The Susan Cummins Gallery records measure 6.4 linear feet and date from 1984 to 2002, with the bulk of the records dating from 1990 to 2001. The collection sheds light on the California gallery's artists and operations through administrative records, artists' files, printed materials, photographic materials, audiovisual recordings, correspondence, and more. Also included are two files relating to art panels and lectures given by Susan Cummins.
Scope and Contents:
The Susan Cummins Gallery records measure 6.4 linear feet and date from 1984 to 2002, with the bulk of the records dating from 1990 to 2001. The collection sheds light on the California gallery's artists and operations through administrative records and artists' files. Administrative records include group show exhibition files, gallery exhibition announcements, newspaper and magazine clippings, casette tapes, and papers from panels and lectures given by Cummins. Artists' files mainly consist of correspondence, resumes, exhibition announcements, articles about the artist, show reviews, and photographic materials. Some of the files include exhibition materials such as price lists, correspondence with other galleries and institutions, photos, and some sales records. Artists featured include Joyce Scott, June Schwarcz, Bruce Metcalf, Jamie Bennett, Dominic Di Mare, Thomas Mann, Keith Lewis, Bob Ebendorf, and Sandra Enterline.
The collection is arranged as two series.
Series 1: Administrative Records, 1984-2001 (Box 1; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 2: Artists' Files, 1984-2002 (Box 2-7; 5.9 linear feet)
Biographical / Historical:
Susan Cummins Gallery was a contemporary art gallery established in 1984 in Mill Valley, California. The gallery was most well-known for its exhibition of American jewelry and other studio craft objects. In the 1990s, the gallery moved into a larger space and began exhibiting paintings and drawings as well. Most exhibitions held at the gallery were solo shows rotated monthly. Over the years, major artists shown at Cummins Gallery include Joyce Scott, June Schwarcz, Bruce Metcalf, Jamie Bennett, Dominic Di Mare, and Bob Ebendorf. The gallery closed in 2002. Group shows include Faceted Glass (1984)--the gallery's first show, Outcasts: Jewelry from Junk (1992), The Weight of Gold: Invitational Group Show (1993), and Jewelry as an Object of Installation (2001).
Susan Cummins was born December 27, 1946, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Growing up, her family moved around to several states but mostly settled in the west coast. After high school, Cummins went on an American Field Service trip to Europe, and it was during her trip that she decided to study art in college. She attended Scripps College, studied under Arthur Stevens, and wrote her thesis on Rodin's relationship to dance. After college, Cummins moved to Washington, D.C. and struggled to find work in her field. She briefly volunteered at the National Museum of American Art and had worked for the Black Man's Development Center and a government lab before moving back to the west coast. She moved to Mill Valley and began running The Fireworks, a ceramics shop owned by a former college friend, Beth Changstrom. In 1983, Cummins and Changstrom took over the Horizon Gallery's space in Mill Valley and founded Beth Changstrom Ceramics and Susan Cummins Gallery. Throughout her tenure running the gallery, Cummins was close friends with some of her artists, especially Bruce Metcalf, Dominic Di Mare, and Bob Ebendorf. Cummins helped found Art Jewelry Forum in 1997 to promote and educate the collecting public about jewelry. She has served on the boards of the American Craft Council (2018 Honorary Fellow) and the Headlands Center for the Arts; she is the current director of the Rotasa Foundation.
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Susan Cummins conducted by Jo Lauria, October 22, 2009
The collection was donated in 2003 by Susan Cummins, gallery founder and owner, as part of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Susan Cummins Gallery records, 1984-2002. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The processing of this collection received Federal support from the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund, administered by the National Collections Program and the Smithsonian Collections Advisory Committee.