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Oral history interview with Michael and Magdalena Suarez Frimkess

Interviewee:
Frimkess, Michael, 1937-  Search this
Frimkess, Magdalena Suarez  Search this
Interviewer:
Karlstrom, Paul J.  Search this
Names:
Clay Art Center -- Students  Search this
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America  Search this
Otis Art Institute -- Faculty  Search this
Otis Art Institute -- Students  Search this
University of California, Berkeley. Department of Art -- Students.  Search this
Rosen, Clara  Search this
Voulkos, Peter, 1924-2002  Search this
Extent:
83 Pages (Transcript)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Pages
Sound recordings
Interviews
Date:
2001 March 8-April 17
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Michael Frimkess and his wife, Magdalena Suarez Frimkess, conducted 2001 March 3-April 17, by Paul Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in the Frimkesses' studio/home, Venice, California.
Frimkess speaks of his early life in East Los Angeles, growing up in a multi-ethnic neighborhood, and later moving with his family to Hollywood; his interest in modeling figures beginning at age 3; studying with Peter Voulkos at Otis Art Institute beginning in 1955; his animation for United Productions of America, where he worked on Mr. Magoo as an "in-betweener"; his drug use; playing the saxophone and his goal to "blow" like Charlie Parker; Voulkos's "pot shop" at Otis; following Voulkos to the University of California at Berkeley to learn bronze casting; and Vouklos's teaching methods. Frimkess also discusses his interest in classical Greek and Chinese proportions and simplicity of design in his ceramics; how playing music has helped him to be more ambidextrous and develop dry throwing; Clara Rosen as a mentor; his spiritual connection to other dimensions when throwing; his isolation from the craft community because of his multiple sclerosis and the controversy over his technique; the article he wrote "The Importance of Being Classical" (Craft Horizons, March/April 1966) and its impact on his career; Super Mud and other conferences; using his ceramics to express his political ideas about America as a melting pot; his imagery; plans for his upcoming exhibition in Korea; and his lack of production over the past 20 years. Michael Frimkess recalls Paul Soldner, Michael Cardew, Ken Price, Garth Clark, James Melchert, Ron Nagel, Richard Shaw, and others. There is also a discussion with his wife Magdalena including such topics as her childhood in an orphanage in Caracas, Venezuela, where she began painting; her studies in Chile with artists Sewell Semen, Norman Calber, and Paul Harris; her scholarship to the Clay Art Center in Port Chester, N.Y., in 1963; meeting Michael at the Clay Art Center and their relationship; their financial difficulties; setting up joint studio in which he threw pots and she glazed them; Michael's lack of participation in the craft community; and the state of his health.
Magdalena Frimkess also provided another informed perspective on the events described by her husband.
Biographical / Historical:
Michael Frimkess (1937- ) is a ceramist from Venice, California. Magdalena Frimkess is a ceramist from Venice, California. Paul J. Karlstrom is the director of the West Coast Resource Center, Archives of American Art, San Marino, California. Michael Frimkess was a leading innovator of the California fine art clay movement that grew up around Peter Voulkos and his "pot shop" at the Otis Art Institute. An element that distinguished the vessels that made Michael Frimkess's reputation was the surface decoration based on popular culture and a Pop Art sensibility. This signature style, consisting of small figures mimicking classical or pre-Columbian friezes, was further developed by Frimkess's wife Magdalena (Suarez Frimkess) who eventually, as Michael's multiple sclerosis progressed, did most of the painting of the vessels.
Magdalena was born in Venezuela and was sent to an orphanage at age 7, when her mother died and her father was unable to support her. Later she moved to Chile where her two children were born. When she was offered a fellowship to the Clay Art Center in New York her companion told her she would have to choose between that and him and the children. She reluctantly chose art, but kept up with her offspring who eventually moved to California. Her sculpture career was to a large extent subsumed after she met and married Michael Frimkess.
General:
Originally recorded on 6 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 12 digital wav files. Duration is 6 hr., 2 min.
Provenance:
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.
Topic:
Art -- Study and teaching -- Chile  Search this
Potters -- California -- Interviews  Search this
Pottery -- Study and teaching -- United States.  Search this
Ceramicists -- California -- Interviews  Search this
Decorative arts  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Identifier:
AAA.frimke01
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw90b4f4424-8f3e-433d-a868-3150ad81b171
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-frimke01
Online Media:

Oral history interview with Charles Linder, 1999 July 10

Interviewee:
Linder, Charles K., 1967-  Search this
Interviewer:
Karlstrom, Paul J  Search this
Subject:
Refusalon Gallery  Search this
San Francisco Art Institute  Search this
University of California, Berkeley. Department of Art  Search this
Art Schools in California Oral History Project  Search this
Type:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Topic:
Art students -- California -- Interviews  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)13108
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)221765
AAA_collcode_linder99
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_oh_221765
Online Media:

Oral history interview with Merry Renk, 2001 January 18-19

Interviewee:
Renk, Merry, 1921-2012  Search this
Interviewer:
Fisch, Arline M.  Search this
Subject:
Albers, Josef  Search this
Asawa, Ruth  Search this
Bates, Kenneth F. (Kenneth Francis)  Search this
Brancusi, Constantin  Search this
Brynner, Irena  Search this
Cunningham, Imogen  Search this
Curtis, Earle  Search this
De Patta, Margaret  Search this
Godfrey, Mary Jo Slick  Search this
Guermonprez, Trude  Search this
Hall, Doris.  Search this
Nordness, Lee  Search this
Oliver, Olive  Search this
Tawney, Lenore  Search this
Tajiri, Shinkichi  Search this
750 Studio  Search this
American Craft Council  Search this
Metal Arts Guild  Search this
Mobilia Gallery  Search this
Institute of Design (Chicago, Ill.)  Search this
School of Industrial Design (Trenton, N.J.)  Search this
University of California, Berkeley. Department of Art  Search this
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America  Search this
Type:
Interviews
Sound recordings
Topic:
Enamel and enameling  Search this
Enamelers -- California -- San Francisco -- Interviews  Search this
Jewelry making  Search this
Jewelers -- California -- San Francisco -- Interviews  Search this
Painters -- California -- San Francisco -- Interviews  Search this
Sculptors -- United States -- Interviews  Search this
Sculptors -- California -- Interviews  Search this
Women artists  Search this
Decorative arts  Search this
Women jewelers  Search this
Women sculptors  Search this
Women painters  Search this
Theme:
Craft  Search this
Women  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)11961
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)227005
AAA_collcode_renk01
Theme:
Craft
Women
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_oh_227005
Online Media:

Oral history interview with Merry Renk

Interviewee:
Renk, Merry, 1921-2012  Search this
Interviewer:
Fisch, Arline M.  Search this
Creator:
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America  Search this
Names:
750 Studio  Search this
American Craft Council  Search this
Institute of Design (Chicago, Ill.) -- Students  Search this
Metal Arts Guild  Search this
Mobilia Gallery  Search this
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America  Search this
School of Industrial Design (Trenton, N.J.) -- Students  Search this
University of California, Berkeley. Department of Art -- Faculty  Search this
Albers, Josef  Search this
Asawa, Ruth  Search this
Bates, Kenneth F. (Kenneth Francis), 1904-1994  Search this
Brancusi, Constantin, 1876-1957  Search this
Brynner, Irena  Search this
Cunningham, Imogen, 1883-1976  Search this
Curtis, Earle  Search this
De Patta, Margaret, 1903-1964  Search this
Godfrey, Mary Jo Slick  Search this
Guermonprez, Trude, 1910-1976  Search this
Hall, Doris.  Search this
Nordness, Lee  Search this
Oliver, Olive  Search this
Tajiri, Shinkichi, 1923-2009  Search this
Tawney, Lenore  Search this
Extent:
49 Pages (Transcript)
1 Item (sound file (4 min. 15 sec.) Audio excerpt, digital)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Pages
Interviews
Sound recordings
Date:
2001 January 18-19
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Merry Renk conducted 2001 January 18-19, by Arline M. Fisch, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in Renk's home and studio, San Francisco, California.
Renk speaks of her family background; growing up during the Depression; her father's creativity and encouragement; early inspiration from "the structure of nature"; attending the School of Industrial Arts in Trenton, N.J., and later the Institute of Design in Chicago; student life at the Institute of Design; establishing a studio and gallery, 750 Studio, at 750 North Dearborn, in Chicago, in 1947, with two other students, Mary Jo Slick [Godfrey] and Olive [Bunny] Oliver; managing 750 Studio and organizing exhibitions of Harry Callahan, Henry Miller, Lazlo Maholy-Nagy, Warren and Ethel MacKenzie, Doris Hall, and others; working with enamels; early "primitive" spirals; decision to be a jeweler; the importance of the "wearability" of jewelry; moving to San Francisco in 1948; living in Paris, 1950-1951; relationship with Shinkichi Tajiri; visiting Constantin Brancusi; traveling with Lenore Tawney through Spain and Morocco; settling in San Francisco; friendship with sculptor and neighbor Ruth Asawa; learning about Josef Albers from Asawa, resulting in experiments with folded metal; meeting her second husband, potter Earle Curtis on Halloween 1954; purchasing and remodeling their home; teaching part-time at the University of California, Berkeley and in workshops; her children, Baunnie and Sandra; managing motherhood and jewelry making in a two-artist household; drawing as a form of inventory; the influence of Lee Nordness; learning the plique-à-jour technique of enameling through trial and error; early influence of Doris Hall's work; working with wire; use of natural forms and interlocking forms; the process of making Wedding Crown (1968) for the exhibition Objects USA; making wedding crowns for her daughters; her shift from non-objective art to portraiture and symbolic imagery in the early 1970s; making large-scale sculpture in 1974, then "drifting back" to jewelry; importance of working independently; her "memory paintings" in the 1980s; evolution of her name from Mary Ruth Gibbs to Merry Renk Curtis (married Stanley Renk in 1941); her involvement with local guilds such as the Metal Arts Guild of San Francisco and national organizations such as the American Craft Council (ACC); lack of critical writing about her work; the value of exhibitions; various pieces in museum collections; early ACC conferences; her long friendship with photographer Imogen Cunningham; posing for Cunningham; becoming an ACC fellow; her jewelry tools; the process of painting compared to jewelry making. She also mentions Kenneth Bates, Trude Guermonprez, Irena Brynner, the Mobilia Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and her mentor Margaret de Patta.
Biographical / Historical:
Merry Renk (1921-2012) was a jeweler, painter, and sculptor from San Francisco, California. Arline M. Fisch (1931-) is a metalsmith from San Diego, California.
General:
Originally recorded on 3 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 6 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr., 9 min.
Provenance:
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.
Topic:
Enamel and enameling  Search this
Enamelers -- California -- San Francisco -- Interviews  Search this
Jewelry making  Search this
Jewelers -- California -- San Francisco -- Interviews  Search this
Painters -- California -- San Francisco -- Interviews  Search this
Sculptors -- United States -- Interviews  Search this
Sculptors -- California -- Interviews  Search this
Women artists  Search this
Decorative arts  Search this
Women jewelers  Search this
Women sculptors  Search this
Women painters  Search this
Genre/Form:
Interviews
Sound recordings
Identifier:
AAA.renk01
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw9db1ea880-0f5e-4937-988b-b95afea04788
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-renk01
Online Media:

Oral history interview with Charles Linder

Interviewee:
Linder, Charles K., 1967-  Search this
Interviewer:
Karlstrom, Paul J.  Search this
Creator:
Art Schools in California Oral History Project  Search this
Names:
Art Schools in California Oral History Project  Search this
Refusalon Gallery  Search this
San Francisco Art Institute -- Students.  Search this
University of California, Berkeley. Department of Art -- Students.  Search this
Extent:
25 Pages (Transcript)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Pages
Sound recordings
Interviews
Date:
1999 July 10
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Charles Linder conducted 1999 July 10, by Paul Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art as part of the Art Schools in California Oral History Project, in Linder's home, San Francisco, Calif.
Linder focuses on his experiences at the San Francisco Art Institute (BFA, sculpture and video, 1990) and University of California, Berkeley (MFA, new genres program, 1997). He discusses the art programs at the two institutions in terms of the benefits provided to students facing careers in a highly competitive and commercial art world; his particular interests in the contrasting philosophies of the fine arts training with romantic bohemian individuals on one hand and the careerist (market and/or teaching) goals on the other;
his admiration of certain faculty members at both institutions and savoring the bohemian atmosphere of the SFAI especially; the efficacy of formal training for artists who need to prepare to make a living; founding the avant-garde Refusalon Gallery in 1990, created in part as his conceptual art piece investigating the often conflicting worlds of creative idealism and business realities; and turning the gallery over to his partner in early 1999 when finding that, as an artist, he could not reconcile the two.
Biographical / Historical:
Charles K. Linder (1967- ) is a conceptual artist and gallery owner from San Francisco, Calif.
General:
Originally recorded on 1 sound cassette. Reformatted in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 1hr., 3 min.
Provenance:
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. This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1959 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Restrictions:
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
Occupation:
Gallery owners -- California  Search this
Conceptual artists -- California -- San Francisco  Search this
Topic:
Art students -- California -- Interviews  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Identifier:
AAA.linder99
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw989798557-22b4-4ecb-be70-c1209847b62c
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-linder99
Online Media:

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