He discusses his return to the Bay Area and his use of identity/politics as subjects for his art.
Villa recalls or mentions Rupert Garcia, Leo Valledor, Manuel Neri, Joan Brown, Bill Morehouse, David Stone Martin, Wallace Berman, William Wiley, Bob and Dona Hudson, Bill Allen, Elmer Bischoff, Richard Diebenkorn, Ralph DuCass, Walter Kuhlman, Wally Hedrick, Bruce Conner, Alvin Light, Claire Falkenstein, Bob McFarlane, Hayter, Tapies, Fred Martin, Nathan Oliveira, Jennifer Bartlett, Dick Maclean, Elizabeth Murray, Alfred Neumeyer, Mark Rothko, Kenneth Noland, Sol Lewitt, Mark di Suvero, Robert Grovesnor, Tom Seligman, Kurt Schwitters, Robert Rauschenberg, Angela Davis, and Moira Roth.
Biographical / Historical:
Carlos Villa (1936-2013) was a Filipino American painter, curator, and educator in San Francisco, California.
Originally recorded on 8 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 15 digital wav files. Duration is 7 hr., 40 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.
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
Photographs of artists, many from the San Francisco Bay Area, taken by Mimi Jacobs.
Artists photographed: Ansel Adams, Robert Arneson, Ruth Asawa, Billy Al Bengston, Fletcher Benton, Robert Bechtle, J. B. Blunk, William Brice, Joan Brown, Imogen Cunningham, Jay De Feo, Eleanor Dickinson, Richard Diebenkorn, Laddie John Dill, Archeliat Esherick, Sam Francis, David Gilhooly, Joseph Goldyne, Robert Graham, Henry Hopkins, Robert B. Howard, John Ihle, Robert Irwin, Allen Jones, Alvin Light, Lee Mullican, Isamu Noguchi, Howard Paris, Joseph Raffael, Fred Reichman, Ed Ruscha, Betye Saar, Raymond Saunders, Richard Shaw, Louis Siegriest, Nell Sinton, Wayne Thiebaud, DeWain Valentine, Leo Valledor, Carlos Villa, Peter Voulkos, William T. Wiley, Emerson Woelffer.
Photographs of Mark Adams, William Allan, Jeremy Anderson, Ruth Armer, Charles Arnoldi, Dennis Beall, Bruce Beasley, Tony Berlant, Elmer Bischoff, Vija Celmins, Judy Chicago, Bruce Conner, Roy de Forest, Tony DeLap, Guy Dill, Claire Falkenstein, Gerald Gooch, Russell Gordon, Wally Hedrick, Tom Holland, Robert Hudson, Robert Emory Johnson, Frank Lobdell, Robert Craig Kaufman, Richard McLean, Bill Martin, Manuel Neri, Bruce Nauman, Nathan Oliveira, Mel Ramos, Sam Richardson, Michael Todd, Julius Wasserstein, Paul Wonner and Norman Zammitt.
In 1999, additional photographs were donated including many duplicates of the previous donations. These include 50 mounted photographs of West Coast artists, twenty-four of which were exhibited in 1980 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and published in 50 West Coast Artists: A Critical Selection of Painters and Sculptors (1981, Chronicle Books). Photographs are of Ansel Adams, Robert Arneson, Billy Al Bengston, Robert Bechtle, Fletcher Benton, J. B. Blunk, William Brice, Joan Brown, Imogen Cunningham, Jay De Feo, Eleanor Dickinson, Richard Diebenkorn, Laddie John Dill, Archeliat Esherick, Sam Francis, David Gilhooly, Joseph Goldyne, Robert Graham, Henry Hopkins, Robert Howard, John Ihle, Robert Irwin, Allen Jones, Alvin Light, Lee Mullican, Isamu Noguchi, Howard Paris, Joseph Raffael, Fred Reichman, Ed Ruscha, Betye Saar, Richard Shaw, Louis Siegrist, Nell Sinton, Wayne Thiebaud, De Wain Valentine, Leo Valledor, Carlos Villa, Peter Voulkos, William Wiley, and Emerson Woeffer.
Biographical / Historical:
Photographer; Kentfield, Calif.; b. 1911; d. April 1, 1999. Known in the San Francisco Bay Area for her portraits of prominent local figures, many of whom were artists. She eventually expanded her scope beyond Northern California to included artists in the Los Angeles region as well. These images were widely reproduced in books and in exhibitions and in many cases became the portraits by which the individuals were best known. Among her subjects were Ed Ruscha, Robert Graham, Peter Voulkos, Joan Brown, Isamu Noguchi, Jay DeFeo, Wayne Thiebaud, Imogen Cunningham, and Richard Diebenkorn. Several exhibitions were devoted to the photographs as independent works of art, an acknowledgement of their pictorial qualities as well as their value as documents.
Donated 1976-1992 by Mimi Jacobs. Additional photos, many of them duplicates of previous donations, were donated in 1999 by Leslie Fleming, Jacobs' daughter, for the Estate.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.