Dominic Di Mare papers, 1950-2003

A Finding Aid to the Dominic Di Mare Papers, 1950-2003, in the Archives of American Art, by Erin Corley

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Table of Contents:

Biographical Information

Fiber artist Dominic Di Mare was born in San Francisco, California, in 1932. He grew up working on his father's fishing boat and was artistically influenced by the process of making rope and fishing lines. After finishing high school, Di Mare attended the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and later received his art teaching certification at San Francisco State University. In 1960, Di Mare married Margaret Nef, bought his first loom, and began teaching at Francisco Junior High School. He and his wife had three children together, Marcello, Lorenzo, and Livia. A highly respected teacher, Di Mare taught at Francisco Junior High until 1976, when he left to work in his studio full-time.

A self taught fiber artist, Di Mare has explored, throughout his career, the imagery of the ocean and the shore. He works with fiber, wood, handmade paper, and small found objects to create unique sculptures. Since his first one person show at The Yarn Depot in 1963, Di Mare has participated in numerous national and international exhibitions and has been represented by the Anneberg Gallery and Braunstein Gallery in San Francisco, Florence Duhl Gallery in New York, and most recently the Susan Cummins Gallery in Mill Valley, California. In 1998 the Palo Alto Art Center curated "Dominic Di Mare: A Retrospective," which traveled throughout the country. In 1999 Di Mare received the American Crafts Council Gold Medal Award.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of Dominic Di Mare measure 3.2 linear feet and date from 1950 to 2003. The collection provides an overview of Di Mare's career as a fiber artist through biographical information, correspondence, writings, printed material, artwork, and photographs. Of particular interest is the material concerning Di Mare's 1998 retrospective exhibition, including correspondence, a guest book, writings, publications, and photographs.

Biographical material includes award certificates from the American Craft Council and an extensive professional resumé. The correspondence series includes personal and professional correspondence as well as three folders of incoming and outgoing correspondence with the Susan Cummins Gallery, revealing the relationship that Di Mare had with the gallery during the 1990s. Writings include those by Di Mare and others. Of note are numerous artist statements and an illustrated journal from 1971. The printed material provides researchers with press clippings, exhibition catalogs, announcements, and published material on Di Mare, as well as other printed material on topics that Di Mare found of interest, including craft in education and the art of his colleagues. The artwork series includes many drawings, the highlight being a sketchbook of color drawings and diagrams spanning a thirty year period. The extensive collection of photographs include many portraits of Di Mare, photos of exhibitions, and numerous photos and slides of his artwork.

An unprocessed small addition of 0.4 linear feet consists of correspondence with colleagues, arts organizations, galleries, and museums regarding exhibitions and publications; photographs of De Mare at work and of works of art, including two flash drives containing images of works of art; exhibition catalogs and announcements; and one schematic drawing of an unidentified work by De Mare, 1990.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged into six series:

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following index terms:

  • California College of Arts and Crafts (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America
  • Palo Alto Arts Center
  • Susan Cummins Gallery
  • Art -- Study and teaching -- California
  • Drawings
  • Fiber artists -- California -- Interviews
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sculptors -- California
  • Sketches


Dominic Di Mare donated his papers in 2003 and 2013 to the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Separated and Related Materials

The Archives also has a transcribed interview of Dominic Di Mare, conducted June 4 and 10, 2002 by Signe Mayfield for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. The interview was conducted in Di Mare's home in Tiburon, California.

How the Collection was Processed

The collection was processed by Erin Corley in March, 2005, as part of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. The 2013 addition of 0.4 linear feet is unprocessed and minimally described in this finding aid.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. research facility.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Dominic Di Mare 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.

How to Cite this Collection

Dominic Di Mare papers, 1950-2003. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1987-2003
(box 1; 4 folders)

This series includes two certificates for American Craft Council awards, an exhibition guest book, and Di Mare's extensive resume which includes a listing of the locations of his artwork.

1 Award, American Craft Council College of Fellows, 1987
1 Award, American Craft Council Gold Medal, 1999
1 Guest Book, "Dominic Di Mare: A Retrospective," Palo Alto Cultural Center, 1998
1 Resume, 2003

Series 2: Correspondence, 1970-2002, undated
(box 1; 7 folders)

Correspondence consists of both personal and professional correspondence. Personal letters are from friends, colleagues, and admirers. General business correspondence includes letters to Di Mare from art galleries and organizations, primarily concerning exhibitions. Susan Cummins Gallery materials consist of professional correspondence gathered while the gallery represented Di Mare's artwork. This includes letters to Dominic Di Mare or the Susan Cummins Gallery concerning invitations to exhibit and the loan or sale of his artwork, as well as letters in reply from Susan Cummins Gallery, and letters from Di Mare to the Gallery. The file concerning "Dominic Di Mare: A Retrospective," contains correspondence between Di Mare and the Palo Alto Cultural Center in arranging the exhibition, as well as letters and cards of congratulations from friends and colleagues. All correspondence is arranged chronologically.

1 Personal Letters, 1970-1988, 1992-2000
(2 folders)
1 General Business Correspondence, 1976-1977, 1991-1999
1 Susan Cummins Gallery, 1993-2002, undated
(3 folders)
1 Re: "Dominic Di Mare: A Retrospective,," 1994-1998

Series 3: Writings, 1971-1997, undated
(box 1; 7 folders)

This series contains writings by Di Mare, including several drafts of artist statements, and other miscellaneous drafts of essays and articles. Also found is an illustrated journal that Di Mare kept during Project Francisco, a week-long school trip to the Sierra Mountains. Also included are essays by Jeremy Adamson, Signe Mayfield, and W. S. Di Piero for the Di Mare Retrospective catalog, as well as drafts of reviews of Di Mare exhibitions by Ruth Spencer and Betty Park, and a term paper on Di Mare written by Suzanne Bonné. Items are arranged chronologically with Di Mare writings first, followed by the writings of others.

1 Artist Statements, 1977, 1979, 1987, undated
1 Project San Francisco Journal, 1971
1 Miscellaneous Writings by Di Mare, 1976, 1982, undated
1 Anonymous, "Ode to a Fiberist,," undated
1 Bonne, Suzanne, "Dominic Di Mare the Child Within the Man,," undated
1 Draft Essays for Retrospective Catalog, 1994
1 Draft Reviews of Di Mare Exhibitions, 1997, undated

Series 4: Printed Material, 1964-2003, undated
(box 1-2; 1.5 linear feet)

This series contains printed material and publications which mention Dominic Di Mare and his artwork, as well as other materials on the arts. Included are exhibition announcements and catalogs for Di Mare exhibitions. Files of press clippings contain articles on Di Mare with reviews of his artwork, reviews of the book Art Fabric: Mainstream [Mildred Constantine and Jack Lenor Larsen; New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1981], and other miscellaneous articles on art that Di Mare found interesting. The series contains published seminar proceedings, a book presenting a study on crafts in education, and art publications which mention Di Mare and show his work. Also found is a small unbound scrapbook that the Susan Cummins Gallery kept of Di Mare press clippings. This series is arranged alphabetically by type of material.

1 Book, The Role of Crafts in Education, R.C. Wilson, 1969
1 Exhibition Announcements, 1966, 1970, 1975-2003, undated
(5 folders)
1 Exhibition Catalogs, 1964-1980, undated
(5 folders)
2 Exhibition Catalogs, 1981-2003
(5 folders)
2 Newsletters, National Museum of American Art Members' Newsletter, 1999
2 Newsletters, Miscellaneous, 1979, 1998
2 Press Clippings, Art Fabric: Mainstream, 1981-1984
2 Press Clippings, Di Mare Artwork, 1964-2000, undated
(6 folders)
2 Press Clippings, Miscellaneous, 1990-1993, undated
2 Proceedings, Second International Seminar: Craft Art and Religion, 1978
2 Publications, American Craft, 1982, 1998, 1999
2 Publications, Craft Horizons, 1965, 1977
2 Publications, Visual Dialog, 1978-1979
2 Publications, Miscellaneous, 1964-1977, 1979, 1997-2000
(3 folders)
2 Susan Cummins Gallery Scrapbook on Dominic Di Mare, 1993-2001

Series 5: Artwork, 1950-1999, undated
(box 3; 3 folders)

This series contains one large sheet of life drawing sketches, a drawn plan for two series of works, and a sketchbook of notes and drawings that Di Mare used throughout his career. Items are arranged chronologically.

3 (hol) "Title and Drawings for 'Windows' and 'Temple' series," undated
3 (hol) Life Drawing Sketches, 1950
3 (hol) Sketchbook, 1970-1999

Series 6: Photographs, 1959-2001, undated
(box 3-4; 0.7 linear feet)

This series includes photographs of Dominic Di Mare throughout his career, including photos of him in his studio, working with students, and at exhibitions. Also found are numerous photographs of his artwork and scanned images used for a Susan Cummins Gallery catalog. Also included in this series are negatives and slides. Slides of artwork are kept in the exact order created by Di Mare, arranged in two parts, following his labeling system. Items within folders are arranged chronologically.

3 (hol) Portraits, 1960, 1977, 1987, 1991, 1998
3 (hol) In the Studio, 1965
3 (hol) Working with students, 1959, 1960s
3 (hol) Student Art Exhibits, 1962
3 (hol) Florence Duhl Gallery Exhibition, 1977
3 (hol) Susan Cummins Gallery Exhibition, circa 1995
3 (hol) "Dominic Di Mare: A Retrospective" at Wustum Museum of Art, 1999
3 (hol) Artwork, 1959-1999, undated
(6 folders)
4 (hol) Scanned Images, Susan Cummins Gallery Catalog, circa 2001
4 (hol) Miscellaneous, 1966, undated
4 (hol) Negatives, Portraits, 1987
4 (hol) Negatives, Artwork, 1981-2000, undated
(3 folders)
4 (hol) Slide Transparencies, Artwork, 1968
4 (hol) Slides, Artwork, Arrangement 1, 1966-1995
(3 folders)
4 (hol) Slides, Artwork, Arrangement 2, 1974-2000
4 (hol) Slides, Miscellaneous, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1997

Series 7: Unprocessed Addition, circa 1950-2003
0.4 Linear feet; Box 5

Unprocessed addition consisting of correspondence with colleagues, arts organizations, galleries, and museums regarding exhibitions and publications; photographs of De Mare at work and of works of art, including two flash drives containing images of works of art; exhibition catalogs and announcements; and one schematic drawing of an unidentified work by De Mare, 1990.